I’m sorry there has been such a barren patch on the writing front. I think my head imploded and refused point blank to do anything useful whatsoever.
Last week, while reading the wonderful Legendary Loves 2, I remembered a story I’d started many moons ago and went for a rummage, hoping to finish it off. Since then I’ve edited/rewritten a fair chunk, so I thought I’d post it here in serial form, as I feel so very rusty.
Two years ago Jake McCain met an irresistible stranger at the Glastonbury festival. A few days later his life, as he knew it, was over. Enter Jack. The ‘two’ of them have…cohabited ever since. Much to Jack’s dismay, Jake shows no sign of relenting in his bid to be the most bloody minded human a jackal ever had the misfortune to manage.
Phin Finley has set off on a magical mystery campervan tour of south-west England. Having flown the family nest for the first time, he is determined to prove to his parents that he can manage just fine, despite being a bit too…Phinnish for most folk’s comfort, his mum’s peace of mind and dad’s constitution.
This is the tale of his adventures; a story about finding your (happy) place in the world, making (foxy) friends and the fabled Beast of Bodmin Moor.
It’s a shape-shifter story, but it is also an own voices tale too. Part 1 (5,000 words).
🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃
The Beast of Bodmin Moor
‘There is no doubt that Bodmin Moor is a creepy place. Should you happen to find yourself alone there as dusk is falling, try not to think about the layers of legend, horror and mystery associated with this wild and rugged landscape, and in particular, whatever you do, try not to let your mind dwell on The Beast… ’
Jack inhaled, low and deep, drawing the scent of darkness into his lungs; a lush shimmer of air as laden with riches as the shriek of silence. For all was not still this night, nor any other; the rustle of foraging creatures resounded as clearly as the whisper of wind rifling the scrubby grassland. As audible as every beat of his own heart…strong, sure, steady.
He stood, drinking in the magnificence of a moor drenched in moonlight, bleached to bone and shadow. A rugged, brutal beauty that beckoned to the Need, impossible to resist. An ever flickering flame that flared anew when dusk drew its veil over the day, warming him through as he waited. Waited, watching, every night. For Him to come.
Jack snapped his head around with a sharp sniff, dredging the breeze for its faint trace of that scent. Yes. There it was. As heady as opium, a smell as seductive as a clarion call… as if the very air had been saturated in musk and marshmallows dipped in brandy. The husky warmth of the latter assaulted his system with Jack’s next breath; almost as welcome, though nowhere near as enticing, as his scent.
Speak for yourself… grunted Jake, his ever ornery human. I wouldn’t say no to a decent bloody drink.
Is this where I humbly apologise for not coming complete with pockets? Jack guessed.
Pockets? accompanied Jake’s snort of disgust. I wish you’d never come at all.
I do believe that was your department, dear sir… Jack couldn’t resist pointing out.
Shut up…This was Jake’s go-to retort when his face would have flushed beetroot red, had he been wearing it at the time.
Jack was beginning to give up hope that Jake would ever come to terms with a fate he found about as fortuitous as herpes. Hope. That was a sore point; a concept Jake had denounced as cruel as the craggy rocks onto which the Wreckers once lured unwary ships. Jack knew all too well that his human was convinced he had none whatsoever. No future when he might ‘doom’ a potential paramour to the fate that had befallen him.
Paramour? F’fucksakes. You’ve been watching far too much French porn. Tell me…what exactly would be the point of hoping? You sure as shit can’t eat him. I sure as hell can’t talk to him.
Jake wouldn’t even permit them to settle beside Him and luxuriate in His very presence. Oh, how Jack coveted the slow caress of a palm along the serrated sweep of his spine… as forbidden as the burrowing of fingers into fur. A thought that sent a ripple of phantom pleasure thrilling through Jack’s body, twitching every hair to attention in a ruffling sigh of sound.
Jack crept forward a few inches, low in the long grass, stomach skimming its scrubby tufts and ancient crumbs of rock as he crawled closer. His prey, as was His wont, had seated himself amidst the ruins of an engine house. Remnants of a time when the Old Men; the tinners and miners had given their lives to the Cornish quarries. Lives that lingered still in the scars they’d left scattered across the moors.
There were far more obvious places in which He could have chosen to while away a few hours; stone circles, standing stones, tors…even a neolithic burial tomb. None of which had lured him from this very spot since. Jack had expected Him to move on after a few nights when its charm faded with familiarity, but He showed no sign of tiring of this tumble of granite nestled in a bleak expanse of nothingness. To human eyes, at least.
