He dropped the bag and rifle just to the side of the door, taking a look around at the dwelling as he settled in his things; the room frozen in time since grandad passed some twenty five years ago. The shack had fallen into disrepair over the years, cobwebs and thick layers of dust covered everything as a heavy scent of mildew filled the abandoned space. He turned away from the room after looking upon it for a few silent moments, eyes misty as memories of his childhood flooded his mind. He could still see the old man sitting in his rickety old chair, taking long pulls off his flask as he shouted all manners of racist jokes off at the grandchildren charged with minding him.
"You ready?" He said, rubbing his sleeve across his eyes.
"Dust?" His son asked, noticing his father's reddening eyes.
"Yea. That place is a dusty old tomb. We should sweep it out next time we come. See if we can't start using it for more than gear storage."
"That'd be cool." His son replied, running his headphone wire under his shirt.
"Ok, I'll grab two bags of seeds. You bring the spreaders." Henry said, taking a deep breath of the crisp air. He gingerly stepped off the porch, careful not to step down on any unseen serpent laying wait in the tall grass growing over the bottom step. He watched his son walk over to a pile of equipment, covered by a dirty blue tarp near a thick pine tree a few yards from the shack as he made his own way to the bin. It was tucked off behind the house, the heavy plastic lid locked tight by a thick pad lock. He took out his keys, unlocking the metal clasp and opening the lid. He found the bags his brother had left for him, the bin filled with heavy plastic bags of seed. He grabbed two of them, tossing one on each shoulder as he headed towards his son.
The boy had made his way off a bit ahead, his hands each gripping a large beige seed spreader. Henry stepped up his pace a bit, his back straining slightly as he worked to keep pace with his son.
"Hold on..." He wheezed out to Clive, slowly pulling away as Henry's pace struggled to keep up.
"Ok," he said with a smile, turning around to see his father.
"Struggling to keep up, old man?" The boy teased good naturedly, impishly grinning as he watched his father struggle a bit under the weight of the coarse plastic sacks.
"Old man, huh?" Henry said, smiling. He flopped one of the sacks off his shoulder, laying the other down next to it. He stretched his arm a bit; a knot budding deep within his old, salted muscles.
"How about you help an old man out and take these bags." He continued, nudging the bags with his boot.
"Sure pop." The boy said, taking a heavy bag into each hand. He struggled to hold them, his grip failing more than his strength as the course plastic dug into his soft, meaty palms. His chewed raw palms forced him to stop every couple of feet to adjust his grip before finally getting a firm hold of the sacks. Henry watched his son, pride welling as his boy became a man more and more each trip out into these woods. He could remember those first early trips, the young boy barely able to march this far out without having to be carried over the tall grass and prickly brush. Henry felt his throat tighten a bit as he reached down to pick up the spreaders, taking off after his boy down the long path towards the feed field.
The sun hung high off in the sky, long chasing away the looming greys that had overcast their journey, casting an ethereal glow over the field as the bright rays bounced off the tender budding leaves. Henry squinted as he stared off over the feed zone, finding the usually smooth and serene terrain broken and scarred upon arrival. Deep ruts cut through the field, brown tears of earth scaring all he could see. Large branches were broken off the scant trees that littered the otherwise open field, hanging limp off the trees; snapped off by some powerful anomaly.
"What happened out here?" Clive asked, shocked to see the mess that laid before them.
"Hogs, I reckon," Henry replied, not sure if he really believed his explanation.
"Ain't never seen hogs snap trees like that," the boy replied, surveying the ruined field.
"Let's start by clearing these branches," Henry said, dropping his spreaders to the floor next to the bags his son had been carrying.
The pair walked off towards one of the trees closest to them, the branch hanging on tightly by a few scant wood fibers. The pair examined the damage, shaken a bit by what they were looking at.
"Maybe a bear?" Clive asked, his voice rattled as he wondered what sort of beast could have ripped this branch off the tree. He ran his fingers along the thick branch, easily five inches in diameter, feeling deep carved scratches in the wood.
"Maybe. It'd have to be a big goddamned bear," Henry asked, gripping the branch between his fingers, the branch unmoving as he jerked and pushed.
"Did we bring an ax?" He asked his son, studying the tree to see any other solution.
"I don't think so." He replied, pausing a moment before doing to to recall if they had.
"Want me to go check?"
"No," Henry replied, a worried knot twisting in his gut. He could feel a foreign presence in the woods, an uneasiness hanging palpably in the air.
"I think it's better if you stay close."
"Got it, pop. Want me to fill the spreaders?"
"Sure, sure... You go do that." Henry replied distantly, still fixated on the ripped branch.