He felt their presence in the darkness below. He looked up and saw the pale glow of the moon overhead. He tried to climb up the sloppy embankment, but his fingers dug and slipped through the muck of the sedimentary deposits. He flailed frantically, clinging momentarily in vain to an unsteady bundle of roots that protruded from the unforgiving slope. The roots steadily pulled away from their silty anchor which had entombed them for millennia before the river had partially freed them. He rode the torrent of mud and rocky shards down to the bank below. That’s when he heard them. A faint growl at first, barely audible above the rush of the turbulent water that drove through the oxbow a hundred feet away.
The growl grew to a steady rumble that doubled in stereo and almost instantly grew exponentially louder. He was surrounded. He whirled quickly toward the seemingly infinite directions of the sounds; a frightened marionette twirling at the end of unseen strings. A pair of fiery eyes froze him in place as their disembodied rage devoured him. Other embers soon lit the dark edge of the riverbank and drew closer like ghoulish fireflies attracted to the warmth of his body. He broke away from their hypnotic stares and hurled himself frantically toward his futile escape. He pawed at the embankment desperate for traction and salvation, but neither came.
They were upon him. The first bite was the worst because of its novelty, its power, its pain, its brutality, and finality. Canines pierced his calf, crushed his shin, and dragged him downward. Several successive sets quickly clamped onto his other limbs. He screamed, but no one heard his dismemberment. A hot canid breath exhaled onto his neck and face as it paused to inspect him. He welcomed the momentary reprieve as the pack pulled back to masticate his flesh. In the next moment, they were on him again. Jaws dragged him bodily along the rocks to the water’s edge where the feasting continued as he screamed in agonizing horror. There was no mercy. Wolves ate this way. The kill was inconsequential. It would come in its own time, though it would not come for him for several more minutes, at least not until his arms had been devoured; one to his shoulder, and the other to just above the crook of his elbow. His legs were ripped apart by the pack so that the alpha could feast on his groin and perineum. The exsanguination was immediate and final. The last sensation that he would take from this world was that of the crushing bite that drove his larynx into his carotid arteries. He’d always loved dogs.
© J. Manuel Writes