William M. O'Brien, Jr.
Jilly Beachem picked up the full glass of marmalade and flung it into the face of Rebecca Miles. Then she picked up the large butcher knife and started for Rebecca who was busy rubbing the liquid out of her eyes. But Rebecca saw her coming and pulled an old .380 Star automatic out of a large pocket and shot Jilly twice through her abdomen and once through her stomach. Then, she crept up to the fallen woman and retrieved Jilly’s gun, a Glock, from her pocket. When she straightened up, she noticed the fallen woman was not moving, but now she realized she had to run, to escape, for Wally and her half-sister Sandra would be back soon.
Quickly, Rebecca, known as Becca, crammed all the money on the counter into her backpack, along with Jilly’s gun, (her own gun she stuck in her belt), a couple of candy bars, a big package of jerky, and a bottle of water. Then she made her way through the back door of the cabin and, after making sure Wally’s old truck was not in the drive, set out through the surrounding thick woods.
She plunged into the woods on an old trail half hidden by shrub growth. The overgrown hillside soon gave way to rocks and trees and Becca, still on the old trail, stopped to rest next to a large outcrop. While she took a sip of water, she noted a large black snake crawl out of the top of an outcrop across from her resting place and slither into a crevice close to the ground.
“Shit,” she whispered and stared at the crevice long after the snake entered it.
Then she considered her situation. She wondered if Sandra and her boyfriend, Big Wally, had found Jilly’s body yet. They had misjudged fourteen-year-old Becca and had left Jilly to keep an eye on her. When the woman, who hated Becca’s guts, had threatened her by waving her Glock in her face, the girl had retreated to the bathroom and closed the door. When she emerged thirty minutes later, Jilly confronted her across the breakfast table. Now Becca was on the run and she knew Sandra and Wally would soon be hot on her trail.
She figured they would think she had gone up the trail used by cars to get to the old cabin, the isolation of which made it an ideal hideout. The thick foliage and trees would not even be considered as offering an avenue of escape, but Becca had found the old foot trail she had taken beforehand.
The surrounding woods had not completely closed out the
light, so she could see that night was coming. She began looking along rock
outcrops for a possible shelter.
Just before nightfall, she found a cave large enough for her to crawl in. With a large stick, she poked around the inside for preliminary inhabitants but found none. Then, using her backpack as a pillow, she lay down inside and waited for night.
Although very uneasy Becca drifted off to sleep and slept until dawn the next day. Now she wondered where her half- sister and her boyfriend were. Obviously, they had found Jilly by now and were looking for her, but where in this vast wilderness were they looking.
In the meantime, half-sister Sandra and Big Wally had arrived at the cabin early that morning.
“The only way she could have gotten out of here is along that trail we just came down.” Big Wally put his shotgun on his shoulder and looked around at the thick grown around the clearing.
Sandra walked up to him and put her hands on her hips. “Jilly’s inside,” she grumbled, loud. “The little bitch really plugged her. She’s dead.”
“We can go up that trail,” Wally pointed. “You on one side, me on the other. See if we can catch sight of her in the bush.”
He turned to Sandra. “She take that little gun?”
“Yeah, that and Jilly’s Glock.” Sandra walked to the jeep. She reached inside and drew out an Ar-15. “I’m sick as shit of her antics. This time she’s had it.”
But down the mountain, Becca sat at the entrance to the little cave and thought. She must continue on through these woods. These woods, one vast hiding place, would allow her to put as much distance as she could between her and Sandra’s cabin.
She strapped on her backpack and raced the rest of the way down the mountain to see if she could still see the cabin, but far too much foliage blocked her vision of anything in that direction. Apparently, she had gone farther than she thought the previous day. Not far from her previous night’s shelter, she came upon a clearing.
She was happy to see the bare ground through the short growth as she made her way through it. Almost through to the end of the area, she noticed, slithering its way toward heavy growth to the side of her, a sidewinder rattlesnake.
Out for breakfast, huh, she whispered. The creature posed no harm to her and the thought of shooting it did not even occur to her. She realized that any shot would alert her enemies who, she knew, were presently at the cabin or somewhere close by looking for her.
Big Wally took a big slug of whiskey and lay back in the bunk. “I’m thinking if we wait a little while we can scout these trails around here. She’s sure to be on one of them.”
“How the hell are we going to do that?” Sandra stomped into the room, hands on her hips. “There must be a dozen hunter’s trails in this area alone, all grown over.”
“We can drive up and down the one and look around from it,’ Wally replied.
“If we wait a little while you’re going to be drunk on your ass.” Sandra turned toward the door. “Besides, we got a body to deal with.”
“We can wrap her up in that old rug in the other room and put her in the brush by the side of the road. Somebody will eventually find her.”
