Cletus T. Broshus & the Blue Ridge Beast: Prologue

CTB-BRBeast-logoNothing says Halloween quite like a good horror story… and nothing says horror stories to the staff of The Weekly Constitutional quite like the exploits of Cletus T. Broshus; our favorite pot addled monster hunter.


And lookie, lookie… another brand spanking new tale in his wild and bizarre story is getting g ready to spark off (with new chapters coming out bi-weekly, so be sure to stay tuned…). 

So get ready to be scared, kids and prepare yourself for…

 

Cletus T. Broshus & the Blue Ridge Beast

*****

Prologue:

The Tragedy of the Birchum Men

 

Bear_monster_werebear

"Son, be sure to grab the gloves outta the truck on your way out..." Henry Birchum called out to his son, stretching a little as he stared out into the dense wood sprawling before him. He cupped his strong, calloused hand over his eyes; weathered brow wrinkling as he stared off to the expanse of forest laying before him. A grey sky capped the bare gnarled branches; crisp winds of early spring biting a bit as they blustered down.

A thin dirt trail, carved out from generations of Birchums making their yearly march along it, stuck out like a worn tongue from the dark forbidding wood. Long knotted oak branches reached down at the orange clayed trail, smothering the soil nearly lifeless under its stiff creaky quilt. In the summer, the canopy would be dense with green and lush browns, but these early days of spring still found the branches barren. They clacked together as a chilled breeze blew, light clapping echoing off into the furthest extents of his land.  

Henry had been hunting this land for as long as he could remember, the stake handed down now through five generations of Birchums. He smiled as he saw his son bobble down the hill, the loaded arms of the sixth generation making his way towards Henry awkward and off balance.  

"Took you long enough," he said with a smile, reaching back his weathered hand to his son for the gloves. 

"There was a snake behind that first bush. Had to go a bit further." His son, Clive, replied. He was tall for his age, turning fifteen in a few weeks, with sandy blonde hair and focused, bright blue eyes. He had the look of his mother, Henry thought, struggling to see any of himself in the boy before him. But in certain lights he could see his genetic thumb print, the soft face of a boy being hammered into that of a young Birchum man.

"Lucky you found it before he bit you in the pecker." Henry said with a rye grin. He liked this time alone with his boy... Time for the two of them to shake off the shackles of twenty first century social demands and just be men, as Henry had been able to with his father and grandfather growing up. 

"We didn't need to bring no seed?" Clive asked, swatting away at a cloud of no-see-ums that had blustered errantly towards him. 


"Nope. Uncle Jack said he and Michael dropped off a few bags out in the chest by granddad's old stack a few weeks back. Should be plenty there to lay out a good first seeding." 

"Is Uncle Jack meeting us out here?" His son asked, adjusting himself in his clothes, a bit tight from a recent  growth spurts. 

"No. Said he had to do some church thing with Aunt Janet. He might try and come out later on... Guessing he'll wait to hear if we bag us a hog while we're out here before making any final decisions." He said, picking up his rifle and sliding the strap over his head. He adjusted the rifle, resting it comfortably between his shoulder blades. He then checked his side arm, removing his .40 with a click from its hard plastic holster. He reached again to his side, free hand unclamping a hard leather pouch stuck to his side, sliding a shiny chrome clip out. It was heavy, the ten bullets weighing it considerably as he moved it towards his weapon. He slid in the clip, chambering a round; the brushed metal slide clicking hard as his thumb flipped a latch along the side of the spring loaded steel. 

"The guns are live, son." He said, returning the handgun to his holster. 

"Should I load mine?" Clive replied, wrestling a bit with his rifle as he slid it over his head. Henry watched him struggle but left him to it, knowing he would have to learn on his own how to outfit himself. Clive eventually got it, his gun resting oddly behind his head. 

"No need. Have them more as a just in case. Jack said he saw a few big hog ruts out here; figured it better to have a gun and not need it than the alternative," his father said matter of factly, reaching out towards the boy, adjusting the rifle behind him so his head wouldn't bang against it while they walked. 

"Now, remember, it's still a bit flooded out there. The swamps out a bit further than usual, so watch for slop spots. Still a bit too cold to go wandering around in wet clothes."

"Ok dad," the boy replied, his hand grabbing a medium sized duffle bag stuffed with gear. He slid over that strap across his chest, the heavy bag weighing down on him. 

