I don’t know how far I ran, or for how long. All I know is that when I finally stopped, I could barely breathe. I stopped and leaned over, hands on my knees, panting like a dog. The tears were still running down my cheeks, and the only reason I wasn’t sobbing was because I was so low on breath.
Why? Why was this happening? I collapsed to my knees, hands covering my face. Hands that would soon be paws. On a face that would be soon have a snout and be covered in fur. I let out a shrill cry and grabbed fistfuls of my hair, pulling on it with all my might until it ripped free of my head in big black clumps. It hurt. It hurt so much. But it still felt better than the pain that was in my heart.
I knelt there for at least an hour, crying my heart out. Finally, I felt the chill of night brush over me, and I opened my eyes. The sun was setting, leaving me in darkness. I clenched my fists and took a deep breath before standing up. There was only one thing I could do. I had to return to Bastian’s pack and kill them all. If I did that, I would be allowed to return to my tribe. I sighed. I had felt welcome when I was with Bastian and his family. They had accepted me as I was. Killing them wouldn’t be fun, but I had to do it because Doctor Evan was the only one who could provide me with the medicine I needed. It was time to be a big girl and do what I had to do.
I reached down to pick up my spear, but my hand closed on nothing. I gasped, and quickly realized that, in my haste, I had forgotten to retrieve it. Over the years, it had been my one constant companion. I opened and closed my hand. It was strange, not feeling its comforting weight. I felt naked without it. Naked and vulnerable.
I quickly stood up, my eyes shifting left and right, the animal in me suddenly convinced that there was a predator lurking behind every tree. Without my spear, I was defenseless. Suddenly, my need to get back to Bastian’s pack was greater than ever. I inhaled through my nose, locating my own scent, and began to follow it through the woods as quickly as I could.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I had no idea where I was. As I retraced my steps, I found no familiar landmarks or scents. Being the Hybrid that I am, it wouldn’t take me long to find my way back, but any human in my position would have probably been hopelessly lost.
As the moon rose higher in the sky, the fur on the back of my neck began to stand up. A low, menacing growl rose from the darkness behind me, and I spun around to look. A wild boar stood there, glaring at me with hateful anger. This time, it was a Feral boar. And this time, I was completely unarmed.
Oh, how I hate irony…
The boar let out a crazed squeal, and charged at me. I reacted according to my instincts and vaulted myself over it, just like before. This time, though, I had no spear, so when I landed on its back it quickly bucked me off. I landed on my back, and the giant pig spun around and stomped on me with its forelegs. Pain erupted inside of me, and I was sure I felt some of my ribs crack under the assault.
Finally, the boar stopped its attack and backed away from me to see if I was dead. I gave a weak moan, and struggled to rise, but the pain was too much. I collapsed to the ground again and almost vomited from the agony.
Seeing that I wasn’t dead yet infuriated the pig, and it hooved the ground and charged at me. I felt one of its tusks pierce the skin around my stomach, and I was flipped over and sent skidding across the ground, slamming into a nearby tree. I curled up and grasped at my wound. Blood oozed around my fingers. The boar had got me good. If I couldn’t find someone to treat it, this could prove to be a serious wound.
Grunting in satisfaction, the pig backed away once more, intending to finish me off. I closed my eyes, anticipating the final blow, but not able to do a thing about it.
Suddenly, a howl rang through the forest, and I snapped my eyes open just in time to see Bastian come running. He skidded to a stop between me and the boar, and he held something in his hand. It was my spear, I realized. But did he know how to use it?
The other wolves came charging into the scene as well, snarling and snapping at the massive pig. The pig took a hesitant step backwards. For a moment, I thought that it had realized that it was outnumbered and was going to make a run for it. Instead, it swung its head from side to side, trying to gore the wolves on its tusks, but the nimble hunters simply moved out of the way before darting back in to sink their teeth into its hide.
The boar squealed in pain, and thrashed itself around, throwing the wolves off of it. That was when Bastian made his move. While the pig was distracted with his family, he ran into the fray and plunged the spear deep into the boar’s side. It wasn’t graceful, but it was effective. The pig squealed again, and this time it actually did turn to leave, but not before Bastian ripped my spear out of its body.
The pack let it go. It managed to get away, but it was limping, and the wound in its side was sure to be fatal. Even in my injured state, I couldn’t help but feel excited for the victory. The hunter in me wanted to celebrate.
Bastian turned to face me, and came running.
“Eve, are you all right?” he asked, kneeling over me.
“I’m hurt,” I managed to whisper.
“I know,” Bastian answered, putting his hand over my own to stem the bleeding in my stomach. “Just hold on, you’re going to be okay.”
I wasn’t sure I believed him, though. As I felt him put his hands underneath me and gently pick me up, my vision began to go dark. I wasn’t sure if I was dying or just losing consciousness, but at the moment there was only one thing I could think about. Bastian’s hands. So big. So strong. So gentle… Felt… Nice…