Here is the first part of my book, Midnight Reflections
Lyle Brooks liked jogging late at night when everyone else was home watching TV or getting ready for bed. It was so much quieter than during the day and he found it peaceful. Tonight, the only sound to break the silence was the rhythmic noise of his feet pounding on the stone path. The air seemed fresher, crisper in the darkness, and it always relaxed him. Even after the most stressful of days, jogging still managed to clear his head and let him breathe. He was jogging through the park near his home and so far, he had passed only two other people on the outer trail. It was during the week, so the park was fairly empty, exactly the way he liked it. His friends always warned him that it was dangerous, but he was a large man and he carried his cell phone, so he felt safe. Nothing had ever happened.
Lyle smiled as he jogged, still feeling the euphoric buzz of being responsible for winning a new soft drink advertising campaign for his company. If it had been Friday night and not Wednesday, he would have been enjoying many celebratory drinks at Logan’s Grill, but it was still the middle of the week so he settled for a run. He was surprised that the park wasn’t more crowded because it was a beautiful night. The sky was so perfectly clear that in areas where there weren’t as many streetlights, the stars and constellations were bright and shining. Lyle glanced up as he entered a darkened part of the park and grinned when he remembered his old astronomy lessons and found the Big Dipper and Orion. “This has been a good day,” Lyle said softly to himself.
Jogging near a grouping of trees, Lyle heard a slight rustling of the leaves just off the path. Slowing slightly, he listened more carefully but didn’t hear anything. “Squirrels,” he muttered and picked his pace back up.
He was just passing the trees, when the sound came again, louder and closer. His curiosity overruling everything else, Lyle stopped and moved closer to the growth surrounding the trees to take a look. As Lyle bent down to push a low branch aside, something large and gray leapt out of the brush and knocked him to the ground. Searing pain erupted in his side and shoulder and the first thought that came to his mind was that he had been stabbed. Then his vision cleared and he saw that it wasn’t a person on top of him and it wasn’t a knife piercing his side. It was claws.
The creature was very large and slightly resembled a wolf, but the image was wrong somehow. The face was more of a gargoyle than a wolf and the eyes were yellow. Lyle raised his unwounded arm and tried to hit the creature, hoping desperately to knock it off of him. It snarled and reacted by grabbing his arm in its teeth and biting cleanly through with a vicious crack as the bone severed. Lyle recoiled and then stared in shock at what was left of his right arm. His hand was gone and he could see the splintered edges of the bone jutting out a few inches above where his wrist should have been. Dimly, his horrified mind tried to catch up with what was happening, but he could only think how strange it was that his arm didn’t hurt. His arm was torn in half and bleeding freely, he was pretty sure that should hurt, but it didn’t. His mind just couldn’t grasp the concept. It was so very wrong.
A low growling drew his attention back to the creature waiting almost patiently for him to react. When he saw his unmarred hand still dangling out of the creature’s mouth, it was then that he began to feel the agonizing pain. Opening his mouth, he started to scream but the creature acted instantly, swiping its claws and cutting his throat. The scream died off to a strangled gurgling noise as Lyle gasped for breath drowning as his own blood filled his throat.