When the sun lowered itself in the west, and the moon poured its pale light down on the fields, I tucked myself below the warmth of my bedsheets and slowly drifted off into a state-of-mind halfway between alert and sleep. As I usually do, I gazed out of my window at the sky clouded with countless stars shimmering and shining as the crickets played their nightly chorus. The cool and damp breeze of the night gently crept its way through the window screen and caressed the curtains, sending them into a smooth sway. The soft volume of air then meandered its way to my face like a gentle kiss from a mother to her child.
All was right with the world and all was peaceful. Had it been any other night, I would have been gently awoken by the bright and shining sun on my eyelids, or jolted from my bed by the crow of a rooster. This turned out to be no ordinary night. I hardly got a minute of rest.
I was not awoken by the morning light, nor the triumphant call of the rooster. Instead, I heard footsteps. They were distant at first, but where loud and very distinct at the same time. I could hear that someone was running down my gravel driveway as the small rocks and pebbles crashed and scattered with every heavy and quick step. Whomever was trespassing on my property was doing so with a speed that only professional athletes could mimic.
My first instinct was to grab the double barreled shotgun and flashlight that I kept under my bed. Here in the Dakotas, we have wolves and cougars-keeping a gun handy makes world of difference between two dead animals, and ten dead animals.
My fingers then fumbled around in a box of double ought buck as the footsteps got closer and louder. As I dropped a shell in both barrels, a loud bang came to my front door. Followed by the desperate cries of a man, "Help! Help! He's a mad man! Help! Anyone! PLEASE!"
I then removed the shells from both barrels. My original intention was to scare off this intruder, but after hearing his pleas for help, I knew this man was not a threat to me. I threw the weapon onto the bed and briskly walked to my front door.
"AHHHH! Help me! It's coming!" The man called out again. My bare feet pounded on the steps as I hurried my way downstairs. Then suddenly, the sound of crashing gravel filled the air again. He was running away.
I unlocked the dead bolt and opened my front door just enough to peer outside. There wasn't much out there at first glance, save for the fire flies blissfully buzzing around with their dark green lights. Then I heard the sound of footsteps once more. They did not have the same speed as the one before, but where still very quick. They were also a lot heavier too, and had a thunderous clip-clop to them.
Suddenly, a horse ran across my view with the rider standing on the stirrups yelling, "Come on! Get 'em up! Get 'em up!" He was pushing that animal hard and it showed as it squealed and snorted in protest with every spur from the rider's boots. I can't say that I got a good look at the man, but I noticed he was wearing a long brown duster-complete with a black Stetson on his head. His attire did not concern me as much as what he was holding in his right hand. It may have been dark, but I know a rifle when I see one.
I then looked down at my front steps and saw a few small droplets of blood pooled onto the wood. "Shit!" I said with a hushed yell. Back where I come from, you don't leave someone twisting in the wind like that, even if it means taking up arms. My name isn't John Wayne, but I am not afraid of a gun fight. I ran back to my bed and retrieved the shotgun and flashlight. I then put on my boots without even bothering to lace them and headed outside in my nightwear.
As far as I could tell, both the man and the rider went in the direction of my wheat field. I ran with the shotgun across my chest and the flashlight in my clenched teeth into the crunching stubble. I then saw the rider off in the distance galloping over the windrows of cut wheat, frantically looking for his victim. He then raised his rifle straight into the air and the sound of thunder filled the air. "Come on out you cowering bastard!" He yelled before riding off once more in the opposite direction.
When he was a good distance away, I felt brave enough to turn on my flashlight. As luck would have it, I saw a few spatters of blood just before me on the golden wheat stubble. The man was leaving a blood trail and I knew that if I followed it, I would find him. I had to be quick about it though. Any man bleeding like that would certainly die if he didn't get help right away.
I quickly walked through the field with the beam of the flashlight ahead of me following the trail. It led me astray to a large hill where a single tree stood at its top. I then heard the groans of agony and I knew I was close.
As I reached the top of the hill, I shined my light at the base of the tree. A pair of bright and glowing yellow eyes shined back at me. The man from before had his back resting against the tree trunk and he panted heavily with his chest rising and falling with every wheezing breath. My eyes shifted from his face and fell down to his belly. He had both of his hands covering a large spot of blood staining his shirt. "Are you alright?" I asked redundantly.
He stared straight into my eyes and said with a haggard voice, "Please turn that off. It hurts." I flipped my flashlight off and took a few steps toward him. He started to get up as if to start running once more. "Wait!" I voiced, "I'm not like the other guy. I'm here to help."
He froze in place then resumed resting where he was. I then ripped a piece off of my nightwear and knelt down in front of the man. "Don't worry." I said reassuring, "You'll be just fine." I pulled away his hands and stuffed the cotton wadding into the bullet hole. "Were you shot in the back?" I asked. The man nodded and I felt around on his back trying to find the entrance wound. "Are you sure about that bud?" I asked struggling to find it.
He nodded once again before pulling the wet cloth from the hole in his belly. "Leave that in." I protested, "I don't want you to bleed out before we get to the Doc."
The man laughed slightly and said, "That man trying to kill me is a doctor."
"He's crazy. I walked into his office this afternoon and he told me that I needed to be euthanized."
I froze in place. "Euthanized? That doesn't make any sense."
Suddenly, a calm yet forceful voice spoke from behind me, "Step aside from that abomination."
I looked over my shoulder and saw the doctor standing with his rifle pointed skyward and ready to drop down for the kill.
Immediately I picked up my shotgun and swung it around in the direction of the doctor. Without taking aim, I fired both barrels at him. His coat erupted into a cloud of dust and he fell to his knees crying out in pain. His rifle fell from his shoulder as he began to lay on his side clutching at his chest.
I stood there in shock looking at what I had done. Blood began to pool around his body as his dying corpse began to spasm in the final moments of life. He tried to speak but only gargled slurs come from his mouth as his struggled slowed and the peaceful sleep of death over took him.
I turned back around and saw the would-have-been victim rise to his feet and saunter over to the newly deceased man. "Thanks Stranger" he said before furiously running away from the scene.
The aftermath isn't really eventful. That very night I dug a shallow grave for the man that I killed and left only a cross carved in the trunk of that lonesome tree. Indeed I was guilty of murder. It may have been rational to do so at the time, but now that I look back on it, there's something about that night that just seemed far too odd. Sure it was a strange occurrence, but it left me with far too many questions.
Why was that doctor trying to euthanize his patient?
Why did that man refuse medical help?
Why on earth did he flee the scene even though he was close to dying himself?
It took a long time to figure out what was really going on that night, but when I think about it, I get shivers. Especially when the image of that man holding his hands to his belly come to mind.
Those glowing eyes.
I have yet to see anyone else, besides an animal, have a pair of eyes that glow when a light is shined on them.