Another drop in the “just do it” bucket. At least I’m getting back in the habit.
I moved farther into the cavern, following what I guessed would have been the path, had its meager existence not vanished a dozen steps ago, drawing ever closer to the trees. Still, the feelings of anxiety and fear did not return, and I chastised myself for my earlier foolishness, as the air continued to brighten around me.
I was caught up short as one of the birds I had thus far seen only high aloft swept across my vision, landing just off to my left. Startled, I tried to catch a glimpse of it before it vanished again into the air, beyond my sight.
Eyes widening, I found myself looking at a vulture-sized creature that could be considered a bird only in the sense that I had seen it fly.
Its long, unfeathered neck had the appearance of raw chicken skin, and was topped by a serpent’s head, though with eyes moved forward and closer together. It’s leathery, bat-like wings flapped a few times, before settling alongside its body. Its wingspan was easily five feet, and the idea that such wings could carry the naked, turkey-like body into the air, looking for prey onto which to launch itself, was frightening.
Its two feet were unlike any mammal I had ever seen, either. Four front-facing claws ended in claws easily three inches long, with a fifth claw set to the outside half of the rear of the beast. In its clutches I could see a mass of fur, roughly the size of a rabbit. This was the first sign I had seen of life on the ground, though I didn’t look too long, as the creature began to rend the flesh from its prey and its snakelike head began to bob into the open wounds, coming up with a bloody snout, and I watched a lump move down the length of its neck.
I moved farther down my chosen path, keeping one eye on the creature until it was out of sight in the grass, and another to the skies, wondering if a larger, likewise-minded creature might see me as its next meal.