Jack and Sal made their way to their next assignment to survey some land out West for a wealthy investor. The property had went up for sale as new land, never before deeded to any owners, and property of the state. A large field of wildflowers filled with Valerian honeysuckle and Indian Paintbrush appeared as they rode up on horseback.
Jack pulled out the map. “Sal, I think this is the place. Besides, I need to get off this beast. Why don’t we set up camp for the night. It’s going to be dark soon any hows.”
Sal pulled up beside Jack and took in a deep breath, enjoying the fragrance from the field. “Fine by me. It’s a sure pretty site.” Sal dismounted from his horse, Silver Tongue, and gave him a smooth pat. “I’m sure you’d like a break, too.”
Silver Tongue whinnied in delight and shook his head as Sal pulled off his pack and saddle.
“You baby that horse too much, Sal,” sneered Jack as he offloaded himself and things off the back of his horse. “See, Charlie here doesn’t need that type of attention. He’s a real man’s horse.”
Charlie looked over at Jack, then at Silver Tongue. He stomped one of his hooves in disapproval, but then stopped. He knew what Jack might do if he kept it up.
Sal and Jack set up their main work tent first and then their own sleeping shelters, then started up a fire to heat up some beans from their portable kitchen. It wasn’t much, but they’d hunt in the morning for some fresh meat to supplement.
As the sun set behind the mountains, the area around them first quieted, then seemed to come to life. The chirp of grasshoppers, the sound of the trees moving in the wind, and the hoot of an owl filled the air. In the distance, howls from a wolf pack floated their way.
“Well Jack, I’m off to bed. Catch up with you in the morn’,” Sal tipped his hat, hung it on the edge of his shelter and crawled inside.
Jack waved good night to his traveling companion, then reclined back on the log they had set up for seating and looked out over the meadow. In the distance, he saw what seemed to be a shadow walking among the flowers. “Hey, you. What are you doing out there?” he yelled out.
The shadow appeared to freeze and then disappeared before his eyes, leaving a trail of vapor behind. Jack rubbed his eyes and thought to himself, I must be more tired than I thought. With that, he decided to also turn in for the evening.