Slocum 428

Slocum 428 by Jake Logan

Book: Slocum 428 by Jake Logan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jake Logan
hoaxes, or genuine mysteries. He suspected this would fall somewhere in the middle, though even he had doubts as to its status as inexplicable. He certainly couldn’t explain it away—yet.
    As he tugged on his second boot, he vowed, too, to find the source of his suspicion regarding those two men who’d attacked him. They’d scampered off before he’d returned. At least he had roughed them up good, enough so that they would be sporting evidence of their lost battle for some time to come. Now all he had to do was track them, or whoever had ripped apart the storehouse. Were those two men pretending to be skoocooms? He hoped to find out once he hit the woods and looked for sign—no easy task considering all the foul weather they’d had.
    As he high-stepped along the drifted-in path to the savaged storehouse, Slocum bent low, the just-rising sun offering enough reflected glow to assist him in his search for clues. But it was a fruitless search, as he suspected it might well be, given the weather’s turn.
    Still, if the loggers wouldn’t take the opportunity to follow the filled-in dimples of the tracks that led away to the edge of the close-by forest and beyond, into the still-dark trees, then he would.
    â€œWish I wasn’t so curious,” he said in a mumble, as a stiff breeze kicked up and slapped him in the face. He flipped up the tall sheepskin collar of his mackinaw and cradled his rifle in the crook of one arm. In the other he hoisted the Colt Navy free of the holster, thoughts of the unearthly shrieks and howls of the other night dogging him. He pulled in a deep breath and headed on in.
    Once he found himself well into the tree line, the stiff wind became nothing more than a high-up soughing in the treetops. Down at ground level there was barely a breeze. And as he’d hoped, the well-trammeled path had barely been dusted in. He bent low and peered down into the snowy tracks, cursing himself for not bringing a lamp. The daylight slowly filtered in through the trunks of the trees, but it would be chasing him the deeper he ventured into the forest.
    He didn’t have all that much time to pursue this path, as he had to get back for breakfast—something he sorely wanted—or he’d go without until lunchtime. And the prospect of limbing trees on an empty stomach was not a possibility. He didn’t think he could withstand that for too many swings of the axe.
    He squinted into a couple of the deep prints, tugged the end of a leather glove off with his teeth, then felt down in there. Despite the numbing cold, his fingertips felt a series of deep founded depressions where a man’s boot toe would be,
should
be. But the print was much wider at the toe than at the other end. The rest of the track also bore little resemblance to a man’s boot print. And overall, it was much, much larger—both in length and width—than any print he’d seen made by a man. It was not unlike a grizzly track, but he’d never seen anything that big, and he’d seen a few big ol’ bull grizzlies in his day. Even tangled with a few, and counted himself far too lucky to have lived.
    What would happen if he tangled with whatever the hell this thing was? What if it was something more than a couple of pissed-off loggers plotting out some odd revenge on Jigger McGee?
    And the kicker of this entire set of tracks he was following was that it was made, as near as he could tell, by two creatures. He paused, crouched in the snow, in the quiet, dim forest, looking around at the slowly lightening landscape. And that was when the creeping, hair-raising feeling once again overtook him, draped itself over him like an invisible cloak of tremors and icy fingertips.
    Something was watching him. And whatever it was, it wasn’t very far away. All of a sudden, the idea of tracking and following this cold trail didn’t seem like a very good one. Not at all. He couldn’t put a

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