In the bridge beams, a new generation of swallows tended to their nests, as he knelt down on the jut of a rock and dunked his head into the murk of the creek, half wondering if he’d see the rusted remains of his BB gun lying on the bottom. He bought the gun with his paper route money, on the one year anniversary of a life-changing event, and right now I can’t tell you anything more about the nature of this event, other than to say that you will soon be following him into a forest, where he will spend the night beside a fire, at which point I’ll address the matter thoroughly. For the time being, however, we need to linger beneath the bridge, where he’s in the process of remembering the time he went hunting for snakes on a snakeless afternoon…“It’s just my luck,” he grumbled to himself as a bird zigzagged over the surface of the creek. On any other day this bird would have inspired a sense of awe and wonder, but the gun in his hand had grown hot with power, so he made his way over to where his surrogate target had vanished beneath the bridge, and there above his head were the nests of a thriving swallow colony. He exhaled slowly and squeezed the trigger, as per his dad’s marksmanship tutorial, but shooting and killing something wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and he winced in horror at the sight of the chicks prodding their mother’s corpse for more of the insects she gathered but could no longer regurgitate.