The fire crackled in the wide, stone fireplace as Anthony stared out the window. Large, lazy flakes filled the air as late-December snow continued to fall. The soles of his feet were almost too-warm as he stretched his legs out towards the flames. Keeping with holiday tradition, he had put up lights around the cabin’s few windows and they twinkled brightly to a timer. He blinked a few times and turned towards the fireplace where the stockings had been hung above the mantle. There would be no tree this year, and probably none in the future. He couldn’t bring himself to venture back to the pine grove.
With a sigh of resignation, Anthony pulled his long legs in and stood from the old green couch. He fixed the throw blankets that Heidi had insisted be kept at the cabin, then turned to prepare himself. The cabin was too-quiet without Heidi and the kids there, and the silence echoed around in his heart as he put on long-johns under his jeans. He idly wondered why he needed to be so bundled up, it wasn’t as if he would last long outside. He huffed quietly and scratched at his beard as memories swept in and carried him back a year and a half to when everything was good.
When Anthony finally pulled himself to the present, it was dark. The snow blanketed the forest around the cabin in a quiet heaviness that seemed to fit his mood. He worked to button the red flannel from Heidi but his fingers were shaking. A long, steadying breath later and his shirt was on and he was on his way to the front door for his boots and heavy tan coat.
Anthony reached for the large rifle that rested near the door. Having had years of practice he quickly loaded it and placed all of the extra ammo he had in his pocket. A large knife went into its spot on his belt and he crouched to place another into the sheath on the inside of his right boot. As he stood, the cabin shuddered. His gaze snapped to the window as snow was unsettled from the roof and dropped to join the drifts on the ground.
Another shudder displaced more snow as a heavy rumbling spread from the trees. It was a sound that set Anthony’s nerves on end while also bringing forth memories he had worked to bury for a year. He grasped his rifle and opened the door as a shadow covered the cabin. He stepped outside and raised his rifle.
“HEY!” He hollered into the frigid air. The shadow continued on, passing over the cabin and starting down the mountainside. Anthony fumed silently as he broke into a run after the beast. He would get his revenge, even if he died in the process.