"At that moment, two things happened. A rumbling thunder came from the chute behind him as a fresh avalanche belched from the gap. He jumped back at the sound just in time to avoid the two bolts that thwacked into the tree where he’d been standing a moment before. He rolled away from the edge, scared and angry. Whoever was down there had just tried to killed him!
"As if that wasn’t worrisome enough, from the other direction Tag raised his hackles and began to growl fiercely at the pile of scree behind them as rocks continued to shoot from the cleft. Fearing a second attack from a new direction, Seth looked up just in time to see a bundled gray blur tumble from the chute. The blur seemed to unfold midair, then land upright before flipping into a forward roll that consumed another fifteen feet and ended at the bottom of the slide in front of the astonished pair. As this apparition from the mountain’s gullet rose up in a cloud of dust, Seth scrambled backward in fear.
"Tag snarled menacingly, trying to position himself between his master and the threat, as Seth retreated while fumbling for his knife. He backed into something solid and glanced over his shoulder to find he’d come up against a barren tree trunk near the edge.
"He ducked left around the tree, as the hooded creature appeared to be pulling a weapon from beneath his dirty cloak. He had no time to react as a shaft from below drove into his backpack with enough force to spin him around. He managed to keep his feet under him as he spun, but he was too close to the cliff. The ground under his right foot gave way suddenly, and he teetered, clutching at air for a brief second. That second seemed to last forever as Seth realized he was going over. He glanced down, hoping for anything to grab onto, but saw only boulders and a crushing end below.
"Then, in what seemed like slow motion, he tumbled over the edge."
Richard Martins is a native of Salinas, California, and a retired pharmacist. He currently resides in the Bay Area with his wife Diana, dog Luna, and cat Fiona. In his free time, he enjoys reading, gardening, gaming, and writing tales of fantasy and adventure for readers young and old.