Sisyphus, Part Five
The critter sniffs the air. Pavlov’s seen this type before. Vaguely reptilian, but nearly mammalian with the hair and snout. Pavlov is frozen. The tail swipes back and forth. Sweat beads on Pavlov’s forehead. His rifle is in his hands. Bringing it to his shoulder will alert it. These ones are fast. Pavlov has seen them rip out a man’s throat in a single lunge. Those claws are nothing to mess with. Neither are the teeth. Ugly barbed cutlasses of bone. Long as a man’s finger. Beady little eyes. Feral intelligence. Pavlov wants to shake his head to snap out of his reverie, but he knows that they only see movement. But what do they smell? The critter moves forward with a quiet pattering of feet. The frill on its spine flattens momentarily, then pops up. Pavlov’s toes involuntarily curl, grasping worn-out socks in a not-quite-prehensile grip. He grits his teeth. He goes for the safety on his rifle. The snick is quiet. But not quiet enough. The critter bolts upright. It ululates and shakes. It’s hungry. For Pavlov.