Note: This is an excerpt from something I wrote in the autumn of 2008. I did re-write it just a little bit, but the whole manuscript needs to be gone over 10-12 times. I'm looking to break some bad habits more than anything. I might want to get some glasses before I start that, and I wouldn't mind some decent cover art for a change.
Tom wandered in the desert for what seemed like eternity. Having made the decision, it wasn't easy to change his mind and go back. To admit that he might have been wrong. And he wasn’t sure he was wrong; it was probably just random bad luck. Hot sand dragged at his feet, the heat of the suns searing at the exposed side of his neck. His legs felt heavy already, and he’d only been going a couple of hours.
“Rahr, rahr, grrrrrr…” it wasn't a happy greeting.
He could see and hear and deduce that much. The irrational thought, 'I wonder how long he’s been doing that…' hit him.
An ugly black beast confronted him, spines rising up in a ring about its neck. Slavering jaws, white with teeth, gnashed and growled viciously.
The icy hand of fear clutched at his chest, making it hard to breathe. Not for the first time he marveled just how out of shape he’d become, quite unsuspected. He’d always considered himself something of a jock. Stock still, Tom’s guts quivered inside. The animal bowed its head down low, staring at Tom’s form, and it growled deep in the throat. Its dark and indeterminate hulk, sodden from the morning’s dewfall, lurked there with its backside glued to a cluster of boulders. The beast had four legs, a predator protecting a recent kill.
He saw the thing's dinner laying there all bloody.
Tom backed up in haste, risking a glance rearward to ensure he didn’t go sprawling over a dead tree or a cluster of shrubs, a boulder or just a hole. The thing growled again. It stayed where it was, so he kept going. A certain light nausea could be felt down in the guts. Deep, cold breaths of air seemed to help.
“Holy, Jesus!” he said, wanting to talk to it, to somehow reassure the thing that he wasn’t a threat.
Whatever it was, it was easily big enough to eat him! He stared, as it bared fifty or seventy-five millimetre canines, big, flat, chisel-like incisors showing the creature was totally omnivorous. He risked turning his back, and strode away down the trail, turning from time to time to see if it was stalking him. He jumped over tangles of dried, fallen creepers and prayed not to trip on anything. Tom paused to catch his breath, heart pounding. All was quiet again.
That was a very close call.