AN EXCERPT FROM 'PACK: THE THREE MOONS'

WEBSITE Pack The Three Moons

There’s werewolf stories and then there’s ‘Pack – The Three Moons.’

 

PACK is more of a way of life. A great adventure, an adrenaline rush from start to finish.

Not your pretty, teen heart throb movie werewolves. A story that will tear at you tooth and claw.

 

Who will lead and take on the PACK?

 

Pack – The Three Moons, is the first of a trilogy by author James B. Peartree. Where James has fashioned a new sub-genre he calls ‘Dysturban Fantasy.’

 

“Pack – The Three Moons It’s fantasy with bite!” Kensington Gore

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PACK - THE THREE MOONS

CHAPTER 1 THE CHILDREN RAN

 

It wouldn’t be night time for at least another thirty minutes or so, but the combination of a dark grey autumn sky and the dense forest canopy presented the illusion of a true darkness.

The faint echo of the hounds in their pursuit could be heard less than a mile from their location. Spurring on the older children, but causing the younger ones to produce tears of utter dread. The children ran faster, keeping a synchronised distance of no more than five yards between one another at any given time. It was almost as if they could sense the precise position of each other to the inch. Although barefooted, these kids were swifter than most adults and gaining speed it seemed with every passing minute.

At fourteen years old Ral was the eldest amongst them and did indeed possess the adolescence that accompanied his age. He would have much preferred to have hung back to take revenge on the hounds. The same hounds they’d witnessed tearing apart the singed and broken bodies of those children who’d failed to clear the electric fences in time. Even Ral had stopped dead in his tracks after glancing back down over his shoulder toward the compound. Initially, he was horrified by the scene until the fury inside him rose as he realised that some of the recaptured were still conscious throughout their demise. Ral knew that returning now was not an option, as someone had to lead the remaining children to safety. So, with a sickening regret that almost consumed him, Ral continued to run.

By the time darkness had actually fallen, the children had put a comfortable distance between themselves and their pursuers. Now in full flight, bounding from broken branch to forest floor with a deftness that barely left any sign of their movement, as the forest fell silent before them.

For the past two miles Ral had been carrying Chloe on his back like a rucksack. Surprisingly, at only seven years old, she’d been keeping up with them. However, she’d begun to fade, and Ral, sensing this, simply lifted her onto his back and forged ahead. After what they’d seen earlier, there’d be no way anyone would be left behind now, least of all his precious Chloe, for she was his guardian.

Before their escape, Chloe had followed Ral almost everywhere, occasionally to his annoyance although he never showed it. However, if anyone was so much as to breathe in her direction, you wouldn’t see Ral move before you heard the pain-laden screams of her aggressors, man or beast. But for the time being, she was comfortably snuggled into the warmth of the scarf around Ral’s neck, confident that there would be no other place in the whole world that could be any safer for her.

Ral may have been lean like the others but he was fast and strong, and so hardly felt the weight of the skinny kid clung to his back. In fact, the more he ran, the more the sinews of his limbs stretched, increasing his stride and speed. Chloe was now tucking her icy cold toes into the waistband in the small of Ral’s back, desperately trying to keep him focussed on the reason behind their flight. Although Ral was in no need of reminding he ran faster anyway. The children naturally increased their pace to match, regaining their formation in unison like a flock of starlings.

Approaching the edge of the forest the children slowed and closed their formation in behind Ral. At last, they’d reached the lake rumoured by previous unsuccessful escapees. These unfortunate children had explained how it was too wide and too cold to swim. At the time, Ral had believed they’d just backed out of the swim after dipping a toe, but now confronted by the same obstacle, he understood the enormity of it for the first time. Sure enough, the way the nearly full moon reflected off this vast expanse of water was breathtakingly beautiful, but to Ral, it still presented itself as an imposing obstacle.

 Ral was smart, though, and after scanning the water’s edge he’d come up with the perfect plan. After Ral had issued a few brief instructions, they all ran down to an area of water’s edge where three small wooden boats were moored up. Once untied, they towed two of the boats along the bank about half a mile to where the lake narrowed inland from the coast.

