No. 126

Shawn Hind woke up early and drove three and a half hours to spend his Saturday in Big Clouds Park. He’d been drawn to the intriguing combination of lakes, abandoned railway artefacts, and the surrounding trails.
Now, he was a respectable distance from his car and it was not yet eleven AM. He stopped hiking for his first sip of water and a handful of trail mix. He’d added the M&M’s to the store-bought kind himself. He was dusting off his hands when he noticed a flash of reflected light and an incongruous straight line in the underbrush, about twenty feet from the edge of the trail.
Hind struggled over a fallen log and some soggy ground to arrive at the strange object.
It was a sword.
Hind picked it up reflexively and drew the blade from its scabbard. He held it in front of him and admired the deadly weapon.
It had a long and thin blade, razor-sharp, with a simple bar for a guard and a leather-wrapped grip. The pommel reminded him of a spade from a deck of cards. Hind half-expected to find gold or jewels on it, but although it seemed expertly balanced and crafted, it was clearly intended for practical use and had no extraneous ornamentation.
There was no sign of decay or dirt on it. It must have been lost recently.
He looked around for more clues, but there was no hint of the sword’s origin.
It was strange to find such a thing out here in the woods. The park was usually busy during the summer, but at this time of year the only people willing to make the trip were committed outdoorsmen who had no use for a weapon like this.
Hind began to feel uneasy. He could not imagine any scenario in which the placement of the blade made sense. Finding a gun, he would have understood. A sword was another matter entirely.
Coming to no conclusion, he re-sheathed it, and tucked it between the straps on his backpack. Then he continued on down the trail at a slightly faster pace than before.
He made it perhaps a hundred yards before he had a terrifying thought. He tried to push it away because it was not rational, but he couldn’t clear his head.
The sword didn’t belong here. He shouldn’t have touched it.