The voice shook him up from his drowsiness. It was a human voice, there was no mistake, but it didn’t prove anything: it could have been registered even centuries before. He poked his head out in the still hot air of the sunset. There was nothing outside, as it should be in a desert.

He wasn’t moving for the moment, but it was better to not sleep anymore. He tried to contact her again at the radio, but with no avail. At dusk, a red message flashed on his vision.

Alert! Hostiles detected.

Felix bolted out of the shelter, picking up the sheet. The HUD was detecting their vibration as blue waves on vision, low and rhythmical, but as they progressed, they rose in height and decreased in length.

They were closing on him from the flanks. A normal person wouldn’t have realized it until a howl rose in the air, much deeper and more sinister than the fake one he heard in the woods. Felix ran on the river-bed.

Glowing eyes and dark shapes appeared from the peaks of the dunes at both his sides. They were wolf-like creatures, but he couldn’t still pinpoint their features. Howling again, they all descended towards him, raising a cloud of sand.

He ran steadily, but he had to balance from going too fast and deplete his energies too soon or running too slowly and being attacked. If he gave in to panic, he would start to race as fast as he could, but the best way was to go steady, breathing with his nose.

The pack was following him, keeping their distance, but it was more like a stream of glowing eyes, tongues hanging from their mouths, and large clawed paws raising dust. Many others were just watching from the peaks of the dunes, howling and growling at him.

An orange shape jumped from the rocky shelf and crossed his way to jump again on the other side. He wasn’t going to outrun them: there were too many, and his body was too weak. How long he was going to last until he got a cramp and they’d pile on him, ripping his throat?

He gasped, shifting his weight on his right leg, and avoiding the wolf lurching toward his left calf, but his left ankle bent on the inside, nearly cracking. He faltered, nearly falling, but quickly regained balance. The wolf made a U-turn in front of him and came back to the pack.

The river bed ended on a squat stone cliff. It was his only way to save himself. The wolves started to run instead of trotting. Felix sprinted, but their gaping mouths were becoming much bigger.

He jumped on the steep wall, climbing his way up. A wolf jumped and clawed at his calf, making him scream, but the talon didn’t rip through his suit. He lost the grip from one hand, but his foot stomped the wolf’s left eye and ear, making him whine as he fell. They piled against the cliff, jumping and clawing at the rock, but he was already out of their reach.

He arrived at the top, panting, and with a sharp pain coming from his spleen and burning sensation from his chest. He coughed, trying to avoid puking. Before, he could run five hundred miles in two days as he did during the retreat in Canada. He was truly pathetic.

He shouted and threw a rock at the creatures, but the wolves dodged it by making a space in their ranks. “Get lost!”, he said.

They surrounded the cliff, leaving him no escape. None of them had any hopes to reach the summit, maybe only if they grew a pair of wings, but they could jump at least more than three times their height, which was impressive. They walked around the cliff, howling between themselves when one of them jumped higher than all the others.

Their jaws were long and massive, showing sharp and scrambled teeth, with only the upper canines being recognizable, protruding from their mouths so much it pierced their skin. They had patches of short orange fur, but some areas were covered by a thick and wrinkled grey skin. If these

A lone one joined the others, and all the pack turned towards him, lowering their heads. It was bigger than all of them, with a full red coat. It had hoofs instead of paws, and coiled horns protruding behind his ears. He jumped over the first rock, banging against it a tail so long it knotted on itself. His muscles bulged much more than the others, and his teeth were much longer, but the worst part was that it was able to climb over to him.

A string of values spiked: blood pressure, heart rate, ventilation. Red triangles and sharp sounds rang and flashed on his vision. A giant creature was going rock to rock towards him, and he had no way out. His teen self was scared, and he could feel it by the shivers running through his spine, but he needed to be calm, as this was just a wolf and not a Glowing one.

The Monster took his time, pushing his hind legs over the steep part of the rock, growling.

He didn’t have much time, but this was his only hope. He crouched on the ground and picked up a rock with a sharp side, taped some rope around of it, and tied it around his wrist. On the other hand, he had his knife. While he made all of this, his clammy hands were shaking, and he was always giving a look on the side of the hill from which the wolf-creature was going to come.

He was still when the Monster jumped on, charging towards him.

Danger detected! Inducing automatic overdrive.

The Monster rose dust and sand from his hooved feet, leaping with both legs in the air, thrusting his spine forward and bobbing the head side to side. His small almond glowing eyes were bulging out of the socket and the nostrils flaring with swirls of smoke.

Felix jumped on the side, and the Monster got past him. It slowed down, managing to avoid falling, but instead of charging again it remained still, growling at him, and hiding the long tail between his hind legs. While he was circling him, he roared and pushed forward, only to stop and retreat, and do it again. Felix did the same, shouting at him, and swinging the rock at him, but the only thing he archived was looking like an idiot.

It went on more than he expected. If he didn’t find something, he won’t live much longer, and it could be over without him even knowing what happened. He wasn’t going to die that way, at least not without hitting him.

Felix took a large breath and charged with a scream, swinging the rock down to the Monster, but he stepped on his tail, making him lose his balance. That was it. The Monster lowered his head and charged, with his horns aiming at his abdomen. As Felix fell from the cliff, he swung the rope again, and it looped around one of his arms.

The monster roared, thrashing his head, but the rope remained taut, keeping him at his place. A wave of heat hit Felix’s face, and, when he opened his eyes, he found the Monster’s snoot pressing on his forehead. He could feel the meat-encrusted and blood-damp tissue of his teeth, while the bile and saliva falling on his face was making his eyes teary and retch in disgust.

He was hanging from the cliff, and the only thing that kept him from falling was the monster itself.

He screamed and lowered his head down just in time to avoid his jaws closing on him. He gritted his teeth and pulled the rope down, while the monster was trashing his head up and prancing. His wrist was making cracking noises, and the rope was leaving a purple mark, stained with blood. It will break before the rope would show a tear, and afterward, the monster will pull him up and eat his face.

The knife was near him, half on one side of the cliff, and a half on another, shaking at each movement of the monster. If his free hand left the rope, he would lose the tug-of-war battle. He had to find something if he wanted to live.

Felix’s teeth sunk into the Monster’s nose until he tasted the blood pouring out and fragments of sour skin. With another bite, he tore his whiskers. The Monster whimpered and thrashed his head. He caught the knife handle but shrieked when his paw slashed his arm, tearing through the suit. He caught the knife again by the blade, leaving a blood trail until he found the handle again.

He pushed himself upwards and buried the blade inside his neck, twisting it. The monster groaned while a shower of blood fell on Felix’s face, making his eyes burn and his throat gauge in disgust. He got up from the cliff and cleaned his face, sighing. The skin of his hand turned blue, then it started to prickle.

He still got it, even if it took more time than necessary. The rest of the pack started to growl at him. “Come at me!”, he shouted. He lifted the monster’s carcass in his arms and hauled it off the cliff, yelling so much that his neck muscles went sore. His voice wasn’t as deep as before, but it still echoed in the night.

The pack ran away. “Run!”, he said, “Run!”

Overdrive mode deactivating…

Felix’s knees wobbled. This had been tiring. He sat, taking a long breath while keeping a hand on his chest. Then, he fainted.


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