To Catch a Creature Part 4
The thing was massive, at least eight feet tall. Its broad shoulders and chest were covered in a thick layer of black matted fur that extended down its abdomen and to the upper portion of its muscular thighs. Instead of feet it had hooves that looked too small to support the creature’s weight. When Mike finally looked up at its face he immediately regretted it.
The thing was drooling as it panted, and Mike could see fleshy chunks of what he assumed were its past victims stuck in its fur. As it strode toward the path it looked left to right, sniffing the air to find out who had walked into its home. Even though it was daytime and the thing was primarily a nocturnal hunter, Mike was sure it wouldn’t mind a midday snack comprised of him and his companions.
As the thing came closer to their hiding place, Mike heard Reina’s breathing getting quicker. Nathan slowly reached his hand out to her, squeezing her arm gently to try to comfort her. Mike heard her whisper how massive it was, tears forming in her eyes. They’d never encountered something this large before. Even Mike, who’d done hunts for all sorts of creatures for more than a decade, was shocked.
The creature stalked closer.
Nathan hissed, “We need a plan before we’re caught.”
Mike searched the area near them. A few feet ahead of their hiding place was a fallen tree, the trunk of which was large enough to mask all three of them while they dug out their equipment to take the thing down. Mike tilted his head toward it and nodded. Both Reina and Nathan understood. Mike began to slowly creep toward it, trying desperately not to make any noise.
Nathan held Reina’s hand and guided her toward the tree. Her breathing grew steadier as they moved, but once they were all well hidden by the enormous trunk, she began to panic again, fiddling with her bag, trying to retrieve her bolas. Her hands were shaking and Mike feared she was making too much noise.
Nathan tried to help her, but she slapped his hand away making a cracking sound ringing through the forest like a gunshot. All three of them stopped and listened, knowing they gave away their position for sure. For a few seconds the footsteps had stopped, but they could still hear the thing breathing… panting.
And then the plodding steps began again, but this time it sounded like it was running.
Mike didn’t remember how they went from hiding behind the fallen tree to sprinting through the thick forest. The creature chased them and Mike knew that soon it would catch up. It was huge and its stride greater than theirs. Either they continued their mission to trap it or they attempted to leave with their lives. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to discuss their decision and before long Mike realized that they weren’t running toward the exit. They were heading deeper into the creature’s territory.
The footsteps stopped.
Reina was still running, screaming with every step. Nathan was behind her, and Mike brought up the rear. When he realized the silence behind them, he slowed down, yelling to his companions to stop. Nathan turned and when Reina wouldn’t, he ran again to catch up and grab her. She was shaking and mumbling, trying to break away from his grip.
Mike put his fingers to his lips and then pointed to the air, indicating the sudden silence. Nathan nodded that he understood but Reina began cursing, trying to run again. Mike reminded them that they needed to set the trap and now was the perfect time. He knelt down to undo his pack. Nathan let go of Reina, carefully walking the perimeter for signs of the creature. Reina took a few deep breaths and began undoing her own pack. Her hands were shaking as she tried to find her bolas again and set up the tranquilizer gun.
Nathan returned, telling them he didn’t see any sign of their target. Mike handed him the trip wire to extend across the path. Nathan swallowed hard knowing that he’d be exposed if the creature were hiding, giving them a false sense of security so it could jump out and devour them. After a few deep breaths, he began running the wire toward the trail, a bludgeon in his hand for when the thing was down. Reina watched, wondering if he’d make it back.