"Wake up, it's time," my dad said.
It was still dark outside, but at least he had already lit the hissing Coleman lantern. I got dressed in my jeans and camo shirt, with hat, boots and an old army green jacket to cut the morning chill. The floor of the hunting cabin thumped with our steps, loud in the quiet of pre-dawn morning.
No breakfast, for now. But wrapping some toilet paper around my hand to put in my pocket, just in case, along with some skeeter spray. Took my Marlin .35 down from the rack by the door. It was old, a hand-me-down from my great grandfather. Accurate, but kicked my teenage body quite a bit whenever I fired it. No problem, though, since I probably wasn't gonna be shooting at anything today. Never have, except for practice. Maybe I'd finally get lucky.
We walked quietly down the old logging tram in the swamps, keeping an eye out on the clear spots where we might see something. I got to sit in the tree-stand about a half mile from our camp, while my dad went on a bit further. "See you about an hour or so after sunup," he said softly. "Unless you get something," he added with a bit of a grin. Right.
Boring, boring, boring. Watching the darkness slowly growing into light as the sun started to rise, but nothing else to see. I thought back to last weekend when I was sitting in the same spot, just after a bit of misty rain stopped, when I'd seen some little brown spotted buggers timidly stepping out of the bushes with their mom, only about 50 feet from me. Cute to watch, but only the males were legal to kill now, and none of them were around. They walked back into the woods after a few minutes, disappearing as quietly as they had come. Maybe I'd see them again this week.
And maybe not. I'd been waiting for over two hours, hearing the sound of a dog baying in the distance, growing louder and softer as he tracked his prey. We didn't use them, preferring the sit-and-wait method at a proven spot. My butt was getting sore from sitting on the damp wood, and I had already carved my initials into the tree next to me to pass the time. The dog sounded like he was getting closer.
Wait, there! That dog suddenly burst out of the trees about a hundred yards to my right. Weird looking dog... no! It's one of them, a male, with those things sticking up from his head! I pulled my rifle around to my right, but he was closing in fast, going almost right underneath me. I got one bad shot off straight down and missed, then time seemed to slow as he went out from my left. I took aim at the back of his head but suddenly thought "No, I want this one as a trophy." Like I had all the time in the world I moved my aim down and put one round at the base of his neck. He dropped like a dead rock. Yes!
I was shaking like a leaf with excitement for hours, telling the story over and over again to my dad. Despite it being pretty heavy, he proudly carried the carcass back to camp, gutted and cleaned it, and put it on ice. When we got back home, he had it stuffed. The head of that alien is still hanging up on the wall of my mom's living room, his two big antenna-thingies sticking up. At Christmas time we often put a festive hat on him. Stupid bugger.