Dog Day

It’s hot. The sour smell of perspiration saturates my clothes. Pollen, from late blooming trees, feels like sandpaper against my slickened skin. I swat futilely at the cloud of gnats as they hungrily seek out the salt of my pores. I breath the choking humid air and screw my eyes so tight, against the excruciating radiance of the high afternoon sun, that my temples throb. There, on the horizon, hang dark clouds offering a distant promise of thunder and rain. In a few more months we can all be happily complaining about the cold. But, right now, it’s too hot.


Ellis Durant was crouched on the ledge, looking down at the dark blue sedan parked in front of the warehouse.. It was a slightly older model Taurus, kept clean. It was in good repair. He could barely tell the engine was running. He knew Jerry was behind the wheel, waiting. A few floors below him, in a vacant office was a man, he was also looking at the sedan. He was also waiting. Ellis could just see the tip of the rifle’s barrel sticking out the window, pointed at the driver side roof. He turned his head slightly to see the unkempt figure behind him.

He was younger than Ellis, but shared the same impassive, grey faced expression. The same rough cut muscular build. He wore jeans and a black hooded sweat jacket, the zipper open, with no shirt beneath it. Ellis motioned downwards with his index finger and his feral looking companion nodded and walked quietly toward the stairwell door. If things went badly, they would take the man with the rifle back to Mr. Davis. This would probably happen too late to prevent Jerry being killed. He hoped thing would turn out well for Jerry today. He liked Jerry, but guarding his life was not why he was here. Not that it mattered. Today, tomorrow it was going to end the same way. It always did, it was just a matter of when, and who. Then there was the why.

Ellis didn’t bother with why. The priests had always said that everything happens for a reason, all part of the divine pan. Ellis had taken to this notion quite well. If it all came down to divine reasonings, then reasons didn’t matter. People lived, events happened, people died. If you eliminated the whole question of why everything else was simple to deal with. He had often marvelled at mankinds need for whys, they so seldom got around to figuring out the hows. when he talked to the Cardinal about this he didn’t pretend to have a thoughtful response. Ellis remembered thinking this was one of the few points in the man’s favor. Being up on this roof, watching, waiting, made him mis his days with the church. The days of guardianship over that cathedral were a lifetime ago, at least one at any rate.. He and his band were proud of themselves once. “Before the whole world went to shit.” as Mr. Davis would say.Now they had to settle for being something between a spies and a babysitters. Still, everything happened for a reason; and, even if that weren’t true, everything still happened. At least he had today to be out in the sun and the wind.

People began to come out of the warehouse. First one man, then the other holding the door. Then, Ellis’s eyes widened slightly. He could not believe what he saw. It wasn’t possible. The thing that walked arm in arm with the man to the car, should not be here. she was supposed to be dead. Dead and a world away.

The blue sedan lurched forward slightly then smoothly pulled out, and drove away.

No wonder, Mr. Davis did not want Baba’s name spoken. She was The Baba. After all this time, she had come back to the world.

This scene is the 16th in the series “The Untitled Thing” The rest of the story is indexed here.

In need of a Plan


The university in the city where I live held graduation recently. That makes it the busiest time of the year for the restaurant I work at. This translates into longer, harder work hours for me, meaning even less time/ energy for my family and practically no time for myself.

Every year I plate and send who knows how many hundreds of meals through my pass. It seems that every year we go through this ordeal with a less and less experienced crew. Almost every year there’s some set of minor, yet absurdly frustrating complications with the scheduling of either the staff or reservations, or both. Every year there is always some inane last-minute problem with inventory. Nearly every year half of the staff shows up late for their shifts. And every year there is some melt down between coworkers resulting in yelling matches, hurt feelings and possibly someone quitting or getting fired.

Every year I swear that this is going to be the last one of these weekends I’m going to work.

It was a long week, and I’ve been in a rotten mood to begin with, so I just decided that when I had a couple of days off I’d just spend it hiding under my blanket and trying to come up with a plan.