Jack should never have embraced the rush of relief that flooded his every fibre of his being each time that scent assailed his snout. Least of all here—in the one place he felt fairly safe—protected by legend and lore. Where all evidence of his existence was credited to ‘The Beast of Bodmin Moor’. Jack had never seen hide nor hair of a huge black panther, nor caught so much as a whiff on the wind, which did tend to suggest he wouldn’t find himself slaughtered by a five foot feline any time soon. Nevertheless, Jack was guiltily grateful for an ‘existence’ that safeguarded his own anonymity. Better yet, the Beast’s myth had but been enhanced by Jack’s midnight feasts, which was a bonus not to be sniffed at. He had, much to his amusement, become something of a boon to the Cornish Tourist Board… rather than a monstrous predator who left the moor littered with carcasses.
Jack lay low, watching, breathing, luxuriating in the heady fix now wafting his way. It would have to be enough. It had to be…and yet, the Need was relentless. A yearning that set his senses aflame, prodding him moorward; boiling through his blood, bones, body. Sinews straining with longing. Lust. A desire as devouring as the instinct to tear, shred, take…slake. Claim Him as his own.
Worst of all was the Want, because Jake wanted him just as much. He was somehow… unlike other humans. Entirely himself. It was an innate recognition; as inviolate as truth. A certainty gleaned by instincts as sharp as the glint of silver in moonlight.
Who was He, this strange creature of the night who wandered the moors like a wraith? The clumsy grace of those overlong limbs was that of a newborn foal, observing the world through eyes wide with wonder; windows to a soul untainted by the petty trivialities humans prized. There was an air of the ethereal in his fearlessness; his scent carried no taint of unease, nor care for consequence. Might he be…fae? Jack didn’t have the foggiest idea whether faerie folk roamed the Earth or not. He’d never met a Vampire either…and Jake? Jake had been just as oblivious to the existence of his own kind until it was far, far too late…
Phin sat atop a craggy crumble of rock, content as can be in his happy place.
It was his haven, his very own sliver of heaven. A sacred spot where the twenty-first century had quite forgotten to come charging in like the cavalry, hell-bent on rescuing it from perfection.
He felt more right on this ancient moor than anywhere else. When his camper van had rumbled up the windy road and Phin first clapped eyes on the vast sweep of scrubland before him, he’d felt strangely home, all of a sudden. Strangely, because he’d never had a ‘home’—not a proper, permanent one. His family just followed Major Finley from one posting to the next and set up camp in an endless parade of Army accommodations. Homes don’t have barbed wire.
Here, Phin could breathe, bathe in blissful isolation. Alone in this tumbledown place but never lonely. Loneliness was feeling alone in a room full of people. Not here. Phin had never been comfy in company. It was tricky to focus on appearing ‘normal’. Impossible when faced with more than one person at a time, when he was besieged by a torrent of Too Much: too loud, too bright, too many colours clashing in a cacophony of sound. That’s how it felt, as if all Phin’s senses had been bunged in the washer and switched to spin cycle.
All this was befuddling in itself, even before having to pretend that folk were not fibbing, when they were. Fact. Phin liked facts. He found them too fascinating to ignore, which made his mind waft off to ponder matters-far-more-interesting instead. He shouldn’t do this when he should be listening to people try to persuade him they felt things they didn’t instead—to make them seem kind—when they weren’t.
It was very important to pretend to believe people who portrayed themselves as someone they aspired to be. It was a frustrating waste of time in which Phin could be doing something interesting instead. Or at least less scratchy.
He hated feeling like a fraud. Most people seemed to prize things Phin couldn’t fathom the point of. The impression they made on others. How they were ‘seen’. A concern that had nothing to do with donning orange jumpers, apparently, which would have been an understandable worry. Phin wouldn’t be seen dead in said detested hue (that was an idiom, not a fact, as it didn’t make sense in the scheme of things). He would be dead, and ergo, unable to see. Let alone be in any fit state to insist that his corpse was not desecrated by a despicable sweater.
