Remind me never to do that again.
I mean, I know that despite their name, there is nothing cute or cuddly about an Orange Wulderbeast. It’s like when people look at Pandas and think they’re so sweet and forget they’re Panda Bears, or Killer Whales, or Wulderbeasts. Imagine a cross between a ghoul, a zombie, and a Los Angeles housewife with PMS. But meaner.
I underestimated him. Or possibly her. It was hard to tell.
It was easy to track. Anything weighing three hundred pounds that walks on six legs and smells like rotting sulfur isn’t hard to find if you are looking for it. If it’s killed and eaten all the wildlife that couldn’t fly away within twenty or so miles, following its distinctive three-toed tracks is a cakewalk.
But you think I’d be smart enough to be afraid of something that has eaten or scared away all of the black bears, wolves, coyotes, and even foxes, in the corner of West Virginia it calls its territory. I mean, I am smart. Top of my class smart. Nearly done with my doctorate smart. For a smart person, I can be a real idiot sometimes.
Wulderbeasts aren’t easy to kill. That’s because they’re already dead, or at least not exactly alive. In Norway, you can buy diamond-tipped knives at just about any corner store, which is why Wulderbeasts aren’t much of a problem there, anymore. I don’t know how one ended up in the States, much less in WV. Maybe it’s like those idiots that import tiger cubs as a pet not realizing that one day, tiger cubs grow up to be, well, you know, tigers. According to a friend who has a contact in Sweden, there used to be a guy that made his living capturing and exporting Wulderbeasts. He’s dead now. Hazards of the trade, I guess. Some jerk buys a Wulderbeast. It gets too expensive, too dangerous, or just too smelly and he lets it go. The next thing you know, hikers and campers are dying by the handful.
That’s why I went looking for it. Three confirmed deaths, and if it was left alone, that would just be the tip of the iceberg. Smart or not, someone had to stop it. I volunteered.
I didn’t have a diamond-tipped knife. I couldn’t afford such a thing even if I knew where to buy one. My pocket knife wasn’t sharp enough to pierce its armor. Bullets seemed to bounce right off it. Getting into a punching match with something with the strength of a grizzly and the speed of a cheetah – that’s a no-win situation.
Oh, and there’s a teensy little catch. If you manage to cut out its heart and sever its head, it will still come back unless you bury it in consecrated ground.