The image of the dead crocodile caused an itch for Patrick. The itch was located on the back of his right shoulder, right where the Daeodon had grazed him with its teeth.
“What do you think could have caused this?” asked Julie.
“Oh, I’ve got a feeling.” Patrick answered, scratching the back of his right shoulder.
Eyes widening, a hand going over her mouth in shock, Julie realized what Patrick thought the slayer was. “So far from the highland? Okay, I’ll just accept that is possible. I mean you were reading a book about prehistoric animals when we first met on the plane and the next thing we know we are on a highland populated by prehistoric animals. It sounds contrived but it actually happened so I guess a hog from hell having come this far from the highland is possible.”
Sighing, Patrick rubbed his neck. He could only hope he was wrong. A Hyenodon or a Smilodon would be bad but a Daeodon, a member of the Entelodont family, was a thousand times worse! Julie’s rather calm acceptance of something of the Entelodont genus being in the area spoke volumes about how prepared for such a thing being the case their last adventure had made her.
Once finished with rubbing his neck, Patrick put his hand in his pocket. He felt the object in his pocket and gave a small smile, then looked at the cadaver of the Nile crocodile. The smile instantly turned into a frown. That carcass had ruined everything.
“There is always the possibility it isn’t.” said Julie, taking her boyfriend’s hand. “Now, if swimming is out of the option how about we go see the caracal kittens?”
“I don’t think the mother or father would like us coming to see their kittens.” Stated Patrick. It was in the nature of animals to be protective of their young. It was also in the nature of caracals to not be happy if someone woke them up. If they were sleeping but Patrick didn’t know that… Indeed unless one had accidentally woken up a caracal they wouldn’t know just how aggressive a caracal can look. Granted, seeing a protective mother would have been an indication of just how aggressive a caracal could be.
“Well, then how about we remember that Collins wanted to sell the father. If Elvis tells him where the mother and kittens are…”
“Point taken but I have a feeling that Elvis would have to be impossibly stupid after what the mother did to his face. Still, I am curious about what the reaction of the mother and father will be to seeing us.” Impossibly stupid… As it so happened that was exactly the case. When it came to intelligence, Elvis Herbert was for all intents and purposes Smee from the J. M. Barrie novel “Peter Pan.” When Patrick and Julie arrived at the temple, they found Elvis emerging empty handed and his face as scratched up as possible. His beak-like noise was reduced to a slit and his right eye was barely open. Patrick’s expression was one that was completely dumbfounded. “Apparently he is impossibly stupid.”
“Doesn’t surprise me.” Commented Julie with a completely deadpan expression. Walking into the temple, the couple found the father and mother caracal prepared to leap only to relax upon recognizing them. The mother lied down while the father stared at them, keeping his eyes on the two visitors. Patrick might have released him but the father was not about to let his defense down. He may have relaxed but he was still going to keep his eyes on the visitors. Soon the kittens emerged from their burrow and were playing with one another. “Most of them seem to be fine with us.”
“Just don’t get close to the father, Julie.” Said Patrick. “I think he intends to keep his eyes on us.” How true that was. The father caracal just kept his eyes on them both even as Julie knelt down to pet one of the kittens he began to growl at her. “Julie, back away from the kittens! Daddy is not happy with you wanting pet them.” Julie did just that and as she backed over to Patrick, the father caracal stopped hissing but kept his yellow eyes on the two. “Okay, we’ve seen the kittens. Lets not make their father angry. “
“But they are so cute and fluffy!”
“And their dad isn’t keeping his eyes off us. I don’t want to give him the wrong idea.”
“Oh, alright! But lets come back later.”
Walking out of the temple, Patrick and Julie saw a creature run across the landscape. It looked like an odd-looking dog that was black and brown in color and was out of proportion with longer legs at the back and it had an elongated snout. Even stranger, the beast looked like a ghost and appeared to have no bones in its body.
Patrick had heard a few theories of such a beast. One that it was an animal connected to Set, third child of the Egyptian goddess Nut who was the Lady of the Heavens. Set had been overtaken by evil. The second theory was that it was a modern day version of Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death. Another theory was that it was a rabid dog bred with hyenas or jackals, the former being impossible as hyenas were not members of the dog family but jackals on the other hand were.
Suddenly the beast stopped in its tracks. It turned and looked in their direction. It was one hundred and ten feet away from Patrick and Julie and somehow it knew it had been spotted by them. It wasn’t even a second after it turned and looked at them that it began to run towards them. Needless to say, a dog with back legs that happened to be longer than the front legs would be strange to see running but despite how odd the beast looked there was just something so sinister about it. The moment the beast started running at them, a feeling of fear overcame Patrick and Julie.
Instinctively, they ran for the camp. There was no possible way it would follow them into the camp. As it turned out, they were wrong. It followed them right into the camp and all the local help that had never had any training in combat went running from the beast while those who had threw themselves at the beast armed with digging equipment and began to attack the monster. You’d think that would have killed the beast.
And you’d be wrong.
The beast managed to overpower all of them and extended its neck like it was made of elastic to try and get at Patrick as he and Julie got ever and ever farther. Not a bone was broken, not a cut was made. The locals knew tales of this beast well but even then when knowing it was near impossible to kill the brave knew it had to be destroyed for these things attacked without reason, they were evil creatures, monsters simply known as “Salawa.”
When Collins saw it, he too went running with all those who had never had combat training. Greed and cowardice… What a despicable combination.