Something large and black floated on the breeze about the size of a newspaper. Brad first believed he’d seen a kite. That meant that someone had to have launched it, but a glance in any direction revealed no on else in the area. It came closer.
Against the wind?
He began to walk closer to meet the object, soon realising he looked at a butterfly. Stopping in front of the over sized wonder, he felt compelled to stretch out his arm. In the final few flaps, it came to rest on his limb. He studied the creature as it slowly opened its wings all the way and closed again. Lines of brilliant red showed throughout the wings like great capillaries. It reminded him of another creature; but what? Then it came to him.
A red backed spider!
His eyes widened as he witnessed it sink its fangs into his forearm. He yelped, flapping wildly, as if on fire. The butterfly dislodged itself and continued its fight against the wind. A burning sensation raced up his arm. Venom flowed in his veins. It began to burn his upper torso and work its way down. His heart hammered in his chest as panic took hold, then the worst thing imaginable happened; his legs folded.
He couldn’t control his fall; not even to angle his body. The ground met with the side of his head like a sponge, giving him a compulsory view of the creek. In paralysed repose, he looked ahead, having no control over his body except to roll his eyes in either direction.
Ben meowed and nudged his arm as he leapt over him, ambling ahead, totally oblivious to Brad’s plight.
Grass rustled again. Not close this time. Triangular heads broke from the undergrowth, just the other side of the creek. Brown rats, the size of small dogs, angled their heads just above the foliage. Their noses quivered, detecting scents on the breeze. Without warning, they broke from cover and crossed the creek at terrifying speed.
Brad swallowed, praying that the rodents might mercifully end his life swiftly.
They snatched up Ben like an empty bottle in the surf without slowing, and turned back the way they came. A single tear trickled from Brad’s eye as his pet and closest friend dangled between them, kicking feebly.
The rats disappeared amongst the foliage. Moments later, their heads broke from the scrub and sniffed again.
Oh, Lord no!
They sped off, covering the ground swiftly. Brad couldn’t decide whether he wanted to close his eyes or not. Did he really want to watch these things eat him alive?
Lacking the physical capability to even shout loudly to ward them off, he rolled his eye aloft as the rat in the lead bounded. Brad took in its brown underbelly, and red stained chisel teeth… but only for the briefest of moments. A white and pale grey blur crossed the air to meet with the rodent. It moved so fast, that he couldn’t see it in any detail. Its fore limb, snapped out quicker than a tensed rubber band.
Brad watched the rat roll aside on the ground; dead. Splayed red lines showed in its side that could only have been inflicted with claws. As the pack retreated, the new threat bounded among them, slashing twice, and killing two more. The creature leapt after the trailing rat. It crouched and swatted the rodent flat against the earth, then lowered its head, forcing Brad to grimace as he heard the sickening crack of bone.