Nope, Phin Finley didn’t much care for the company of people, but he adored animals. They could be trusted—even predators—because they were honest. They didn’t pretend to like you before biting your head off, did they? He loved that the animals dotted across the moor were allowed to roam fairly free. The cows often pottered across the road and parked up when they fancied a rest or a gazeabout. They didn’t give a stuff, just stood there staring over their shoulders with mild disinterest if a queue of cars started honking at them. For all the world as if that might persuade them to shift their furry butts.
An animal’s love was unconditional. They never, ever, made you feel as if you weren’t good enough, or that you’d let them down when you couldn’t help but be yourself. Phin felt that way a lot—even with his family—especially with his family, who had become ever more polarized. With Phin stuck in the middle like an equatorial embarrassment. His poor mum and elder sister adored him despite himself and defended him with lioness finesse. This was far more than Phin deserved and made him feel dreadful when they bore the brunt of consequences that doomed his dad to a son who would never do him proud. Quite apart from subjecting him to social humiliation horrifics that made his younger sister’s hair curl. Despite her heroic struggles with an evil contraption that made her smell like a singed cat.
The older he got and the more Phin tried to work people out, the less he felt he knew, let alone understood. A confusion too far when his head was already overstuffed with too much— well, too much everything. As far back as he could recall, he’d been sure he didn’t see the same things through his eyes that everyone else saw through theirs. His brain wouldn’t work in the same way, either. It was ‘just wired differently’, his mum said… a belief she’d expounded overandoverandoveragain, ad nauseum to his dad. Who thought this was piffle…so he’d spent the last twenty-odd years trying to rewire Phin in order to prove his point. Efforts that seemed uncannily similar to something called ‘a contradiction in terms’ to Phin. If he wasn’t wired wrong, then why did his dad persist in trying to fix him?
It ate away at his heart that his mum had to endure this endless tussle of wills, so Phin had decided that it was high time she got some much deserved peace. The spoke in their family wheel was as obvious as the nose on Phin’s face (not half as obvious as the rest of him, but idioms need not concern themselves with seventy four inches of trivial detail). The solution was simple; remove said spoke. If Phin took himself off that would free his lionesses from all such friction, and Phin from fretting about being the cause of it. Having determined upon this, he hadn’t been too fussed where he went. Going—the joy of getting there—mattered far more.
Phin had to admit that landlords, deposits and adhering to contract stipulations might just be a disaster waiting to happen, so he’d bought himself a camper-van with the savings his gran had stashed away for him. He’d always retreated to his inner world when the wider one felt too confounding to fathom, so he’d fixed upon finding that feeling elsewhere. A safe place in which to potter about with less fear of mishaps and making folk miffy. A rural idyll, where traces of ye olde times might linger still.
His family had latterly been stationed in Dorset, which had swiftly become his favourite place they’d stayed for many a moon. Figuring that the further west he went, the more he might like it, Phin decided to head to Devon and then onward, into Cornwall. A plan that seemed to ease his mum’s fears a smidge; she’d already suffered more than enough on his behalf. Nothing would stop her worrying about whether he’d remembered to pack his bicycle clips and a clean hankie, but that was ‘her job’ she insisted, so Phin would just have to ‘suck it up’.
Cornwall it was then. Kernow; ancient land of his Celtic kin. Still stubbornly steeped in its own heritage and clinging to its right to remain itself. A feeling Phin had every sympathy with.
It was with a ghostly glide of muscle over bone that Jack crept a little closer, inching towards Him, nearer than he’d ever dared venture before. Too close for comfort, but far from close enough to sate the craven clawing in his guts.
His prey shifted, perhaps to settle more comfortably, extending his right leg. Long, so long… it stretched across the tumble of rock towards Jack as if the devil himself was hell bent on driving him demented. It was all Jack could do to suppress a whine as he slammed his eyelids shut, which only intensified the need to nuzzle it. To nudge it with his nose, rub his fur along a lavish sweep of thigh… snuffle at the soft skin shrouded in a sheath of tight denim.
A tut pinged from plush lips when He attempted to slip a hand into the pocket of his coat. With a huff of impatience, he clambered to his feet, unfolding himself to his full, glorious height. Towering so tall that the top of his tufty head seemed to brush the stars as Jack gazed up from his lowly crouch on the ground. Once upright, He slipped his fingers inside with ease and rummaged in the pocket of the buff-coloured trench he invariably came wrapped in each night; vast swathes of fabric that shielded him from Jack’s ravenous gaze.
