The bullet penetrated eye and occipital bone and ricocheted around the inside of the skull.

From A Night Too Dark, the seventeenth Kate Shugak novel:

He was running flat out, straight at them, squealing and growling a challenge, turf kicked up behind him by those long, sharp, deadly claws.  Distantly, as if it were happening to someone else, she could feel his weight hitting the ground, a steady, rhythmic vibration up through the soles of her feet.  His thick, gleaming hide rolled in loose, flapping folds around flesh diminished by a winter’s hibernation.

He couldn’t possibly have been moving that fast before, the thickness of the brush would have impeded him as surely as it would have stopped Kate and Old Sam’s escape.  Once he was in the clearing he moved at a flat-out four-gaited gallop, the hind legs following the fore legs in a dedicated integration of muscle and bone and attitude that she would have recognized as sheer beauty if she hadn’t been standing on the finish line.  He was the size of a Humvee, coming at her with the hammer down and armored with teeth and claws, and she concentrated all her awareness on the tiny bead at the end of the barrel of her rifle.  She blew out another breath, and held it. 

The bead wavered a little before steadying, and suddenly bead and bear’s head sprang into acute and equal focus.  His head came up in mid-stride, some instinct as primeval as the forest behind him alerting him to the danger.  For a fleeting moment their eyes met, and it flashed through her mind that she had seen that expression or something very like it before.  The eyes, dark, near together, near-sighted, and bent on the annihilation of his target.  Looked just like Harvey Meganack’s when he was intent on scoring against Kate at an NNA board meeting.

She pulled the trigger without volition, an act of instinct and self-protection.  As if coming from a great distance, she heard the report of a rifle shot, and after what seemed like forever felt the rifle’s butt kick into her shoulder.

The bullet penetrated eye and occipital bone and ricocheted around the inside of the skull. The bear’s head flung back with such force that it broke his neck.  His front legs went out from beneath him and the forward motion backed by his mass was so great that he slid the remainder of the mere twenty feet that had separated them when the bullet entered his right eye and made mush of his brain.

When his body slid to a halt, his head flopped forward.  The tip of his short, blunt nose was just touching Kate’s boot.


Chatter Kate Shugak Uncategorized

Dana View All →

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2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. The first time I read this book, I read this passage again and again. A couple of reasons made it necessary. The first was the vision of that bullet cancelling functions right, left, and sideways. The second was the immediate memory of a Professor explaining the topography of the human brain. Occipital lobe? On it. Kept reading. Still do!

  2. I love that part of the book. You can practically feel the bears paws hitting the ground. I can’t even imagine how intense that would have been. And I worry about stepping a rattlesnake in my own backyard and trees. This is such a great example of the Kate Shugak series(which I have read about 10 times).
    We watched America in Color the other night and it was about Alaska. Thanks to Dana’s writing I knew about WWII in Alaska. I knew about the great earthquake in 1964 and could picture Old Sam watching it all happen.
    Thanks for putting this putting this out there for us Dana.

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