Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn't her only adversary, though - something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.
The bear at the end that Trisha faces is the bear known as Shardik from the Dark Tower. Throughout the entire story, Trish follows a stream, the way of the land, and a road. It's said that everything follows the beams, and Trisha followed the bear beam by following the land while she was lost. When she encounters the bear, it is covered with bugs and maggots just like Shardik. She pretends to throw a pitch at the bear, which results in "batteries" falling out of him (which hints that the bear is robotic just like Shardik).
Grown men would have turned and run from the Ursus americanus which lumbered out of the last screen of bushes - it was a fully grown North American black bear, perhaps four hundred pounds-but Trisha had been prepared for some awful horror torn from the underside of the night.
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