Part of this plan involves me finding a new job, but I think that’s been the plan for about eight years now and I see how that has worked out. I needed to figure out my deal with the writing thing, get back into reading more, and get more exercise.

I guess the plan here is that I want to focus on specific writing goals instead of just pushing myself to publish stuff here as often as possible. I need to finish the serial that I’ve been working on, maybe finally giving it a tittle (though I see no pressing need for that) so I am going to make that a priority. This is mostly just to prove I can finish the damn thing really. Following that I have another piece of flash fiction that the consensus among people whose opinions I value needs to be expanded out. So I think I am going to work hard on that. I haven’t decided yet whether to make it an actual  short story or to write a series of related pieces. Right now the latter seems more feasible, we’ll see what happens.

I used to read a lot more than I do now. The problem is that I drank a lot while I read, and largely when I read it makes me think about drinking. Thinking about drinking makes want to drink. That makes me me angry, so I haven’t been reading much. This sucks because I liked reading. I’ve been working on it, slowly. I have a back log of stuff that I want to read so I am going to be doing that as well. I have to do this because I am trying to raise a child who reads. My reading list at the moment is as follows:

  • Under the Empyrean Sky by, Chuck Wendig. I started following his blog for the flash fiction challenges he hosts, which are very entertaining, and I thought in fairness to myself I should read at least one of his books. I’m only about 130 pages into it and enjoy it so far but for the aforementioned reason it has taken me a considerable amount of time to get there.
  • The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind the 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry by, Lance Dodes, MD, and Zachary Dodes. As an alcoholic I am not a fan of  12-Step programs for my own reasons. When I heard about this book on NPR it caught my interest. I have not yet started this book.
  • Screenwriting for Dummies by, Laura Schellhart. No real reason. I saw this on the reshelving cart when I took my daughter to the library, and thought, “Now there’s something I don’t know anything about.” so I picked it up.

I’m giving myself a generous six weeks to read those three books. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As for exercise, I’ve been spending too much time moping in my bed lately and I need to force myself to get out in the sunshine and what passes for fresh air these days. So I am dusting off the bicycle again and re-installing Ingress on my phone and seeing what mayhem I can get up to. Largely this is in hopes that some no work related physical activity will help improve my mood, and perhaps straighten out my sleep issues.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about this past week.

Happy Monday.



Life as a Three Legged Cat

My wife is kind of a cat lady. In addition to our personal pets she likes to feed the neighborhood strays. She takes part in our local Trap/ Neuter/ Return program. Were currently discussing fostering some kittens from Animal Services. Point is she likes cats. I do too, I guess. Up to a certain extent.

There’s this one cat, she calls him Tripod. Yep, he was born without one of his hind legs, the right one. Watching him do his little hobbled, skipping walk is almost an amusing sight. He’s gotten kind of fat over the years; the other cat lady down the street to start feeding him. When he was younger and thinner he was actually something of a bad ass, as far as cat’s being murderous bastards go. I witnessed that physically challenged ball of homicide pull birds right out of the air, hold his own in wrestling matches with his friends, and chase invasive tom cats, larger than himself, away from his feeding spot.  Now he’s just some fuzzy paranoid Weeble.

The most remarkable thing about this cat is the sad way he keeps trying to scratch behind his ear with that little nub of a leg. Can you just imagine the frustration? When there’s thing in the back of your head and for whatever reason you were born missing that one tool that can bring you relief. And even though you know it’s not going to work, you can’t help but give it a try anyway.

Lately I know just how that must feel.

Of Cigarettes and Alcohol

I was recently asked by a coworker, apparently out of idle curiosity, whether it was harder to quit smoking or quit drinking. I told him it depends on how you look at it.

