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The Tiger

‘Hounds’: part 1 of ‘Hunted,’


I can hear them growling. Their rough howling pierces through the darkness like a knife. It felt like I had been running for hours. Snow was gently drifting down in soft flakes. How ironic, that such a peaceful scene was being disturbed by what was currently taking place.
I kept trudging through the deep drifts as quickly as I could. It was almost knee-deep now. Wait, where was the howling? All was silent. The snow might muffle sound, but there was absolutely nothing. No panting, no padding of feet. It was eerie.
I had to rest. I had been running for so long. There, that log, I can rest there. I stumbled towards it before falling. Dark red stained the snow, slowly spreading out. There were holes in the thin fabric of my jacket sleeve; I had been bitten at the beginning of the chase because I wasn’t careful enough. Now I know better.
I leaned against the log, cradling my arm. It looked a little bent. Probably broken. I sat there, cowering against the wood. Then I heard it. Wet snuffling, the sound I feared the most. A low growl started behind me, slowly coming closer. Yellow eyes began appearing in the darkness, shiny pinpricks staring out hungrily. I scrambled trying to get to my feet, snow flying and the growls getting louder.
As I managed to push off from the log and start running again, a gray figure lunged from the darkness at me from behind. I dove out of the way, falling heavily into the snow before somehow getting back up and running again.
I chanced a glance behind me. I had to see how close they were. Bad decision. The gray streaks were quite close. I turned back around and immediately stumbled over a small stone, plummeting down a steep incline. Everything was a cold, white blur. I tumbled to a stop at the bottom of the hill.
I could feel a pain in my neck. No. No! I couldn’t feel my limbs — nothing at all. I frantically tried to move, to twitch, to do anything. It wasn’t working. I could hear the howls and growls growing closer. Then, I felt my fingers tingle. I kept working at it and managed to gain rough control of my hands. I dragged myself away from the rocks and over to the clearing. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was too tired. I fell to the side and onto my back. I had lost feeling in my hands again. Holding them up to the sky, the dark night with the glittering stars and crisp moon was the backdrop to the outline of my hands.
The fingertips were bloody; most were missing fingernails. I could see the pale white of bone spattered with red sticking out the tips. Defeated, I dropped my hands back to the ground. The snow once again muffled the sound of the forest at night. But not all sound.
I heard the delicate snow crunch near the edge of the forest as paws gingerly stepped closer. The growls were back, sounding all around, encircling me and getting closer. One dark blur sprinted towards me, the others close behind. As I was pulled away from the clearing, away from the comforting light of the moon, the only evidence left behind of what had happened were a few paw prints and dots of red. I felt every single hungry bite.

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