There was another growl. Joe could make out movement in front of him that wasn’t the creature. He opened his eyes just as one of Hel’s hounds launched itself at the creature’s neck. It latched on with its canine and began to wiggle its body violently to cut off the creature’s air supply. It reminded Joe of lions when they latch on to the neck of their prey in the wildlife documentaries he’d watched growing up.
The wolf creature stood up on its back legs and grabbed at the hound with its sharp claws. Blood was oozing from the wound in its neck but still, it kept on pulling at the hound in an attempt to yank it off its throat.
Beside him, he noticed Hades was finishing off the first beast that had attacked.
Joe pulled himself off the floor just as the other wolf creature managed to prize the hound off its throat. He held the hound in its hand-like front paws and threw the dog to the ground. The dog yelped as he hit the ground at a funny angle. Then he moved no more.
The beast turned his attention back to Joe.
The wolf creature lunged at Joe, its giant mouth, covered in bright red blood, gaping open.
Joe stood frozen to the spot. He was going to die. He knew he was going to die. Of that, he was completely certain. There was no way on earth that he could fend off that beast.
It’s not true, thought Joe, as time seemed to stand still, you don’t see your life flashing before your eyes just before death. Well, he didn’t anyway. He felt nothing. Nothing at all.
That was a lie.
He felt something, just not what you are told you will feel, or what you would expect.
He felt relief.
No more Shitdad.
No more beatings.
No more Lola.
What would she do? He couldn’t leave her. He knew that she was safe with the Crows back at the funeral home but how long would that last? She’d be sent to a dog’s home. And then what?
No. He couldn’t do that. He had to fight, but how?
He turned around, fully aware that the beast was only inches from him. With a strength he never knew he had, he ripped a large branch from the tree behind him. It snapped with a loud crack. He pulled it free and turned sharply just as the wolf creature reached him. He swung the branch and it connected with the creature’s head.
The wolf staggered sideways, stunned.
A feeling stirred in Joe. A feeling that surprised even him, in the heat of the battle. He wanted to live. He needed to live.