“Now, Mr. Squealer, as you can see, we are not going to kill you. Instead, you are going to kill yourself.”

“Yeah,” Green chirped in, “as soon as your arm becomes too heavy to hold out in front any longer, it will fall, pulling the line tight, and your nicely adjusted hair-triggered hunting rifle will fire…and it is, as you can see, aimed directly at your mouth!”

Green and the others departed.

Luke was bleeding and in pain. His extended arm was beginning to ache. He tried to relax and make the pain go away. It worked…for a few seconds. He took some deep breaths and tried to relax. He tried to think positive thoughts. Maybe someone will come by and find me. Not too likely though. Archery season has just begun. But it’s getting late in the day. Maybe someone is up here scouting out the area. Not likely either; it’s almost dark.

Taking deep breaths was working. He could relax his shoulder, upper arm, and forearm and make them all feel lighter. But the burning sensation didn’t stop.

He thought about his family and the eight previous times he narrowly escaped death, and for a fleeting second he recalled the superstitious saying “A cat has only nine lives.” The present predicament was his ninth.

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