Grampa huddled inside, exposed in the corner. Bark and Thorn crouched next to him covering their faces. The gleaner struck—one-two—and in less time that it took to draw a breath, Grampa and Thorn were trussed and thrown over the gleaner's back like sacks of meal. Bark, the bravest of my littermates, whimpered and dodged out of sight into the yard behind the house. The gleaner stepped forward and raised its serrated front legs.
The warmth, then swift coldness, of piss on my legs brings me back from the rolling horror oozing over the dirt-pack towards me. Still a league distant, it is monstrous. A grotesque boil on the earth; a seething mass of tree spars and rocks that scalds the ice around it into steam. The way it moves! Questing forward, then rushing into the blackened space before it. Each thrust accompanied by boulders grinding, great snappings of century-old trunks as it heaves ahead.