We sat in a circle, silent, waiting for darkness to creep upon us. The brush around us was still. Gone were the bright flutters and cheerful chirps of the daytime fauna. The prairie, like us, waited unmoving for the rumbling fury of the night to emerge.
“They’ll find us,” I said, trying to reassure everyone.
“With their pointed noses and sharp teeth,” the woman next to me laughed bitterly. Her whole frame shook with fear and her eyes darted about looking for the first sign of trouble.
“I’ve never met a ranger with a pointed nose,” I quipped, but my joke fell flat.
“Quiet, please,” Our injured guide moaned. “I want to die in peace.” His smashed legs leaked dark fluid that absorbed into the mat of dead grasses.
“Then you’d better get a move on,” my brother said, clutching a pocket knife to his chest. “It’s going to be night soon.”
And then there would be no peace.
There might have been a chance for the rest of us, had someone else known the way back to the fort. But the guide was the only one who had a clue where we were and his blood would lead them straight to us.
These were the last moments of peace before we died, screaming.
The ground beneath us rumbled lightly.
“They’re awake!” My brother hissed. His thin shoulders heaved up and down in time with his ragged breaths.
“They never sleep,” the woman next to me said. She was no longer shaking, but her eyes had grown huge. “They wait and wander through their warrens, wanting…no longing for living flesh to consume.”
“Look there!” Exclaimed half of a couple who’d spent this whole time clutching each other. His finger pointed to the ground in the center of our circle. A cone of grey mist grew steadily up out of the ground…..