The sound of a runaway train galloped behind him as the thing pursued. His head start had only given him an extra matter of seconds. Now the beast closed in with terrifying speed.
And the ground shook as it got closer.
George's legs pumped furiously, but he knew it was worthless. The thing was too fast, but that was part of his very mediocre plan.
Let it chase him.
He reached out and grabbed a handful of stalks with his left hand. He could feel the corn tearing from the ground, but it gave him some of the leverage he needed. Pivoting and pulling, he yanked his entire body hard and spun. He hit the ground hard and rolled out of the beast's path as it barreled by far too fast to grab him.
Its scythe claws swung worthlessly over his head.
Cradling his broken right hand, he pushed himself out of the debris and took off running again. This time at a 90 degree angle away from the thing's path as it slid and skidded through the corn field, trying ineffectively to slow down.
Another extra few seconds.
Another sprint as hard as he could.
His lungs burned. His body ached. He was bleeding from at least a couple of scrapes and cuts on his arms and face. But it didn't matter.
He had to keep it distracted.
And maybe, just maybe, get away.
The sound came up from behind and to his right.
George dove forward, landing belly up on the stalks that scratched his skin, jabbed him in more places than he could count, and knocked the wind out of him.
And once again, the beast flew past him, a force of destruction fueled by tremendous weight and speed; taking an entire swath out of the field as it did.
It slowed, faster this time, but still not fast enough.
Barely able to breathe, and his limbs violently shaking, he took off running again at another sharp, contradictory angle.
In the haze of exhaustion and panic, he heard something. A wooshing sound of some kind from the sky. It didn't mean anything to his numbed mind, but it registered for some reason.
It was something important.
But not important enough.
His breath was ragged now. He was coughing and gagging more than he was breathing now. He was strong and had endurance, but he wasn't a track star and the sheer terror and effort was having an effect on his untrained body.
George's feet stumbled and gave out beneath him.
He could hear it coming.
Hell, he could feel it coming.
Reaching down with his uninjured hand, he pushed off on the dry dirt hard and rolled to the side.
A massive foot slammed down an inch away from his head as the thing failed to catch him yet again and went crashing by.
George went to pull himself up again and found himself barely able to do so.
The thing was already turning by the time he was able to stand.
Still, he tried to run. And quickly realized he could barely walk.
Another wooshing sound; this one louder with a loud hiss. It came from the field behind him where the ship had been found. Another monster perhaps? What the hell was that sound?
It didn't matter.
He kept going. Half jogging, half stumbling, towards the edge of his field. He couldn't keep going and some part of him told him to get to the edge of the field.
He just had to get to the edge of the field.
"Lel-!" he tried to yell for his wife, only to his voice disappear; hitching in his chest and cut off by a coughing fit.
She had to get away, wherever she was.
Only then, George realized he could see her.
Lelena was there, just outside of the field. She was dirty but otherwise unharmed. And she looked like she was yelling at someone and pointing at the field with the barrel of her revolver.
Who was she yelling at? he absently wondered.
Unconsciously, George dove forward. He hit the ground hard and, for the second time, felt his breath escape him.
Only too late, in the haze, he forgot to roll out of the way.
He tried to push himself to the side, but too slowly this time.
His right arm was destroyed under the weight of one of the beast's clawed feet and thrown into the air as the thing galloped past once again and back out into the open.
Back where Lelena was.
But George couldn't think. He couldn't feel. His mind was alight in the fire of agony from having his arm torn off and he was screaming.
He couldn't hear his wife yelling at the marshals and their marine contingent. He couldn't hear the thunderous echo of pulse and gauss rifles that punched through the monster's hard carpace. He didn't feel the thing's spray of vile blood or the thud as the beast fell to the ground; poisoning the very dirt it lay upon.
He didn't even remember the face of Lelena and the marine medic by her side hovering over him or his trip to medical facility nearby.
All he remembered was the pain.
And, lingering up from the depths of his belly, an odd sensation that his body felt entirely too hot.