When I quit smoking it sucked right away. It sucked for me and everyone around me. I was nervous, irritable, and moody. I was hardly able to concentrate on anything at all. I couldn’t sit still, and I couldn’t stop talking. In short I was a severe annoyance to myself and others. For months after my last cigarette I would still pat myself down looking for a loose pack. In the long run though, it got easy. I would find myself standing in line at convenience stores staring longingly at the tobacco displays. At some point I stopped thinking about smoking, mostly. I still have those few moments where I crave one, but I realize how stupid that is and it goes away on its own.

Not drinking was pretty easy at first, I mean once I got past the actual not drinking part. It took a couple of days to really sink in. Then the internal dialogue began trying to talk me into giving in. It became an unsilenceable argument about how I could handle it and I was just out to prove something. A never-ending torrent of utter bullshit, that still crops up on a regular basis. The farther out I get from my last drink the more time seems to crawl. When I think about it I now I still get anxious. I find myself from time to time nervously walking through beer aisles at stores. The worst part is that now, approaching three years sober there is still this emptiness. Like a hole somewhere that I nothing else will fit into, no matter what I try. I don’t have bad days with sobriety, I bad have weeks and months where all I want is to get drunk.

Because it would be easier.

In the end I explained it like this; When I quit smoking I stopped carrying a lighter on me. I still have a bottle opener on my key chain.

That’s what’s been on my mind this past week.

Happy Monday.

Compliance and Liability

Waking up next to a dead man will ruin your entire day. About the only positive thing you can say about the experience is, at least you’re not him. Though, if the pounding in my skull didn’t stop soon I might consider it as a second career option. I touched my left temple as I sat up and felt the stickiness of coagulating blood. I couldn’t tell how long I’d been out for.

I looked around, took in my surroundings. From the dim light filtering down from the track lighting I could tell I was in some derelict warehouse, somewhere on the outer hub. Empty shipping crates and paper trash littered the floor. There was a gantry on the upper level that lead to a single door, probably to an office. From where I was sitting, the only other exit I could see was an enormous set of pressure doors that offered the cold vacuum of space. I turned my attention to the body of the man next to me.

He had been shot with some kind of energy weapon, the burns across his neck and chest suggested a microwaver, or maybe some low phased plasma caster. I reached for my sidearm, I figured it wouldn’t be in its holster but I checked anyway. A renewed sense of dread dawned on me as I searched poor son of a bitch.

I was under contract with the Frambanc Corporation and was sent up the wire earlier in the day to find Mr. Erad Jalhin, an investment banker, who had gone missing from block thirty-four, D Tier of LEO Station 12, a few days ago. Judging from the pass card in the corpses wallet I had just found him. Now I thought I should figure out how he became a corpse, and what we were both doing lying on the floor of an abandoned factory.  Rifling through the rest of his possessions I find a few bucks in trade notes, and a data key for the Pacifica, a casino hotel in Tier H. It wasn’t much but it was a place to start. I threw the dead man’s personal effects into my own pockets and stood up. My head swam a little as I walked along the wall looking for the exit.

An alarm blared and then stopped. A red light flashed over the pressure door. Someone had tried to vent the facility into space, the fail-safe had detected my presence and aborted the procedure. Who ever had put Jalhin and me in here just found out one of us was still alive. I grabbed a piece of debris and settled in behind one of the cargo crates.


The Pacifica hotel was one of those places didn’t ask too many questions of its guests. The questions it did ask could usually be answered with money. The trade notes I found on Jalhin’s body were just enough to bribe my way to finding what room the data key went to. I took the elevator up, patting the pistol, secure in the holster slung on my shoulder. I had managed to recover it from the heavy that had tried to vent me into space. I walloped him across the chin with a piece of high density plastic when he came to see why the airlock wouldn’t open. Given the circumstances of the day so far I was glad to have it back.

