A Car In The Woods: Chapter Fourteen
New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods
Girl was out.
She prowled around the woods. Marking one tree and then tearing out a bush by the roots because it was stubbornly in her way. Her misshapen paws pulverized the things that got in her way. Girl’s tail brushed the earth, picking up twigs, leaves, and other detritus on its sweep to the right; the items sent flying off to the left on the tail’s return arc. Her coat was shaggy and matted, tufts of grey replacing some of the blacks. Girl heeled, turning her head one way and then the other.
A round of barking was followed by growl vibration. The thing she was after sped off. Girl clicked into Tracking Mode. She went from at rest to forty-eight mph in just under ten seconds.
She barely panted.
The deep bass clicking noise came from above her. Night and dense leaf coverage made it near impossible to see her quarry. Her prey was springing from branch to branch, tree to tree, heading in a straight line north. Girl could follow this: the sound of the clicking above sped up, pauses for breath at short intervals. Twigs, bark, and leaves fell in its passing, leaving a trail for Girl to trample over in pursuit.
Just ahead, a different sound after a landing on another branch. A creak, followed by crack, and pieces of bark from the trunk, and the bough, fell to the ground. Girl froze. Waited. Her target did not follow. The breaking through the tree’s canopy, the sounds of leaping from one limb to another, sent a cacophony of noise that was easy to follow.
She did, gaining speed, closing the distance. If they had been on the same level Girl would have had her jaws embedded in its throat already. A short series of barks stirred them both on. She sprinted around trees of varying widths. Tall bushes were conquered by massive leaps over and beyond. She tore through the brambles that were increasing in density. They tore back, thorns sharp and greedy, but Girl went on.
The clicking noise was moving off its straight path. Girl smelled familiar scents, recognized her surroundings. She sped past the grove of trees, the grassy clearings, the car. She was on a path she knew well. The booming clicks didn’t matter anymore. They were both heading in the same direction; the same destination.
Girl clicked to her top speed and zoomed off. Ten more mph then before. Her tongue lolled out the side of her open jaws, drool spinning out behind her.
As she broke free of the woods, Girl slowed enough so she wouldn’t wind up in the lake water. Standing between the soft ground and grass that gave way to gravel and rocks, Girl looked out over the still water, a lit reflection off to the edge. Looking up and beyond, Girl noticed in the distance a change from above. A glow began to rise, cutting away the dark bit by bit. She walked onto the rough shoreline, turned to the woods, and waited.
The sound of branches breaking, some hitting the forest floor, merged with the fast-paced clicking discordance. Girl’s ears perked, moved over to compensate from where the sounds were coming from. Her tail was stiff and her teeth danced around the vibrations from her growls. Tension ran through her as she made ready to leap.
The leaves and wood exploded as her kill went airborne. Except it wasn’t in Girl’s straight path. A final side leap changed its trajectory. The growing light saw it land a good distance from Girl. Its yellow-green slimy skin bounced the sunlight that hit its back into Girl’s eyes. It was a momentary blinding, but it was enough. Girl’s reaction was split second.
Just not on the right side of that split.
The plunk in the water took her intended victim out of range. Girl began howling so loud that any birds and animal that had been returning quickly turned tail and left. The barking that followed was aimed at the lake. The lake didn’t care.
A sound behind her ceased the barking. Three horn beeps. She knew the sound. Girl sat on her haunches, still staring out at the lake. She waited for the car to stop, for the lights in her face to go away. The car wheels were running over the gravel, nice and slow. It came her way. She finally turned to look at the car as it slowed to a stop. The headlights followed.
Her head did its tilting thing. She saw him get out and come towards her. He stopped just beyond the reach of her jaws. He crossed his arms over his chest. His head made its own motion that made as much sense to Girl as hers did to him.
She barked. Three times. Waited.
“Those idiots renamed you well. ‘Giatisant.’ You are a barking beast, girl. One great big Giatisant! I heard you all the way back at the glen.”
A low growl started low in the throat.
Slowly holding out his hand, he eased over, scratching her head, then under her jaw, then down her back. He patted her on the side and sighed.
“C’mon, Girl. Time to get back. Sun is coming up, and we don’t want to be seen, not that there’s anyone out here to see us. C’mon. Let’s go.”
He walked back to the car, aware she wasn’t following him. Opening the passenger side door, he patted the red leather seat as he turned to face her. She was still in the same place, but that’s not what bothered him, much.
Girl was stark still, dead on staring at him.
“Shit. C’mon, Girl. We need to get out of here.”
“Hey. Girl. Now. Get in the car.”
She was now laying down, her massive head on her massive front paws. She licked her lips.
“OK. OK. I’m sorry, Girl. I shouldn’t have called you by that name. I won’t do it again. Just stupid on my part.” He waited. “Girl?”
The great Staring Contest by the lake ended in his defeat. He sighed.
“C’mon, Schatzi. Let’s go.”
He almost closed the door on her wagging tail. It thumped against the seat in a hard rhythm. He started up the engine and Girl settled down, head already hanging over the side of the door. He revved the Thunderbird’s engine, made sure the top was down, and they took off.
Things had been getting out of hand for a while.
Aggression grew sharp and raw.
Reasoning went the other direction.
Things got out.
Things always got out.
There was a car in the woods.