The creature hit me, knocking me off balance. I dropped my torch and my face collided against the rocky floor. I felt the warmth and thickness of blood trickle down the side of head. The fire from my torch burned a few feet away, but still I could see nothing. As I stood I heard the patter of footsteps, then felt teeth or claws sink into my shoulder and flip me to the ground. More blood trickled down my arm, wetting my clothes. Again, I could see only blackness, but this time heard a sniffing. The creature was sure to have tasted my blood and now hungered for more. I shuffled forward, reaching for my torch. I heard a low growl, and in that instant I neglected the torch and removed my blade and thrust it at the sound. I felt the satisfaction of it penetrating flesh and felt the warmth of its blood oozing onto my hand. It lashed out at me and struck me, but I didn’t let go. I felt fur and muscles and saw its orange eyes glowing in the dark. I removed the blade and again thrust it into the creature’s chest. It gave off a tiny exhale and fell forward onto me. It’s mouth was near my face. I could feel its breath on my neck and smell its fleshy urine stench. The creature snapped its jaws at me, and as it did I ripped my blade from it and jammed it into the beast’s neck, its teeth nicking my already injured shoulder. I sliced sideways against it’s flesh and tore the knife from it, and heard blood spatter the walls of the cave. The beast fell to the ground.
I stabbed it twice more until there was no breath left in its chest. Behind me I heard a whimper. I picked up my torch and approached the source of the noise and in the firelight I saw the bruised and beaten body of a young girl. She looked at me with fear in her eyes, and cowered as I stepped near. She was tied with ropes, so I cut them and removed from my pack a blanket, which I wrapped her in and carried her from the cave.
Now she sleeps next to my fire. I gave her some stale bread and some dried fruit. Soon after she fell asleep, I returned quickly to the cave, but could not find the body of the beast I had slain. A great dread arose within me, so I sprinted back to camp and found the girl laying peacefully, her eyes closed in reverie.
She hasn’t spoken and looks different than the Peruvians I’ve encountered. Her skin is lighter and the exotics of her face suggest she is of oriental descent. There is a mystery here that I do not understand.