On one calm and warm afternoon, a herd of deer was grazing in the shade of the forest canopy; sheltered from fear and danger. This particular herd was composed of 5 males. The dominant male was large and strong and commanded the respect of the others through yearly battles for mates. With mating season still months away, the males were able to coexist and get along well enough though they recognized the superiority of the alpha. They had no cares in the world as they nibbled at bushes and leaves from low trees. The herd did not have the faintest warning that the peaceful balance was about to be upset.
Nearby, an ancient creature sniffed the air and caught scent of the herd. The beast growled low and looked about for signs of the animals but did not find them. Instead, he sniffed again and turned to the direction of the unsuspecting bucks. He squinted his eyes and sniffed some more, confident he had found the source of the smell. He slobbered and groaned thinking about how delicious and tasty the bucks would be. His eyes focused as his hand gripped a rudimentary club in his giant fist, tightly.
The deer perked their heads up hearing a commotion nearby. Their ears twitched back and forth as they tried to determine the direction and nature of the disturbance in the otherwise peaceful and calm woods. Nerves shot down their spines and told their legs to run but they did not know in which direct to flee. They were frozen with hearts pounding and eyes bulging, ears desperate to find the danger.
Then a crash nearby gave the bucks the confirmation they needed. They broke into a dash for safety, leaping over fallen trees and crooked bushes. Their pursuer was not about to let his meal escape however. The beast was so large that it bowled through trees and smashed through brush growing hungrier each leap.
The bucks dashed as fast as they could. Quick and lithe they fled for their lives but they were not getting further from the beast.
Like thunder rolling across the forest floor, the monster reached the herd and swallowed them up. Growls and snarls were the last sounds they would hear as the savage creature smashed one buck with a forehand swing of the massive tree trunk it used as a club snapping its body as if it were clay, then a back hand caught another and crushed it as well. Three bucks still raced for their salvation from the demon born monster that sought them. Another swing of the club shattered a leg of one and hobbled him though he tried desperately to rise once more and flee. Not satisfied with three bucks, the monster dove after the remaining two, landing atop one and pinned it helplessly to the dirt then clawed at the last. The young buck was raked across the back. It cried out as searing pain shot through its body but it only stumbled, blind to anything but holding on to life and escaping the drooling maw of the hideous beast, it blocked the fire in its flesh and willed its legs to continue on in flight.
The beast glared at the prey that dashed through trees towards freedom and was intent on chasing it further but then the buck under it wailed and the creature looked to it, annoyed that it protested its fate and snapped its gnarled and twisted teeth into the poor animal’s neck; ending the torture. The taste of blood and flesh in its mouth was enough to break the trance of reckless pursuit and the monster paused to savor the meal, leaving a huge gap in the innocent animal’s neck.
The monster climbed to its feet gripping its club in one claw and the dead buck in the other. It looked longingly towards the direction in which the sole survivor escaped and then a cry from behind turned its attention to its other victims. One lay dead beside a tree that rose like a headstone above it. Another laid, body broken, only able to plead for mercy with feeble cries. The last crawled away with the only strength that remained in its badly damaged bones.
The beast dragged the gnawed buck along as it approached its dying friend. A quick smash with the club was the only release it received but it was preferable to the only sensation that remained; suffering. The creature then turned to the noble buck that continued to cling to the hope that it may yet survive. A trail of blood lead from the spot where it endured the powerful blow of the club for several yards into thicker brush. The monster stomped on the foliage and immediately found the animal toiling to put distance between it and its predator. It turned to view its executioner before the sweet release of death and saw the an enormous monstrosity it had never seen before but knew that there was no escaping its greedy appetite.
In a deliberate and slow motion, the beast reached out for the buck which did little to resist except call out once more. It took the animal in its claw and effortlessly lifted it to its dark maw, Then in one bite ended the torment.
The otherwise majestic and beautiful forest bore a deep and hideous scar that day that would not heal easily.
Read the rest of the story in The Monster in the Woods