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The White Wolf of Woodberry

The White Wolf of Woodberry

Estimated reading time — 19 minutes

Jack’s heavy footsteps crash across the muddy ground of the forest. His breath is heavy and ragged, having been running for what felt like hours. He was properly lost, having been totally turned around in the ambush. His father had warned him not to stray into the forest at night. However, after Dad had stumbled home from the bar looking for a fight; anything felt better than taking another beating. Jack clutches at his abdomen where his white t-shirt hangs in tattered ribbons. The shirt was badly stained with blood which was trickling out of the deep gashes cut into his side. He swears under his breath. That thing had really messed him up.

A large thicket of brambles fades through the cloak of darkness and into view. Jak digs in his heels but it’s too little too late. He crashes into the bush and is dragged to the ground in its stinging clutches. The jolt of the impact forces a great gust of air from his tired lungs with a whoosh! For a moment he just lays there, awkwardly strung up in its snaking vines like a living marionette. However, fear drives him forward; tentatively untying his limbs from the thorns.

After much effort he bursts forth from the bush and into a small clearing where four knotted oaks hold back the unruly forest. Great swaths of moss spill from the branches creating a furled curtain of crocodile green. The thin sliver of a crescent moon bathes the clearing in elegant silver light. Jack stands there, utterly enchanted by the beauty of the Oregon outback. The entropic symphony of the vegetation weaving together to create a picture much like one you’d find on a postcard.


The profound moment helps his mind to shift from purely instinctual into one of reason. The adrenaline of his initial encounter with the beast in the woods had begun to wear off and now the pain was coming in rolling waves up his torso. He stifles a cry of agony, dropping to his knees and gritting his teeth. He kneels there, mud soaking into his jeans and gasping for air. He had pushed himself too hard. His lungs were burning and every choking breath was getting more and more strained as his asthma flared.

He removes his inhaler from his back pocket and gives it a quick shake. The sky blue can of medication turns freezing cold in his shaking fist before he brings it to his lips. He compresses the device and inhales, easing the aching of his lungs if only for a moment.
He perks his ears, scanning the forest for the sounds of its massive, squelching paws beating against the ground. But he hears nothing. The forest is utterly and completely silent other than the gentle melody of crickets and hooting owls.

Jack gives a sigh of relief, which turns into a laugh, and ends with a soft yelp of pain as his ribs flex against his wound. Nobody was going to believe him. Even Shane, his best friend since the first grade. He would just assume he took a bunch of shrooms and wandered off into the woods only to be scared by some forest animal turned nightmarish by the psychedelic haze. But he was stone cold sober. Maybe after a year of drowning his worries in booze and weed he had finally lost it. “The monster of the woods” surely couldn’t be real. It was far more likely he got a little too close to a mamma bear and her cubs than whatever he thought he saw.

It was awfully big, even for a bear. The nagging thought unsettles him; but he shakes it from his mind. Darkness had a funny way of twisting even the most benign things into sinister beasts; much like a child mistaking the sleeve of a sweater in the closet for a clawed hand reaching out from the depths. That’s all it was, a bear. Those final words echo in the caverns of his skull, bringing with them a wave of shaky reassurance.

Jack sighs and crawls his way to a nearby fallen log, his hands and feet sopping and sucking across the gluey mud floor of the clearing. The log is encrusted with flat topped golden mushrooms and fluffy emerald cat-tail moss which only add to the forest’s enchantment. He plants his back against the damp log and fishes around his jeans for his cigarettes.

He pulls out the crumpled, scarlett package and pulls out his lucky. Smoking your lucky cig before you finish the pack was bad luck, but after surviving an encounter like that: he had earned it. He places the cigarette between his lips and sparks it up, taking a long drag before exhaling it into the soupy air of the forest. The acrid smoke tugs at his aching lungs but he smokes on. He needed something to settle his nerves so he could gather his barrings and find his way back home. Even with his father’s abuse, the thought of a warm bed and four walls around him sounded heavenly when compared to his current situation.


He pines for the zip-top bag containing the last of his summer stash of weed which he keeps in the bottom of his sock drawer. That would calm him down properly, but the cigarette would do for now. Jack takes another long drag, the glowing cherry flaring like a brilliant flash of sunset. He watches the smoke dance about in the moonlight as it drifts up towards the sky.

