Grass slapped at my heels. The dog’s breathing was louder now, the growl growing behind me. Fear powered my movements. Fear of its doggy breath. Fear of its unwagging doggy tail. Of its doggy gnashing teeth.
Jeffery was up ahead. He had already reached the safety of the trees and was looking back. He wasn’t afraid. He wasn’t calling to me to run faster or scrambling back down the embankment to save me. He was watching.
The sword at my hip was slapping against my bare shins and calves and getting tangled in my legs. As I clambered to the top of next mound I pulled it loose and hurled it back at the dog. It struck him flat on the nose and he slipped back down the hill. I kicked and hurled stones and then slid down the other side. There was nothing between me and the grove now only a stretch of grass then the embankment with Jeffery and safety at the top. Two steps into the grass I caught my foot in a rabbit hole and fell. Hard. The dog’s breathing was back I twisted around trying to get to my feet but my belt caught on a little log and it tangled with me. I struggled to slip out, the breathing continued to get louder and louder. That sick wet sound of the tiger-patterned dog licking its chops. That smell of sour meat.
I looked up at the beast. It had stopped at the edge of the grass but wasn’t paying attention to me; instead its bulky head had swivelled up to look at Jeffery on the wizard’s rock. Jeffery was waving his left hand in magic movements. He gripped his axe loosely in his right hand and tapped it lightly against his leg. The wind picked up and the grass shook and rattled and slapped the dog with its brittle stalks till the beast stopped watching Jeffery and turned away.
After that Jeffery invited me to play his special games. After that we stopped playing castles and knights.