Part Nine   July 23, 2016


Bran thought the screams were coming from a dream.  He opened his eyes, to see a dark sky, full of stars.  Sitting up he could see Cranny’s Forest far to the west.  He lay in a valley against an apple tree surrounded by snake grass.  He turned his head around to view the land.  Away to the east he saw a grassy ridge with figures moving swiftly across its top.  Moonlight lit up the images so that he could see them clearly.  Four creatures with thick, cylindrical bodies that comprised of both the head and trunk ran towards a human figure that looked tiny.  The creatures reached out with long, skinny limbs with oversized hands while their long feet slapped against the ground.  Intimidated by their size, he could not bring himself to charge off to help the human.  Instead he took out his dagger and moved cautiously forward.

The creatures chased the human out of his sight so he was forced to run his fastest to catch up to them.  He reached the top of the ridge and saw that the human was a school comrade named Dillon.  He was not sure, but he thought Dillon might be on his way to the Bard campus as well.  Dillon’s father sometimes played the flute with Bran’s.  He bellowed in rage and charged down the ridge.

A creature grabbed his friend’s body in a monstrous hand.  Bran stumbled and tumbled from the shock of seeing the creature crush Dillon’s body with a clench of its fist.  He looked up with terror to see a lipless mouth open across the creature’s upper half. In one gulp Dillon’s lifeless form was swallowed whole.

Bran watched, unable to turn away, as the creature made crunching noises.  Tears flowed down his cheeks for he could see the outline of Dillon’s body outlined inside the creature’s lower half.  He threw up without looking away while the creature regurgited parts of Dillon’s devoured body into the gaping mouths of the other three creatures.

Bran gasped and all the creatures turned their elongated eyes towards him.  Their glassy eyes glowed with a blue hue. He shivered in horror.  Stumbling he urged his body to run.

Ever closer he could hear the slapping of their oversized feet.  Slap… he ran faster…Slap…he ran as fast as he could until his sides ached and his throat grew raw from gasping for more air!

Eleven sets of yellow eyes flashed before him!  He could hear the snarls of wolves.  He slowed to a stop.  He could not run forward, nor back, for the creatures were behind and the wolves ahead.  He bent over to catch his breath.  He looked behind and saw the bluish-grey bodies of the creatures.  He turned to see the wolves rushing forward with lowered heads, the white of their teeth dripping with saliva.  Dagger in hand he took off towards the creatures.  Biting his lower lip in concentration he came at the creature.  It grabbed at him.  He stepped aside and rolled away.  It turned to chase him but the wolves were too near.  The four creatures hissed as the canines leaped into the air a them.

He ran towards a tall aspen tree and scurried up to its lowest branch.  Behind him he could hear the whines and growls of the wolves intermingled with deep harrowing screams from the cyclindrical creatures.

Up in the tree he watched as the monstrous creatures grabbed at the wolves with their gigantic hands while the wolves bit at their lower bodies and feet.  Soon the wolves piled on top of the horrors and he could see no more for a time.

A little while later he saw some of the wolves licking their wounds while others tore at the cylindrical shaped corpses.  One wolf ran to high ground.  This lone wolf gazed over the land.  Bran thought the wolf to be a guard.  He focused on its yellow eyes, and its determined face.  It gave him strength inside to empty the pain of Dillon’s death and replace it with stoic resolution.  As a man he would never allow a friend to die in his presence.  He climbed down and watched until the sun began to rise.

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