The night was hot and the dead sprint had almost entirely soaked his shirt with perspiration. The heavy, humid air was doing little to cool him off and only served as further resistance to filling his aching lungs with fresh air. Summer was coming to a close, this being his last week before his sophomore year of highschool. The nights in Woodberry would remain a sweltering seventy-something well into September and it was merely the end of July. The last thing he wanted to do his final week of Summer Vacation was to trample around the mud and brush. However at the start of his journey, it had seemed better than whatever his Dad had in store from him back at home.

If he was lucky, by the time he got back to his sagging two-story home Dad would be passed out in front of the sofa like he was every night around midnight. He would undoubtedly still be clutching an open can of beer and drooling all over his scratchy five o’clock shadow. Jack chuckles to himself, ashing the cigarette onto the ground beside him. His dad could be terrifying at times but catching him like that was always a treat. It really put a damper on his Dad’s intimidating facade.

Jack’s train of thought is broken by a strange flutter of movement off to his left. The shadows of the trees had begun to dance wildly to a fro as if the moon were shifting behind clouds at an unnatural pace. As his vision focuses it becomes apparent that this was not the case. The shadows stretched far too long to be cast by the moon as it sat nearly directly overhead.

He follows the shadows back into the wood with curious eyes before he spots it. There’s a cold flickering light flashing from within the forest around three-hundred feet to his left. He clambers to his feet, eyes narrowed and trying his hardest to make out just what it could be. The cigarette hangs limply, having glued itself to his lower lip. Smoke trickles up, stinging his eyes with its acrid particulates. He begins to tentatively edge his way out of the clearing and towards the light. The earth below him turns from disgusting mud and into a soft carpet of damp moss and years of leaves discarded from the branches above as he makes his way towards the disturbance..

The darkness beyond the clearing swallows him whole as the forest pulls him deeper into its embrace. An uneasy hope begins to build within jack. Light such as this was rarely a natural sight. Maybe somebody had heard his shouts and had come to investigate. But he was deep in the woods by this point. Not a single soul lived this far out.

As Jack draws closer and closer the sound of a staticky droning begins to emanate from the forest, growing in volume. It’s like billions of buzzing flies and the crashing of waves folded into one ominous frequency. The sound bounces across trees and boulders, creating the illusion of coming from all around him. Unease begins to grow within him. A great big balloon of anxiety inflating from the waves of sonic dread.

Jack weaves his way between the towering trees, drawn deeper within by the siren call of curiosity.. The forest was growing tighter and tighter like some sort of cage. Every precious inch of soil fought and died for by twisting nets of flora. He squeezes between two alders fused together at the base, nearly tripping over the ensnared roots of the trees which were wrestling for dominance at their base..

He’s stood face to face with a large round boulder which has been split straight down the middle by a large black tree with a furling mess of bare branches stretching out their fingers towards the stars above. The roots snake down through the crack creating a nested curtain of wood. It’s as if the tree in its desperate attempt to find the nurturing soil below had burrowed straight through the stone.

The boulder is entirely encased in a snarled heap of brambles adorned with tiny maroon berries along its crawling vines. The strange light seems to be coming from just behind the stone. Jack surveys his options, coming to the uneasy conclusion that if he wants to satisfy his curiosity: the only path forward would be to crawl through the craggy heart of the heaping silvery stone.

Jack sighs heavily, his breath almost cold in the sweltering night air. “God dammit Jack! just let it be!” For a moment he genuinely considers just turning back and forgetting about the oddity beyond the crawl. But he knows it would haunt him. He would lay awake in his iron framed bed with its blue striped quilt and ponder on the mystery of the wood for years to come.

He gathers his strength and begins to march through the great maw of the boulder, pushing aside the drooping roots as he goes. They catch and snake around his body screaming at him to turn back while he still can. But he presses forward, duck walking along the pebble strewn floor.

Finally after much deliberation he tumbles free of the tiny ravine; Where he’s met by a scene which causes the cigarette to fall from his trembling lips. In front of him sits the living room of his home. One glossy, wood paneled wall juts from the ground adorned with photos of family vacations and awkward school photographs. A set of stairs ascends behind it, leading nowhere. A rouge paisley rug is splayed out across the earth; crumpling over roots and debris like the choppy waves of the Pacific Ocean.

