“There, there, there,” Gina said, pointing out the window at the little gathering of SUVs and helicopters at the designated meeting spot.
“Thanks for pointing them out to me, I never would have seen them otherwise,” Justin said as he turned the corner.
Murray was helping Maggie finish up the assembly of her little Damselfly, and Jasper and Spencer were leaning against their SUV chatting with a half a dozen men dressed on khaki when Justin brought his vehicle to a stop at the edge of the road. Out in the ferns squatted two green and brown Army scout helicopters, with their crews sitting around waiting to get going.
For the last two weeks, a small town called Gimu about an hour’s drive east of Donopolis had been living in fear of a yurgovuch turned man-eater. The animal had taken five children so far from the surrounding farmsteads, and several days ago it had badly mauled a young woman before her aunt had driven it off by throwing rocks at it. This was regarded as unusual: while they were considered a threat to pets and livestock, yurgovuches generally had an instinctive fear of people and preferred to avoid them whenever possible. It was speculated that the animal must be sick or injured in a way that prevented it from hunting its usual prey, and so had been forced to turn to humans out of desperation.
“You don’t even know these guys,” Justin said as he loaded the gun cases into the jeep’s little rear cargo compartment.
Gina shrugged. “I know Maggie,” she said. “Well, sort of. I know she’s probably not a murderer or at least. And really, if you’re worried about them trying anything, you might remember just who you’re talking to.”
Maggie brought the helicopter up, hoping to lessen the chances of spooking the beast by being farther overhead. “I’d hate to be whatever that thing’s after,” she said. She glanced over at Gregory; he was watching the giant intently with wide eyes. Mixed with his look of awe was one of fear, and she couldn’t blame him. Even though she knew they were safe up here from that giant, it was still hard not to be a little frightened. She supposed it was an instinctual reaction, left over from when their distant ancestors were still getting the hang of tool use. She wondered what the thing was after, anyway. Whatever it was it was evidently obscured by the trees, because she couldn’t see it from their vantage point.
With a gentle pull, the round yellow fruit came away from the branch in his jaws, then it was crunched into pulp and gulped down. Before the first had even completed it’s long journey down the throat a second was seized, crushed and swallowed, and a third after that. The succulent yellow fruit of the luska tree were a rare treat and the beast squatting on his haunches beneath its spiny branches was well suited to take advantage of the bounty. Though highly coveted, the fruit grew among the upper branches and were available to most only after they became overripe and rot had weakened their bonds to the parent tree sufficiently to send them plummeting to the ground to lay in great composting piles. With the height needed to reach into the branches, the creature attending to them now could select the choicest fruits for himself while they were still on the tree. Stretching his long neck upward he had set to work probing his narrow muzzle into the latticework of thorny branches, delicately plucking those fruits whose color and smell told him they hadn’t yet crossed that important threshold between “ripe enough” and “too ripe”. Once he had selected a fruit and delicately plucked it from the branch he crushed it once in his jaws to enjoy the taste then swallowed the pulpy mass to clear the way for the next. At his leisurely pace he might eat dozens this way, then return tomorrow and eat dozens more. Read More »
And just like that, Jasper Mickel had become one of the most popular men in Kinze. The crowd at the Apothecary was still laughing from Pete’s story, about how Maggie had shown up at old man Grier’s place in her helicopter and made him follow her out to where one of Shovel’s killers lay dead in the ferns. By the time they’d arrived Jasper and Spencer had already hacked through the thick muscular hump behind the big animal’s head, and were working their way through the vertebrae and spinal cord. Both men had stripped to their underwear to avoid ruining their clothes, and Pete’s description of the two of them standing there with machetes in their hands, almost naked and covered in blood, had been both disturbing and hilarious.
Though it was only a few months old, the dormoth calf was already over two meters long and surprisingly powerful. When it was finally blindfolded the beast calmed somewhat and eased its frantic struggling, allowing Dr. Herodias to examine its wound. The calf had caught its wrist on a barbed wire fence, and it had become infected. Now flies buzzed around the hideously swollen joint.