The last thing I remember before being introduced to the late Erad Jalhin, was being at his residence on Tier D. I had been interviewing his neighbors, most of them didn’t even know he hadn’t been home. The couple that loved across the corridor seemed to be the only ones paying attention. They told me that he had been seeing someone for the last few months, a tall woman with brown hair. Right before he disappeared they had a fight ,a few days later she stopped coming by. They couldn’t tell me her name, Nothing inside the apartment suite indicated a romantic involvement. Photographs of him in his college days, and posing with obvious business associates. No tall brunettes to be seen.  Closets full of business attire, no sign of recent overnight guests. I’ve found that most investigative findings come down to digging in the trash. There among burned out vapor cartridges and take-out containers was a business card. That’s when I heard someone moving behind me. I jammed the card into my pocket, drew my weapon and wheeled around. I was too slow, I was hit hard before I could see my attacker. When I woke I was in the warehouse.

I remembered the card as the elevator doors open. It’s still there, crumpled in the pocket of my jacket. I read it as I walk towards the hotel room. It read: Michelle Ruhlman, Security Consultant, Suite 3D Block 16 Tier H. A security consultant could mean a body-guard or a gumshoe. I wondered in what capacity Jahlin needed her. In either case I would wager that Michelle Ruhlman was the brown-haired woman who had been seen with him in the past weeks. She was also probably the woman pointing the gun at me when I stepped into the room.


Most companies now-a-days have insurance contracts on executive officers. These contracts get activated if they don’t check in with their offices every few days. The contracts have a stipulation that these “disappearances” be checked by an outside investigator to eliminate cases of fraud or corporate malfeasance.  Seven times out of ten the missing executive is shacked up with a member of the opposite sex on some off-world pleasure cruise, the other three times it’s with a member of the same-sex. This was how I made my living. You can imagine my frustration at finding this particular case turning up a corpse, requiring me to actually investigate.

Michelle Ruhlman, wasn’t happy to see me. Less happy when she found her former clients credentials in my possession. Jalhin had hired her to ferry him down the line to Earth. He was in possession of sensitive material that implicated someone in his company of shipping black market pharmaceuticals planet-side. She was planning on protecting him till he testified to the council’s magistrate. Then he began talking about blackmail. Michelle had thought she had persuaded him to reconsider and was supposed to meet him here in the hotel. Instead he ended up dead and she was out a client and the cost of two tickets downward. This is why I always operate on a retainer.

Jalhin had worked for Marikel Diversifications, they practically owned LEO 12 and good chunk of real estate back on Earth. The person he had the goods on was their Chief Operational Officer. I thought about just walking away, but if the story that Ruhlman told me got out I’d lose my license. Besides I had just enough self-respect, and professional ethics left in me to finish the job I was hired for. Also I got a bonus if I prevented the policy from being collected on.

There is this phenomena with people who try blackmail. They always think it’s clever to hide their evidence in the most dangerous possible place. Michelle told me that Jahlin had left the documents on a solid state drive, somewhere in his office. The due diligence clause in my contract meant it was necessary I attempted to retrieve the drive; since it was proof Jahlin’s death was a matter of corporate assassination, voiding the insurance policy on him.

The Marikel offices were one of the few freestanding structures on LEO 12. They were four expansive buildings each covering several blocks surrounding the central  well of Tier B winding their way up to become the major features of the A Tier, which was reserved for penthouses for the highest officials of the corporate council and private pleasure dens. Erad’s office was about halfway up the western column. Merikel had state of the art security. The good news was that since he hadn’t been reported dead yet his pass card was still able to get me into the building. Provided I avoided speaking with any of the guards, I’d be able to get in and back out with little problem.

This was largely true on the way up, aside from a few sidelong glances from secretaries, and a brief hold up with a stuck elevator there wasn’t any trouble. It took a little time to locate the drive I was looking for, I eventually found it taped to the underside of his desk drawer. I decided against booting up the files to find out who might have killed Jalhin, there would be plenty of time for that on my way back down the line. I’d fulfilled my contract or I would once I reported Jahlin’s death to the council authorities, and to Frambanc’s liability office.

