Published 8:08 am Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Opening his eyes, Richard William Wadsworth III strained to comprehend his predicament.

He couldn’t walk. His legs would not come under enough to thrust his upper torso vertical, though he could bend at the knees. Furthermore, as he lay prostrate, surveying the landscape, the obstacles blocking his journey seemed daunting, even impenetrable, with no trail visible.

Not knowing the correct direction, he went forward, using fingers as claws and legs as propulsion, the belly dragging along tortoise-style, making advancement slow and cumbersome. In 10 minutes, he had gone but 10 feet.

Exhausted and discouraged, rest was both inviting and easy. Debris had collected along his sliding underside, but he cared little, there being more ominous matters at hand.

The smell of dirt and animals invaded his nostrils, its mixture nauseating. Glancing across the terrain, his body stiffened and his breath caught short.

Richard realized he was not alone.

To the right, beneath the overhang, deep in the shadows, glared two yellow eyes, staring at his obviously vulnerable situation. Laser-like, he stared back, fixing his eyes upon the unknown creature, as if each was daring the other to move first.

Richard let himself exhale slowly as his fingers clawed into a deeper hold. What could he do? What should he do?

Neither pair of eyes blinked, as if each was paralyzed with possibilities.

In the shadows, the yellow eyes moved ever slowly as Richard realized he was being stalked. His body, like one lone muscle, tightened, preparing itself for action.

Escape! He must escape! It was his only defense, yet it seemed so futile, so useless, so utterly ridiculous! Regardless, he sprung into action. His arms and legs reacted instinctively and catapulted his body away from the creature. With one mighty heave, he thrust himself forward. But glancing back, he had moved a mere 6 inches!

Frantically gathering for another attempt, his startled body felt tentacle-like claws encircle his midsection and clasp into his underbelly. His appendages left their connection to the earth as he felt his entire body being pulled toward some unknown destination, some gruesome, horrific demise. Alas, all was lost!

“Come along, Richie, time for your bottle,” his mother cooed as the cat scampered from under the couch.

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is