His father lays reclined in his worn leather lazy boy, work boots still strapped tightly to his broad feet. Light from the staticky CRTV, which Jack realizes must be the source of the strange light, causes his father’s face to appear to warp in the twisting shadows strewn about from his angular nose and protruding jaw. Jack approaches slowly, totally unable to comprehend just how his living room could be all the way out here. It was as if some divine hand plunged from the sky and scooped up a piece of his home before aimlessly depositing it miles into the backwoods of Oregon. He rubs his eyes and blinks frantically. Surely this was some weird trick of the light, his imagination filling the space in the milky shadows. But it was no trick.

Jack tentatively inches closer and closer to the scene, fully convinced it would evaporate before his eyes like a mirage. But with every encroaching footfall it just seems to only get more real. He can even make out the faint scratches on the arm of the chair leftover from the long deceased family cat. Every detail was perfectly replicated including the discarded newspaper on the floor beside the chair. “Oil prices soar to record highs” is strewn across the top of the wrinkled gray paper in a bold font. He recognized the title from this morning’s paper, which his father dramatically unfolded over his daily scrambled eggs and ketchup.
Jack crosses the threshold of the living room and onto the soft and squishy rug. Mud from his sneakers soaks into its fibers creating an audible squelch. Jack cringes, his dad was not a light sleeper by any stretch of the term but these were unusual circumstances. his fathers eyes snap open, staring straight at him.

Jack freezes in place, his heart kicking into fifth gear. It bangs against his rib cage, begging to be free from its bony prison. “I bet you think you’re so smart!” His dads voice is gravely and slurred. “Thought you’d wait for me to fall asleep, sneak past me? Oh-hoo-hoo ive been waiting for you!” He grins, letting out a ragged chuckle. His father’s teeth are blackened and caked in sludge. Drool seeps from the sides of his mouth, trailing in glossy black threads down his chin and onto his chest.

“N-no! I–” Jacks voice is shaky and the words catch in his throat. He takes a slow step back, eyes locked on his father. “What are you? Chicken-shit? Scared of a feeble old thing like me?” Jack watches in horror as his fathers face shrinks into one of a withering old man. His eye bags droop and darken, almost going purple. Skin melts down his face and into his neck as the faint lines on his face deepen into curtains of wrinkled, sickly flesh. His fathers chest shudders and shakes with every heaving breath as if he had to drag each gasp of air unwillingly into his diseased lungs. He lets out a spluttering cough, pointing a boney finger at Jack.

“Just biding your time. Hoping you’ll find me choked on my own vomit one of these nights? Fucking coward!” The contempt in his speech nearly drives Jack to his knees. Fat teardrops pooling in the corners of his eyes. He was right. Every time he tip-toed in past curfew he crossed his fingers that dad would just be gone. He could go live with his aunt and uncle up in Washington. He wouldn’t miss even a single night’s sleep over it; hell he’d probably sleep a whole lot better if he was free of the man’s fists and insults.

“No! That’s not true!” Jack’s tiny squeak of a protest does little to sell the fake sincerity of the words. “Liar!” Bellows his father, the veins on his forehead bulging from the effort. “You may be a pathetic sack of shit, but I know i didnt raise no god damned liar!” He spits in Jack’s direction, it splats onto the crumpled rug. Anger ignites within Jack’s heart. He’d had enough of this shit, it was time to put his dad in his place.

“This is why mom left your sorry ass to rot! You never respected me, and you sure as hell never respected her! You’re just a bitter old shit with nothing better to do than beat his wife and kid!” Jack forces the words through his bared teeth, jabbing a judgmental finger in his father’s direction. The man’s eyes widen in shock before twisting his expression into a menacing grin which stretches from ear to ear..

“Ha!” his father’s creaking laughter echoes across the still night air, amplified into a million shrieking howls of laughter with tirade upon Jack.. his face begins to retreat into its normal condition. The saggy skin racing back up from his jowls before stretching taught around his boxy cheekbones and his gaunt eyes dart forward from the hollow recess they had sunk into.

“Got a problem with the way I treat my own kin? Why don’t you go and do anything about it then instead of slinking away with your tail between yer’ legs!” His father’s retort is dripping with contempt. Jack stops his slow retreat, flushing as his dad’s words strike true with every backwards stride. “Come on! face me like a fucking man!” Charred spit flies from his dad’s bared teeth. The little droplets stain his gingham shirt. He grips the arms of the chair rising to his feet.

