Gramp’s Journal – Chapter 1 excerpt
Staring out, I was sure I had seen the branches begin to move before things began blurring up. Gramps said to relax and let my eyes focus. Doing so I saw the swamp taking shape before my eyes. The branches slowly disappeared and minutes later and I could see clear out into the swamp. Shaking my head in disbelief they suddenly reappeared. Then I heard gramps chuckling.
“What happened?” I asked.
“It’s another swamp secret,” he said. Somehow the eyes focus on the little spaces in between and the branches disappear. Relaxing again I was looking back out into the swamp within minutes. The sounds of swamp life rebounded as chipmunks chittered and birds chirped. Moments later a squirrel came running towards us.
“Sit still, he can’t see us,” whispered gramps. I nodded my head and just watched. Stopping to bob its head a few times it stared straight at me. Running a few more steps it stopped and did the same thing again. A smile broke across my face as I held the laugher within. Brown velvety fur covered its body and a large fluffy tail darted to one side and shook frantically before darting to the other. Stopping a few feet away it stared with its tiny black eyes looking straight at me and its mouth seemingly smiling. I felt ready to burst with laughter at any moment.
Suddenly, without warning, the squirrel jumped straight at me. Its tiny hands stretched out as its tail trailed behind like a cape. My heart leapt as my arm went to cover my face and the branch wall appeared between us. Relaxing again I was amazed to see the squirrel still in front of me. On unseen branches it seemed to sit with no knowledge of us at all.
“So cool,” I whispered. Hearing me the squirrel turned and scurried off. Stopping about twenty feet away it turned to look back and pointing a tiny hand towards us began chittering wildly. I lost control and burst out laughing. Throwing its hands up it chittered even more before scurrying off into the swamp.
“Can anything see us?” I asked.
“Not much,” gramps said, “As long as we’re quiet we’re a secret.” It turned out there was another secret he was hoping I’d see. Moments later something began moving in the shadows a ways out. Whatever it was, it was big and moving very slowly. This had to be it I thought but gramps looked a little nervous at first, as if this wasn’t what he expected.
I watched as the shadow closed in on the open area and took better form. At the clearings edge he stopped and lifted his head upward. Sniffing about in all directions he surveyed the area for danger. Though it was the first time I had seen him it wouldn’t be the last. I just didn’t know it at the time. A tan hide flowed smoothly over the solid muscular frame of a beautiful looking buck sporting a large set of antlers. Nostrils flared as short blasts of air announced his presence. A small, white tufted tail stood up in the presence of uncertainty. Such a majestic sight seemed out of place in the swamp. Standing there with the confidence of a king he eyed all that was before him.
Turning his head towards us a curious gaze shot outward. Muscles rippled as he stepped forward with each hoof slowly lifting and lowering. My heart raced as adrenaline rushed through me. Body warmth increased as beads of sweat formed on my forehead. Trying not to fidget for fear of spooking him I trembled lightly as goose bumps rose along my arms. I wondered if this was what hunters called buck fever.
Stopping close to us he gazed intently and a look of uncertainty said he pondered what was before him. Time held fast as our eyes locked together. Racing faster still my heart pounded inside my chest as breaths rushed in silence. Beads of sweat trickled downward as vision blurred. Hairs stood on end as goose bumps rose and shivers spread. In a state of near panic my movement remained frozen as my eyes stung of sweat and my pulse raced with excitement. Within the depths of his deep black eyes I stared into his soul and saw a gentleness that left a feeling of sorrow.
Frozen in the moment I studied every bit of him. Unbelievably large antlers so well defined held a roughness running the length of each. Rising steadily upward they opened wide at points end with dangerously sharp tips. It was then I noticed he should’ve had twelve points but three were missing. Two on one antler and one on the other had been snapped off a few inches from the end.
Not even in books had I seen a buck this size sporting antlers this big. It almost seemed impossible to hold up until you looked carefully at his muscular build. Easily seen with every movement it offered an awareness of his great strength.
Suddenly a loud blast of air startled me and left me reeling to scrape against the tree. Alerted to our presence his hoofs dug deep as he turned and bolted to safety. Disappearing behind the branches, another loud snort sounded out before silence took over. Regaining focus I saw he had returned to the shadows just as quickly as he had left them. A wash of sadness overcame me and gramps said it would be okay. He must have known how disheartened I felt because he said he had spooked him too, and still, Captain Snaps had returned.