Glyph opened his eyes and sat up. The first thing he noticed was that he was covered in blood; some fresh, some dried, and in assorted red hues. Turning, he saw several dog carcasses and a thick trail of intestine strewn across the dirt, drawing flies. The smell of it was still in the air, as well as on his face.
He unwrapped the red-stained shirt from around his arm. The scars were still there and all his wounds felt a bit worse for wear, but overall not too bad considering a dozen possessed dogs had mauled him. It looked as if Ishea was right, her healing had transferred; not in time to do him any good, but it was better than coming back to a body that was bleeding out and dying.
Grabbing his knife off the ground beside him, he cut the tourniquet from his leg. His numb leg slowly started to come alive, and Glyph rolled over, waiting for the tingly pain to subside. After several moments, he slowly got to his feet, and visually checked the area at the same time. He tried scraping the dried dog intestine from his face, but he could only manage what his nails could dislodge. It would have to wait until he found some water. Sheathing his knife, Glyph grabbed the blood soaked shirt and tried to stretch it out over a nearby log. It took several attempts at unfolding and stretching before he could actually pull the nasty garment onto his head. He tried not to gag as he did so, but the feel of dried crusty blood on his chest made his skin crawl. The shirt was about two inches shorter now from having cut it off in order to fashion a tourniquet for his leg. Glyph buffed the offal off his watch face with his sleeve, then slid the bag off over his head and peered inside. He had already used his spare shirt, but there was a pair of jeans. A minute later he had changed, and after finding a way to navigate the steep bank he had slid down, set about finding his gun.
At the top of the hill, Glyph searched for the pistol. The ground was littered with dead dogs, and as he walked further into the remains he saw that some of the dogs hadn’t died right away, but had attempted to crawl away. He couldn’t help but notice their nametags and different colored collars; they were only animals, but they didn’t deserve to die this way. Glyph considered burying them, but he just didn’t have enough time.
Just as the stench of the whole unpleasant scene reached his nose he spied the butt of the gun’s handle jutting out of a clump of grass to his left, and picked it up. Then, as if his memory had just returned, he reached up for the necklace, but it wasn’t there; neither was the sword. So much for that idea, he thought as he pulled some loose bullets from his pocket and re-loaded the gun. He decided to head out in the same direction, hoping to get as far away from the smell and the memory of the dead dogs as possible. Walking at a fast pace, he began his descent into a small gap between the mountains.
Glyph came upon a wide strip of grass and rock at the bottom of the gap. The mountain here had a strip of cleared vegetation in a 300-foot wide right-of-way going straight up and over the top of the mountain, with high-powered electrical towers. There was a dirt access road that ran beneath the towers that disappeared up over the ridge. He paused for a moment, considering his options, when he heard some voices below him. Thinking he’d be better off not coming into contact with anybody, he cut across the large grassy area and over the dirt road toward the tree line on the opposite side.
When he reached the trees, he stole a glance back down the hill and saw three men in hunting gear running up the road. As he watched, the one in the rear stopped and took aim, pointing his rifle right at Glyph.
Glyph ducked just as the crack of the rifle shot went off, and splinters of wood flew off the tree beside him. He rolled away from the tree, jumped up and darted into the forest.
“Fuck me!” he yelled as he plunged through the branches of several pine trees. As he ran, Glyph pulled his gun and cocked the hammer. It was all uphill, and for once he was glad he hadn’t bothered smoking a cigarette. The hunters were right behind him, and soon another shot rang out. Dead leaves flew up a few feet ahead of him, as Glyph instinctively dove onto the dirt. His heart was beating like a train at top speed when he leapt to his feet and started running again. Another shot rang out, but this time Glyph didn’t stop; he started moving left and right, zig-zagging his way to the crest of the steep hill. He was running on sheer adrenaline by the time he dove over the top of the ridge, just as two more blasts went off behind him. Glyph turned left and bolted along the ridgeline, keeping the crest between him and his pursuers.
He ran until he could hardly take another step, but then noticed a natural outcropping of rock ahead. As he got closer he saw that there was a gap between two large 10ft high boulders that made up another ridge of an even higher mountain. He ran between them and up the next bank a ways until he could work his way back to the gap, only now he was on top of the rock. Quickly crouching down, he looked back the way he had come, trying to stifle the sound of his heavy breathing. To his surprise one of the hunters was almost to the gap; the other two must have been moving slower.
Glyph waited until the man was passing between the two rocks, then jumped to his feet and popped off three rounds into the top of his pursuer’s head and neck. The man dropped to his knees. A steady fountain of blood spewed out of his neck, as he slumped face-first to the ground. Glyph could feel the adrenaline rush coursing through his veins as he ran back down the bank around the rock to the dead man’s body. Stuffing the pistol into his waistband, Glyph snatched a shotgun from the bloody corpse’s hands, reached into a bulging vest pocket, and grabbed a handful of shells. He pumped the shotgun one handed, while jamming the shells into his pocket.
Glyph finished up in time to see the other two hunters down a ways taking aim. Glyph dove forward down the embankment, and tucked into a roll as he heard the breeze of the bullets fly over his head. As soon as his feet came in contact with the ground, he twisted his body and scrambled back up the hill between the two rocks, pointing the shotgun behind him and firing a shot as he went. The force of the shotgun blast wrenched his wrist, but he managed to hold on to the weapon as he ran further up the hill. Two more shots rang out and the bag in his left hand jerked hard, but he kept running, dodging left and right.