It was then that a whimper of want made an abrupt bid for freedom, shattering the quiet like an air raid siren. He jerked his head up, shooting a puzzled glance over each shoulder, but his pulse rate didn’t spike with anxiety and no trace of fear tainted his scent. When no further sound suggested that aught was amiss, he shrugged, as if suspecting that he’d imagined whatever he thought he’d heard. Then bent to place a palm on the rocks for support as he reseated himself. Shit. With a sudden, horrifying lurch to the left, his foot slipped on the rubble and a snatched-off cry shredded Jack’s senses.
There was a desperate scuffle as his feet fought for—failed to find—purchase, then a shriek shattered the night and a loud crack splintered the sky when his forehead bounced off a boulder with a hideous crunch. His body crumpled to the rocks in a tangle of limbs, slumping in a sad pile of crumpled cloth. He lay utterly still, like a broken toy tossed onto a trash heap.
NOOOOOOO… Jack sprang forwards, cleaving an arc through the darkness to land sure-footed beside him. For a split-second, heart-searing moment, dread obliterated all reason, despite the fact Jack knew with innate certainty that he was not dead.
After turning his muzzle into the wind, Jack dragged in a huge, clean breath and held it. Creeping closer, he dipped his head low and began to nose gently at a ghostly pale cheek, nudging his face away from the rocks. A large gash glistened above his left eyebrow, gristle gleaming in the ragged tear. Jack watched a bead of blood trickle down his temple, teeth gritted in agony. Nnnngh…that scent…he was still holding his breath, but he could taste it on his tongue; a rich ruby sweetness that lashed at his loins. Jack threw his head back and howled, every sinew straining as he fought to suppress his shrieking instincts. Nooo…
Rage blistered through Jack’s veins, clamouring for supremacy with the dull drag of despair, battling it out with instincts that clamoured for more. Wet, warm, as potent as port wine…just a little lick… For heavensakes, Jack wasn’t going to sink his teeth into skin, there was no urge to rip, tear, hurt. He didn’t think so at least. The shaft of pain that staked his heart when temporal bone had slammed into stone felt akin to being bludgeoned. In that split-second when Jack had thought He was dead, he’d known exactly where the blame lay; an agony far worse than the first time Jake had fought the shift. Worse than his human’s realisation that this is what he’d become…and would ever remain.
It was Jack’s fault. Then. Now. Guilty. The whimper had as good as fired the starting gun of horrors that caused the fall. Lust had led them to this moment, just as it had then…that night. A thought he shoved aside, this was no time to indulge in a self-pity party. He needed Jack. But what the hell could he do? Cocking his head, he contemplated the blood still seeping from the cruel gash that marred his beautiful face. He is beautiful, not merely handsome, Jack noted. A face like a fallen angel, grubby with gravel, crusting at the edges of the wound. Fuck it…hovering about a breath from the wound, Jack touched the tip of his tongue to the angry tear, oh, so gently. Nnnnggh. He snatched his head back, breath clawing his throat as he fought a need so furious it made his eyes bulge as he gulped great gasps of air. No. No…yesss…no…
The guilt was gutting but he had to get the goddamned grit out. Yes, he wanted…of course he did. But that didn’t make it the wrong thing to do, did it? Or, was he fooling himself that it was the right thing for that very reason? He knew not. Does it matter anyway? Why the hell was Jack conducting a debate on his own dubious morality—with himself—while He bled to death on the moor?
After inhaling a lungful of somewhat less tempting air, Jack lowered his nose to the rivulet of blood and began to lap with infinite tenderness. An impossible feat in itself. This, as his taste buds erupted in a riot of sensation—like an explosion of Pop Rocks in his mouth—unleashing a blood rush so intense he thought his brain cells might combust with bliss. His brain cells? They were the least of Jack’s worries…his cock was so engorged it might never slip back inside its furry foreskin. It felt fit to burst…and still Jack’s tongue slithered across skin.
Jack had never, ever, tasted anything this…delectable. Divine. Nothing on earth had ever tasted like this. His own blood couldn’t begin to compare. Neither could the blood of the creatures he stalked most nights. The raw rump steak Jake gnawed on for breakfast sure as hell never tasted like this.
He flickered delicately at the jagged edge of the gash until the grit dislodged; senses so finely tuned that each grain felt like a boulder clinging to Jack’s tongue. A sudden thought—one so blisteringly obvious it should have hit him over the head with a house brick before Jack started lapping away at His head like a lollipop—struggled to the surface as Jake’s voice fought through the liquid layers of lust, longing and sheer gut instinct.