I walked casually back down the hall making sure to keep my face down as I passed the security cameras. I made it to the elevators and breathed a sigh of relief as the doors closed. I pushed the button to return to the lobby, but was surprised to find the car was travelling upward. I drew the gun from under my jacket. I didn’t figure it was going to help much but it would be nice to have for moral support.

The doors slid open and I was greeted by four thugs with Marikel security I.D.’s. The look on their faces seemed to indicate that handing my gun over would be proper ettiquette in this situation. They led me down an empty hall to an executive suite. Once inside I was pushed into a chair. I was seated across a man who introduced himself a Dominick Tael. He offered apologies for me ending up in the warehouse earlier in the morning. He had been hoping for a couple more days before the policy on him activated. He had hoped to only be disposing of one body. He wasn’t really concerned with the company collecting. He made me a simple offer, I gave him the information he was being blackmailed with, report that I hadn’t found Jalhin. I’d get to walk away, he’d see to it that I’d get a sizable payout when the policy on Erad was cashed. It was a good offer. I thought it over carefully, seeing as how the alternative seemed to involve another chance at being sent out an airlock.

The door slid open and four blaster shots barked into the room. MIchelle was a good shot. All of the corporate goons were on the ground, smoldering slightly. I stood up, decked Tael a good one in the jaw, and started toward the door. As I walked I explained that I had to decline his offer. I already had a deal, with Ms. Ruhlman. Half my bonus if she made sure I got out of the building safe and sound.

This was written in response to yet another challenge over at Terribleminds. Opening sentence written by lisacle


I had my last drink that night,BadPoetryLogo1
And in the morning you were gone.
Only a note by way of apology,
for being how I treated you.

You came back home,
Even when we had no home left.
Now I still panic,
If I wake up in an empty house.

What I want for her

Last week I posted a review of the Daredevil series on Netflix. There I wrote that my only real problem with the show was with that female characters, and how they seem to serve as little more than incidental plot devices. There two things I’d like to address from that article.

One, I need to practice being more critical of media simply so that I learn to express my opinions more concisely. Seriously, looking back at it that article it seems like it was written by an adolescent spider monkey. It was basically the critical equivalent of just declaring, “I feel ways about stuff.” (Which is basically what I’m doing here. But, hey that’s what blogs are for right?)

Secondly, that stuff I feel ways about is women’s roles in fiction. Well women’s roles in general. To be completely honest I don’t know if I  care about this because I’ve grown more mature and can see a bigger picture or, did I decide to care about gender equality as a result of raising my daughter.

I think it is important to have strong women role models in books, and other media because our imaginations shape so much of our world view. I see so many female characters that are either simply there to be damsels in distress, sex kittens, or nagging harpies. Stronger roles tend towards emotionally inaccessible bitches. That’s just not reflective of the women I know, but it is reflective of how men I know talk about women. That’s not what I want my daughter think of as normal or okay.

I’ve known about inequality all of my life, in one way or another. It, after all, would be hard to get through even elementary social studies classes, without having some idea that the society we live in has been shaped by wealthy white men. I’ve always thought it was wrong, but I really never bothered to say anything or do anything about it.  One of the benefits of growing up as a white male is that you can opt to have a sort of indignant ambivalence towards some of the social issues. I mean you can say that MRA guys are asshats but you’re not the one who really has to deal with them. Same thing goes for pay equality or reproductive rights; you might have a sympathetic opinion that you’re willing to share but, at the end of the day it’s not like you’re the one with an immediate interest in the fight. Even this article isn’t really saying much. It sure as hell isn’t going to change anything.

I guess what I really want is for my daughter to grow up in world where the promise I keep making to her can be kept. You know the one about her having the opportunity to be whatever she wants. I want her to be inspired by people, artists and writers that care about the messages they send. I want her to live her life ad define herself, not to have her life defined by assumptions based on gender.

