Running from something terrifying and awesome. Something gargantuan, twice the size of any mortal man. Huge, earthquake steps shatter the earth beneath me. Massive panting heats the back of my neck. I can feel the teeth grazing my ankles, taste the anger and want in its musk. I push myself further. At first I am merely afraid but as I lose my breath and the sweat burns my eyes I realize this is so much more than fear. I am no longer scared of the monster behind me but of something more abstract, something darker than the evil pursuing me. Panic courses through my veins and I cry. The breath leaves my body completely and I gasp as the leaves whip at my face. I am terrified of the part of me that wants to surrender. I try to push it away but I am not strong enough. The tears blind me as I trip. My body is frail, weak. My mind is destroyed. My heart is in tatters. My face and arms are torn from the fight, and my hands are bleeding. I curl into myself and hope the monster doesn't see me, that it passes over me without noticing a whimpering baby waiting for destruction.

The air is silent save the hoarse rattle of the monster's breath. I can feel it pressing powerfully on my forearms. I dare not look to see a pair of hateful eyes, watch the teeth hover above me. Waiting for the meal. Tears burn trails down my cheeks. Fingernails bloody from scratching at skin too tight to hold my emotion, feet bruised and battered from the effort of getting this far only to fail. But though I knew I would fail, I'm glad that I will die alone. My death will only be a guess. None will find me here.

When the finishing blow does not come, I carefully lift a forearm from my face and observe my surroundings.

Alone. Nothing. There are the footprints bigger than I; the broken and twisted trees from our chase. I still hear the monster's evil panting, but the mournful eyes no longer stare me down and wish for my death. I hold my breath. Silence. Then: a faint whimpering, coming from the base of my throat. I wipe the tears away from my eyes. Great, awful claws swing toward my face and I jump back. My heart is in my throat, or somewhere in my stomach. I look at my hands. Black pads torn and bleeding meet my gaze. Tufts of fur stick raggedly from between them. Dirty claws emerge from between the tufts. I follow the dark fur up my arm. Across my chest is a tan stripe. Down my legs. Massive feet. I fit one into the tracks that surround me. Then it occurs to me.

I am the monster. The thing I am afraid of I will never outrun till the day I die. The hate that courses within my veins for the monster will never be released but will always consume its master. This is the fate I have been given.

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