Death to the Outsider

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


A camper walks through the woods at night...and has a deadly encounter...

Submitted: March 30, 2018

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Submitted: March 30, 2018

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Death to the Outsider

He let the outhouse door slam behind him, trading the pungent odour of human waste for the cool night air and scent of redwoods. The campground was utterly silent save for the chirping of crickets. Turning the dial on the side of his headlamp, he fattened the coin of light upon the ground, and with each step he took, tendrils of darkness shriveled and grew from the bushes on the periphery of the white circle.

His step was certain; he knew where he was going. Out in the darkness, beyond the undulating voids between the steadfast trees, a tent, a fire, and a meal awaited him. He was eager for all three. Spying a light in the distance between two trunks, he struck out into the forest, abandoning hard and coarse gravel for soft and wispy soil, striding through the low-lying ferns with ease.

#

She was free.

She stepped lithely through the woods, her feet knowing every bough, every trunk. On cracked and calloused paws she walked, her eyes glinting in the moonlight. The moon was a gift, she knew, and with its humble, pale rays, the reflective lenses in her eyes revealed her world, her realm, her kingdom. She was a phantom; a grey-sheathed queen over this midnight land. All was her dominion.

She paused and lifted her nose to the wind. Good. Her pack was still flanking her. She was about to plod onward, but stopped mid-stride, one paw inches from the ground. What was that? For a moment, another smell had pierced through all familiar aromas. The wind changed, and it hit her full force; a composite of scents that together formed a brutal overpowering stink.

Her nose twitched in irritation. This smell offended her; it was the smell of a human. There was an interloper in her land. Ordinarily, she would have kept her distance, but on this night, she had her pack with her. She sat on the soft forest floor and waited. This human was going to regret its trespassing.

#

He kicked through the brush at his feet, trying to forge a path. The further he went into the trees, the denser the small shrubs got. It was as though the plants were trying to stop him, trying to trip him and make him fall. He felt that the forest itself was turning against him.

He halted a moment to tilt his head up from his feet, to shine his light ahead and gauge the distance he had left to cross, but when he did, he beheld a pale canine sitting serenely in the gap between two engorged roots. Its eyes caught the glow from the headlamp and burned furiously as they reflected the light.

You hate humans, he thought anxiously. Go, run, leave, it’s what you always do…what you’re supposed to do. But the wolf didn’t run. It didn’t move a muscle. Instead it lifted its snout to the moon and howled. His blood turned to ice as others picked up the call.

#

The brutish beast had offended her enough with his intrusion, but seeing the way he bludgeoned through the woods without the slightest care or tact swelled her rage. The foul, odorous miasma that floated off him was coloured with fear when she howled, and to her amusement, that subtle hint only increased with each report from her pack mates. They were on the move, closing around the human like a noose.

She took a step forth, gleefully watching him back away. He was afraid. Oh, he was terrified! She could not wait to clamp her jaws around his throat, taste his blood as she bit down, see the life leave his monstrous eyes.

#

Why me? Why now? Such thoughts surged through his head while, simultaneously, he tried to think of a way out of this. He heard the rustling of leaves all around him, growing nearer every second. In a few brief moments, he would be surrounded. All the while, those silver, vindictive eyes bored into him with…what? Hunger? Anger? Some other emotion not known to humans? Whatever it was, this wolf was going to kill him, but he would not go down without a fight.

He had a weapon to fight with; one secret weapon he could bring to bear against these animals: the Swiss army knife in his front-right pocket. You’re in for a surprise, you animal. Keeping his steady retreat, he slowly reached into his pocket. He slid his hand down, down, down; the pocket seemed to be bottomless. Then his fingers brushed the steel tool, and when they did, the wolf tensed. Maybe a slight muscle twitch in his face betrayed his victory, maybe his scent had changed. Regardless, the wolf knew. It crouched and sprung forward in a grey blur. He brought his left arm up and a scream tore from his lips as razor-sharp teeth dug into his skin.

#

Adrenaline surged through her. She was in the throes of bloodlust, her body thrashing from side to side; a dance to the music of the human’s screams. With one great jerk to the right, cloth and flesh ripped away, leaving the human to cradle his arm. As one, her pack charged, leaping for the interloper with all the coordination of a single mind. He should have known better than to be where he didn’t belong.


© Copyright 2018 James Patrick Dick. All rights reserved.

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