"I'll get it off you in a bit," Henry said, watching his son struggle under the weight of the bag. He then took a quick final accounting before heading off into the woods, positive he hadn't forgotten anything. 

"Did you bring the phone?" Clive asked, watching his dad frisk himself; the bag growing heavier as the pair stood there. 

"Yes." Henry replied, tapping his Fingers along the unsightly bulge in his front pocket formed by the thick, silver phone. 

"Don't see why... Damned thing may as well be two cups and a string as strong as the signal is out here." He said, more to himself than to Clive; starting to head towards the brown worn path carved out generations ago by Henry's great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Col. Montgomery Birchum Jr. 

 

It took longer than usual to hike it, the ground sloppy and thick with invading waters as they trudged along, but the pair had made it finally to Granddad's shack. Worn out a bit by the walk, the pair decided to stop for lunch before getting to work; sitting along the run down porch of the shack as they quietly chewed on soggy ham sandwiches Henry's wife had sent along. Henry marveled as he chewed his sandwich, wondering how in nearly twenty three years of marriage his darling wife had managed to never once make a good sandwich. He gave her all the credit in the world for trying, waking up at quarter to five in the morning to make sure her men were sent off to the woods with a proper meal to feed them while they toiled. But, bless her heart, she always managed to screw up the balance; some element of the delicate formula necessary to maintain if one is to make a proper sandwich would always be elusive to her. Today's lack of balance was found in thecondiments, her application of mayonnaise too thick. It had seeped into the fluffy white loaf as the day had grown warm, making a chewy soft bread paste as it mingled with the saliva in his mouth. He could feel the oily bread squishing between his jaws as he slowly chewed his bite; the overly thick sliced hunks of ham feeling like human flesh as his teeth ground it to swallowable hunks. 

 

"If our lives ever depended on your mother's skill at making a sandwich, we would all be dead."  Henry said to his son with a bread muffled voice, smiling as he took another forced bite of the sandwich. Clive silently nodded to his father, more out of politeness than of agreement; his eyes focused on his iPod, scrolling along as they sat there. 

"Playin' a game, son?" He asked, watching Clive fiddle with the device one handed as he gripped the gooey sandwich with his other. 

"No. Setting up a playlist for when we work." He replied, never once looking up. 

"Good thinking." Henry replied, a little hurt that his son intended on tuning him out during their time together. Henry should have been used to it by now... The kid burying himself under a hood and those headphones, becoming a flannel figure shaking along to an unheard beat that haunted their living room every afternoon.  Henry got up from where he had been sitting, his ass a bit sore from the gnarled twisted boards that formed the porch of his granddad's shack. 

The shack was large for a one room bungalow, Granddad Cliven needing to house his brood of five strapping boys that he brought with him every time he ventured out. The ancient house was shaped with long, thick carved boards; each one greyed over with time. There were two windows cut into the dark wood walls, grimy panes of glass nearly unable to be seen through. 

Henry ran his fingers along the warping grey wood; deep worn ruts in the wood embedding tiny splinters into his calloused fingertips. He could imagine his granddad shaping each board, the lumber for the house being made up from the very trees felled where Granddad had intended it to go. He picked up the duffle bag and his rifle off the gnarled deck, slowly walking across the creaking porch; his steps slow and deliberate as they creaked down on the grey and black boards, each of them warped and misshaped by time. He opened the door to the shack with a deliberate shove; his thick, calloused hand gripping the latch and pushing forward. The door stuck a bit as he pushed it in, the heavy door creaking as the swollen wood escaped the worn door jam. 


He dropped the bag and rifle just to the side of the door, taking a look around at the dwelling as he settled in his things; the room frozen in time since grandad passed some twenty five years ago. The shack had fallen into disrepair over the years, cobwebs and thick layers of dust covered everything as a heavy scent of mildew filled the abandoned space. He turned away from the room after looking upon it for a few silent moments, eyes misty as memories of his childhood flooded his mind. He could still see the old man sitting in his rickety old chair, taking long pulls off his flask as he shouted all manners of racist jokes off at the grandchildren charged with minding him. 

 

"You ready?" He said, rubbing his sleeve across his eyes. 

"Dust?" His son asked, noticing his father's reddening eyes. 

"Yea. That place is a dusty old tomb. We should sweep it out next time we come. See if we can't start using it for more than gear storage." 

"That'd be cool." His son replied, running his headphone wire under his shirt. 