Becca climbed into some undergrowth across the little clearing from where the snake had been. Although the going was rough, she managed to make her way through to what looked like a rocky clearing at the edge of a cliff.
What it turned out to be was a large rock outcrop. She stopped there, squatted, and tried to hear anyone who was near her. There was nothing but the chattering of birds.
Although the undergrowth was tight and scratchy on her bare legs, Becca felt secure in it. There she could not be reached and there she could hear anyone coming near before they could see her. And she knew now that certain people were out looking for her.
Back at the cabin, Sandra was opening and closing cabinet doors. “That little bitch is carrying two guns,” she exclaimed over her shoulder at Wally, who was pouring a drink behind her.
“Is that a problem?”
“Hell, yes, it’s a problem.” Now Sandra turned. “In the bush she’s going to be shooting at us.”
“We’ve got to find her first, Sandra.”
“She could be somewhere waiting for us. I think we should go up to the old ranger station.”
“There’s likely to be someone around there.” Wally sat and took a drink
“Up there?” Sandra exclaimed. “That place is in the middle of nowhere. Even the roads around it are overgrown with crap.”
Meanwhile, Becca was coming up on another clearing, this one larger than the others.
“Here’s a place to rest, I hope,” she mumbled to herself.
She stepped out of the brush and sat down on the ground. Looking around this new place, she noticed a break in the thick bushes and undergrowth, not a big break but something that could have been made by an animal. Tree branches and thick vine runners hung over it.
“If I get on my knees, I can get up through that,” the girl whispered to herself. She lay down in the short growth, closed her eyes and listened for any noise besides the chirping of birds.
She rolled over on her back, a stem of weed in her mouth. If I can get a long way away through this brush, then I can find a road and maybe get back to civilization. Sandra and Wally won’t be able to find me if I stay in this brush as long as I can.
Her reverie was interrupted by a rustling in the brush across the clearing behind the opening she had seen.
She rose and faced the noise.
Into the opening stepped a large wolf. The creature stopped and stared at her.
Becca instantly pulled her gun from her belt and pointed it at the animal, that still stood and looked at her, not moving.
On the verge of panic the girl stood but kept pointing the gun in the direction of the animal.
Then, on either side of the wolf, appeared first one, then two, then three babies.
“On my god,” Becca mumbled, still holding the gun erect. “a she-wolf, a mama wolf.”
Quietly the large wolf turned and headed back into the brush, followed by her young.
The girl snapped the safety back on the gun and put it back in her belt. It seemed to her the only way out of this clearing was to follow the wolf through the opening. She worried, though, about the animal as the last thing she wanted to do was to run up on a mama wolf defending her young. She decided to wait in the clearing and give the animal time.
She lay back in the clearing and stared at the sky, still very cognizant of noises around her.
Big Wally and Sandra decided to head for an old, boarded up ranger station six miles off a main road and perfectly hidden by small trees and undergrowth. Apparently, very few of the natives knew of its existence.
“This place we’re going to is a perfect hideout,” Wally remarked, tossing two bedrolls into the back of the truck. “I don’t think anybody’s been there in years.”
“We might even find that little bitch there.” Sandra placed a lever action 30-30 along with her AR-15 behind the two sleeping bags in the truck.
“A clear possibility,” Big Wally added. “But what if somebody else is there?”
“Then we act like two lost people and just turn around and leave.” The two laughed at this
Becca lay in the clearing and listened for any more noise. From what she could see, the wolf’s little passage was the only exit from this clearing, hence, the only way for her to go. She would have to use extreme caution with every step she took.
But Sandra and Wally were on the move.
“Go slow,” Sandra remarked. “We need to watch both sides of the road for any sign of her.”
“I can’t see her getting this far,” Wally replied and slowed the speed of the truck. “Besides, why do you think she would be along here where she would know that we would find her eventually.”
“Keep a lookout, Wally.”
“She’s in the bush, Sandy; it stands to reason.”
“If she is, she’ll eventually wind up at the old ranger station and we’ll be there to catch her.” Sandra leaned back in her seat and put both feet up on the dashboard.
“And even if she came along here, she’ll wind up there, too.”
Two hours before sundown, Becca headed up the half-hidden trail the wolf had taken. She had given the animal time, but she would keep an eye out for her anyway.
But a noise ahead stopped her in her tracks. The sounds of limbs being ripped from trees told her that ahead lay possible rescue for her. A working party could possibly help her get clear away from her half sister and her boyfriend.
Therefore, she hurried ahead, to encounter something that took her breath away. Just ahead of her at the side of the path lay the Wolf nursing her babies, but behind the animal, in a handmade clearing, four beings, each ten to twelve feet tall, either wearing steel or composed of steel were tearing limbs, some five to seven inches thick, from trees. They moved slow and seemed to communicate through a single lighted aperture in their tops. Frozen with fear, Becca could just stand and stare.
