They Crossed the Heavens

Charleton checked his watch—maybe an hour of daylight left.
A cabin stood three miles to his north, and he picked up the pace, the only sound the rustle of trees in the wind and the almost constant baying of the wolves that were circling him.
This, he had decided, would be his final hunt. Brayer Cattle paid him well, but he didn’t need the money. Hadn’t needed it in years, really.
No, when all was said and done, he simply enjoyed killing them.
But this was different. They were closing in on him.
He covered terrain in sips and swallows. At dusk, the sky opened, spilling snow over the Oregon backwoods. Charleton sighed and ran for the meadow—and the cabin in the distance.
He was halfway there when he heard their approach. He wheeled, rifle leveled. A dozen majestic wolves fanned out around him, stalking him. Herding him. He trotted for the cabin, just as a horrible clatter of tin bells and thunderous hooves exploded behind him.
Startled, he sprawled there in the snow as a procession of spectral creatures astride eight-legged steeds thundered through the sky above him. Hounds—dilapidated creatures, their bone and gristle showing—snapped at the wolves, scattering them.
The procession roared past, a demonic maiden leering at Charleton from her saddle.

“The wild hunt,” he gasped, knowing all too well that the wolves were the least of his concerns, and that the worst of it was really only beginning.

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