Jack had failed to notice that something was off about his fathers body in the fog of the strange occurrences of the night. His arms and legs were inhumanly long and crooked as if his body could not remember where the joints were meant to be. He stands taller than any man living or dead; Jack who was already a staggering six-foot-four met its belt at eye level. Jack stares up at its animalistic eyes and falls on his back, scuttling away from the creature on his heels and elbows.

“What the fuck!” Jack’s voice is stricken with fear; the words come out barely above a whisper. “What did I tell you about that damned mouth!” The creature wearing his father’s face barks towards him, scolding him for his language.

It shambles towards him where before his eyes the creature’s hair lengthens, snaking its way down to its clothed shoulders. It sprouts yellowed knobby claws of keratin from its twig like fingers which reach out towards the supine boy. This undoubtedly was not his father, but was instead some nightmarish replica. It had lured him in with terrible curiosity before springing its trap upon him.

Jack lets out a shrill scream which is met by it’s twisted laughter. The beast lurches forward pinning him down by the neck. Jack clutches at its crooked fingers, desperately trying to pry them off of his constricting windpipe.


It’s no use, the creatures grasp only coiling tighter and tighter around his neck.. The beast howls with wild laughter like the sound of a baying hyena. Jack can only helplessly look up at his assailant, who still wore the mask of his fathers face twisted almost beyond recognition. Jack begins to gag and choke, the narrow tube of his esophagus nearly entirely shut at this point. I’m not ready to die! The thought careens through his head sending a surge of divine energy through his body. With a desperate, choked warcry Jack gets his feet up and under the beast’s heaving chest. He pushes with all his might sending it careening back and away from his position.

Jack chokes and gasps. Forcing as much fresh air into his lungs as possible. He gets to his knees and stands to face his assailant. But to his horror, the beast had completely disappeared from view. He swings his head around, combing the darkness for any sign of the thing. Only the wrinkled trunks of trees return his gaze. They look over him, the branches dancing on the breeze as if they were laughing at him.

A sharp sting of a branch cracking echos from his left. Jack whips around to face the sound. But again, nothing but shadowy forest greets him. Another crack tears through the night, this time to his right. Then another, this time behind him. Before he can turn, a blast of humid air whips past him, bringing with it a sharp stinging pain across his back. Jack goes down on one knee, floored by the pain. He lets out an agonized cry which the forest swallows whole.

The whipping sound of branches and forest debris careens towards him. Jack acting purely on his feral instincts rolls forward, flopping awkwardly onto his back. The sound of claws cutting through the air whizzes past his ear. He had narrowly avoided the beast, but it wouldn’t be long before its next attack.

He rolls over and pushes himself to his feet whipping his head around violently to find it. He spots a blurred wall of flesh skirting behind a tree snaked in furling vines of ivy. Without a second of thought, Jack takes off in the opposite direction. His footsteps pond across the fabric of the rug before turning into the squelch of mud. It grips at his sneakers, threatening to drag him to the ground kicking and screaming.

However it only encourages him to run harder into the darkness of the forest. He leaps over a small, moss covered boulder and hits the ground in a dead sprint. The sound of billowing leaf litter and snapping branches surges up from behind him.

Jack tries to react but the beast is too fast. It catches his calf with its searing claws, dropping him to the ground. Jack faceplants into the mud, knocking an incisor from his mouth which clatters across the leaves lost forever to the forest. He skitters to a stop , his chest cut up by the fallen brush. “Help!” Jack screams out, knowing all too well that his cries would go unanswered. Hot blood is pooling in his mouth, seeping in steady drips from the empty socket in his gums.

The beast latches its bony fingers around his ankle and begins to drag him across the ground back from where he came. Jack kicks and screams at the beast but to no avail. It continues its slow, lumbering pace towards the living room where this nightmare began.
He struggles to keep his head up as putrid mud begins to fill his mouth and nose. It blinds his senses. All he could see, all he could smell, all he could taste: this soup of decay mixed with his own blood. He was going to die here! The thought spirals him into a primal madness. He begins to cry, screaming into the ground and digging in his fingernails. They slough off under the pressure sending peeling waves of torment up his digits and into his arms.

