By Astrid Cherry
Copyright 2012 Astrid Cherry
Justin had gone running in the woods every Sunday since coming to Oregon for the summer, but this afternoon was just too hot. Even walking was enough to make the sweat run down his back, his neck, and his smooth muscled chest. He was in peak condition, his runner’s body lean, his every muscle defined. It felt great to run, natural even, but today walking was enough. His sandy hair was damp, and he ran his fingers through it, pushing it back.
He thought he saw something move, between the trees, out of the corner of his eye, and stopped. There was nothing there, or if there was, it was gone now. For the last few weeks he thought he had seen something, sometimes seeming to following along with him at a distance, sometimes seeming to cross in front of him, threading through the underbrush and vanishing right as he managed to focus on it. At first he’d thought it might be a deer, but they would run away, he knew. But then he gradually realized it was lower to the ground than that, whatever it was. He had tried to convince himself that it wasn’t real, that he might have seen something once or twice, and now only thought he saw it because he was expecting to.
Of course, he’d asked around. Justin was a city boy, raised in Columbus, Ohio. So what could it be? His uncle and his cousin hadn’t laughed at him, but didn’t seem too interested, either. Justin felt foolish even asking. Were there bears here? Probably not. And they’d steer clear of him, unless it was a mother with her cub. What else could it be? A coyote? Maybe, but the thing he kept seeing was darker. A wolf?