Are you sure this is…safe? What if—?
No…he couldn’t, surely…? Jack had no idea. He’d been fretting about a bit of grit as his saliva seeped into His system and…no please, no…NO. Jake would never, ever forgive him. Jack wasn’t sure which part of that night had…sealed Jake’s fate. No idea exactly what had triggered his dormant jackal.
Sex? Blood? Nails? Teeth? The bites? Or…the kiss that led to the rest of it? Crap. He’d lost his tiny mind. It was too bloody late now. So stuupid.
Shit for brains jackass.
Ha. Ha. Very funny. Not. Next stop; the world’s first shape-shifting stand up comedian. They should turn up for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions, that would be a riot. Literally…when everyone rushed for the exits.
It was far, far too late to worry about it now. Much too late to torture himself with the fact that a not-so tiny part of his pea-brain yearned…No. That was despicable, beyond contempt. Jack could not —would not—wish this upon Him. He would detest them both for it. Loathe his flea-ridden arse enough to bury a spade in body when he discovered what Jack had done. Yet, even as he acknowledged this, his baser instincts were effectively rolling their eyes and suggesting that he shut his trap and have at it, lap away to his heart’s content.
It was hard to say which was more ludicrous: tonguing His forehead while having an internal scrap with his own conscience. Or the fact Jack was considering whether to let Jake carry Him to the campervan and see to his wound properly.
A splendid plan, I’m sure. It’s a delightful evening to go for a bare-ass naked midnight stroll across the moors cradling a bleeding, unconscious, six foot plus man as if he weighs no more than a bottle of brandy.
I’ll probably get arrested. The press will have a fucking field day. How ironic, when never, not once since that fateful night, did I imagine that I’d wind up as ‘The Beast of Bodmin Moor’ as a bloody human.
Should I risk it? Not so much the flasher-on-the-moors part; there’s no trace of human scent for miles…but can I risk him waking to find his formerly unconscious self being abducted by a naked man?
The very act of carrying him across the moor stretched credulity, as it didn’t seem highly bloody likely that a 5’ 9” bloke, best described as ‘wiry’, could carry a six-foot-plus man over rough scrubland like a babe in arms.
Is there another option, when we sure as hell can’t leave him here; broken and bleeding on the moors?The Beast of Bodmin Moor. Christ. A pervert preying on the soon-to-be-drop-dead-gorgeous, if one of us doesn’t do something.
I did my best! Jack finally protested after enduring that internal monologue for… ever.
Something other than indulge in a surreptitious slurp, dogbreath.
The gash looked slightly less angry, but blood was still seeping from the wound, so Jack bent once more to lap at the fresh trickle of ruby trailing toward His ear. Nnggrrrh…
When Jack’s eyes began to roll back in his head, it became clear that the brief interlude had merely made paradise all the sweeter, so he yanked his muzzle back, before he could not. The injury did look a little better; it was now clean, free from crusted dirt and grit, so he might be imagining it…but it did seem less inflamed. Which was something.
Not a fat lot, you must admit, but better than bloody nothing.
Gazing down upon him, at a face as pale as moonlight, the sooty sweep of long lashes, plump lips softly parted, Jack knew he’d never had a choice from the start. This realization had no sooner dawned than he was sure he saw the slightest glimmer of movement. Had he imagined it? No. Feathery lashes flickered once, twice more and then, slowly, they parted to reveal a midnight gaze, hazy with pain and puzzlement. Bottomless eyes met his own for a heartbeat… and then fluttered shut again.
Fuck. In the brief second he glimpsed that dark gaze, Jack knew. Knew with inviolate animal instinct that it was… over. The battle lost before it began. Not even jackal-vision had prepared him for the impact of those eyes from mere inches away. It felt as if he were staring into his soul. ‘Those eyes.’ Jack huffed, breath puffing out in a cloud of contempt. Calling those limpid orbs ‘eyes’ was akin to describing His blood as ‘quite tasty’. They were…eternal. Drowning pools of liquid darkness. Deep enough to die in. Into which Jack would undoubtedly dive even if he knew it would be the last thing he ever did. He was ruined.
