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The Symbiont


 Alice turned her face towards us; her eyes seemed lifeless in the silver lit graveyard. Her tear streaked face was filthy from her having lain in the dirt. When she made no move to stand, Perdy nodded her head at me, indicating I should help her. With us on either side, we gently took Alice's arms and compelled her to stand. Her legs were wobbly and we supported her as her knees almost buckled. As I glanced at Kipp, something happened that was the most terrifying moment in my life. His body stiffened and, with extreme slowness, his head turned to stare past us into the dense woods; his hair began to rise along his spine and his whole posture became rigid. His mind became filled with fear, not for himself, but for us. It was but a moment later I discerned the source as familiar tangled thoughts entered my mind: our nemesis had returned and was rapidly approaching. Perdy glanced at my pale face and then at Kipp—her intuitiveness served her well. "Alice, we need to go now," she said urgently. When Alice did not respond, Perdy gave her a sharp slap across her face. "Alice, now!" The slap seemed to waken Alice from her depressive slumber and she began to stumble along, with us on either side, prodding, supporting, and pushing her. "Kipp, come!" I called out as he took up a defensive position behind us. The malevolent thoughts of our hidden pursuer became clearer to me, indicating he was drawing close. Oh, yes, he intended to kill us all if he could. We exited the graveyard and were trying to run but found ourselves held back by Alice who was stumbling and staggering. Perdy kept up her encouraging words, holding Alice's arm with one hand and her axe with the other. I was on the other side, trying to keep moving while also watching out for Kipp, who was about ten yards behind us. He would run a few feet and then whirl to face the unseen one, crouching to bark savagely in an attempt to deter him. It was not working, however, and after a few moments, Kipp would turn and draw closer to us again, before making his defensive display in the face of our enemy. This was not going well, and based upon the increasing intensity of his thoughts, I knew he would reach us before we could get to the stockade. "Perdy, give me your axe," I demanded. She started to refuse but we had no time to argue. I took it from her hand and pushed her shoulder hard. "Go, keep going, get back home and send help." With that I retreated a few steps to join Kipp, who once again was engaged in frenzied barking, his ruff coated with foam. Calling out into the dark, I cried, "If you come any closer, I will defend myself!" I could read momentary uncertainty in his mind and then something else: he really did not want me—he wanted to get to Perdy and Alice. We could not hear his forward progression through the brush for a moment, before Kipp realized he had begun a slow circle around us. We adjusted our position, to once again place ourselves between him and the fleeing women. I could feel his rage at being thus thwarted, but he still did not want us. His thoughts were swirling, and the divergent voices within gave him a moment of uncertainty. But then we heard him began to rush forward, having apparently decided to rid himself of the annoying beings who stood between him and his prey.  

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