Four AM in the rain

We slept in the shelter of a spreading baobab tree. At four in the morning, by the faint blue dial of my wristwatch, I woke to the soft hiss of rain all around us. I thought of my rifle, of the powder in the ammunition, how I didn’t want it to get wet, then remembered packing the bullets into a plastic bag and zipping it shut, watertight. I couldn’t remember if Dan had done the same, so I rolled over and nudged him gently. He didn’t move, so I nudged him harder.

Still nothing. I lay perfectly still, listening for his breathing, but I couldn’t hear anything over the hiss of the rain and the sudden pounding of my heart.

“Dan,” I whispered. Nothing.

I grabbed my flashlight, lit it, aimed it at his face. His eyes were open and staring. And something else: the thing we were chasing, its skin grey and green, hunched over him. Its eyes were enormous.

I grabbed for my rifle as it skittered into the underbrush. I drew a bead on its receding back, squeezed the trigger. But my ammo was still in its plastic bag, dry.

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