Spindly branches clawed her flailing arms as she stumbled onward. Slowing, Rayanna glanced over her shoulder. “Bowery?”
Hoarse breathing roiled through the forest path. Animal or human? No way to tell.
She sprinted further down the mountainside. The misty tunnel of brush thickened, swallowing the flashlight’s beam before her feet. The blind scramble enhanced each sound and smell.
Her footfalls crunch-skidded on the underbrush. Sweat slicked her neck and trickled against the lining of the officer’s jacket. His scent rose from the jostling collar, fighting the damp oak scents rushing past her in the scramble down the slope. Yet the odor of something bestial and dank wormed its way into her senses, too.
She croaked a thin plea. “Officer Bowery? Grantham?”
Splintering rustles and a roar erupted beside her. She swiveled the light into the crimson eyes of a beast. Fanged jaws bared, a flash of dark fur pounced through the mist at her. Rayanna dove aside. Plunged into a thicket. Needly brambles scraped her face. Her shoulder crashed against the rocky earth.
Two nearby gun shots resounded.
The echo rang in her ears while pain coursed through her body. She rolled onto her back. Curled up through the switches. A grip on her forearm wrenched a scream from her lips.
“It’s me.” A firm tug pulled her upright.
“Grantham.” He retrieved the flashlight and handed it back to her. “Can you run?”
Rayanna raked at her hair as she stepped onto the path. “I think so–”
“Then let’s get going.” He gestured with his gun. Howls rippled through the fog-shrouded woods. “There’s more of them out there. A lot more.”
*** TO BE CONTINUED ***