Glyph stumbled upon a well-used deer path and began following it to make better time than crashing through the undergrowth. He could feel that the two men were still on his trail, even though he couldn’t see them now. Reaching the top of the mountain, the trees started getting sparser and there was more grass and bushes. The deer trail he was following got wider, and he began to hear the faint sound of running water from somewhere ahead of him. Completely out of breath, he limped along going slightly downhill now. Then through the trees he saw a large mountain lake, the kind left behind by melting glaciers. It was eerie to see a body of water that large on the top of a mountain, but he didn’t dare stop to enjoy the scenery. The path led to the waters edge, where a larger trail traveled around the shore in both directions, obviously man-made.
Glyph pumped the shotgun, turned to his left and began to trot down the path looking for a place to hide. As he passed around the side of the lake, the mountain rose up higher, making almost 40 ft of rock face just to the side of the trail, then it curved away in a semicircle creating a small grotto. He turned and followed the sheer wall of rock a few feet off the trail, and put his back to it. He propped the shotgun against the rock, made sure it was loaded to capacity, and then slid some more bullets into his pistol.
‘Mother Fuckers would have guns.’ he thought, taking a quick peep around the corner down the trail.
‘Here we go!’ he screamed in his mind as he saw the two men running down the trail towards him. Glyph jumped back, grabbed the shotgun and leveled it head-high at the trail. He squeezed himself as flat as possible to the wall and strained to listen. As the first man came into view, Glyph pulled the trigger, blasting the side of his head and shoulder. The force blew the hunter off the trail onto the bank of the lake; a fine mist of blood and gun smoke filled the air. Glyph pumped the next round into the chamber as the second man slowed, swung his body around and shot at Glyph from his hip. Glyph felt a sting in his left leg as he popped the next shell into his attacker’s chest, blowing him off his feet and onto his back. Glyph felt his leg give out and dropped to one knee, dropped the shotgun, and pulled out his revolver. He checked his leg through the fresh hole in his pants, and saw a chunk of his muscle the size of a nickel was missing from the side of his left thigh. The blood oozing out began to soak into his clean pair of blue jeans.
Glyph stood and limped towards the man. The anger of being hunted, mixed with the sick feeling he had from having to just kill them, put him near the verge of insanity. “You God damn fucking douche bag!” he screamed, and shot him two times in the head point blank. “You fucked up my jeans!” A line of blood splatter sprayed up onto Glyph’s face, and he pushed the pistol back into his pants. He bent down and picked up the dead man’s rifle and slung it over his shoulder, and stripped the corpse of its remaining bullets. Pulling out his knife, he cut off a length of the dead man’s shirt and quickly tied it around the wound on his leg. Glyph limped back to the wall and picked up the shotgun, then hobbled over to the body on the bank of the lake and gazed down at the raw hamburger that used to be the man’s face. Glyph let loose a cry of anguish, and struck him repeatedly in the side of his head with the butt of the shotgun until the skull cracked and brain seeped out like vanilla pudding. He dropped to the ground beside the man, panting and crying. After a moment, Glyph calmed down and removed the man’s hunting vest, and pulled it on over his own bloodstained shirt. Using the shotgun to push himself erect, Glyph wiped the sweat off his brow, and began to limp further down the trail.
He checked his watch. ‘Forty-one minutes. Damn.’ He thought.
As he rounded the far side of the lake he saw a stream flowing down from the large body of water, and followed it to a cliff where the water fell, cascading down about 20 feet. Getting away from the scene of the hunter’s murders became his sole focus, as shock took control of his mind. Glyph made his way down to the bottom of the waterfall and waded down the stream. The cold water felt good on his leg, and he could only hope that the water was masking his escape route. About a quarter mile down stream, Glyph stopped to rest. He removed his vest and placed it beside him. Then he took off the bloody rag he called a shirt, and began to try and clean it in the water. He scrubbed it over the rocks for nearly a minute, and wrung the rest of the water out. ‘It wasn’t a great job’, he thought as he slid back into the shirt, but at least it all felt the same now, very wet. He splashed some water onto his face in another attempt at ridding himself of the stench of dog gut caked in his hair and face. Glyph tried to ignore the throbbing pain in his leg and continued further along the stream. After about five minutes, he came across an old overgrown logging road and decided to follow it back up towards higher elevation. He made pretty good time considering his bum leg, and tried to put as much distance between him and the dead hunters as he possibly could.
Glyph started to search frantically for a place to stop and hide after half-limping, half-running up the old road for ten minutes. Just then, he saw another rock cliff through the trees. He left the road and pushed himself to the limit, knowing he was running out of time, fearing he may be discovered if his body wasn’t hidden well enough. Glyph got to the base of the cliff at the 58-minute mark, found a niche in the rock, crawled into it, and collapsed wheezing and gasping for air. The rock was cold and damp, but felt good against his aching body. He couldn’t move, his wounded leg burned with terrific pain, and he didn’t care. Glyph lay there for a minute, basking in the knowledge that he had made it, that he had survived, until the chiming of his wristwatch startled him. Then the wind came, the world around him turned into a vacuum, and light turned to darkness once again.