As she climbed down from the tree, she heard the snap of a twig. An animal. The rabbits were strung together with a bit of twine and hanging from her left hand. She looked up at the tall pine tree. If she brought in another animal, she wouldn’t have to make up an excuse for her pitiful haul today.
She was about to set the rabbits down when she heard a snarl. A hard weight slammed into her back. Burning pain sunk into her side, snapping her ribs like dry tinder. Evangeline tried to roll, clutching awkwardly at rough fur. Another snarl and teeth fastened themselves around her forearm. She screamed in pain as muscle tore and bone threatened to shatter.
With her free arm, she reached for the knife belted at her waist. The blade bounced off a thick pelt once before it sunk into flesh and the big canine—she could see its yellow eyes now—howled. The gray wolf released her arm and Evangeline tried to scramble away. The knife fell from her hand as the wound in her side stole her breath. The wolf came at her again, this time tearing into her thigh.
Evangeline couldn’t breathe. When the wolf released her thigh and stared her down, she knew its next move. It would go for her throat. She timed her movement. Though the wolf was bleeding from its shoulder, its muscles bunched and coiled as it readied to pounce.
She could smell her own blood. Her shirt was plastered to her side by the sticky warmth. Her left arm was numb. Her left leg wouldn’t bend. She sucked in desperate, painful breaths. The wolf leapt at her and she called upon all of her strength to command her left arm to work in tandem with her right. She grabbed the wolf’s head and twisted. Its neck snapped.
The wolf landed on Evangeline’s chest. Dead. She was pinned to the forest floor. She couldn’t breathe. Her good arm fumbled for the small handheld radio she kept in her pocket. She tried to press the button that would connect her to the catacombs, but darkness pressed in and the radio fell from her grasp. A dull roar filled her ears. She was cold.
Her last thought was of Nic. She’d never save him now. Nic . . . I’m sorry, she thought, and allowed the darkness to take her.
Down in the catacombs, Nic’s eyes flew open. Something was wrong. His stomach twisted into knots. Earlier that day, he’d forced down a few bites of the tasteless, manufactured protein the woman had brought him. Was his body finally revolting against the lack of flavor? Dread filled him. No. This was something else. Something much worse. He sat up on his cot and started to pray.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish