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Wilderness

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Introduction

Wilderness Bradley Watker I hobbled as fast as I could across the moor. I didn't look back and I didn't look down - the former because I didn't want to know just how close it was, the latter because I didn't want to see the blood spurting from my foot. It was chasing me. I didn't turn round, but with each limped and painful step I knew it was right behind me, ready to pounce and end any futile hope of survival. It was so near, at my shoulder, on top of me, right through my brain. I could feel its breath pushing against my neck, salivating in hunger. Why didn't it just finish me off? Maybe it wanted me to turn, maybe the moment I looked it would be there. Its red eyes shining into mine, its wide mouth ready to make an aperture of my throat. The temptation to turn was immense. If I turned it would be over, I wouldn't have to run - hobble, limp, stagger - anymore. I heard it growl, ready to pounce. My arms flailed, my mangled foot slipped in a coating of my own blood - but still I ran, still I refused to look back. I kept thinking of survival, thinking there'd be a future, thinking I'd live - and it was with that thin slice of hope that my legs disappeared from under me. I screamed, but it was a sound of surprise rather than pain - and it was lost in a terrible scream from across the moor. Who was that? Was it Mark? Was it Pete? We'd run together, separated - thinking it couldn't hunt down all three of us across these moors. But was that right? It was a long way to run and we had no idea how swift it was. I closed my eyes and listened. It was Mark. ...read more.

Middle

But I knew they wouldn't be as careful as I would. They'd come to the moors before looking for things, other animals roaming these parts. They'd found them, they'd got them - and so what if a local got in the way of their sharpened bullets? It was collateral damage, it didn't matter. After all, we were too far away from the cities and the towns and the newspapers and the television cameras for anyone to care what actually happened. We were too far away for the death of a few yokel innocents to matter. But we knew. We knew it was as just as dangerous encountering a city man sent with a gun as it was encountering a beast. I got up slowly. What would I look like to them? A man limping in darkness across the moor, smeared with dirt and remains - how was I going to appear to them? I tried to figure out where they were - the sound of propellers said they were close, but I could also hear that breathing. I shuddered. I had to keep moving, I had to get safe. My shack, with heavy bolts on the doors and windows, was still a mile away. There was nowhere else though. Nowhere between where I stood and my shack. Nowhere in that direction between the bar and my shack. It was all so desolate. I had to get home - I could lock himself in, I had weapons, I'd be able to treat my ankle and give myself a chance of a tomorrow. I just had to get off the moor. I didn't want to die out there from either sharpened teeth or sharpened bullets. The man had just stared at that glass of whisky. Rain fell, records changed on the jukebox and still the man watched that glass with slow contemplation. All human sound had died. ...read more.

Conclusion

I had to be quicker - my blood was in the air, surely I was going to be next. It was so near, its breath seemed to bruise the back of my neck. Finally the door opened. I slammed it behind me, bolted it, pushed furniture to block the windows. Outside were choppers, men running - but they weren't going to get near it. It was coming for me, stalking me. I opened the table drawer and pulled out my revolver, then went to my book shelves and cracked open a little box. It was a present, given to me as a keepsake, a lucky charm, in case I ever needed it. A silver bullet. I looked to the door and with shaking fingers slipped it into the chamber. The full moon shone on me despite the furniture. I could hear growling, panting, a nearby and desperate salivating. But then I heard a chopper, I heard men. It receded, cowering, taking a tactical retreat. The sound of breathing softened in my head. I took a gulp of relief and vomited on the floor. The vomit was blood red. I sat down, shaking with tears. I reached to the drawer and pulled out a carving knife, bringing it to my heel. But it was no good. The wound was deeper than I'd realised, the teeth had sunk in further than I thought, meeting below my flesh. There was no way I could just cut it out, the infection was in me, rampant in my blood. I put the gun to my temple. Why not? Anyone who passed as my friend had already died that night. But then the moonlight touched me and I realised just how powerful I felt. I could hear the breathing again, friendlier now though. There was a new smell in the night air - warm, welcoming. The beast was just the other side of the door, I could sense it. I could smell it, it could smell me. I put the gun down and smiled. I guessed neither of us would be lonely for a little while. ...read more.

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