The bubbling mud turns back into the soft fibers of the rug on the floor. The beast swiftly tightens its hold on his leg. Jack feels the bones splinter beneath its enclosed fist, followed by the sharp prickles of the shards breaking the skin. He lets out a choked cry before falling limp, utterly defeated. The beast releases him and he can hear its padding footsteps and heavy breathing fade off and into the trees.

Jack is struck with a wave of confusion. Why had it left him here? Did it grow bored of me? Would it return for more? The questions swirl around his head. Surely it couldn’t be over! With much effort Jack rolls over onto his back, propping himself up on his elbows. He was facing the tv which had shifted from the snow which once occupied its glossy surface into a flickering scene of a forest. It’s dark and grainy, Jack is unable to glimpse any details from it. Even the trees, normally vibrantly textured with moss and bark, looked fake and plastic in this resolution.

Suddenly a bone covered, mangled snout peeks out from inside a patch of brambles in the center of the screen. It was wolflike, sporting pointed fangs which looked uncannily human. The massive frame of the creature presses out from the bush, stalking towards the camera. There was little in the way of sensing the real scale; but Jack could tell this thing was massive nonetheless.

Anxiety creeps across Jack’s skin like little static prickles of energy causing his hair to stand on end. It was like this thing could see him. It seemed to gaze straight into his eyes through the stained bandage wrapped across its face and the thick paned glass of the television. It draws closer and closer and before long its face is nearly pressed up against the screen.

Jack scoots away from it, doing everything he can to get away from the screen. It felt silly, but every fiber of his being was screaming at him that whatever this thing was it was dangerous. The beast presses its claws and snout against the frame as if attempting to break free from its electronic confines. To Jack’s horror the screen begins to morph and stretch against the beast’s pressure. It reaches a clawed and glass covered hand towards Jack, snatching him around the leg. Jack screams out in pain as the ruined bones crunch beneath its grasp, drawing him closer to the television. The rug begins to burn his palms as he clutches at it, attempting to slow himself.

The beast unhinges its jaw, opening it impossibly wide before stuffing Jack’s right leg inside it. It’s maw snaps down severing his leg below the knee. Jack lets out a scream as blackness creeps across his vision. He was losing consciousness and fast. The beast lets out a long groan of pleasure as if his leg was the most delicious thing it had ever tasted. Its forked, black tongue lolling across its horrible chewed up lips.

With a tremendous effort jack flops onto his stomach, now free from its grasp. he’s desperately crawling away from the television, away from this terrible beast with every scrap of energy left within him. Elbow elbow foot stump. Elbow elbow foot stump. He repeats this mantra in his head again and again. It echoes and bounces around his skull. The horrific realization of his missing leg and the terrible unfortunate circumstance he’s found himself in failing to plant its evil roots in his consciousness. He had become an animal, acting only on his most primal impulses. Nothing mattered, nothing except survival at any cost.

Jack inches across the carpeted ground at an agonizing pace, making his way towards the treeline. The trees knobby branches seem to stretch out towards him beckoning him into their clutches. He can almost hear their cries of salvation boom into the night. “Well save you!” “Hide amongst our roots!”

But the beast was simply toying with him. He never had a chance to escape, not in his current state. Somewhere deep down Jack knew this. An awful, malevolent thought which called for him to roll over and give up. Afterall if this thing really was using him as its play thing: putting up a fight would only feed into its twisted entertainment and thus pack his final moments full of unimaginable suffering.


But something about the very thought of giving into this awful violence seemed wrong to him. He had to try, afterall he was but 15; There was so much of life he had yet to experience from big to small. So many places yet to be explored, new people to meet, and milestones to cross. Hell, he was even still a virgin.

A life he would never live begins to flash its dreamy visions across the expanse of his mind. Earning his learners permit and driving for the very first time. Finally taking that fishing trip he and Shane had talked about during sleepovers in their matching Star Wars footie-pajamas as children. And most succulent of all, finally leaving this shit-hole of a town and settling down somewhere a little greener and less judgemental.

Jack’s pleasant thoughts are shattered like glass by the sound of hoarse barking laughter emanating from the beast looming behind him. “How sad… You believe that’s your destiny… it was never meant to pass…” Clomping footsteps beat at the earth practically throwing jack into the air. The beast must have left the confines of the television. Damnit! The beast chortles with laughter. “To romp in a pasture without a care… To breathe easy next to your prince charming….”

