He struggled to breathe, to breathe just one more inhalation into his ragged lungs. The freezing rocky earth clawed at his shins, and the mist clung to him. His chest heaved. Alone, he thought between gasps. It resounded in his skull.
Little footsteps were pattering closer and closer. She was coming.
"You don't have to be alone." She said, "you can come home and meet my mother. And you can meet my puppy Speckles." She stopped abruptly. "You don't mind puppies, do you?" And then she laughed. "Of course you do! Everybody likes puppies!"
A bizarre smile came over his face at her innocence, in between gasps. How lucky she was to never know what it felt like to be hated, hunted, and reviled. How lucky to have a mother. A puppy.
Her footsteps grew ever nearer, and he panicked, he could feel the change starting. He should have been more careful, being out on a night like this.
"Stay away!" He rasped, heaving. She must not come near.
"Don't come any closer! Go home to your mother and Speckles!" He screamed. "Go home! GO HOME!" She must not see him. She must not touch him again, or she would be lost.
But still, she advanced.
"It's alright." She whispered. "I'm not afraid." But her voice trembled.
Could she see what he was becoming? Did she realize what he was?
She extended her hand.