"Ok, I'll grab two bags of seeds. You bring the spreaders." Henry said, taking a deep breath of the crisp air. He gingerly stepped off the porch, careful not to step down on any unseen serpent laying wait in the tall grass growing over the bottom step. He watched his son walk over to a pile of equipment, covered by a dirty blue tarp near a thick pine tree a few yards from the shack as he made his own way to the bin. It was tucked off behind the house, the heavy plastic lid locked tight by a thick pad lock. He took out his keys, unlocking the metal clasp and opening the lid. He found the bags his brother had left for him, the bin filled with heavy plastic bags of seed. He grabbed two of them, tossing one on each shoulder as he headed towards his son. 

The boy had made his way off a bit ahead, his hands each gripping a large beige seed spreader. Henry stepped up his pace a bit, his back straining slightly as he worked to keep pace with his son. 

"Hold on..." He wheezed out to Clive, slowly pulling away as Henry's pace struggled to keep up. 

"Ok," he said with a smile, turning around to see his father. 

"Struggling to keep up, old man?" The boy teased good naturedly,  impishly grinning as he watched his father struggle a bit under the weight of the coarse plastic sacks. 

"Old man, huh?" Henry said, smiling. He flopped one of the sacks off his shoulder, laying the other down next to it. He stretched his arm a bit; a knot budding deep within his old, salted muscles. 

"How about you help an old man out and take these bags." He continued, nudging the bags with his boot.

"Sure pop." The boy said, taking a heavy bag into each hand. He struggled to hold them, his grip failing more than his strength as the course plastic dug into his soft, meaty palms. His chewed raw palms forced him to stop every couple of feet to adjust his grip before finally getting a firm hold of the sacks. Henry watched his son, pride welling as his boy became a man more and more each trip out into these woods. He could remember those first early trips, the young boy barely able to march this far out without having to be carried over the tall grass and prickly brush. Henry felt his throat tighten a bit as he reached down to pick up the spreaders, taking off after his boy down the long path towards the feed field.   

 

The sun hung high off in the sky, long chasing away the looming greys that had overcast their journey, casting an ethereal glow over the field as the bright rays bounced off the tender budding leaves. Henry squinted as he stared off over the feed zone, finding the usually smooth and serene terrain broken and scarred upon arrival. Deep ruts cut through the field, brown tears of earth scaring all he could see. Large branches were broken off the scant trees that littered the otherwise open field, hanging limp off the trees; snapped off by some powerful anomaly. 

"What happened out here?" Clive asked, shocked to see the mess that laid before them. 

"Hogs, I reckon," Henry replied, not sure if he really believed his explanation. 

"Ain't never seen hogs snap trees like that," the boy replied, surveying the ruined field. 

"Let's start by clearing these branches," Henry said, dropping his spreaders to the floor next to the bags his son had been carrying. 

The pair walked off towards one of the trees closest to them, the branch hanging on tightly by a few scant wood fibers. The pair examined the damage, shaken a bit by what they were looking at. 

"Maybe a bear?" Clive asked, his voice rattled as he wondered what sort of beast could have ripped this branch off the tree. He ran his fingers along the thick branch, easily five inches in diameter, feeling deep carved scratches in the wood. 

"Maybe. It'd have to be a big goddamned bear," Henry asked, gripping the branch between his fingers, the branch unmoving as he jerked and pushed.

"Did we bring an ax?" He asked his son, studying the tree to see any other solution. 

"I don't think so." He replied, pausing a moment before doing to to recall if they had.   

"Want me to go check?" 

"No," Henry replied, a worried knot twisting in his gut. He could feel a foreign presence in the woods, an uneasiness hanging palpably in the air. 

"I think it's better if you stay close." 

"Got it, pop. Want me to fill the spreaders?"

"Sure, sure... You go do that." Henry replied distantly, still fixated on the ripped branch. 


The boy walked off, quickly loading seed into the spreaders as his father stared distracted. He returned quickly, nervous energy putting a zip in his step. He handed one of the spreaders to his father, keeping one for himself. The pair then began slowly walking around in opposing directions; fluttering seeds like a whirling dervish as they paced methodically around the territory. Henry could see the boy moving along the site, bobbing his head as he marched along to unheard music. The spreader clicked along as Henry worked the lever, cranking the dial clockwise as he sent seed flying off in every given direction. 

This sort of work usually relaxed him, a few hours toiling his land the medicine to cure all that ailed him spiritually. But this day, Henry worried; his brain lingering on the improbably snapped branch. Each tick of the spreader sounded like snapping wood, growing louder as the thick fibers he imagined broke under some thing's brute force.

