First Moon – Chapter 23

CHAPTER 23

Ben had little time to chase down the hunter that got away before he met up with the others.  Though their friend was hysterical and incoherent, the other hunters stood at the ready, expecting a large bear or moose to be charging towards them.   Ben’s bloodlust was insatiable.  He stampeded forward with the force of a bull elephant, knocking down small trees rather than trying to avoid them.

Before they could even see what exactly was coming at them, the hunters opened fire.  Though none were carrying automatic rifles, there were enough of them that Ben had been hit several times before he was fully in sight.  He had been nearly invincible in the past, but now the pain was registering clearly in his brain.  He was taking too much punishment, losing blood quickly and his body’s self-healing was being hindered by the physical exertion.

But like many large predators, they were at their most dangerous and unpredictable when wounded.  Ben could feel the very real fear of death for the first time since being cursed.  The fear made him erratic and spurred him forward.  Three more bullets hit him before he got within a hundred yards of the men.  The third one struck Ben in his right thigh and dropped him.

Panting heavily he tried his best to claw his way forward but fell completely still as his strength faded.  Ben rested his face and chest into the soft cool mud below.  He had more than ten bullet wounds and although none had struck a vital organ, he was losing blood rapidly and being overwhelmed by the pain.  Slowly he began to revert back to human-form.

The hunters were not about to make the mistake their buddies made earlier and moved forward to unload every round they had into this malformed monstrosity.  As they approached, the forest was lit up by a thundering roar.   The sound vibrated along the forest floor and was powerful enough that Ben saw small twigs bounce in front of his face.

Ben’s eyes fluttered opened and closed as he faded out of consciousness.   In the darkness behind his eyelids he could hear the terrified wails of pain and horror from all over the forest and the quickly silenced whelps of the hunting dogs.  The screams and gunshots melded together and formed a gruesome chorus.  The smell of death and blood was so thick Ben could taste it.

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