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Writer In The Wilderness

The island was set in the middle of the lake in the northern part of Maine. The calm lake kept it isolated from the mainland. A green mountain range was far off in the distance. On the island was a small cabin. This cabin had running water from the lake and no electricity. When dusk turned to night that's when the lights went out. A fire ravaged through chopped wood in the fireplace. Smoke billowed out of the chimney. The crisp cool wind of winter had begun to swarm in from the north. The sun had set beyond the mountain. Martin Chess was away from home for nearly two weeks. Going north was a way for him to revitalize the creative process. Back home, writer's block tormented him. He lived in the same village that Walt Whitman once resided in. It was just him, his thoughts, and the manuscript he'd been working on for nearly two years. No internet, no remarkable way to escape the job that needed to get done. He rolled paper full of tobacco and sparked it up. Smoke cascaded from the side of his lips. He leaned back in his chair and thought about his wife back home. She demanded he finish the story which had been keeping him up at night. She thought it would be good for him to get away. To finish the job he needed to do. He agreed.

The first week proved to be productive. Martin furiously wrote. He dreamed of the publication of his third novel. After the success of his first novel and the flop of his second novel, he knew he needed to write a compelling story or his publisher would drop him. The pressure was high. Deadline was approaching. Fear had a way of eating at the writer's heart. Martin filled his days with labor. He was slowly finishing an addition to his cabin — an office in which he would set up a library full of literary gods. At night Martin sat a desk in the living room, developing scenes, scratching out emaciated paragraphs, and ruminating over character flaws and story conflict.

The novel was about a young Mexican boy who fled his country and immigrated to the United States after his mother was burned alive by her boyfriend — a drug lord who gave her the option of selling her body for cash or suffer a slow miserable death. She chose the latter. Juan Diego Lopez found himself bundled together with fifty other scared Mexicans in the back of a box truck, seeking to escape the harsh realities of their existence — all had different reasons for escaping, but they shared one similar interest... freedom. By the time young Juan Diego Lopez reached American soil, nearly half of the refugees died. He was met in the United States with scrutiny amongst the people. The young boy wondered why there was so much hate for a person they didn't even know. He was just a misplaced boy, no different than any other boy, in a world of imaginary borders. Juan missed his mother dearly.

Martin scribbled the story down on a notepad. He found momentum in the second act of the novel. Two candles lit the area just enough to see the words on the page. He took a moment away from his notepad and noticed the fire slowly dying. Martin put on his coat and exited the cabin. Outside the moon was large and round like a dinner dish. He gathered firewood, one by one, and walked it over to the front door of the cabin. He stacked firewood against the wall then proceeded to bring them in. He tossed the wood into the fireplace. The flame was a thick orange and the burning wood crackled like fireworks in the night. Martin settled back into his chair overlooking his creative work. The words had flesh to them. He took a long deep breath, picked up the pencil, and continued writing.

Outside the lake was still. The moonlight gleamed across its surface reflecting dark pine trees. There was a rustling amongst the trees on the mainland. A black bear appeared. It was a full adult male. Ferocious by nature. The bear could smell human from three miles away. It sauntered to the lake. The animal could see the cabin in the distance with a flickering of firelight seeping through the window. The black blear paced hungrily then stood on its hind legs — snout sniffing the cool night air. The black bear dipped its paws in the lake and proceeded to submerge itself underwater. It swam towards the isolated island.

Martin was deep in literary thought, pencil rapidly moving across the page. The writer's block had been completely destroyed of any sort of life. Martin conjured up scenes of Juan Diego Lopez living on American soil and the conflict which persisted as an illegal immigrant amongst citizens who forgot their ancestors were once immigrants, as well. The fire was burning brightly in the fireplace. Martin sparked another rolled cigarette. A plume of gray smoke vacated his mouth. He was in the middle of developing a sequence where Juan Diego Lopez was being chased by authorities on a hot summer night somewhere in a remote southern town in Texas. The young boy ran for help, knocking from door to door until finally, one door opened. It was a modest home that belonged to a woman by the name of Liz Penelope — an English middle school teacher who took the young boy in. The black bear had reached the shoreline of the island where an old wooden rowboat was docked in the sand. The black bear shook off the water from its thick fur. It's tongue swiped across its lips. The black bear sauntered toward the cabin.

Branches rustled. The crackling of twigs. Martin leaped from his seat and ran to the window. Outside a bear was approaching. Martin squinted and noticed the giant animal in the distance. He darted to the bedroom. It was dark. Martin opened the closet door and pulled out a rifle. He fumbled for bullets as the roaring growls of the bear echoed across the island. Martin finally managed to secure the bullets into the chamber. He was locked and ready to unleash hell. The bear broke through the front door of the cabin. It's massive body pushed through the doorway and knocked over the desk. The notepad landed on the floor. Pages of the story flapped against a gust of wind that entered through the broken doorway.

Martin could smell the raw stench of the dirty animal creeping closer. He knelt down, aiming the rifle at the bedroom door frame, one eye closed as he softly whispered a quick and nervous prayer to his unknown deity, "Dear Lord, give me the strength to kill this animal in the presence of your spirit. It's my life against his and I have a book to finish." The black bear roared again, this time the sound shook the inner core of Martin's stomach. He closed one eye, aimed, and took a deep breath. The black bear showed its face. They locked eyes. Two species of earth. Man against the wilderness. The black bear thrusted forward, Martin pulled the trigger. The weapon fired. Bullets ricochetted off the bedroom wall. One bullet caught the bear in the belly, but it was too robust. The bear raised its giant paw and without hesitation swiped across the writer's body. Martin fell back. His head cracked against the wall. Martin was face down on the ground, bones crushed by deadly force. A pool of blood formed around his body. The bear sniffed the back of Martin's neck and opened its massive jaws. Teeth like knives as it sunk into the writer's flesh.

The rifle abandoned on the floor.

Writer, filmmaker from Long Island, NY. Riggio Honors Writing & Democracy Fellow. Screenwriting alum @ NYFA. Published in Jab, Short Fiction Break, & more.