Earthy odors clung to the damp forest air. In the darkness, even the smell of decayed wood reeked of sinister motives. Moss carpeted most of her winding path and devoured saplings at its edges. Hints of musk wafted along with the irony scent of blood to assault her senses, and Rayanna shuddered.
She rankled her nose, but hesitated within a few inches of covering her face. Filth plagued her hands and cuffed wristes. She tugged at the mud-crusted fabric of her shirt collar and ventured a reluctant sniff. Beastly odors punched her face and spun her gaze aside.
Whoa. Got to find somewhere to clean up before I rejoin civilization. If I look as bad as I smell, I could be mistaken for a werewolf.
She quickened her pace on the spongy path, crushing the bone-like remains of the fungal feasts. The fade of adrenaline weighed her legs with stony fatigue, but she could not allow herself to slow down. Though she couldn’t remember whether she had killed, the bear-sized creature that had rushed the patrol car remained vivid in her mind. And it was still out there.
Faint rushing sounds drifted from beyond the visible stretch of her path. She slowed and cocked her head. Strained her ears to make out the constant rhythm of flowing water. A grin teased at the corners of her mouth, but faded at the next sound to erupt.
Somewhere deep in the forest’s belly to her left, a howl seared through the night.
Despite the perilous tread in faltering moonlight, Rayanna sprinted headlong down the forest path.
*** TO BE CONTINUED ***