by Kirk Jolly
Brett Connors tried to imagine
excuses of why he shouldn’t, or better yet, couldn’t run today. Being a writer made it much easier for him to
do this, than to actually just go run. Some mornings he did this for so long he could’ve done his run twice in the time
that he just stood on the front yard. In the end he always did it, somehow. Hearing that he was overweight from his doctor
had been painful, but not unexpected. Unchecked his waistline had grown considerably in a very short time. Looking down he
still expected to see his gut hanging out over his pants, but it was flat. Complaining about the exercise was easy, but the
results were nice. Having always been overweight he was still adjusting to his new body, his new life.
A rustling sound coming from
the bushes on the side of his house stopped his train of thought in his tracks. This whole time he had been dimly aware that
he was being watched. Squinting his eyes to see through the early morning gloom, he stared at the bushes. Something dark moved
among them, rustling the leaves again. Taking a step towards the bushes a feeling of dread suddenly filled the pit of his
stomach. Instead of investigating he decided he would just go inside instead. Irrational fear was gripping him as he took
a few barley-controlled steps towards the front door. A jet black beast burst from the hedges and ran to cut him off from
the door and safety. Catching only a glimpse out of the corner of his eye was enough for him to burst into a run in the other
direction. With an angry sounding grunt the beast gave chase.
A million things began to
go through Brett’s mind. His house was situated near a wooded area, but he had never heard of any dangerous animals
around. Turning his head to get a look at his pursuer he stumbled and decided it would be best to keep his eyes on the road
ahead of him. The houses on his right seemed to fly by, but nobody was outside. Six A.M. was early, and it was Saturday so
everyone was probably still in bed as he should be he thought sourly.
Staying right on his heels
the beast wouldn’t let him slow his pace. Not at a full sprint Brett knew that he could keep this up for awhile, but
he knew that he had to think of something before he tired. Eventually the houses gave way to the woods, and without a second
thought he plunged off the road into their darkness. Running in between the trees he was able to put some distance between
him and the beast. Trying to make a few quick cutbacks the beast cut him off forcing him deeper into the woods. Deciding that
this wasn’t going to work Brett pushed up his pace as fast as he dared with treacherous branches all over the ground.
Hearing the beast stumble behind him he finally saw what he had been hoping for ahead of him. Quickly glancing behind him
to verify he was a ways ahead he dodged behind the thick brush ahead of him and quit running.
It took only moments for the
beast to catch up and go streaking past where Brett stood hidden. This was the only good look he had gotten of him. All black
and running on all fours, the beast wasn’t very big, but his mouthful of fangs looked imposing enough. After a few moments
he felt that his hunter had gone far enough so he sprang out of the brush and began to run back towards the road. The howl
behind him let him know that the beast had heard him and was now coming for him. Pushing on Brett thought that he could see
the road ahead. If he could make enough of a lead on him in the woods, then sprint all out on the road, he might be able to
make it in his house before the beast caught him.
Bursting onto the road he
turned sharply back towards his house. His shoes slapping the tarmac he ran as fast as he could. Daring to venture a glance
behind him he saw the beast just coming out onto the road. Everything in those last few minutes seemed to happen in slow motion.
The air coming into his lungs felt like hot liquid. His legs and chest were burning. The angry grunts and snorts of the beast
seemed to keep getting closer no matter how fast he ran. Suddenly he could feel hot breath and saliva hitting the backs of
his legs. His advantage had disappeared. He needed a new plan. He would never get inside with it this close on his heels.
Suddenly claws scratched across the back of his leg as the beast tried to trip him. In his panic he almost did go down, but
he managed to keep his feet. The swipe had cost the beast a few steps though. Seeing that his house was only two away, he
tried to run even faster, but his tired legs wouldn’t comply.
The gleam of aluminum at his
curb suddenly gave him new hope. As he passed his garbage cans, he knocked them down behind him and turned straight towards
his house. Hearing a dull bong and a howl behind him almost made Brett giddy as he closed the short distance of his front
yard. Grabbing the knob and turning quickly he jumped across the threshold and slammed the door shut. Half a second later
he could hear claws running down the door.
"Well did "The Beast" catch
you today?" He jumped at the sound of his wife's voice.
"Nope, I beat him again.
"Good. Now go pick up the
trash and let the dog in please."
Copyright Kirk Jolly 2006