I thought it was a person calling to me, but it wasn’t, it is some kind of warped, transformed thing. It is double my size in height, appears all muscle, and its arms stretch out so long, but at the end, talons, claws, and if they slash at me, I’m instantly dead!
It has a long pointed face, its mouth full of teeth and it is dripping saliva all over, as if drooling at the prospect of a fresh meal: me.
Its skin looks tough, like I would have a hard time cutting into it, and I doubt my bullets are going to do a thing.
It stands there, eyeing me. Could it be sentient? Something tells me no, it is instinctive, and only wants one thing. I could make for the old shed, but it looks rickety, and I am certain it would destroy that in minutes to get at me, plus it is a dead end.
I pace backwards slightly, maintaining eye contact. I recall people said if confronted by a wild bear to do this, to just move away but stand tall, keep looking at it eye to eye, show you are not afraid and slowly turn to walk away.
Steam seems to pour out of its nostrils as it breaths, it seems both calm and at the same time physically alert, as if its mind is focused on its prey and body prepared to attack.
I am not convinced of what to do.
The beast with such fearsome claws has lurched towards me, I am running. My mind is a wild frenzy of thoughts; now I know what it is to be hunted. Damn these stupid soft shoes, they are of no use whatsoever. Recriminations are all well and good when you have the time to consider them, not so when a twelve foot creature is rampaging behind you swinging its long arms out to grab you.
The gravel underfoot is slippy, and there are huge rocks ahead. I shall go into there, see if I can lose it. I almost slip over, the ground is so poor, but I am in luck! The thing does exactly that, sliding heavily and crashing to the ground with a massive hit. Dust and bits fly all over, and for the moment nothing can be seen. Now, I must make my escape.
My lungs hurt, running so long, pounding on this rock hard surface. All I can see is a blur, no longer looking where I am going, just from what I am escaping from.
There, up ahead now, another building, red brick, and a smooth archway of glass nearby, perhaps steps leading down. I must go there.
The red building, it has boarded up windows, and a wooden door. For the first time I look around, and nothing is there. I must have escaped. I can laugh a little now, because I am alive, and free to starve and struggle and suffer another day.
As I went to try the handle on the door to the red building, it swung open. Standing before me is an old woman, thickly dressed in warm clothing, wearing a leather hat. Her face is full of lines, weather worn, and her hair an unkempt grey.
The problem is, she is holding a gun to my face, and staring at me, and I have literally dropped from the frying pan, into the fire.
‘Perfect timing sonny, come on in and join me for dinner.’ She says, and I am torn. I’m starving, but I don’t like doing anything at gunpoint.
‘Can you lower the gun, I’m a good guy.’ I say to her.
She laughs, a cackling old laugh. ‘Yeah sonny, that’s what they all say.’
She keeps the gun at my face, beckoning me in. I have no choice. As she steps into the shadows inside, I step in. There is a small oil lamp giving light inside, and warmth from an open fire. There is a spit on it, some kind of meat turning. It smells awful.
She gestures for me to go to the back corner. It looks like it was an old shop once. There seems to be a lot of useful items here. Would I be wrong to try to take from her, it seems that is the way in the world.
I sit on an old wooden chair, it wobbles, but seems firm enough.
‘Now, sonny, as I say, you can join me for dinner.’
‘Thanks, I’m not hungry.’ I say, just as my stomach rumbles so loud it sounds like a train passing.
The old woman stands closer to me now, and pulls out a knife, very long and seriously sharp. It glints in the light of the fire. Her face twitches, like that of the others who attacked me. I think, she is the same…
Life has given me simple choices so far, to hide, to run, and to fight. I have been lucky, and need to be now. I charge at her, grabbing the gun, she swings it upwards. The woman struggles, falling backwards over a chair, and I fall too, onto her. As we roll, she spits at me, vile creature. I hold onto the gun for dear life, but what of the knife?
The woman goes limp, her eyes lifting up as if in euphoria. I take a hold of her gun, in time to see a lake of blood spill from beneath her. Now I can see it, when she fell she dropped the knife, fell on it. It is in her.
My good luck, her bad. The sense of shame revisits me now, but not the same. I know what she wanted, what I wonder is, will the entire world be full of these savages?
I am hungry, but I won’t eat that meat on the spit. I know what it is.
For now I shall sit by the warmth of its fire, try to ignore what the smell is, and regain my senses.
I suspect I have a very long, dangerous and hard road ahead of me. Luck won’t be my companion always, so I must change…