 Ral’s plan was to lash these two boats together. Then two of the older children could tow the boats with the ropes between their teeth, alternating with the other two older children, to prevent their limbs from freezing to the point of cramping. The younger ones were to sit in the boats, and paddle as best they could with the wooden panels Ral had stripped off the third boat, as there were no oars to hand. This was yet another critical detail Ral had been made aware of before their escape.

What Ral hadn’t mentioned to the others, was that it was his intention to be pursued across this expanse of water. For he was the only one amongst them who knew that this was no lake, and its name was, in fact, Orca Bay.

Ral and Lex, another of the older children, stripped down to take the first leg of towing. As they waded in, the cold autumn water enveloped them but they scarcely shivered. The adrenalin coursing through their bodies, generated by the noise of the distant hounds closing in, negated most of this natural reaction. Ral glanced back into the forest with a wry smile, before clamping the rope tightly between his teeth and pushing away from the bank.

The children swam and paddled in near silence as Ral had instructed, covering over three-quarters of their crossing by the time the hounds and their handlers had reached the bank. Just as Ral had predicted, the hounds darted straight into the bay. They had the scent of the children burning in their nostrils, and the taste of the ones they’d savaged earlier still fresh in their mouths. Their handlers hurriedly boarded the third boat, and using the butts of their rifles began to paddle out into the expanse of the inlet.

Ral, monitoring their progress, and realising that they themselves were now only fifty yards from the other side, issued his final instruction, which was to paddle and swim as loud as they possibly could. This was, as he was advised before escaping, to imitate the sound of a floundering sea animal.

It wasn’t much longer before the children were emerging from the water dragging the boats up onto the bank. They then scrambled up the slope to the tree line of the forest on the other side of the bay. There they sat all huddled around the four swimmers, who now drained of their last drop of adrenalin, were beginning to shake violently from the cold.

All eyes were now on the hounds and their masters approaching the midpoint of their crossing. All except Ral, who was scanning the entrance from the sea to the bay. Chloe curiously followed his gaze to the same area of water. She then gasped loudly in amazement, as the shiny backs and dorsal fins of a pod of seven killer whales pierced the surface of the water and glistened in the moonlight. The children watched in awe as the graceful orca slipped silently beneath the surface of the water, in the direction of the doomed hounds.

The orca didn’t resurface again until they were breaching with their prey clamped securely between their jaws. The hounds were simply mistaken for wounded seals in the moonlight. The sound of cracking bones and yelping barks that echoed across the water were intermingled with the thrashing noises from the whales’ bodies, effectively drowning those hounds that were wounded and still dying.

The wake of these majestic animals had now begun to swamp the gaps on the third boat left by the missing panels. Realising they were rapidly submerging, the trackers now gave up paddling the almost sunken boat and jumped into the icy water to swim back to the bank. However, the rampaging Orca, as if sensing the evil of these men, set about harassing the swimmers until they were too tired to swim anymore. Their gurgled screams reverberated around the bay until their waterlogged clothing dragged them beneath the surface of the water to their deaths.

Within a few minutes, a dark still beauty had returned to the ice cold water as the scent of the hounds’ blood drifted across the bay. There was no mistaking it, as all the children could distinguish it from anything else.

Ral watched intently with a snarl of dissatisfaction etched across his face. Chloe, observing him, then imitated his snarl in the same direction, although only Ral had just cause to feel dissatisfied. He’d witnessed far more than his younger charges whilst imprisoned at the compound, and for his part would probably never be completely sated. Not least until he’d returned to the compound once more, but for now they’d need to find somewhere to rest. Tomorrow, as they were all well aware, was a big day, and they would all need to eat.

The four elder children could already feel the anticipation of the following day's hunger, but they scarcely showed a glimmer of it to the younger ones, some of whom were still blissfully unaware of their own inherent nature.