by Howard Rue
The monster attacks
|The mastiff landed and shook off the shock of the landing. Nicko realized at this point, that the dog barking and various growls were not eminated from the canine immediatly before them. He glanced to his side and saw a pack of dogs near the earthern parking lot, huddled en masse around a smaller, brightly colored body.
A body of a young girl. The beasts had managed to bring her down, and were pulling on her, like vultures salvaging their meal. The colorful rainbow of a shirt slowly bleated red and various dogs of too many sizes tugged chunks out of the woman and ran a few yards away to feast. More dogs circled the fence beyond them, looking to the get in and ignoring the free meal that had been recently acquired. Their hunger pounded them, and rational thought was escaping.
This wasn't rabies. This was something different.
Nicko thrust his hand back and realized he pressed it against Hollister's firm chest. The heart was out of control and matched his own fears.
"Tell me you have a cell phone. I totally left mine in my apartment."
The mastiff stalked them. Considering the hyperactivity of the dogs nearby, the slow pace of the giant dog bothered him, the delibrate movement tainted with overconfidence. "I'm going to keep this one busy. Get your dog and get as far from the parking lot and over to that back gate I thought I saw..." The mastiff lounged.
And lowered it's shoulders. A playful gesture, and gave Nicko pause.
"Hey boy! Look at me! Look at me!" Nicko dropped into a horse stance. And ran towards the main entrance.
The huge beast of a dog bought it. He heard the thumps of giant paws behind him.
And all four legs were engaged.
There was no way he could outrun a quadraped. The dog leapt using it's momentum and landed on the back of Nicko, his maw closing around the back of his neck. Nicko twirled when he felt the pointed agony on the bones in the back of his throat, the warm cascade of blood splatter. He moved his elbow as he hit the ground, this twirl landing underneath the armpit of the gigantic animal. This drove the dog's bite deeper into his neck. The dog released, stepped back and went for Nicko's face. He held up his hands in resistance, unable to come up with a more creative defense. The dog snarled and snapped off several fingers, leaving them at odd angles on the man's hands. Nicko struggled back better now, since the pain had reached a cresendo, and the dog went for his face, removing his cheek and right eye.
Hollister reached the gate, his little dog barking small yips she was prone to do. Water filled his eyes as he heard the noises behind him and swallowed hard. Nicko was the first guy who seemed to talk to him, someone genuine, a stranger willing to see him as a person. He had always read about how dogs helped you meet people and could no believe this was happening.
But what, exactly was happening?
He reached a small zig-zag corral at the back of the dog park. It opened up to a small forest and also afforded him a small reprieve without any dogs, outside of his own. He opened the first portal, and stepped in.
His phone had no signal. The apartments nearby, he remembered, had terrible service as it was. Such was the bane of urban sprawl in such rural communities.
And the apartments and the road were in the other directly.
He placed a hand on the back gate and took a deep breath. He looked back and was thankful the tree blocked his view. He could hear tearing sounds.
And the end of Nicko's shoe.