Yes, there’s a chance I am reacting to things in an exaggerated way about this. I may not be reacting enough. There’s a real good chance I have no idea what I’m talking about, because here I am, that guy trying to understand and discuss women’s issues. I am definitely rambling on.

It is, however what I’ve been thinking about this past week.

Happy Monday

The Pick-up

Jerry sat in the car parked outside the warehouse, engine idling, struggling to keep his eyes open. He was sure he fell asleep at some point each night but, he could barely tell. He would be laying in bed  each evening in, his alarm  sounded and it was morning again. The time between just gone, blank, devoid of either rest or dreams. What he really found draining right now, however, was how monumentally boring the waiting was. He began to think the reason why Maslow’s guys all smoked was just to pass the time.

He reached down to the console for his coffee, the cup now half empty and cold. This was supposed to be a simple pick up. Something in a shipment, something hidden from customs, was delivered to the warehouse. Jerry didn’t know what it was but it had to be small enough for Victor and Joseph to carry it out themselves. Drugs, jewels, art, the people who dealt with Maslow had diverse tastes. Somewhere, high up, Jacob would be looking at the car, just in case something went wrong. In case Jerry couldn’t be trusted. He was fairly certain there was a rifle involved. It didn’t worry him, just more of Peter’s over zealousness when it came to planing. Betrayal wasn’t part of his job at the moment.

The more he thought about it the less sure what is job actually was in all this. He began to wonder what was taking the other two so long. This thing should be pretty straight forward. The warehouse was friendly. Peter said he got the call confirming the package was delivered earlier today. What if someone else had gotten turned? Working for someone else? One of the warehouse employees, one of Maslow’s people?

Suddenly Jerry could feel the cross hairs weighing on him. He wanted to throw the car in gear and take off. He knew that was the worst decision. If he wanted to get through this he had to ride it out. He just had to wait. He breathed out slowly.

Glancing into the rear view he saw the door to the warehouse open. Joseph stepped out and walked to the rear passenger side door of the sedan. He just stood there. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at Jerry he just watched the door he had just come out of.

A long minute later Victor emerged. He held the door for an older woman in a business suit and dark green sunglasses; hair graying probably in her fifties. Victor took her arm as the door closed behind them. They walked towards the car. Every step she took seemed thought out, purposeful.

Joseph opened the door of the car and the woman entered the vehicle. Victor stepped around to the other side and got in. Joseph closed the door behind the woman then stepped into the front passenger side. They sat for a moment in silence.

The others began to have a quick paced conversation in Russian. Jerry struggled to understand at the speed they talked. He was able to figure out they were discussing his credentials. He just stared forward and pretended not to listen.

“Your name is Jerry?” the woman asked with a slight accent.

“That’s right ma’am.” Jerry looked at her in the mirror, his gaze reflected in her sunglasses. His head began to ache slightly.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No ma’am.” The dull ache in his head seemed sharper now, almost piercing.

“I am Liliya. They,” she waved her hand around the car indicating the two other men, “they call me Baba. For you, ma’am will do for now.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good, you will take me to see my nephew Peter now.”

She turned her head away from him. He felt the pain begin to ease.

Jerry put the car in drive, and headed back to the office.

This scene is 14th in a story currently known as “The Untitled Thing”. The rest of the series is indexed here

The Stuff of Legend

He inhaled, taking in deep the lovely smells of the night. The earthy impending rain, the sweet blooming honeysuckle, the acrid smoke of the campfire, the sharp musk of her sweat. They all lolled around in his nose and mingled with the taste of rotted meat from his last meal , and the fresh bloody gore of this man’s flesh in his teeth. He breathed it all in as he slowly chewed his the meat of his kill. He blinked as he stared up at the moon with large, half blind eyes. He ran his talon across what remained of the throat of the man, brought it up to his wide mouth and licked at it thoughtfully. The flesh will taste better in a day or two. Best to let it cure.

