The boar panted in the dark, its flanks streaked, its tusks broken.
There was a boom as the gun went off, then silence. Before the boom, a minuscule moment before the roar: a flash, reflected in the writer's tears.
Snot coated his upper lip and he heaved. The writer could not talk, only gasp and suck air through his constricted throat, into burning lungs.
With another boom, another flash, the mangled, imploded cave of the boar's head, frozen in the salt streaks.
The forest howled cold, evergreen words, branches wrestling as if to immolate each other.
With the third and final flash (the boom droned out, lost in the howling of the trees): Steam, rising from the cave, the hole.
"Done. Go. Go. Go. Go." The Octopus signed, "Ocean. Go."
"I agree. I need to wash." said the writer. "In the ocean."
"Ocean. Go Go Go." The Octopus signed, inflated itself and shivered like misplaced seaweed in the new dark.
* * *
They had tracked the boar to this forest, deep in the upper peninsular of Michigan. The weather: blistering cold, with wind that made the backs of their heads feel like chopping blocks.
The Octopus did not feel the cold as it slip thumped through the snow, arms leaving a sun burst trail of slashes as they strode onward into the darkness.
Just past the tree line, Tom took out a flashlight and turned it on, handed it to The Octopus, who nodded appreciatively.
Tom said, "This is it, right? It dies, you die?"
"No. Cloudy." Replied The Octopus.
"Do you get to go home, after this?"
The Octopus wheezed out a laugh. It signed, "