The Beast in Me (completed)
Author: LCD

Chapter 9
The Hunters

“Byron!” Mandy greeted me when I got to the hole in the fence. She looked disheveled. Narnia and Dalia were hovering behind her stomping nervously from one foot to another. Mandy's eyes flickered fearfully to the lifeless body of Sheena which I still had straddled over my shoulders. “Is she...?”

    I was too anxious about saving Sheena's life to ventilate my fury with Mandy.

    “She lost a lot of blood. She needs to see a doctor immediately. Did you call an ambulance?”

    Narnia and Dalia retreated cautiously.

    “No... I... not yet. See, my phone is at my motorbike... You can use it to get to town if you want.” Mandy offered. I considered for a second. Probably, I could get to the hospital a few minutes faster if I went straight through the forest -- running.

    “Thanks... I'll take my own one... it's... it's parked a bit further down the road.” I lied. I didn't want them to go rant about my freaking abilities more than necessary. “What the hell was going on here? How did it happen?” I couldn't contain myself but I didn't wait for the answer. Instead I fell into a jog and bumped the two Ias out of my way.

    “Byron! I'm sorry! I never meant this to happen. Please... don't give me away!” Mandy begged. I snorted and didn't turn around. “My parents will ground me forever...”

    “Jesus, he's strong!” Narnia let out in amazement.

    “And so fast...” Dalia added. They hadn't seen anything yet. I needed to be out of sight before I could crank up my speed to maximum. And when I did, I was amazing even myself. I had increased my pace about fifty percent compared to... right: compared to before drinking Sheena's blood, I remembered with a stitch through my heart.

    I've become a dangerous freak who lives by the blood of others.

    This couldn't continue, I knew. But now I didn't have time to mull over it. I made for the woods. I practically was flying now. I was amazed how I was able to avoid colliding with the trees, now that I had Sheena on my back I needed to protect her from getting hit, too. My brain wasn't doing the work, though. Again it was numbed and instead my animal instincts were doing the job.

    “Where did he disappear?” Narnia asked.

    “I didn't even hear the sound of his motorbike.” Dalia replied.

    “Since when does he have one? He just turned sixteen yesterday...” Narnia said. “He's acting very strangely lately... Mandy, are you OK?”

    “I need to get home before six o'clock. My parents will kill me otherwise.”

    “D'ya think Sheena's gonna make it?” Dalia asked with a lack of real empathy  in her tone.

    “At least she's in good hands now...” That was the last I could decipher of their conversation.

    When I made it to the clearing, I knew it wouldn't be long to the next paved road and to the hospital. Baskerville was a small town but they had at least a center to provide basic medical care. I dearly hoped they had a supply of blood transfusion bags.

I had been rushing through the forest for more than five minutes, my brain in a low-duty mode only function like a running machine. Therefore it took me a while to register that I heard the crack of the rifle gun. InitiallyI I didn't even notice that the bullet had hit but continued running about fifty yards. I realized that my left leg was limping when a second shot hit me in my thigh again. I lost balance and fell to the ground. As I fell I tried preventing any harm to the unconscious Sheena, taking the blow when touching the ground with my chest. It wasn't nearly as breathtaking as my previous crash when I climbed the fence. It took me a few seconds anyway to compose myself and to get to my feet without hurting Sheena.

    “Cease fire!! My God, it's a boy!” I heard a man shouting. Then I heard footsteps from at least three people. I looked around and saw police rangers with dogs quickly closing in on us.

    The hunters! I gasped to myself. They found me. I heard the yelping of the dogs. They were tearing at their leashes, trying to get at me.

    “Down Sam, Desoto!” Another voice commanded. I saw how the man was using all his effort to drag them back. The first one reached me. He saw my torn pants and the blood all over.

    “Are you OK?!  Are you hurt? Did those bullets hit you?”

    “No, I'm fine.” I lied. The bullets had smashed right through the muscles but I barely felt any pain. My whole concern was to get Sheena to safety as quickly as possible.

    “Really, the blood is from running through the shrubs. “

    “My God, when you came speeding across the clearing like that and the dogs started barking, I was sure you were...” Then his eyes fell on Sheena's body. “Jesus! Did I hit her?”

    “No. An accident. She lost a lot of blood. I need to get her to the hospital quick. That's why I was running so fast.” I breathed a bit lighter, he wasn't suspecting me to be the wolf they were looking for. How could he? I didn't look like one. At daylight. But I was losing precious time here. The dogs made me nervous, too. They weren't so easily fooled. They must have recognized my scent.

    “You were carrying her on your shoulders?!” He looked at me with wide eyes. “How...”

    “I can't lose another minute! Please just let me go and take her...!” I pleaded.

    “We can help you! I have a SUV parked behind the bushes. Let's go! - Bob, Peter! We've got an emergency situation. I need to take the car and take them to the hospital! See you later!” They were still having difficulties holding the growling and barking dogs back but they waved their approval. Then we finally began to move again. I had gently picked up the limp body of Sheena again and reassured myself of her breathing. She was still alive, barely though. All the color had drained from her face.

    I shouldered her and the man looked completely baffled at my strength. He didn't make any remark though but took me directly to the car and opened the back door. I tried not to limp and trigger more questions. Ten seconds later he hit the gas pedal and the bumpy ride through the remaining stretch of forest began.

