In the mid 80s, my father, Ted Barton wrote an original new take on the classic werewolf story. It was called The Path. He ran through the typical gauntlet of publisher inquiries and got the typical rejections. Just like today, literary agents and publishers are looking primarily for already established writers — this cuts down on their marketing costs and the gambling risks of taking on new talent.
Unfortunately, the age of self-publication had not taken shape yet. So The Path has remained locked away in a box ever since, gathering dust.
My father and I are teaming up, revamping the work and will be publishing it by the end of the year! (Insert trumpet blaring and confetti parades here!)
We will be amending the title, but for now here is the first sampling of our book. Hope you enjoy it!
CHAPTER ONE – DZHANKAH:
The Prey was running!
Dzhankah liked it when they ran because it was… entertaining. He had no sense of humor, but it did appeal to his sense of cruelty. It was as close to playing a game as a creature devoid of normal human disposition could approach. Watching his prey stumble clumsily before him, squeaking and mewling in terror gave him immense pleasure.
Sometimes upon first sight of him the timid animals would lock up. Their eyes would roll up white in their sockets and their bladders would let go, leaving dark puddles in the powdery earth at their feet. He would make a big show of his attack, snarling viciously and frothing at the mouth as he reared up and advanced upon them. If he were in a benevolent mood, he would end it quickly by severing their head or ripping out a vital organ. This was not as enjoyable as playing it out, nip by slash, until life ebbed from the quivering remains.
Best of all was when his victims ran.
And this one ran well – almost fast enough to get away.
But not quite…
When Dzhankah first revealed himself, the Meat froze and stared with little apparent fear. This one was either too stupid or too drunk to believe his eyes. Or perhaps he’d seen things before – events or atrocities that had hardened him to the world. After all, the few kills of these two-legged Meats that Dzhankah had experienced had all been of the local, domestic variety.
This, however, was a wild one.
Dzhankah guessed this as evidenced by the Prey’s appearance and from the fact that he had camped in the clearing next to the field rather than in one of their smelly, wooden caves.
If only I had been on the Hunt last night, I would have slept with a full belly.
This Prey still would be easy to kill, but deserved a little more respect. Dzhankah would chase him down and dispatch him immediately.
When the Meat bolted at last, he fled quickly and with purpose. He didn’t look back, kept his head down and concentrated every effort into making his legs carry him as fast as possible toward the clearing where he had camped.
Dzhankah was curious. What did the Meat expect to profit by gaining the clearing? Could he want more room to defend himself? Perhaps he has hidden some sort of weapon back at his campsite?
Never before had one tried to defend himself! Dzhankah found the prospect enticing and brought a surge of excitement to his heart.
The Beast then decided to leap over a few rows and sprint ahead to check out the clearing. There he would either wait for the Meat to come blundering into him or he would come back to the chase within the corn.
Bursting into the clearing, he cast his eyes over the campsite, searching for anything that might be used against him. He thrust his muzzle to the ground, sniffing everything in sight – the bed of embers in the campfire, the bundle of rags the Meat carried with him, the nest of cornstalks piled near the base of the tree…
The wild one wasn’t running for a weapon, but fleeing towards the only possible avenue of escape.
Clever, clever! He thought to himself, slightly disappointed over the missed opportunity for a fight.
Oh yes, the Meat has been around all right. Had seen things… and somehow knows I can’t climb trees!
On cue, his quarry exploded from the cornfield and without breaking stride, leaped over Dzhankah’s head and grasped a low-hanging branch. With a grunt, the Prey began pulling himself up into the tree, his legs pinwheeling in the air.
Before he swung his upper torso into the crotch of a branch, Dzhankah lunged and clamped his teeth down hard upon his left foot. A shriek of agony sliced through the air as the ankle bones crunched into a bloody pulp within his powerful jaws.
The Meat kicked and stomped frantically at his tormentor’s face, but Dzhankah, ignored the blows, closed his eyes… and slowly pulled.
More of the novel will be forthcoming. Please let us know what you think so far. Reviews, suggestions or comments are always welcome!