(A) A Broken World and NO PLACE TO HIDE (continued)

Frightened, a primordial, irrational terror welled in the pit of his stomach. Fighting a near debilitating urge to vomit, Michael loosened his backpack, letting it drop to the pavement. ” I’ll get it later ” He thought, his mind whirling in near hysteria. The approaching growls were getting louder, the crashing underbrush and cracking dead branches alerting him to the pursuit.

Dashing down the center of the desolate country road, the encroaching woods on both sides formed a surreal, nightmarish tunnel of imagined horrors.

Running now in a near blind panic, he rushed to get away from the imagined monsters that were stalking him. His legs were becoming heavy, and a sharp pain stabbed at his side.

The persistent sounds of the onrushing pursuit, seemed to surround him.

They were getting closer!

The things were after him!

They were stalking him!

Glancing briefly over his shoulder, he could see the movement of several shadowy figures loping behind him, their murky silhouettes outlined against the dark, deserted country road. Stumbling he nearly tripped on an uneven crack in the pavement. That quick look was almost fatal. A momentary break in the overhead canopy allowed a pale beam of moonlight to revealed a snapshot of terror that rivaled his worst childhood nightmares.

He stopped for a moment,panting from exhaustion and fear; fighting to catch his breath.

There were animals, BIG animals,chasing him !

Closing the gap behind him.

There appeared to be three of them.

A flash of lightning lit up the night. And he was able to get an unwanted clear view of his pursuers.

Michael gasped in frightened horror.

They appeared to run on four legs, with 2 additional limbs, protruding from either side of the body., The beasts were nearly 4 feet tall at the shoulder,and were covered with a thick wolf-like fur. Their heads were lupine, with elongated snouts, and razor sharp canine teeth.

That momentary flash of light, gave their eyes a bright red demonic glare.

Bile bubbled up at the back of his throat.

“I’m being chased by Hounds escaped from hell ! ” He thought ,’ Please G-d, let this be a dream.”

He began running again,the visual horror providing a burst of adrenaline,giving new energy to his tiring body.

Twenty feet ahead, on the left side of the road he saw a familiar landmark, a large old gnarled oak tree . He had always thought of it as his stretching tree ; a stopping point on the after hours trip home from work and school.

A low hanging thick branch was a place where Michael liked to stop and stretch, doing a few pull ups, or chin ups to stretch his tired body. At night it appeared as a friendly arm pointing his way down the road towards home and dinner.

Familiarity !

A faint hope of salvation !

He sprinted for the tree; his subconscious, grasping at the landmark as a safe haven; Almost home!

He leaped for the well worn grips on the branch, and struggled to pull himself off the ground.

His body was oxygen deprived and depleted from the sprint in cold mountain air ! He hung from the branch,his arms refusing to respond ! He was unable to pull himself off the ground.

Struggling, tears of frustration spilling down his cheeks, he swung helpless, his legs kicking in a vain attempt to elevate.

There was a musty animal scent, and a steamy vapor of hot breath enveloped the air.

Reluctantly,he turned his head,forcing himself to look.

Three of the creatures, looking like demons spawned from the depths of hell, stood facing him

Their eyes gleamed red.

Their massive chests and muscular legs were covered in a thick coarse fur, two were grey with black streaks,the third, the largest of the three was snow white with reddish brown across his brow, and highlighting his muzzle.

They resembled a distant relative of wolves, but their bodies were much larger almost the size of the stuffed grizzly that stood inside Old McGregors General Store in Cartersville. These monsters had 4 legs for running, but also two muscular limbs,extending from massive shoulders, and ended in razor sharp hooked claws.

Michael hung helplessly from the branch, afraid to move, afraid to let go.

He watched in paralyzed fascination as the large white apparent leader, approached.

The rustling sound of movement in the surrounding woods seemed to grow, as more hulking shadows appeared.

The sound of snarls and snapping trees filled the air.

Their Red demon eyes seemed to float in the night darkness.

The smell of rotted flesh and dried blood was suffocating.

From deep in the woods, a low growl began vibrating, seemingly swelling, growing louder ,the sound was joined by others , from a dozen different directions, echoing and reverberation across the valley.

The white one paused, his massive head tilted to one side, as if listening for something. His mouth hung open, and Michael could see globs of saliva dripping from its enormous jaws.

This momentary respite produced a desperate surge of hope.

Michael released his grip on the branch, and dropped to the ground.

Very slowly, he turned to face the white demon.

Spreading his arms, while holding his hands open in a sign of surrender, he desperately moved his mouth, seeking a drop of saliva to lubricate his thickened tongue.” Hey big fella.” He forced his lips to form a thin smile.” I mean you no h..harm. You guys don’t want to eat me.”

The huge white head towered over Michael.

It took a step forward.

A growl rumbled from deep in its chest.

It snarled, revealing an enormous double row of razor sharp teeth.

Michael took an involuntary step backwards, the monsters breath almost causing him to gag.
A single resonating howl emanated from a place near the crest of Millers Mountain.
The sound seemed to echo from a hundred locations, bouncing from ridge to ridge, and building to a terrifying crescendo.

The monsters seemed mesmerized, frozen, immobile, their voices joining in a prehensile song of vicious savagery.

Michael watched in horror, as the great white Wolfen began to tremble. Wavelike ripples of muscle rolled along his sides.

Its eyes were a bright, burning red, glare.

Its muzzle was pulled back into a fierce frightening snarl.

Its eyes focused on Michael.

Sounds gurgled from deep in its throat.

Michael strained to detect their meaning, a momentary surge of hope of intelligence. “Maybe they understood him!”

It repeated the sounds, more distinctly this time.

They sounded like words, but they were emanating from vocal chords not intended for forming human sounds.

Michael struggled to understand.

The sounds were repeated.

He was almost able to make out the words the words being formed, repeating them slowly, one at a time.

Suddenly Michael was able to grasp their meaning…. he screamed in horror, and turned to run.

” Hot Blood! Food! Eat!” Were the last sounds that he heard.

He wasn’t a big meal, but he was very tasty, and they hadn’t eaten in a very long time.

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