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Dead men can't run
Jack slammed forward as the brakes screeched and the car came to a screaming halt.
“What in the world was that?” he muttered, slumping back in the leather seat, feeling where the seatbelt had cut into his chest. He brushed away a lock of hair, bemused as to what had just shot across the road. The figure had been vaguely humanoid but much taller and muscular. The head wasn’t the right shape either. Although the light had been poor, Jack had managed to distinguish the layer of coarse fur that covered the body.
As Jack stared blankly out the window, he silently debated as to whether or not he should go and investigate the mysterious character that had nearly caused him to drive off the steep cliff nearby. Curiosity won out over the sense of foreboding that was growing in the pit of Jack’s stomach.
Curiosity killed the cat.
Jack blinked, startled, as a voice sounded in his head. Not only was he hearing a voice, the voice seemed to be jeering at him.
Grow up. He chided himself. Don’t let your imagination run riot.
Slowly, Jack clambered out of his car. The night was cold and his breath drifted upwards in ghostly tendrils. A shiver coursed through Jack’s body. It was just like a scene from a horror film he decided. Alone and vulnerable, he would be the perfect victim for a brutal and savage murder. His mind was screaming that this was stupid, that he should just get back in the car and drive onwards, leaving this lonely patch of road far behind. Yet Jack found himself striding towards the edge of the forest, heart in his mouth.
Somewhere in the distance, an owl hooted. The cry had sounded wistful, Jack thought, before immediately chastising himself to snap out of it. Owls couldn’t be wistful. As far as Jack knew, they had no emotions at all.
Jack traipsed onwards, becoming increasingly terrified with every step. Each sound was amplified, he could even detect his own breathing. Comparing his own gait to one of a forest dweller such as a deer, Jack knew he was pathetically clumsy and noisy. Still, he shouldn’t have sounded so loud, should he?
The will to investigate had long departed, but Jack found himself drawn by an invisible force to continue his search. The compelling urge drove him onwards, deeper into the forest with each passing second.
Suddenly, the foliage grew less dense and Jack found himself in a clearing. He wasn’t alone though. The clearing had about ten inhabitants, all similar to the one he had seen earlier. Upon closer inspection, they resembled the werewolves from the films his little brother loved so much. They were all taller than he was, broader too and covered in fur that smelled of burning rubber. Their faces were elongated, like a wolf’s head. The monstrous creatures had been silent until the moment of Jack’s arrival. They moved quietly, the crunching of dead leaves underfoot was the only noise they made.
Jack was frozen in terror as they surrounded him, an unseen creature pushing his back so he stumbled forward into the circle of creatures.
“We’ve been expecting you.” The line was so clichéd, Jack would have laughed under normal circumstances. These weren’t normal circumstances though. The voice was low and gravelly, full of barely contained growls.
“We’ve been waiting for years.” another piped up in agreement.
The one who Jack assumed to be the leader stepped forward. “It took longer than we expected, but we’ve finally got you.” A squeak escaped through Jack’s clenched teeth. He was as good as dead.
The leader’s face twisted into what could only be described as a sickly triumphant smirk. “You see young human, fifty years ago, your granddaddy stumbled upon our land with a gun. We weren’t as cautious back then and the townsfolk had heard stories about huge mutant beasts, killing everything in sight.” he snorted. “Humans exaggerate a lot. Anyway, we were going to kill him and have a nice meal but he persuaded us to let him go. He promised he’d lead a whole gang of humans to us. Now we may be bad, but we’re not totally heartless. So we made him a deal.” Jack shivered as the leader stepped closer, so close that Jack could smell rotting meat on his breath and see how his yellow eyes gleamed greedily.
“He could go on the condition that we could get his first grandson. He agreed readily and we let him scamper away unharmed.” the leader’s cheerful tone suddenly disappeared to be replaced by a furious growl. “He broke his end of the deal and went and died so he could never bring you to us.”
“That wasn’t his fault.” Jack choked out indignantly.
“Oh yes it was.” the leader’s hand twitched and Jack could almost imagine how his jaw would crack if he decided to hit him. “We had to take matters into our own hands to uphold the deal. Now here you are. I must admit, you do look delicious.”
The spell over Jack’s muscles broke and he was free to move but he found himself too afraid to do more than sink to the ground. He could imagine all too clearly what would happen if he attempted to flee. They would be upon him in a heartbeat, teeth tearing into his flesh like knives into butter. He felt bile rise in his throat as he envisioned his carcass, the bones picked clean of flesh by the hungry creatures who seemed intent on taking his life.
“Please.” Jack whispered brokenly, fear constricting his throat and making his breathing become labored. “Please don’t kill me.”
"Don’t kill you?” the leader feigned surprise. “And what would we do with you then? Make you into our pet human? A little lapdog at our every beck and call?”
Jack moaned and curled into a fetal position. At that moment, he’d agree to anything if it meant he could avoid death.
“But we already have humans who are completely loyal to us. What is there to prove you won’t run away at the first chance you get?” he chuckled.
“I won’t run.” Jack promised desperately.
“I’m sure you won’t.” the leader’s tone changed to an almost affectionate coo. “And do you want to know why?”
Jack glanced upwards, hope beginning to spark in his chest. “Why?”
The leader smirked. “Dead men can’t run.” with that, he lunged.