The time it almost ended.

His heart thundered throughout his body as he rushed through a well-used wallow, hoping the scents of others might slow the hounds. He could already hear them rushing through the underbrush, snapping twigs and stamping leaves, their barks and snarls screaming reminders of sharp teeth coming nearer.

A thin branch, just large enough to support his weight, ran above the wallow, and, if he moved quickly, it would allow him to get to higher ground and escape. Impelled by the nearness of freedom, he doubled his pace, his muscles barely hinting at the debt he would pay later. He had nearly reached the top.

Crack!

The branch gave way. Fear took complete hold of him as he stretched out, only half of his body catching the high ground. The force of his chest meeting earth knocked the wind from him and he panicked as he began to slip, only his forelegs grasping safety.

Now he heard the hounds with complete clarity as they reached the wallow. They jumped on their hind legs and howled, letting their master know they had their prey.

Boom!

Pain enveloped his body. His eyes slammed shut and he felt like he was falling. He saw himself torn apart by the hounds. He saw the hunter holding him by his tail and carrying his lifeless body away. He opened his eyes, realizing he was still alive. The pain became more localized and he realized he had been shot in the ear. He could still escape!

He dug in with his hind legs and made it up. He never looked back as he scurried away to his hole, as he knew the hounds would not be able to follow. Still, it humbled him how close to death he had come. 

The End

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