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Contents Copyright by Bruce Durham unless noted otherwise
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A figure appeared.  Belaam determined it was female.  The cattle halted mid-stride, her eyes wide with a shock that descended swiftly into fear.  Belaam smelt the fear, and even though it heightened her hunger, she paused, sensing a difference.  Instead of heavy furs, this female was clad in unusual clothing of a type completely unfamiliar.  She sniffed.  The garments had come from no animal, possessing an odor impossible to place.

 

The female cattle screamed, breaking the spell, and retreated into the building, shouting.  Belaam growled and bunched her legs, lunging forward and striking the door before it closed, grunting with surprise at its extremely hard surface.  The door flew open, striking the interior wall with a resounding clang.  The female cattle screamed again as she was thrown from the impact to slide across the floor.

 

An equally startled Belaam stumbled into the dwelling and landed hard on her stomach, drawing a shocked grunt.  Instinctively rolling to her feet, she briefly absorbed her surroundings, realizing they were unlike anything she had encountered before.  But that was something to ponder later.

 

Movement and voices arose from someplace deep within the building.  The female cattle splayed on the floor continued to shout and scream while backing away like some frenzied crab.  Belaam bared her teeth and loped forward.  Stopping before her quarry, Belaam spared a moment to relish the sheer terror emanating from the female.  But when the voices grew louder, she grunted in resignation as her clawed hand lunged out to sweep across the human’s exposed throat, sending the female into a gurgling paroxysm of death.

 

Rounding a corner, Belaam entered a long corridor and spotted two more cattle several strides away.  They were male, and dressed similarly to the dead female.  They had stopped at her appearance, and stood rooted in place.  Suddenly one spoke and both turned, running.

 

Belaam grunted and followed, catching both in three long strides.  A powerful sweep from her clawed hand near decapitated one of them, his blood flying in great spurts against the walls, across the ceiling and along the floor.  The second she grabbed by the crown of the head, hoisting him off the ground to face her at eye level.  The man’s terror was exquisite, and her long, raspy tongue swept across long serrated teeth.  Taking her other hand, she slowly twisted the head completely around, relishing the sound of cracking bones.  She let the body drop.

 

Three meals now, she thought.  However, she sensed one more.  Prowling along the corridor, Belaam came to a strange door that was part metal and part open.  She reached out.  

The Saglek Incident
Excerpt
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