Jack backed up a few paces and pulled his focus inwards. Changing back was, in fact, harder than unleashing the jackal. This had come as something of a shock to Jake. It had taken some time before he’d been able to comprehend the chaos well enough to understand that Jack simply surfaced, stretching as if from slumber. Much as the subconscious assumes control during dreams; your secret self rising to the fore as your conscious self sleeps.
The power was always present; waiting in the wings for Jake to embrace it, mind, body, soul. It was simply a matter of letting go… allowing it to bloom like a lily until it spilled through his skin, fur flowing like water to ripple over reformed muscle and bone. Jake had denied the truth at first, even as his furred self unfurled from the matter of his own body. Brain. He still, two years on, flinched from the knowledge that the jackal’s lusts were pulled from his own psyche. Worse than the agony of the transformation was Jake’s realization that Jack wasn’t a separate entity. He was the dark self Jake had spent twenty five years trying his damnedest to restrain.
Jack might be a murderous mutt but at least he was bloody honest. He gloried in the joy of the hunt almost more than the satisfaction of sinking his teeth into succulent flesh. Relished the hot pulse of blood filling his mouth. Revelled in his liberation from Jake’s dogged grip on civility. The most ludicrous part of their pact was that Jake was wont to wonder at the fact that it was harder to drag Jack back to his dungeon, rather than fling open its doors.
Jake had spent a lifetime snarled in self-loathing, suppressed rage and terror as pure as it was toxic. All of which he’d battered into submission, then shrouded in studied cool and self-deprecating wit.
Where his human overthought everything, gnawing away and getting nowhere, Jack’s needs and desires were simple, with clear-cut solutions. His pain was easy to manage. Jackals are creatures of instinct; if he was hungry, he ate. The occasional sting of teeth and claws, when supper fought back was fleeting, his wounds healed in a matter of moments. Every hurt prompted a clear choice to take, and an action to end it. If Jake could be honest with himself for once in a bloody-minded lifetime, he might just admit that it was a relief to let Jack resume the reins. That he relished every minute of liberation from his miserable existence. Freedom from the quicksand mire of his own mind, free to roam as he wished, free to run, run with the wind ruffling his fur in an exhilarating rush of power and pounding paws.
Jake focused. It felt akin to pulling on a rippling swathe of silk; tugging it inwards, as if it were sucked deeper inside with every beat of his heart to crouch at his centre. Strangely similar to packing a parachute into a backpack. Or sucking a sock up a hoover pipe. Schllurrrp. It sounded horribly similar too.
Closing his eyes, Jack concentrated on the silent shimmer, on drawing it within, to the epicentre of himself; the nucleus of all he was. Harnessing his secrets once more, until his human self was all that remained. Visible.
Jake McCain rose to his feet and stood upon the earth, dragging in a deep lungful of that deadly scent. Still strong, but bearable now. The longing to sink his teeth into ivory flesh was no longer quite so insistent. Not as a snack, at least. Jake’s hair fluttered around his face, flirting with the wind. The only part of his entire self that now felt free.
His skin gleamed like marble in the moonlight as Jake bent to scoop (at least) six feet of unconscious man into his arms and cradle him close to his chest. Lust licked along his veins, an inferno of need boiling his blood. His proximity was incendiary. Intoxicating. Jake was crackling with so much energy he could probably saunter to the summit of Ben Nevis. Fucknows how his human heart was still functioning in the face of so much. Every fibre of Jake’s being had fused to focus on Him. A focus so fervent, furious, that its rage could raze the world to the ground if it did Him harm.
I am holding Him in my arms…which was so much more than Jake had ever dared dream. Everlasting legs were draped over his left arm, his right curled beneath Him to support His upper body. So far so good. Except for the slight matter of the erection attempting to drill into His back. Jake was now so strong, and his cock so hard, he could probably balance his precious cargo just so, as if serving Him up on a platter. Now there was an image to save to his mental hard-drive. It would certainly make for a spectacular finale to Jake’s Britain’s Got Talent act.
He’d just better hope that his patient didn’t waken before they reached the sanctity of His campervan. The starkers-as-the-day-he-was-born part was bad enough, but Jake clearly hadn’t thought it through. Perhaps he should start praying to Anubis for divine intervention. Or perhaps not. Calling upon the Protector of the Dead—he who ushered souls into the afterlife—thus drawing all-powerful attention to the man in his arms possibly wasn’t the finest idea Jake ever had.
Cradling Him carefully so that He wouldn’t be unduly jolted, Jake began to run.