“Mother of God what is this,” she whispered. She had soaked herself and wanted to turn and run but she knew these things would come after her now, as all four of them had stopped what they were doing and were now regarding her.
Slowly she knelt down. Her gun was still in her belt, and she hoped these things couldn’t see it. She slowly put her hands in the air, the only thing she could think of to mean she meant no harm.
Silently, the monstrous beings went back to work on tree limbs. The she wolf finished her nursing and rose to her feet. She looked around and then turned to Becca, sat down, and regarded the bewildered girl.
Becca couldn’t move. She just stood there and stared at the hideous beings. Not moving any part of her body, she stealthily regarded her surroundings and found a path away from this clearing, which was hidden partly from anyone in her present company.
Very carefully she turned and started down this new path. The she-wolf regarded her every step and began panting, still seated.
Soon Becca was clear of the hideous scene so she quickened her pace, putting as much distance between her and the monstrous beings as she could.
She was fighting off vines and low hanging branches when she spotted what seemed to be a building at the head of the pathway. Clearing the brush out of the way, she made her way toward the structure soon to find herself in another clearing. Across what seemed to be the remains of a grass lawn was a building with windows boarded up.
Off to her left appeared to be a driveway with weeds and tree seedlings sprouting throughout it.
“Where there’s a driveway, there’s a door,” Becca muttered to herself.
After checking all around, she headed for the driveway and a possible entrance to the building.
Becca had immediate thoughts of a lengthy rest in a shelter in the middle of nowhere. She headed around to the front of the building, hoping to find a door she could get through.
She found a door, but it was boarded up.
Immediately, she began to pull the boards off.
She had almost cleared the boards away when a ramshackle truck pulled up in the driveway next to the building.
Dropping the last board in front of her, she took off around the building. There was no mistaking Big Wally’s truck and she was fully aware that her awful half-sister was in the front seat with him.
When she reached the rear of the building, she pulled the pistol from her belt and pulled the slide back to ready it.
However, she ran into Wally and Sandra before she could turn the gun on them.
Immediately, Wally grabbed her by her arms which were spread out, the pistol in her right hand. Sandra closed to her right side while Wally tightened his hold on both her arms and began squeezing her arms.
In trying to free her right arm, Becca discharged her gun sending a bullet point blank into Sandra’s stomach. The woman bent over, covering her midsection with both hands and fell backwards.
Wally, meanwhile, tightened his hold on both of her arms and began squeezing them, dropping the pistol out of her right hand. Then he began to twist both of her arms.
Suddenly two metal appendages closed on Wally’s head and, before Becca could react in any way, crushed his head. He immediately dropped, his head in bloody pieces.
Then the monstrous figure turned and headed, clumsily, back to the heavy bush at the end of the clearing. Watching from the head of the path that Becca had come in on was the she wolf. When Becca’s tall, metal savior entered the brush, she turned and headed down the path, her babies behind her.
Becca, still watching the wolf, bent down, picked up her gun and put it back in her belt. She was still watching the far side of the clearing when a car with State Trooper markings drove up and stopped next to Wally’s truck. The girl could just stand still and stare as two troopers, a woman and a man, got out of the car and headed toward her.
Without being told, Becca raised her hands and stepped backwards.
“What’s going on here?” the man asked, while his female companion headed for the fallen Sandra.
“Bullet wound here, Jack,” she said, pulling a two-way radio from her belt.
The man pulled his sidearm from its holster and covered Becca with it. “Now, real slow,” he said, quietly. “Pull the weapon from your belt real slow and let it drop.”
Becca did what she was told.
The man stepped back and looked at Wally on the ground. “Alice, this guy looks like he was run over by a train.”
“The EMS boys are on their way, Jack.” Alice stood up and turned to her partner. “What the hell happened to him?”
She stepped over to Becca. “Well, what happened here?”
“I…I…You wouldn’t believe me if…”
“I…I hit him with a rock.”
“ Bullshit. No rock did that. What the hell happened here?
“I…I did...” Becca, very nervous turned from Wally to Sandra. “Wally…Wally, that guy there” she pointed at his corpse “That guy there and I were scuffling…and…he was trying to get the gun away from me and…and it went off and shot her.”
The EMS arrived and took Sandra away and another arrived and gathered up Wally. Troopers Alice and Jack, however, took Becca in custody, read her her rights, and then helped her into the car.
While leaving, though, she noticed, over at the far edge of the clearing, she wolf with two of her babies. The animal watched Becca’s car as it turned and sped away.
But Becca began thinking while watching the animal. Could it be, she thought. The thought running through her mind was so fantastic, it defied logic. And the monstrous, metallic things in the woods could only be from another world. Wally would have beaten her to death if it had not been for one of them. And the she wolf was there.
Possibly, an animal had saved her, but how? And why?