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Shot

We shouldn’t have stopped. We were walking along, edging through this unpleasant land, and I know we shouldn’t have stopped.

We’d already made the decision to stop for no man. This, however, was an animal, and I don’t know why, but we felt moved to investigate. The dirt path held some measure of righteousness, straight and clean, through the innocent-looking grass moorland, and maybe it was our straying from the path which did it.

We were edging along the path, terrified but gaining courage from the shotgun I held before me; my colleague edging along behind me. At first it looked as if a man was approaching in the distance, but we were frightened because he seemed to be approaching about ten feet to the right of the path. What kind of man strays from the path in a place like this?

As it drew nearer, we realised it was animal. Oh, if it had been human! It was a curious goat-like creature, but raised up on its hind legs, and walking along as if sleepwalking. As it drew nearer, I gained the feeling from somewhere that it was OK, that it was trustworthy. “It’s OK,” I remember saying.

The goat-thing came towards us. It liked me, coming up to me and standing too close to me in that way in which animals will. This close up, I thought it looked more like a wise old man, in the face, than a goat. It moved around me, occasionally coming between my companion and myself, but it seemed benevolent. I tried to relax, and work out what we could learn from this creature.

I looked around. There were no other such animals in view, despite being able to see far and wide, except where the ridge ahead restricted our view. We were closer to the ridge than I had realised, and craning my neck upwards, I could look at the dark old shed-like construction atop this ridge. It was not a pretty sight, and it filled me with a tangible kind of fear.

The goat-thing was by my right side, and it seemed it had been looking at the building on the ridge too. “Blehh!” it suddenly bleated, raising a front leg to point at the building. I turned back to look, and saw a dark object moving in the one window which was visible. Instinctively, I raised my shotgun, and fired a single shot.

It was all that was needed. Time slowed down as I saw the shot flying towards its target, and as the shot flew the sickening realisation dawned on me. Whatever was in that shed was innocent, not a horror of my imagination; a terrible, terrible thing was about to happen. The goat-thing was the real evil presence. I turned, only too glad to look away from the scene of my fatal error, but it was too late. The goat-thing was kneeling on my compatriot’s stomach, had covered him in some sort of slime, and was already ripping his innards out with its teeth.

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