The blood trail was getting fainter. The thing was bleeding heavily, but the snow was covering the blood, and Billy wasn’t gaining on it. He could still see the tracks, but following them at night was getting harder. His hands were getting numb.
When he caught up to it, the thing was eating a deer. Billy hoped that it was the same deer that had jumped out in front of the truck. He had barely enough time for that as he aimed. The thing looked up with him with red, dark eyes. It’d had already eaten at least half of the deer, stained fangs in the dark, and it was huge. Billy pulled the trigger.
The thing darted to the side, almost too fast to follow, and the gun was gone before Billy had time to realize what was happening. Two of his fingers went with the gun and he felt the claws in his neck as it grabbed him.
It lifted him easily off in the ground and brought him in close, opening its jaws wide. Live food was the best food. Billy jammed was left of his fingers into its mouth, spraying warm blood down its throat. It gagged and tossed him away.
Billy landed in the snow and backed himself up to a tree. He pulled the knife out of his belt and looked at the thing. It gave him a long, low growl, and watched him. Wary now.
The thing tilted its head and looked at him. A dropped back and gave a long howl. Billy felt it in his guts. He shivered, not from the cold. He heard the echo of the howl, and then a chorus of howls in response. The thing looked at him one more time and then disappeared into the storm.