The sky is a perfect blue, the kind of blue everyone hopes for when they wake up on the first day of Spring. Puffy white clouds laze about but have the common decency to stay out of the sun’s way. Somewhere in the distance a bird chirps, the happy titter carried by a warm gentle breeze. The grass under paw is soft and springy and gives off an earthy scent as we traverse through it, running for our lives.
“This. Is. Your. Fault!” The words come out as panicked gasps. My lungs barely have the strength to push them out, let alone draw in breath. I glare at Jimmy who is running right next to me.
“It just kept growing!” The ram besides me is in a lot better shape and a lot less winded, but the signs of fatigue are starting to show.
“That’s. What. Bulettes. DO!” I shout back. A low rumble behind us helps the point stick. Bulettes—or the fucked-up cross between a snapping turtle and shark—burrow underground like few things can. They also have a nasty habit of springing up from below, snapping up their prey whole. Which is what the one behind us will most likely do if we slow down. “Why. Did you. Have. One. Anyways?!”
“I’ll have you know it was a gift from my Nana.” He says that like it explains everything.
“You. Sure. Your Nana. Isn’t. Trying. To kill. You?” I can’t feel my legs and snot flies out of my nose with each attempted breath.
“Ha! Who hasn’t my Nana tried to kill?” Jimmy laughs. That’s why I like him, he always keeps his sense of humor, even in the face of gruesome, painful, bone-grinding death. “Do you know what you’re doing by the way?”
I have no fucking clue.
“I’m only asking because we’re heading for that cliff over there.”
Shit. I didn’t even see that. Hmm…that gives me an idea though.
“‘Bout sixty feet or so, if I remember correctly.”
“Race. You. There.” Not that it would be much of a race; Jimmy’s worn out and yet he could still run circles around me.
“You’re the monster hunter.” He begins to pull ahead.
I brave a look behind only to see the idyllic expanse of the plains behind us. Butterflies and bees go about their routine amongst the wildflowers, unaware of the monster that lurks below the surface. A leyline of sunken grass runs from a few feet behind me to where Jimmy’s farmhouse is. Or was; the bulette made quick work of its foundation. But that line keeps coming for me, the grass sinking down just a few inches.
If I can just reach the edge of that cliff I should be able to trick the beast into going just a few feet further, burrowing out into open air and a fifty foot drop. Even with its armor it won’t be able to withstand that fall.
Jimmy now has a significant lead, reaching the cliff edge a good twenty seconds before me. He turns to me and does a sort of anxious dance. “Whatever you’re going to do I hope you do it soonohgodsBowlookout!”
The rumble turns into a roar as the bulette leaps out of earth behind me. I turn just enough to see the blue-gray sheen of its armored head and the black hole that is its enormous mouth. Bulettes don’t have teeth; you don’t really need teeth when one bite can turn brick into dust.
I don’t stop to think—not like I can. Locking eyes with Jimmy for a split second I lower my shoulder and say a quick prayer. The ram realizes what I’m about to do and tries to sidestep but it’s too late. I catch him in his midrif and we both sail over the edge, bulette in tow.
If I’m gonna die, it’s gonna be on my terms.
And if Jimmy’s gonna die, well, it’s also gonna be on my terms as well, apparently.
There’s a startled yawp! behind us. Ha! Take that you fucker. Twisting away from Jimmy I get a glimpse of a bulette that’s very much out of its element. It twists and pirouettes like a ballet dancer wearing full plate armor. It would be quite comical, actually, if we all weren’t plummeting to our doom. Poor Jimmy has even got the ‘free-fall scream’ going.
But something odd happens: the bulette stops moving. It lingers, suspended in the air, beady eyes looking almost thoughtful. Then, in one sprung motion, it rights itself like a cat and streamlines its body with its momentum. The momentum that’s carrying it straight to…the…other…side…
Jimmy’s scream is joined by a solid thud as the bulette dives safely into the cliff side like a hot knife into hotter butter. And before I have a very fast and very hard affair with the ground, I voice one more thought:
“Oh you mother fu—”