    “What happened?” He asked tersely.

    “Long story... she lost a lot of blood. From a deep wound in her thigh... artery damaged I suppose.” I answered quickly.

    “I'll call the hospital so that they can get prepared...” He got out his cell phone and dialed the emergency number. A few seconds later he had someone on the other end and gave them the info. Then he turned to me.

    “They're asking for her blood group... any idea...?” He turned around and looked at me without much expectation.

    My tongue swiped my lips reluctantly. I couldn't help but feel another wave of pleasure wash through my body.

    “A1 positive...” I answered. How I could tell evaded me but I was certain.

    “Are you sure?” He asked, amazed once more.

    “Ay! Positive!” I smirked. But then I turned to Sheena's limp body and my stomach became queasy again. Unfortunately, that wasn't because of the blood stains. They still looked tempting to me. It wasn't that I wanted to kill her, on the contrary, but she contained a liquid so mouthwatering. And earlier it had eclipsed my worry and care for her for a few seconds. I felt responsible for her well-being and guilty because of my ravage of her health due to the lapse in my reason. If Sheena were to die I would never forgive myself -- even if she lived I hardly could feel better for what I've done. This had gone much too far. I gulped, I would have to wait with drawing any consequences until I knew her in safety.

    “What's your name, lad?” The man asked. “I'm Dan McShelley, by the way. Ranger from the Baskerville police department.”

    “I'm Byron Mansdale.”

    “Mansdale? Are you Priscilla Mansdale's kid?”

    “Yeah, why?” My heart rate surged immediately. Had anything happened while I was gone?

    “Ah, nothing special. My boy, Toby, goes your grade. He's a junior, like you. I guess you've met.”

    I damn well have. Wonder if he knew what his kid had been up to this afternoon -- or all those nights when he prowls around with Frank.

    “Yeah, tell him I said hi. -- Uh, and ask him where he's been this afternoon. We were supposed to meet but he never showed up.” I just had to use the opportunity to give him a hard time. Dan grunted.

    “You didn't happen to see a wild animal out there? I mean... those wounds the girl's got, they aren't possibly...”

    “No! She... hurt herself falling, I saw it myself...”

    “OK, understand... but you put yourself into quite a danger. Haven't you heard about the animal attack last night? -- A huge wolf broke into...”

    “...Mandy Seifert's window.” I finished his sentence. He whirled around again,

    “So you heard all about it. -- What were you doing in the forest!? ...and how did you get soaking wet like that?”

    “How far is it?! She's cold as a fish!” I avoided his interrogation by interrupting him. He hit the accelerator. Now we were on paved roads again.

    “Only three more blocks.”

    “Hang in there, Sheena!” I begged, though I knew she couldn't hear. Then it went quick. I barely had pulled her of the car when the medics cut in and put her on the stretcher the needle and IV-bag ready. They asked me about her injuries and if I was absolutely sure about her blood type. I told them about the fall and the drowning incident and how she lost a lot of blood. I pointed to the wound on her thigh.

    I had to wait in the receptionist's room while they took her to the operation room. It was eerily quiet there. After a minute of so, a nurse asked me if I was injured and needed medication. I hesitated and felt for the bullet wounds. To my surprise there was no pain or wound. I shook my head and started pacing. After a while, the nurse asked me to have a seat. I didn't obey.

    “She's in good hands, Byron.” She smiled. Someone had given her my name. I kept go to and fro. Dan came in and put an arm around my shoulders.

    “You're quite a hero. I never seen anybody run so fast... and with the girl over your shoulder. You looked ever so much as a wild animal... strange that the dogs went wild like that. Guess you must have picked up its scent somewhere on the way.”

    “I contacted her father. He's on his way.” The nurse told the police ranger. “Your mother is also on her way.”

    O God, so mom was informed. I hope she doesn't faint.

    “Now son... tell me in detail what happened to you. You're pants are shredded, you two are all wet. You're covered in blood... even your mouth is. How did the girl sustain her wounds and almost get drowned. Were exactly did this happen?”

    I considered telling on Mandy, Frank, and all the others who trespassed the fence at the dam. Then I remembered Mandy's pleading not to tell on her. Why should I listen to that?

    “It... it happened at the dam... I...”

    Dan nodded, as if he had grasped the story.

    “You went over the fence -- it's called trespassing. Stupid thing to do, you should know better than that! Normally, I would give you a good yelling-at. But considering the circumstances and your heroic effort, I won't grill you... just yet.”

    I was at a loss of words, I didn't find the strength to protest. Maybe it was better this way. I'd take the blame. Who would believe me anyway. Frank would deny all of it. Mandy would too and hate me for not shutting up about it. I didn't want that, I'd rather suffer being held guilty for this than to feel her resentment for the rest of my life. Anyway, I could've invented a better story and protected everyone. Frank and his dudes deserved a punishment, of course. I would give him what he deserved one day, I'd see to that. Nada and Dodo were too dim to realize what they were doing. And as for Mandy... if it hadn't been for her cries of help and despair, I might have not been there in time. I couldn't believe that I still wanted her to be my girlfriend. After all she had done. I was lost, I had this incredible and inescapable crush on her.

    “Thanks Dan. -- I just wish I could undo it.”

 

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