It had to be a bear, he said to himself; his busy brain already planning out the particulars of the necessary hunt to rid themselves of it. 

The pair had separated as they paced, Clive wandering further off as he made uneven passes along the field, nearing the woods that led back to camp. Henry had started working further out, near where some of the acreage was being overtaken by the advancing swamp. He had made several organized passes, thickly coating the area near the water with seed. The feeder finally emptied and Henry started making his way back when he heard the blood curdling squeals of a pig and violent thrashing sound. 

It was wet and sloppy, coming off the banks of the encroaching swamp waters a dozen or so yards just past the tree line behind him. He peered through the woods, seeing thick matted fur taking firm hold of a writhing, screaming swine a few yards off. It was a blur of violence, as he originally caught it; the great beast seeming to toy a bit with the struggling creature as it screeched and squealed in horror.

He turned, seeing his son half a field away from him; his ears tuning out the world under the screams of heavy bass and guitars. Scanning the ground around him, Henry found a small rock. He lobbed it with some force; the white pebble soaring high before coming down like a meteor near where Clive was walking. The boy raised his head, looking towards his father as he searched for who launched the stone. He could see Henry waving franticly, flagging for Clive to come towards him.   The boy gave a placating sigh, setting his seed spreader down on the lumpy ground and started making towards his dad. 

"Wha-," he started to say in a regular tone of voice before being silenced by Henry, shushing him silently with a thick finger pressed against his lips. The boy's voice immediately fell silent, his steps also slowing as he started walking more deliberate; assuming prey of some sort was near. He watched his father turn back over to the thick brush behind him, intently staring through the brush and branches. Clive slowly approached behind him, settling into a spot of his own. 

"What is it?" He asked, glancing over to his father, staring intently. 

"I think we found our culprit..." Henry said, eyes fixed on the violence just yards away.

"Bear. Just past the brush, by the water's edge." He said, motioning out beyond the wood. The boy peaked out, squinting his eyes a little to better focus in the bright light. He could hear struggling, violent splashing and groaning just a bit away; a blur of black and brown tussling by the edge of the waters. 

There were two beasts in the knot of churning flesh, a male bore (given the size of it) and what is presumably an bear, though to Clive it moved like no other beast he had ever seen. 

The beast was massive, seeming to have legs more like an ape than a bear as it broke from the fight, standing tall over the injured hog as it bayed in terror. The beast also fought more like an ape than it did a bear as well, grabbing hold of the struggling pig with crude, powerful claws; razor -like talons digging into the brown, scruffy flesh of the struggling swine. Blood oozed out of the deep groves carved into the flesh by the thick furred creature's slashes; bright gore further clouding the murky waters as the pig screamed in agony. 

The creature then gave a final slash as it dove down on the bleeding pig, sending a savage swipe of it's heavy claw across the bore, ripping deep into the pig's belly.  He rolled atop the creature as the bore instantly grew still, his innards pouring out in a agonizing hemorrhage. 

Henry watched with horror as the creature then tossed the bore aside, the dead flesh still twitching as the last of life drained from it. He watched as the creature slowly rolled over to its feet, pushing itself up on it's hind quarters; it's body gnarled and stiff. It turned his face towards the wood hiding Henry and Clive, it's monstrous face becoming clear as the beast was no longer entangled in combat. 

It stood roughly eight or so foot tall, with thick, matted black fur. Thick, raised spikes of hard skin traced along the beast's spine, running down the crooked creature, forming a short, thick tail that dragged behind him slightly. As for the creature's body, it was thick and muscular; long powerful arms coming off his thick torso, with heavy, powerful hands capping them at the ends. 

The creature's head rose off a short, thick neck oblong and alien as it seemed to sit awkward on the upright creature, seeming to strain as it stared forward. There were human like characteristics of the beast, the beast's eyes centered on the bony long skull; black, lifeless pupils staring out from behind the bloody, dreaded fur. A short, rounded snout extended off the creature's head, giving it a vague resemblance to a bear; though the more Henry watched it, the less he thought so. 

The creature paused before continuing with his feast, giving out a deep, bassy roar, claiming what was his by right of victory. The throaty noises echoed loudly, bouncing off trees as the creature twitched, it's hulking arms scratching at the air as it maintained it's delicate balance. 

