Pine Brook Falls - The Charlie Noble Chronicles Book 1

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Chapter Seven

We drove to the edge of town. The easiest pathway into the woods was through the park. We got out of my Explorer and I grabbed the gear from the back. Trevor said this was where Becky had been jogging when he ran into her.

The moon illuminated our walk. The sparkling specks of stars seemed closer this night than any I could glimpse from the big city of Los Angeles. The vast sky was a marvel to look at. If only I could take a moment to gaze into the heavens and absorb the breathtaking spectacle that befell us. But I had to remind myself of the mission we were on and it didn’t include star gazing.

Trevor led the way along a narrow dirt path that curved around a couple tall oak trees and thickets of brush. The night was quiet, except for the underbrush crunching beneath our feet with every step we took.

I pulled out a flashlight and clicked it on. Trevor stopped. He told me to turn the light off. He said he knew the way. The lustrous glow of the moon did little to penetrate the canopy of trees over us, but I nonetheless, turned off the light.

My feet tripped over a small stump. I would have fallen flat on my face if it had not been for Trevor catching me by the arm. I stood up straight and collected myself. Trevor was looking around. First left and then right. Then he turned to me and put one finger over his lips. I sucked in a breath and listened.

Something moved. I couldn’t tell exactly where the sound came from, but it was fairly loud. Whatever moved around did little to hide the fact that it was there.

“We gotta go. Now!”

Trevor ran up the trail ahead and I did my best to follow him. The trail banked to the right but there was a rustling sound on my right that made me change directions. I jumped off the trail and my feet met air. I expected to quickly find the ground again but I didn’t. I was falling down a steep slope. My face was the first thing to hit the hard earth. I flipped, tumbled, and rolled down the embankment.

I was hurdling down at an alarming speed. Everything happened so fast. Every roll and bounce brought with it a new pain. My arms and back, head and sides all felt the abuse as I flipped head over feet. I hit hard against a tree and quickly spun to a stop. I couldn’t breathe. I lay there in the darkness. My ears were ringing. I tasted dirt. I tried to lift my head but I couldn’t. The right side of my face was in the dirt. Darkness lay all around me.

Pain shot up and down my spine. The ringing slowly subsided. I finally took a breath. It hurt. I gingerly rolled onto my back. I let out a small grunt as I maneuvered myself. Thunderbolts of pain throbbed in every part of my body. I took a few more breaths.

I had waited a few minutes before I attempted to move again. Not sure what my injuries were as I tried to test my legs. First my left. Then my right. They moved on command. I wasn’t paralyzed. I Benbed my head to the left and felt around the ground with my hand. The ground sloped beneath me. I hadn’t reached the bottom so I had to be careful not to slide down the rest of the way.

Something heavy moved on the trail above. There was the crunch of the brush. Twigs being snapped. Then there was the small growl. Steady and menacing. I held my breath. I moved my head slowly to see if I could see up the hill. The darkness blinded me. But something from the trail looked down at me. I could hear its breathing. Then it began to move in my direction.

If I moved, I would give away my position or worse yet, fall the rest of the way down the hill. If I stayed, I would be coyote food. I didn’t know what to do. I pictured a dog baring its teeth before lunging to attack. Whatever was coming down the embankment sounded different from anything I had ever heard. I couldn’t explain it.

The growl, if that’s what it was, rose and fell, almost in perfect rhythm. And there was a wetness to it as if it had gargled water. Getting closer. I had to move. Whatever was moving toward me wasn’t there to say hello.

I moved on to my stomach and listened. There was silence. It knew I moved. It was listening to me as I was to it. At moments of great indecision, I tend to bite my lower lip. It’s a habit that I am aware of but subconsciously absent to during the act. This time, I was immediately aware of it. I cursed under my breath when my lip ignited in a fiery pain. The quiet of the night only seemed to amplify my agony.

Out of the darkness above came the rush of snapping twigs and falling dirt. A feverishly deep unearthly grumble raced toward me. I got to my feet. Pain exploded in my ribs as I moved downward. Moving at a pace that wouldn’t break my neck, I steadily moved lower on the embankment but my pursuer was moving faster. I slipped and fell on my bottom. I butt-surfed down a few feet but was able to stop myself. The moon lit my path as I reached the bottom. There was a field to my right. I moved as fast as I could but there was a sudden jolting pain in my left leg that caused me to limp my way toward the waist high weeds that grew in the field.

I reached the weeds which weren’t weeds at all but bushes in neatly spaced rows. Careful not to disrupt any of the bushes as I went by, I moved forward slowly. My backpack had been lost in the fall so I didn’t even have the false sense of security of the stun gun.

I got halfway through the field when a piercing shrill erupted behind me. That was no coyote. I stopped and lay flat on my stomach. And listened. It’s shrill echoed as I held my breath. Sound carried a long way in the stillness of the night. Nothing moved near me as I tried to make myself as flat to the ground as I could.

I let out a breath when something jumped on me from behind. I tried to flip onto my back but I was pinned to the ground. I couldn’t move.

“Don’t move. Quiet,” Trevor whispered.

We were both going to die tonight, I thought. I heard the heavy breathing. But it wasn’t mine or Trevor’s. Trevor moved off me. He laid down next to me and pulled something over us, causing the night sky to disappear. Was he hiding us under a blanket?

This wasn’t a good idea. Now we couldn’t see the thing before it came to tear our hearts out. I wanted to get away, to run far from where I was. But as I heard the heavy breathing followed by the crunch of twigs near me, all I did was lay there, flat on my stomach, and waited to die.

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