Two silhouettes could be seen swiftly making their way through the forest as they drew closer to the towering mountain at the center of the island.
Ashley and Micah have been running nonstop towards the mountain for almost an hour. Their faces were covered with scratches from the surrounding vegetation. The two managed to cover more than half the distance they traversed earlier with the group.
"We should be able to make it to the mountain within the hour," Ashley said after hurdling over a boulder.
"Mmm," Micah nodded as he continued to closely follow behind Ashley. His gaze continued to sweep his surroundings and the frown on his face continued to deepen the further they went.
"Stop!" Micah said as he looked around vigilantly.
"What? We can't stop now. If we waste any more time something bad might happen to Jenell." Ashley said in a frantic voice as she slowed to a stop.
Micah continued to look around vigilantly and moved closer to Ashley.
"What is it?" Ashley asked in an impatient voice. They didn't have time to sit around and chat.
"We're being followed," Micah said in a low voice.
"What? By who?" Ashley asked as she looked around.
"Not who, what," Micah replied while taking a battle stance.
Ashley sensed something was off about their surroundings and focused her senses to figure out what it was.
A very soft but distinct rustling sound came from behind them and the two quickly turned their heads towards the sound.
"Who's there?!" Shouted Micah as he narrowed his eyes. His gaze was sharp as a blade as he looked in the direction of the sound.
A low growl was heard and the two saw a ferocious looking beast slowly made its way towards them from within a cluster of vegetation.
Ashley and Micah felt their hearts cruelly twitch the moment they laid eyes on it. They felt as though they were suddenly plunged into the coldest depths of hell. They couldn't stop shivering.
The wolf had a hideous looking face which made the two to tremble as it moved closer to them. The wolf was shockingly as tall as them as it walked on all fours. Its teeth were razor sharp and glistened with a cold light.
"Shit!" Micah's cursed under his breath. His face blanched when he realized that he didn't even need to lower his head to look into the wolf's eyes. Moreover, the wolf was so huge he almost had to incline his neck!
The wolf continued to slowly make its way closer to the two as they stood in place, paralyzed.
Micah's thoughts were racing as he found himself in a critical situation. Several scenarios flashed through his mind as he tried to come up with a way to escape. He knew defeating this beast would be almost impossible.
"Ashley!" Micah shouted as he continued to keep his eyes on the wolf. He called out to her a few more times but still didn't get a response.
Ashley stood beside him frozen like a block of ice. The fear that came with seeing the vicious expression on the wolf's face made her almost forget to breathe. If it weren't for her body's will to survive, she would've died just now from suffocation.
Ashley took a deep breath but the air that went into her lungs felt cold even though the temperature on the island was scorching hot.
"Ashey, I'm gonna distract it. Once I make my move you need to run as fast as you can!" Micah said as he clenched his fist. He was scared but he couldn't allow the fear to control him else they would both die.
"Don't say anything! Just do as I say!" Micah interrupted. "Don't stop for anything or anyone! Just keep running!" As his last words fell, Micah took a deep breath then dashed forward!
"Go!" Micah shouted as he went to confront the wolf.
Ashley was stupefied but willed her body to move then sprinted in another direction.
The wolf gave a loud bark then leaped towards Micah when it realized he wanted to challenge it. The wolf opened its maw and revealed its razor sharp teeth and the smell of death invaded the air.
Micah's eyes widened and felt his heart clench when the wolf opened its mouth. It seemed it wanted to rip his head off.
A high pitch sound resembling a pair of shears suddenly closing rang out above his head. At the last moment, Micah managed to duck and slid under its huge body.
Micah hurriedly turned around and backed away from the wolf. He felt a stinging pain on his head and couldn't help but narrow his eyes. Suddenly, he felt something warm trailing down the side of his face then his head felt like it was on fire. He put his hand on his face and was shocked to see it was blood.
"What? I dodged it. How did I get injured?" Micah asked himself in confusion as he looked towards the wolf in dismay.
The wolf's paw slammed into a tree that was behind Micah a moment ago. The amount of force that collided with the tree caused it to snap in two.
Micah's heart tightened the moment he saw the tree falling after being snapped in two by the wolf's attack. "Are you kidding me!? How is it that powerful? How!?"
The wolf then slowly turned around and gave a low growl after landing. It sounded as if it was it was enraged that Micah dodged its attack. At the corner of its mouth, a small clump of hair and flesh could be seen wrapped around its canine.
The moment Micah caught sight of the hair and flesh that was in its mouth he felt the pain in his head burned even more. On the side of his head, there was a terrifying wound that stretched all the way to the back of his head. The skin, along with the hair that grew there, were now within the wolf's jaws.
Micah gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the pain but couldn't help the tears that welled up in his eyes from surfacing. His vision grew slightly blurry as the pain continued to intensify.
"I gotta buy her some more time." Micah thought to himself. He knew that escaping this wolf would be almost impossible. The only option available was to kill it or die!
The wolf started circling Micah and the thick scent of his blood pervaded the air.
"What should I do?" Micah mirrored the wolf's movements while keeping his distance. He also kept a close watch on his surroundings for anything thing that would aid him.
Micah's gaze swept over the tree the wolf's paw collided with and was suddenly enlightened.
"That it!" Micah's eyes widened with delight as the idea came to him.
"I only have one shot. If I am too slow I won't get another chance. It's all or nothing!" Micah gritted his teeth and shockingly dashed towards the wolf!
The wolf gave another loud bark as it too dashed forward to claim it's prey.