She hadn’t gotten far. He could hear her feet plodding the soft damp ground, she was trying to skirt the edge of the water. She’d make better time if she swam. There were alligators to be sure, but eaten was eaten. The reptiles would at least give her a fairer chance. He rose up from his haunches, scraping a stubborn piece of meat from under a claw.

She was young, but they all were to him.  She was afraid, he could only guess how terrifying he appeared to her. His heart began to pound, they always ran from him. The anticipation of the chase excited him. He heard her trip, likely on a cypress knee, letting out a short scream as her hair was pulled by a low hanging branch. She splashed in the shallow brackish swamp, trying to get her feet.

He preferred the women, they were smarter, they ran. The men were dumb, they tried to put a fight too early. He had nearly been killed only three times in his life, each time by a woman. Always after the chase. After their blood had flowed, after the fear and exhaustion had done their work. Long after reason and sanity had left. That is when the fight mattered, when it was all they had left. That is why the women always tasted so much better when they were fresh.

He pushed off from a nearby tree and began his silent loping run. He always loved the chase. She would take the high path back to the car.

He cut into the thickets of reeds, ran across the fallen tree spanning the narrow end of the swamp. He leapt up onto the high embankment, and reached the bend in the trail. He crouched and waited.

She came, breathing hard, scrabbling for a hold on the step-like roots of the eroded path. Closer, she couldn’t even tell that she was crying. Tears of panic leaving streaks down her muddy face.

Closer, his heart beat louder, blood pounding in his ears. His excitement mounted.

Too soon he reached out for her arm as she climbed the path. She screamed, and slid back down. Landed on her back. He jumped down to where she lay, landing astride her. He bent forward, jagged claws reaching for her throat.

There was a hot pressure, cold pain, warm blood.

A stone perhaps a log. Something heavy had been in her hand when she swung. He was off-balance. She manged to kick him off her. On her feet quickly, running leaps up the trail. He slowly pushed himself back up. He stretch his jaw feeling it fall back in place with a click that echoed in his skull. He spit a broken tooth, tasting his own blood.

She was running again, harder now. She was hurt, bleeding now. Her hand, where she struck him.

Shaking himself back to sense he set off again. Ducking under branches, pushing aside tall grasses, and thorned vines he cut a way towards the lot. She would still try to reach the car, that was escape in her mind. She was deep in the fear now, past the panic. She had shown that now, razor focus only on escape, safety. One thing mattered, life.

This was life for him. This is all that was, just the chase.

He reached the clearing where visitors to this preserve leave their vehicles while the walked the trails. She was just coming off the trail, running full speed towards the large truck parked there. He ambled in to the moonlight. She didn’t look, but she saw him. Her chest heaved with every step. He could almost hear the excitement of hope in her breathing. He began to run. The closer she got to the vehicle, the faster he chased. He could hear both their hearts beating, reaching the same tempo of excitement.

She reached out for the door.

He reached out for her.

She stepped sideways and threw the door open. It struck his arm as he tried to grab her. He spun around fully and reached again. She dove into the cab of the truck. His claws sank into her leg. Her heartbeat was deafening as he pulled her out and turned her to face him. This was life. This was how the chase ended.

A click, and a thunderous bang.

Another shot rang from the revolver. His breath left him. He lost his grip. Again she fired the gun.

The door slammed, tires skidded in the packed dirt of the lot.

Rain began to fall on his body. He coughed blood onto the ground.

This was how the chase ended.

It had been ages since one had escaped. Others would come, to search the swamp, for the dead man, for him. It didn’t matter.

He would hide in the swamp. The man would provide meat for a time. Then he would sleep, he didn’t know for how long. In the time they would stop believing. Soon enough no one would remember the exact name of the woman who got away from him, or when it happened. Her story and her description of him would blend with the other tales through time. People would forget again.

He would slip back to being just the stuff of legend.