Devil Breed

a novel

Brian J. Jarrett

Copyright © 2016 Brian J. Jarrett

Elegy Publishing, LLC

All rights reserved by the author.  No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written consent of the author.

This book is a work of fiction.  Any names, people, locales, or events are purely a product of the author’s imagination.  Any resemblance to any person (either living or dead), to any event, or to any locale is coincidental or used fictitiously.


For my little brother, Barney.




Eric Bradley heard the sound of something behind them as they cut through the thick underbrush of the forest outside their parents’ campsite. He paused and listened hard.

“What’s wrong?” Eric’s little brother Aiden asked. “Why’d you stop?”

“It’s nothing,” Eric said.

Aiden listened too, his ear cocked to the side. “I heard something.”

“Don’t be a baby.”

“I’m not a baby. Don’t you hear it?”

Eric tried to tell himself he hadn’t heard the sounds behind them. Just his imagination, that’s all. Nothing more. This close to dusk the forest came alive with activity; of course there would be noises. “Probably just a deer or something,” he said.

Aiden nodded, but he didn’t look convinced.

“We should hurry,” Eric continued. “I don’t want to get stuck out here after dark.”

“Who’s the baby now?”

Eric frowned. “Shut up. Just walk.”

Aiden walked. But not even a dozen steps in Eric heard the sound again. He ignored it, pushing onward through the saplings and the ferns sprouting up from the forest floor.

“I thought this was supposed to be a shortcut,” Aiden said, pushing his way past a small sapling. 

“Just go.”

“I don’t know why Dad made us stay in a tent this time,” Aiden said. “I wish we’d stayed in a hotel like we do every other summer.”

“You like it outside.”

“Not today, I don’t.”

“Walk faster,” Eric said.

“All right, all right.” Aiden picked up the pace.

Eric couldn’t shake the feeling that something was watching them as they pushed on. He glanced all around, but could only see hundreds of trees and bushes that looked virtually the same.

“I don’t like this,” Aiden said. “It’s freaking me out.”

Eric didn’t like it either, but he couldn’t let his little brother know that. If he admitted something like that to Aiden, then he’d have to admit it to himself.

Suddenly Aiden stopped short. “I don’t hear it anymore.”

They listened together. Eric realized he wasn’t breathing.

“It was probably just a deer or a squirrel or something,” Eric finally said.

“What if it’s a bear?”

“It’s not a bear.”

“How do you know?”

“Can we just get moving?”

Aiden paused and listened for a few more moments before turning and walking through the underbrush, his pace now just short of a jog. Eric kept up, feeling the burn in his leg muscles and wishing, like Aiden, that they’d stayed in a hotel for their annual family vacation this year.

He heard the sound again, unmistakable this time.


“Hurry up,” Eric said.

“I’m hurrying.”

Eric glanced back, but the only thing he could see behind him was more trees, bushes, and ferns. The trunks of large conifers and deciduous trees alike crowded around them like disinterested sentries of the forest, apathetic to the goings on of two young boys who’d stayed away from camp for too long and were now cutting it a little too close to dusk for their return.

The wind blew through the leaves, creating a crescendo effect as the rustling sound rose and fell. As the wind subsided, Eric could hear nothing else besides the sound of their feet striking the forest floor. No animals scurried through the underbrush. No birds sang.

It seemed as if the forest was holding its breath. Waiting.

The feeling of being watched was more palpable than ever.

It had been Eric’s idea to take the shortcut. His idea to explore deeper into the forest, far away from the camp, much further out than his parents wanted them going. His dad would be pissed and his mother worried sick. He might even be grounded. Eric decided he’d accept any punishment his parents wanted to dole out as long as they could make it back to camp and out of the vast, desolate woods.

How much further away was the camp? Had they gotten themselves lost? Eric felt dread slowly transform into worry as they walked. Now that worry threatened to grow into a full-fledged panic if they didn’t find their camp soon.

He heard the footsteps again, close this time. He glanced to his right and saw saplings shake off in the distance.

But the wind had all but stopped now.

“Run!” Eric called out.

Aiden turned to look back at him.

Then it happened.

Eric smelled it first; a musky and dirty primal smell. Something wild and uncontrollable and completely foreign to anything he’d experienced up to that point in his short life. Eric opened his mouth to call out to Aiden, to warn him that something was indeed following them, hunting them, but what came out sounded more like a whimper than a shout.

Then movement flashed in the underbrush, so quickly that Eric only saw a blur. Saplings shook as something moved in the thick ground cover, just out of sight.

“Aiden!” Eric called out, finally getting his voice.

Aiden stopped and turned back to look at his older brother. “Eric?”

Those were his last words.

Everything after that happened too fast to react.

It appeared as if from between the trees, materializing out of the leaves and stepping into the path behind Aiden. It looked like a big cat of some sort, but then it changed. It morphed into another shape, standing six feet tall with massive hands ending in razor sharp claws.

Eric stood, speechless, unable to move as he watched the creature in the dwindling light shining through the thick forest canopy. It looked like either a wolf or a bear now, but not quite either. Like some hybrid bastard child of the two.

It moved with a frightening grace and agility. Before Eric could take his next breath, he watched the creature close the distance between itself and Aiden. Aiden let out a short cry before the creature raked a razor-sharp claw over Aiden’s throat. The skin split wide and a curtain of dark red blood flowed freely, saturating Aiden’s t-shirt.

Eric shook his paralysis. He didn’t think, he only reacted. He charged ahead, knowing on some base level that his little brother was already dead. Even if Aiden’s heart still pumped or his eyes still blinked, it didn’t matter.

Aiden was dead and it was Eric’s fault.

Aiden fell to the forest floor as Eric slammed into the creature. It was like hitting a brick wall. The creature moved fast; too fast to see and the next thing Eric knew he was on the ground beside his brother.

He looked into Aiden’s eyes and saw that they were open wide.


So much blood.

Aiden opened his mouth, but only a stream of more blood escaped.

Then the creature whisked Aiden away, dragging him into the underbrush.

“No!” Eric screamed. He tried to get to his feet but fell hard back to the forest floor. He looked down and saw the mess the creature had made of his abdomen. His insides spilled out into his hands and he pushed his guts back in, unable to think of anything else to do.

“Aiden…” Eric trailed off. He felt hot tears sting his eyes. He’d failed. He had allowed his little brother to die.

He grew cold as the birds began to chirp again and the sun continued its trajectory toward the horizon. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized that he was dying.

“Aiden.” Eric’s voice sounded small and weak in the great forest.

His body went numb and he closed his eyes.

He faded into black.


Someone talking.

“Eric!” the voice cried out. It was distant, but Eric thought it sounded familiar. He just couldn’t remember to whom it belonged.

He was freezing now.

So cold.

He glanced down at his ruined belly. He thought it should hurt, but it didn’t. Maybe he was already dead.

He opened his mouth, but no words escaped. Too tired to talk.

Eric closed his eyes and the darkness returned.

More movement roused him from sleep. He found himself in an ambulance now. People talked all around him, all of them in a rush. He remembered the attack, but it seemed like a dream, mostly made up of flashes of movement and missing patches of time. Like a movie with specific frames removed.

But the look in Aiden’s eyes…that remained.

“Aiden…” he croaked.

More talking, but Eric couldn’t seem to make out the words.

All he wanted was to go back to sleep.

So he did.

It would be two weeks before he woke up again.




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