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Chapter Thirty Seven

Zeke's scent was easy to track in the woods, and the desperate gremlin wasn't trying to be stealthy.  Even with his head start, I managed to catch up to him in a couple of minutes.
I howled as I ran, feeling the excitement of the hunt pump through my veins.  This caught Zeke's attention, and he put on an extra burst of speed.  He was quicker than a human, but my four legs made me even faster, and I was rapidly closing the distance between us.
“Leave me alone!" I heard him yell.  His breathing was getting heavier, and knew he was starting to get tired.  Even if I couldn't catch up to him- which I could- he wouldn't be able to run much farther anyway.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small round object.  I didn't know what it was, but I figured if a gremlin had it, it couldn't be good news.
“I said leave me alone!" he screamed again, and threw it over his shoulder.  It hit the ground and started to hiss, spraying thick yellow fog all over the place.  I couldn't slow down in time, and ended up running straight through it.  To my relief, it didn't burn or gag me.  It hadn't even hidden Zeke long enough for me to lose sight of him.  What was the point?  Had he just been trying to distract me?
Then, suddenly, I realized what he'd done.  My eyes started to water uncontrollably, blurring my vision.  I blinked, trying to clear them, but they stung so much that more tears just followed.  It caught me so off guard that I forgot what I was doing and ran headfirst into a tree.
Freaking gremlin! I thought, growling with irritation.  Where did he even get tear gas?
I wiped my snout with my front paw, but it did no good.  I'd have to wash my eyes out before they would stop watering, which meant I would have to follow Zeke with my nose.  Luckily, while the grenade had smelled like moldy underwear and feet, I could still smell well enough to find Zeke's scent.  I had to go slow now, though.  Even with the risk of losing my prey, I knew I couldn't run in this condition.
I followed Zeke's trail for ten minutes, occasionally pausing to rub my eyes.  The scent was strong the entire time, which was strange.  I had seen how fast Zeke could run.  Even after how close I had gotten, he should be far enough away now that his scent would have weakened.  Did he think he had lost me?  Or had he lost his breath and been forced to walk.  Either way, he…
My nose bumped a tree.  Weird.  Why did his scent lead straight to it?  In a moment, comprehension dawned on me, but it was a moment too late.
With a shout, Zeke jumped out of the tree and fell on me.  I collapsed under his weight, but he hit the ground hard too and was disoriented for a second.  I scrambled out from underneath him, snapping my jaws at his face, but not before I felt the shock from his cattle prod hit me in the side.  I yelped and took a step away from him, giving him the opportunity to get up as well.
“You should have listened to me, fleabag," he taunted me.  My eyes were still watering, and Zeke was nothing but a blur in front of me.  He laughed, waving the metal stick back and forth, messing with my vision even more.  “I've got to kill you now.  Can't let you go back and tell Dalton where I went."
He shot forward, faster than I expected, and jabbed me with the cattle prod again.  I tried to move away, but he hit me a third time, on my shoulder.  My whole leg buzzed for a second, and then went numb.  When I tried to take a step, it gave out beneath me.
“Just a stupid animal," I heard Zeke saying to himself.  More loudly, he said, “It's too bad about the others.  Shouldn't be hard to make a new gang, though.  There are always gremlins hiding out in the city."  He laughed.  “I'll get even more this time, and we'll make sure your pack never bugs us again.  You won't be there to see it, though."
We'll make sure your pack never bugs us again…

Anger chased the pain from my head, and I pounced on Zeke.  His cattle prod zapped me from underneath, but I ignored it and sank my teeth into his shoulder.  Zeke screamed and kicked and squirmed and stabbed me over and over again, but I refused to let go.  By threatening the pack, he had threatened Kimberly, and for that I would KILL HIM!
Despite my best efforts, though, Zeke finally got a hand out from underneath me and jabbed his thumb into my eye.  It was an underhanded move, but it had the desired effect.  I was so shocked that I let go of him.  With a heave, he pushed me off of him and got to his feet.  His shoulder was bleeding profusely as he backed away.
“Stupid, stupid animal," he was muttering.  I growled and lowered myself to pounce again.  My eye hurt, but he hadn't done any permanent damage.  It would be fine in a few minutes.  Zeke, on the other hand, wouldn't be.  I was going to make sure of that.
Suddenly, the gremlin went stiff with a strangled grunt.  He dropped his cattle prod and started pulling at something around his neck.  My vision was still blurry, and Zeke's thumb had only made it worse, but I was smart enough to realize somebody had sneaked up behind him and put him in a headlock.  But who?
“Hello, Amber."
I froze.  I had never heard that voice before, but somehow there was no mistaking the person it belonged to.  Even though I'd only seen him once, his face appeared in my mind as clearly as if I had photographed it.
Gray hair, gray mustache, and dark blue eyes that pierced me right down to my soul.
NEXT TIME: OMG, it's the GUY!  Who is he?  What does he want?   Why is he here?  Ooooooh, you're all gonna have to wait until next week to find out.


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