It was starting to get dark and Jeff realized he had miscalculated the distance to the camp site. He had gone in as straight a line as possible but he realized he had let his mind wander too much. He figured he must have past wide to the left or right of the camp site when he tried to get back to Trish. It was supposed to be a walk meant to cool down after an argument but he now regretted doing that and wished he had just stayed with her at the camp site.
Nothing was looking familiar now so he changed direction again in an attempt to find her without calling out and admitting he was lost but as the last rays of the sun disappeared behind the horizon he started to panic. Finally he called out to her and waited a few minutes to listen for her voice. The silence was eerie. Jeff realized something was wrong but he didn’t know what it was so he called out her name again louder this time and waited once more for a response.
Jeff stood listening and realized he could hear no birds, crickets or anything he came to expect from previous camping trips and the realization chilled his blood. The only sounds he heard were his breathing and his beating heart which had quickened its pace. He changed direction again and after a few minutes he stopped and called out to Trish again and again he heard no reply. “What if she’s hurt?” he asked himself aloud. Once again he listened and heard nothing as his sense of dread continued to rise. He had not brought the flashlight with him since he expected to be back before dark so the only light was from the full moon shining through the forest canopy.
He again changed direction in what he thought was the direction of the camp site and then again as he realized he had lost all sense of direction. As he stopped to call out to Trish again he heard a twig snap somewhere behind him and whirled around only to see nothing. Jeff strained his eyes looking intently into the moonlit forest for what seemed like an eternity focusing in on every shadow until he was sure each one was not a bear or other predator stalking him. He continued to scan the darkness as he backed away slowly and then froze when he heard another twig snap only to realize that he had made the noise himself this time.
He breathed a shuddering sigh of relief as he turned and started moving again towards what he hoped was the camp. He looked out hoping to catch a glimpse of a campfire and sniffed the air hoping to smell smoke but his senses detected nothing. He hugged himself in an attempt to ward off the increasing cold as he slowly and quietly moved forward hoping that what he had heard was not anything his imagination wanted him to think it was.
Jeff continued on fighting the cold and his own exhaustion when he heard something. At first he wasn’t sure but after a few minutes he recognized the guttural growl and the image of a rabid dog flooded his minds eye. He slowly turned and whatever it was must have been concealed in the shadows of the trees. “It can’t be a wolf” he thought “they aren’t found hear in the southeast are they?”
He backed away slowly afraid that if he ran whatever was out in the darkness would chase him down. As he was backing away the figure became more apparent in the shadows and he could now see the overall shape and size. It was huge, as big as or larger than a bear but the sounds were distinctly canine. As he backed away he saw what he thought would be a paw, revealed in the moonlight was instead more of a large clawed hand covered in short thick fur that appeared black.
Jeff ran as fast as he could no longer thinking of the campsite and only trying to put distance between him and the creature. he could hear the creature panting and running behind him and he knew it could catch him whenever it wanted. After a few minutes of dead sprinting through the woods Jeff tripped and fell quickly rolling over on his back bracing himself for imminent attack but nothing happened and he was able to catch his breath. “What happened?” he whispered to the moonlight “It’s toying with me.”
Tired and cold he slowly picked himself up and started moving not sure if it was even the same direction. He hoped Trish was OK and that she had not started looking for him. He had been dating her a few months but this was their first camping trip and he was more afraid of being responsible for her death than he was afraid of losing his own life. He did his best to get his bearings and did his best to determine the general direction of the campsite and then started quickly in the opposite direction in an attempt to lead it away from Trish.
Jeff could hear the creature off to his left pacing him as he moved along in what he hoped was away from camp. He decided he would not turn away from the beast unless he absolutely had to. The creature moved with ease on four legs through the forest occasionally allowing itself to be seen only in glimpses of moonlight. Jeff was able to piece together an idea of what the creature looked like as he moved through the forest catching the glimpses in the moonlight. Its fur was dark maybe even black and its hind legs looked thick and powerful but the front legs were more like arms but still thick and muscular but more like a primates. What stood out most were the large powerful jaws and generally canine face and the large fangs bared like those of an angry wolf.
His mind told him this creature was impossible but his eyes told him it the werewolf of the old stories and movies. He thought perhaps he was having a nightmare and tried to will himself awake as he kept moving. The beast made a lunged and snapped its jaws inches from him. Jeff was forced to turn and again the creature lunged and forced him more to the right. It then moved to the other side of him and he could see now he was being herded. The creature snapped at the back of his neck and shoulders several more times from several more angles forcing Jeff to use his adrenaline to keep moving fast.
Jeff was exhausted and he suddenly had a horrifying thought, “What if it’s herding me towards Trish?” He had no idea where he was or what direction he was really going in anymore. He felt he had to make a stand right here right now. His legs couldn’t take anymore of the running and he could not risk leading this creature to his girlfriend. He knew he stood no chance against it but he felt if he could wound it badly enough then maybe it wouldn’t go after Trish. He started scanning the ground as he ran and spotted a large stick on the ground ahead.
Jeff dove for the stick and rolled on the ground and was able to settle on his back with the stick in the air and caught the creature off guard as it lunged right into it. The weight of the beast drove the stick into his abdomen and he shrieked in pain as the other end failed to pierce the skin of the creature. The werewolf rolled off of Jeff and stood on its hind legs both of its clawed hands clutching its chest. He had hurt it but not enough as he removed the long stick from his wound he grunted in pain. Rage flashed in the gray eyes of the beast and it swiped the stick out of Jeff’s hands taking three of his fingers with it.
Jeff was in agony now and held his bleeding hand where the first three fingers had been moments before as the creature moved towards him. He thought of hitting its nose too late as its jaws tore his throat out in an instant. He died in agony as the creature feasted on him. Jeff’s warm blood spilled on the cold ground causing a bit of steam to rise and dissipate in the air as the life ran out of him.
The next day Trish found her way to a ranger station and reported her boyfriends’ disappearance. “We had an argument and he went for a walk and he just never came back.” She told them with tears in her eyes. She flipped her black bangs out of her face and looked at the ranger with sad gray eyes. On her way out the door opened into her and she protected her ribs. “Are you OK?” the ranger asked. “It’s nothing,” she said “I just bruised it while I was looking for him last night. I can be clumsy that way.”