Clive turned to his father in fear, eyes wide with disbelief at what he had just beheld. His father turned to him slowly, finger pressed firm against his lips as his free hand moved quickly towards his hip. His hand slapped against the side of his pistol; fingers wrapping tightly against the wood and steel as he jerked it from the holster. He trained the weapon on the creature, tensed a bit from the light click of the handgun popping out of the holster. The creature stood sentry over his kill, staring with useless eyes at the blurs of greens and browns that surrounded him in the bright midday sun. A slow rhythmic grumble pulsed out from his thick throat, occasionally slipping in a light hiss as he paused from gorging himself on his kill. 

Henry focused on the creature, slowing his breathing down to nearly nothing as be took steady aim and awaited the creature's next move. It grumbled a bit more as it shook its heavy head, staring into the woods. He gave another stern growl, slowly rising on it's hind quarters, menacing talons gripping the earth for balance. 

 

Henry steadied himself as he felt the beast's glare upon him. He knew the beast could not see him, his eyes on him as it scoured all the woods that surrounded him. It cocked its head around a few times, snapping its jaws as it grumbled out in warning before calming itself down enough to return to its meal. Henry gave out a long breathe, relaxing his aim. 

"You're not gonna shoot it?" Clive whispered in shock.

"No. We're leaving." Henry replied, slowly backing out of his perch; gun still trained on the distracted monster. 

"But-" Clive started but quieted once he caught sight of Henry's face; his skin white and thin. 

"We need the rifles... Maybe more. We'll come back..." Henry said, lightly pushing his son back as the pair exited back into the field. Free of the wood, the pair moved swiftly back towards their camp; careful to not make any noise.

"What was that thing?" Clive asked, more scared at the sight of his father the he was the beast. 

"Some ungodly creature. Ain't never seen nothing like it before." Henry replied, his chest burning as he struggled to take in air.   


He stopped for a second, doubled over. His breathes were shallow and acidic; burning as he took them into his failing chest. 

"Are you ok, dad?" Clive asked, worried at the sight of his father. 

"I'm fine... Just... need... a... min-" he choked out  words interrupted by a rustling coming from behind. 

"Dad..." Clive asked, seeing a crooked shadow lurk through the woods just behind them. A dull groaning could be heard, occasionally breaking into light, measured yips. 

Still bent over, his father raised his hand to quiet his son. He struggled for breathes, weakly raising his armed hand, weapon trained on the wood. The rustling stopped, a slow breeze passing through halting the creature as crisp spring air rushed past everything. For a moment the white noise of sparsely leaved branches scratching against each other filled the air, masking the dull croak of the ominous figure lurking in the dark shadows of the wood. Slowly, the pair inched back along their course; eyes trained on the shadowy form set still in the wood. 

"When we get to the woodline," Henry started, still weezing in useless gulps of air.

"I want you to break off running. Run to the cabin and lock the door behind."

"But you-"

"I'll slow you down. You go, get the rifles. The bullets are in the bag. Here, take this-" he pressed, weakly digging his free hand into his pocket to retrieve his phone. 

"But you won't make it..." His son replied, voice choked at the sound of his father's orders.

"I'll be fine, son. Better if we split up, as is. You get the rifle and position by the window. But keep a good cover. If you get a shot, take it... No matter what."

Clive inched along silent, taking in his father's words. He understood his meaning. 

"Say it, boy." 

"I'll take the shot." 

"Damn right you will. If anything happens, the truck keys are in the bag. Grab them and get to where you can make a call and call Uncle Jack. We need him." 

Henry glanced down, seeing the ground slowly start to change back to forest from field. It would be any moment now before his son broke away to take that long run through the thin wood to granddad's shack. He knew the creature would hear the commotion and see the boy racing his way along the long rough path to the shack, leaving Henry standing airless and prone. He took in a deep breathe, chest slowly loosening as he readied himself. Once that creature caught sight of him, he would have one shot, maybe two before the beast was on him. It looked big but clumsy, with a crooked awkward form. It moved stiffly from what he could see, his position obscured by a few feet of wood and river bank. That would help buy Clive some time.... He thought, readying to lift his pistol. 

"Ready yourself, boy..." He said, his voice scratchy and dry. A bitter metallic taste washed down the back of his throat, gagging him a little as he awaited his son's reply.

"Clive?" He asked again, still inching along; his son's still soft, boyish hands wrapped around his chest helping him stand up. 

"You sure this is the best way?" He heard his son say, his voice small and scared; the fingers on his right hand turning white as he gripped the phone. 

