The hunter watched as the caribou stumbled across the burning plain, hind legs useless, dragging two streaks of blood across the earth like a blind painter with no tools but a snake and some strawberries. He tracked the dying animal through the brush, casting a nervous glance at the flames encroaching. If the hunt had not gone so badly, he would have left the caribou to burn, but he’d bagged only one skeletal animal in seven days, and he could not afford to let this one go. A sidewinder kicked up dust in his wake, fleeing from the crunch of the hunter’s boots on the gravel. He’d finally shot a decent animal and besides, the fire was loud, so no need to remain silent. The hunter came upon the caribou, fallen now, dead. He slit the belly and removed what had to be removed, then worked the animal into a burlap sack. By the time he heaved the sack over his shoulder, the flames licked closer, engulfing the brittle brush quicker than hell. The blistering heat choked the air. The rolling green hills in the distance could not be seen through the smoke. He moved as quickly as a man carrying a dead caribou can move, but he’d underestimated the doggedness of the flames. He did not have to walk far to realize he was surrounded. The fire had closed into a ring. He knew then that he should never have pursued the caribou. He should have turned back for the jeep as soon as he spotted the first plume of smoke distorting the air. But now here he was, ready to die for an animal unremarkable in size –bigger than the scrawny one back at camp, but unremarkable nonetheless. He marched forward, jackrabbits and snakes and beetles and lizards scurrying in his wake, and the flames closed in on all of them. When he felt his skin begin to cook, he dropped the sack and dispelled the caribou onto the earth. He jimmied himself into the sack, then slung his rifle over that, across his back, and stumbled blindly toward the hottest heat he’d ever known. He passed into it, not knowing if he would ever emerge from the searing that cut to the bone. And suddenly he was free. A matter of seconds was all the time it took to pass through the burning ring, although it would be some time before he escaped the range of the fire for good. He unslung his rifle and dropped to the earth and rolled violently to snuff the flames that coated the burlap sack like icing on a cake, and when the flames abated he pulled at the sack to remove himself from it, but with every pull on the sack, pain blossomed in his scalp. He’d become stuck. Melted, more like it. He unclipped his knife from his belt and cut into the burlap, cutting two holes for eyes to see. With the fire spreading fast, his first objective was to flee. For that he needed vision. He would find a way to remove the sack later, back at camp. No hospitals nearer than half a day’s drive anyway. He’d determine the severity of the damage when the time came, and he’d accept it for what it was. Maybe he’d live the rest of his days with a burlap sack over his head. Maybe. He’d see. He slipped his rifle over one shoulder and carried on. He saw well enough to navigate away from the fire, but not well enough to spot the sidewinder in his path. The snake struck high, catching him in the meat of the thigh above the shin guards he wore beneath his pants to protect from snake bites. He clamped down on the snake in a vise grip by the neck and the snake, encased in leathery, armor-like scales, flailed and thrashed against him. He remained calm, almost stolid – shock, probably – as he retrieved his knife and cut off the snake’s head. A souvenir, if he should survive. He pocketed the snake head and returned the knife to its place and looked out and sure enough, there now in the distance, the jeep. Only the jeep was no longer a jeep; it was a caribou made of glass and filled with blood. The blood was just translucent enough to see the heart floating within its chest, beating. The hunter crouched on one knee, raised his rifle, and took aim.