The beast runs a claw along his back, methodically slicing through the skin like melted butter. Jack wails out in pain against the sound of his back being unzipped. The white-hot knife of pain threatens to send him into madness. His back floods with warmth as the blood begins to flow and drip down his sides like melted wax dripping from the withered stump of a dying candle.

“You were born to suffer… this world will take and take until you are nothing but a shadow. I will grant you freedom from this wicked cycle…” Rage flares through jack. It sends its tendrils through his body, stealing his resolve. Jack continues his slow crawl, tears streaming down his face. The pain by this point was incomprehensible. Every jerking movement pushed the circle of darkness that was crowding his vision tighter and tighter.

“Liar!” jack bellows reaching out towards the roots ensnared within the edge of the rug. But they are just out of reach. His clutching fingers only clasp around empty air. “ you will come to see what i know to be true…” The beast shoves its talons into the seam of flesh on Jack’s back, enclosing its gnarled hands around his spine. Jack vomits as if his body were trying to purge the beast from within him. The beast tugs and lifts Jack up by the skeleton. Jack screams, reaching his hands behind his back in a desperate attempt to fend off the beast but his hands only grasp around empty air.

He could do nothing to halt his encroaching death, he was within the beast’s grasp and his destiny was its will. Jack goes limp with defeat, slouching coldly like a puppet tethered by bone to the beast’s merciless claws. Its terrible power had nestled within his ribcage, its razored talons seizing his heart within their clutches. It beat like the fluttering of a bird knocked from the sky by a hurled stone. Desperately jittering about as the hunter’s shadow looms over it.

It was utterly hopeless. Even if it let him be, the scars would wither his growth; a fate seemingly worse than death. The beast devouring him on the spot would be more merciful than cruel. He had fought hard for every gasp of vigor under its watchful eyes, far better than he could have ever hoped to. But the time to fight had ended; it was now time to die.
The beast turns jack to face it, allowing him to gaze upon its true form. Its flesh was malformed and rotten away in patches revealing its yellowed bone beneath its gangrenous meat. The beast seemed to be some hellish incarnation of a wolf, with fur white as freshly fallen snow. A black mane of fur twisted into matted braids by mange cascaded from its neck and along the spine, melting from its body like blood weeping from an arterial laceration. Its pointed ears sheltered a pair of jagged black antlers, trees reaching their way to the stars as if they had sprouted from the beast’s skull eons ago.

Even in the encompassing shadows of the night, Jack was unable to grasp the brevity of its form. This creature was something ancient and terrible. It had stalked mankind from the shadows across dynasties, hungrily awaiting their downfalls as it picked off the weakest from the herd. The beast’s mangled lips were twisted in a ghastly smile, morphing its entire face into an otherworldly expression of jagged teeth and agony made manifest.

As Jack stares in shock the beast opens its great maw, giving Jack a clear view down its gullet and into its innards which churned in a mass of pulsating crimson. Its jaw opened wider and wider, unhinging like a snake until all Jack could see was teeth and organs. A forked, black tongue lolled out to one side, drool cascading in dark streams from its salivating glands.

Jack begins to writhe and squirm against its grasp as something primal overtakes him. The hopelessness which had overwhelmed him only moments before drowned out by a sea of millions of voices all chanting in unison within his mind. It’s the call of ancestors and brethren humanity calling out for him to get away from this wretched thing at any cost.

Jack writhes like a snake, contorting and thrashing his limbs with all his remaining strength to jettison himself from its grasp. He squirms and wiggles even as his ribs crack and pop in protest in its arms. He lets out scream after scream into the night. Calling for help, for his mother and father to rescue him. But all that returns is the howling of the wind through the trees and the deep rumble of the beast’s laughter.

It begins to lower him towards its gullet. Inch by agonizing inch, Jack’s feet creep closer and closer to the jaws of death. Jack kicks out, landing booted feet upon tooth, tongue and gum. The beast doesn’t so much as flinch against their impact. Its one and only prerogative was to feed upon his flesh and soul in a gluttonous rage.

His feet dip below its jawline and down its throat, then his torso. Jack lets out one final bellow of pain as his feet kiss its stomach acid before the beast slams its jaws shut, ending his struggle in one swift movement of death. It gives a hearty swallow, lucking its bloodied chops and strides off into the forest, disappearing from sight.

Credit: Juniper Bellatrix Ridella



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