"It's the only way, son. Now when I count three, you break for Granddad's, got me?" 

"Yea..."

"I love you, Clive." 

"Love you too..."

"One... Two..." 

Henry never heard himself say three, the next moments playing out silent. He felt his son's hands let go, his body collapsing under his own weight; falling hard on the forest floor. He lifted his head in time to see the shadow take notice of the commotion; the great black beast bursting out of the woods in a fury. It growled ferociously, standing still as it surveyed the field around it; poor eyes finding it difficult to focus in the bright high sun. It didn't take long though for the beast to train itself at Henry, laying on the floor useless. His eyes caught sight of the beast starting its charge as he laid there. He struggled to raise himself up, his body weak and useless as he forced with all he had left. He stared back at the beast, gaining ground quickly. It was faster than Henry had anticipated, moving along skillfully as it used its arms for support. 

Henry finally willed himself to his knees, the beast gaining ground quickly as he stood prone. He weakly tossed his arm up; his fingers firing before he had his mark properly squared. The bullet whizzed by the charging creature harmlessly. He fired a second time, more care given to his aim before spitting molten lead at the unrelenting creature. The bullet caught it in the left shoulder. Jerking its massive body slightly as it crashed into the thick, leathery hid. The creature moaned loudly, his pace only slowing slightly as it moved closer still. 

Henry fired a third, his arm growing limp as his head dizzied. His breathes were tight again as the recoil of the final shot jerked him off balance, serving him up as easy prey for the beast as it vaulted itself upon him. 

It was only seconds more Henry suffered, an agonized cry echoing off the ancient wood as the creature's heavy claws ripped open his guts. Bright crimson splashed the budding foliage as Henry's innards festooned the surrounding woods. The beast paused only slightly before racing further down the path, the scent of prey still strong in the air. 


Clive wasn't sure he had heard the first shot, an errant pop clapping through the silent woods from behind him as he raced towards the shack. But he was certain he had heard the second, clapping shortly after the first. He felt his heart flutter a little as he heard a beastly grumble accompany it; never once doubting his father would find a way to slow the beast. But his hopes crashed just as quickly, the third shot echoing quickly following the second. Then the undeniable death rattle of his father echoed from behind; his knees nearly giving out as he heard the anguished cry. But he pressed onward, the crashing of wood behind him signaling the beast's bearing down. He could see the shack nearing before him, legs burning as he pressed them harder. He crashed into the front porch as he arrived to it, misjudging the stairs and slamming hard into the rough groved wood. His face grew warm as blood rushed from a split above his right eye. 

He could hear the groans of the beast as it drew near, quickly getting back to his feet and crashing through the door of the cabin. He slammed the door behind him, leaning against the heavy oak door as he struggled to turn the rusted latch. It eventually loosed enough to catch the door, locking it in place just as the beast arrived. 

He could hear it growling at the foot of the porch steps, snarling as it stared at the structure. Clive reached for his father's rifle, just off to the side of the door. The tips of his fingers caught it, sliding the rifle quietly across the floor until it was close enough for him to rake into his hands. He checked to see if it was loaded, sighing as he saw the long, rifled bullet waiting in the chamber.

He could hear the wood boards creaking under the weight of the creature as it moved up the stairs onto the porch. Boards cracked and splintered under the beast's massive weight, the very foundation rattling as though it would give at any moment. He could hear the beast grumble as it lumbered around... Hear his deep huffs and grunts as it stalked him. 

 

And then it was gone, bolting off the porch as quick as it had come upon it. Clive gave a deep sigh of relief, slowly easing the death grip he had on the rifle; clutching it like a baby would his blanket. He wondered how much longer he would have to sit... Surely the beast still lingering nearby, waiting him out. But he couldn't wait... His father... 

"No way he's still alive," he told himself, the momentary anxiety of believing his father laid yards from him bleeding out alone nearly driving him out the door in a flurry to the jaws of certain death. So he sobbed quietly instead, whispering daddy as he grieved as quietly as he could; hoping the lingering demon would not hear his weeping. 

But another hair raising growl from the monster drew him silent; the beast's howl loud and close. It came from his left, behind the black with decayed wooden wall. 

It took seconds for the beast's attack to play out; the room exploding into a cloud of dust and splinters as the creature crashed through the wall moments after giving his war cry. Clive made a final scramble to raise his weapon, a mightily blast from the beast knocking the rifle from his hands as the heavy paw of the creature crashed hard against his head. 

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