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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2321326
A werewolf tries to escape his pursuers.
The Hunter Hunted

Vulpen lifted his head and listened intently. That last kill had dulled his senses as the fresh meat filled his belly and lulled him into contentment. He had been dozing off when a distant sound had somehow penetrated his languor and propelled him into full awareness.

It was a sound like a human voice, so far off as to be indistinct, but out of place in the deep woods. A sound that meant either prey or hunter, something to be wary of instinctively. He stood up and moved away from the body of the man he had been feeding on. Vulpen had taken him for a lone hiker, probably lost and wandering in circles, but was there a companion somewhere? He listened for the sound to come again.

It did and was immediately followed by another, apparently answering it. At least two of them then, thought Vulpen. They were too muffled by distance for the words to be discerned, but clear enough to put the matter beyond doubt.

And then the smell reached his werewolf nostrils. Thin, it was, woven as a strand among the vast background of the forest trees and decay and moss and trickling water and hidden creatures beneath the dead needles from the pines. Just one strand, but so distinctive and unnatural midst the rest, that it stood out as a single purple thread in a sheet of white linen. So noticeable it was, with its acrid scents of sweat and chemicals, leather and plastic and urine.

Then more voices came to his ears and Vulpen knew what was happening. There were many voices, slightly nearer now and spread out in a line, calling to each other. A search party, and it was heading his way.

They must be looking for the one he had killed, he reasoned. The idiot must have been lost for longer than Vulpen had thought, and now they had found the man’s camp and were tracking his movements from there. Which meant that it wouldn’t be long before they found the remains of Vulpen’s meal. It was time to be moving on.

He turned and began walking deeper into the forest, away from the increasing sounds from the searchers. There was no hurry; it would be a while before their search became a hunt.

Ten minutes later he heard the sudden increase in shouts and sounds behind him that meant they had found the body. There was no mistaking the horror and anger in the voices, the growing stench of adrenaline in the air.

Then the sounds spread out to right and left of him, definite signs that their motivation had taken on a new meaning and a more dangerous intent. Vulpen broke into that tireless and liquid lope inherent in the blood of his ancestors. In that darkest of the night hours, he headed for the black heart of the forest, a place that even he seldom visited. He could lose them there, he was sure.

But still there was no need to panic. If it came to that, he could run much faster than mere humans. And they remained several minutes behind, though it was clear that they had found his trail.

The stream could help with that, he thought. He changed direction slightly to angle down the slope toward the water, still in that easy lope that he could keep up all night if necessary.

Then he was at the stream and stepped into the cold and chattering flow over its stony bed. Downstream he went, determined that no trail of muddied water would flow past his entrance point to give away his chosen direction. It would take him in the wrong direction for a while, but he could bend round after leaving the stream and still find a way to the deeper forest.

The noises came more clearly now that he was closer to the left arm of the attack. It seemed that they might even get ahead of him and, unnerved slightly, he left the stream earlier than he had intended and began the run back toward the darker parts of the forest. The trees closed in, ever closer together.

Now the pursuit on the other side seemed too close and Vulpen picked up his pace to a trot. No need to panic, he told himself.

The extra speed allowed him to increase his advantage again and concern slipped away from his mind. He slowed to a lope again.

And then he heard cries rising up from the woods before him. Somehow they had a group that had completed the circle and was closing in on him. Of course, he thought, they must have radioed ahead and now another search party was zeroing in from there. He stopped, needing to think of a plan.

Still no need to panic. He could hide and let them pass by. Once outside the circle, that would be it, he could run then and leave them with nothing to find but cold and darkness.

Looking around, he saw the perfect place to hide. An old tree had fallen and was lying over a rock that emerged from the pine needles littering the ground. Bushes had grown up around the tree so that they hid whatever space remained between the tree and the earth. A perfect hidey hole.

Relieved at this solution to his problem, Vulpen lifted his leg against the tree. As the golden liquid streamed out, he saw the mist rising from its passage though the cold air and smelt the fierce stink of a werewolf’s urine. So strong was it that even a human nose could detect it.

Damn, he thought. That’s one bit of territory I shouldn’t have marked. It’s time to panic.

Word count: 957
For: "Game of Thrones, The North Remembers, What’s His Story Prompt 43
Prompt: It wasn't quite yet time to panic. There was still time to salvage the situation.
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