Champrelle stumbled over the root of a tree as she flew through the undergrowth of the forest, the impact nearly knocking her off her feet.
By sheer luck she didn’t fall and righted her wobbly legs.
She couldn’t fall. If she fell, it meant death. Today was not going to be her last day alive. Not by a long shot!
The trail widened before her as she raced over the worn dirt path, leaves brushing against her clothing as she zoomed by. Thankfully, the sun was still high in the sky so she could keep her bearings in check, her internal compass guiding her deeper into the forest.
Years of hiking in different trails and mountain ranges had given her the experience to stay alive if she were to lose her compass in her pack. She knew what plants to not eat and where she could potentially hide out in case of a wild animal approach, but this was different.
What chased her was not an animal, but a man.
He had emerged from the tree line as she was relaxing on a wooden bench that had been constructed along the trail. The man was downright creepy the minute she laid eyes on him. From his dirty unkempt clothing to the deranged look in his grey eyes, he screamed of stranger danger.
Champrelle rose to her feet, retreating the opposite way down the trail. He followed her, walking faster as she hurried to get away from him.
“Where ya going, baby cakes? I just want to talk.” He snickered.
“How ‘bout no?”
It was the gleam of the switchblade in the sunlight that sent a shiver of fear through her veins. The slim blade, a butterfly knife, had emerged from her pursuer’s pocket. Its owner intended to do wicked things with it and she wasn’t going to let him.
Her mom raised a fighter and she wasn’t going to go down easy if it came to it. She had been running for a solid six minutes now and her body was slowing down, the adrenaline making up for the slack. Every muscle in her body ached and screamed to stop but she wasn’t ready to die.
The asshole chasing her still wasn’t giving up, despite him looking ready to pass out. He was running low on steam, like her, but he was determined to slice her up like a steak after he buried himself inside her body.
Years of pushing her body to its limit as she trained for back country hiking and mountaineering had molded her body for endurance. She was past that endurance, though, and felt her body growing sluggish.
“No. I have to keep going! Damn you, body. You traitor!” Champrelle whined mentally.
Pushing low lying branches out of her way, she found herself in a small clearing. Wild flowers of various colors covered the ground of the clearing.
It was a meadow. One that had been on the uncharted part of her map.
She mentally put a push pin here so she could come back another time if she made it out alive.
Powering through the ache in her legs, she sprinted across the clearing. Right as she reached the middle she halted, nearly falling on her face.
A Timber wolf the size of a large dog appeared from the tree line, stalking towards her. The wolf was bigger than any Champ had ever seen, it easily standing on all fours at her waist. It’s large paws propelled the beast closer to her, its golden brown eyes locked on her.
Champrelle looked over her shoulder to see her chaser had stopped four yards back, his eyes fearful as he took in the massive beast approaching them.
“Good wolf. Be a good wolf and eat him instead. He’s trying to kill me. Doesn’t he look tasty? His skin probably has enough grease for him to taste like a plate of fried chicken and greens.” Suggested Champ as she held up her hands, smiling a little hoping it’ll entice the animal like it would a dog.
She thought she was going nuts trying to plead with a gosh dang animal. An animal that couldn’t understand her and just wanted her for dinner.
Real smart, Champ.
The man behind her spat in her direction, “Bitch, you’re lucky that wolf will kill you before I do. It’s a stupid animal, you idiot!” His glassy eyes filled with sick glee as he started to laugh, a grating raucous sound that filled the air. He sounded like a damn hyena to Champ.
“Fuck you, you creepy sack of shit. I-”
The wolf howling interrupted them, fear setting further into their bodies.
Looking back to the wolf, she watched as it sat on its haunches, it’s head almost level with her chest.
Immediately after, two more wolves, smaller in size, bolted from the forest. The two smaller ones sped past her on both sides, growling with their wicked sharp teeth bared and spittle drooling out of their mouths.
The man cursed as they both now realized that the wolves wanted him instead of her.Both wolves chased him as he turned to run. He didn’t get very far before one tackled him, ripping through the flesh on his neck and blood pulsed out of his carotid artery like a waterfall.
Seconds later, the second wolf came up and attacked his abdomen, holding him down with its paws. It’s claws dug into his exposed flesh, the weight of the animal pinning him to the ground.
Champrelle could only watch in horror as his blood curdling screams rang in her ears, watching him being mauled. Turning towards the apparent leader of the wolves before her, she felt dizzy and cold.
She couldn’t find the strength to move or breathe. Her feet were frozen on the spot. Behind her, the screams abruptly stopped and the only sound she could hear was the gurgle of his blood drowning him. Her stomach churned, bile rising in her throat as she vomited the contents of her stomach until she was dry heaving, thirst overcoming her.
Never before had she seen someone mauled, especially right before her eyes. Blood and torn flesh had been everywhere and it was too much to mentally handle. She had been running for her damn life only to come across another threat.
All she wanted to do was take a damn hike and enjoy a backpacking adventure in the mountains, not have everything and their mother try to freaking kill her. She silently prayed that it would be over soon and she could go back to her trip, in peace.
Large paws appeared on the ground before her as she gazed downwards, still recovering from regurgitating the contents of her stomach.
The sight broke her from her thoughts.
Shit. The wolves are still here. Fudge!
Looking up at the wolf, she was eye to eye with it, now that she was on her knees in the flowers. As she gazed into its beautiful golden brown eyes a warm sensation skated over her skin. It felt weird and alien, but her body really liked it.
The heat was like a lover’s caress or the sensation of silk sheets against bare skin. It was sensual, intimate. Fear turned into something else.
There was no way she should be feeling like she was, staring into the eyes of an animal that could kill her; but she was. She felt something. Something that put her off kilter.
Whatever it was, it held her attention as the two wolves behind her left her now-dead pursuer to sit a few feet away on the edge of the forest. The two wolves watched the scene unfold before them, their Alpha meeting his mate, at last.