No. Oh, nonono.
He skitters to a stop just before plummeting into a chasm hidden by dense pines. Rocks and leaves leap down the side and into oblivion. He listens for them to hit bottom, but all he hears is the baying of hounds closing the distance.
His eyes trace the ragged edge of the landscape for a crossing. There’s none—but in a stroke of good luck, he realizes he’s standing at the narrowest point of the gorge.
A sharp howl pierces the moonless night. His rubbery legs jolt into motion, churning backwards toward the forest. His brain screams at him to stop, to find another way, but lacking a better suggestion, it’s overruled by adrenaline.
He crouches next to a dead birch for the second it takes to fill his lungs with what might very well be his last breath. Then he bunches up and heaves forward.
The frozen ground hits back as he pounds across it full tilt.
He drops his eyes to a point on the near horizon like an anchor and secures his will there.
He waits to jump until his toes dip over the rim. Then he launches through the air with the grace of a cannonball: smooth and heavy, soaring and weightless. The icy wind slaps the breath out of him, but he doesn’t care. He’s almost there. He’s going to make it.
That’s when the teeth close on his ankle.
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