Behind me came a crunching sound, then a leaping pounce and growl that rattled my chest bones. I ducked – rapid sheer instinct. It was a bear flying over my head and tumbling into the woody thicket. I ran like hell on a deer path.
* * *
I had wanted peace, so I took a walk where there were no people. I drove for an hour and picked a spot I didn’t quite know. There was nothing out there for concentric miles until a nuclear power plant cropped up in a cordoned-off part of wilderness.
* * *
Its reactors were melting down now, and a wave of radiation had gotten to the bear and me before either of us could do anything for the other. We were lamed.
It was minutes; then the end. There is no shock that bounds terminal pain. More than anything, it’s a weird rush of what might more routinely come on like a slow reaper going the pace of life.
* * *
In the secret pocket of my fleece were two tiny seashells, one spiral smaller than the other. I found them on the shore near my home and thought of my two sons. I kept them as a reminder.