Micah was surprisingly nimble on his feet and he continued to dodge the wolf's attacks. The wolf was constantly advancing and it seemed that Micah would be killed at any moment.
Micah continued to dodge the wolf's attacks and was shockingly doing so within an inch at every turn, his back was matted with sweat and his heart was racing, but he had to keep a clear mind and tried to stay focused as one mistake would spell certain death. As the 'fight' dragged out, Micah was being put under more pressure. He was unarmed and was forced to constantly dodge. There was a huge disparity of strength which made it even less likely for him to exchange blows with the wolf.
It was at this moment that the wolf lept towards Micah. A brilliant light flashed within Micah's eyes when he realized his chance had come.
During their 'exchange' the wolf had been on the ground the entire time giving Micah little room to maneuver.
Micah did a double feint to dodge the wolf's paw but was struck heavily on his chest. An arrow of blood shot from his mouth and his body flew into the distance like a kite with its sting cut.
Ashley was running like mad through the forest. After witnessing Micah's selfless act she felt became heartbroken. Unbeknownst to her, within Ashley's heart, Micah's image left a very deep impression on her. It felt to her as if they were best of friends for as long as she could remember. She didn't understand why but no matter how much she tried not to think about it, the pain in her chest grew. Her face was a mess of tears as she continued to run with all her might.
"Micah, please don't die!" Ashley prayed silently to herself, tears welling up in her eyes.
More times than she could count, she wanted to turn around and go back to help him, but could only bite her lips and continue. Micah was delaying that beast so that she could escape. If she turned around, wouldn't that be the same as throwing away the chance at life he gave her?
It was at this moment that a desolate, painfilled howl filled the atmosphere which caused even the trees to slightly tremble.
"Huh?" Ashley stopped in place and looked in the direction the howl came from.
"Micah, no!" Ashley stood in place and looked towards the mountain that wasn't too far from her current location, then towards where she had just come from. She bit her lips, clenched her fist then started running.
"Jenell, I'm sorry." Ashley started running back towards Micah's location even faster than how she fled from there. She was hoping that he was alright.
"I can't let him die." Ashley was slipping through the forest like a ghost as she ran towards Micah's direction.
Micah coughed up a mouthful of blood as his body smashed into a boulder then heavily fell to the ground. There was a clear impression of his body on the boulder. He was in terrible shape. He had suffered some serious internal injuries from the wolf's last attack and the collision with the boulder just now a made it even worse. His breathing was heavy.
Micah raised his head and looked towards the wolf's silhouette in the distance while clutching his chest. The wolf's claw left four terrifying wounds on Micah's chest before sending him flying. Micah ignored the wounds on his chest and had a cold smile on his face. That was the price he had to pay for his plan to succeed, and for him, it was worth it.
The wolf was stuck in midair, skewered by the tree it snapped earlier. The wolf gave some weak whimpers and struggled for a moment but a short instant later, all life left its body.
"Ha-ha, I actually managed to kill it," Michal laughed weakly to himself.
Micah coughed up two more mouthfuls of blood. His internal injuries were worsening by the second. Micah made a wry smile then said to himself: "That should be enough, she should be able to escape."
Micah's consciousness started fading away and his vision became even more blurry. He was just about to enter the abyss when his eyes caught sight of a familiar silhouette approaching from the distance. Micah felt his heartache when he recognized the silhouette, it was Ashley.
"No!" Micah gave a low wheeze and coughed up some more blood. He wanted to gnash his teeth but he didn't even have the strength to.
In the next instant, the silhouette became clear as they approached. Ashley knelt down beside Micah's side and gently turned him onto his back. He would likely drown in his own blood if he stayed in that position.
"Micah, are you ok?" Ashley asked with a trembling voice. With one look she could see how badly he was hurt. Ashley carefully raised Micah's head and placed in her lap so that he could breathe.
"Why?" Micah asked in a weak voice.
"Why not? I couldn't leave you behind." Ashley said in a tender voice. She couldn't understand why he wouldn't be happy to see her. She saw the wolf not far from where they were dead as dead can get.
"You foolish girl. That... was a wolf. They travel... in packs." Micah struggled to speak each word. Each breath he took felt like his heart was being crushed. It was unbearably painful.
The wolf had been by itself, Micah realized this earlier when they were running and thought they were a bit fortunate. If the wolf was running in a pack they would've already been surrounded the moment the moment they saw the first one. But even after revealing itself there was no other wolf in sight. Micah decided to face the wolf and hope that Ashley could escape far enough so that should there be any nearby wolves, they would be attracted to the noise of the battle and not her. If he was lucky, he might have a chance to escape and meet up with her.
Suddenly, several howls filled the atmosphere. It seemed there was at least one wolf in each direction.
"Ashley, run!" Micah said with what little strength he had left. He had a pleading look in his eyes as if he was begging her to leave. If the two of them died, he would be filled with endless regret.
"Don't worry," Ashley said as she raised his body to sit upright. She laid his back against the boulder then ran towards the dead wolf.
Micah sat there gasping as he looked at her departing figure. A slight smile grew on his face but then it suddenly went rigid and his eyes went wide with shock. He saw Ashley stick her hand into the wolf's corpse and pull out one of its organs then ran away creating a trail of blood.
Micah instantly understood what she planned to do. She wanted to draw the surrounding wolf's attention to herself and away from him using the scent of blood.
Micah tried getting up but at that moment, an intense pain wracked his body. He was already past his limit, his body could no longer allow him to stay awake and thus immediately passed out.