Jake sat on the hill, looking out at the herd. He stretched, then lay back into the grass. He was supposed to be taking care of the animals, but they were fine. Nothing was going to happen to them if he just relaxed for a few minutes. A dull whine started and he heard the herd moving around. He yawned and let himself relax a little more. Everything was pretty much automated, he just needed to make sure the machines didn’t screw up. Not that they would of course, it had been months since any kind of hiccup and years since any kind of large problem. Worst thing that could happen was something might shut down.
There was a loud screech, Jake sat up, eyes wide and he stared to scan the hills. He couldn’t see them, but they were close. He stood and started jogging to the herd, doing a quick head count. They were all there. Good. He got behind the lines and found the machine he needed, he entered the code and let out a sigh of relief as the machines lights started to flash red. Good. Ok, he was safe, protected. It would send out an emergency beacon too. Hopefully he wouldn’t be stuck out here for too long. He frowned as he looked around, trying to guess where they would attack from. Here was supposed to be clear for the day. He climbed the short ladder to get on top of the machine, once they appeared the herd would go wild and he didn’t want to get trampled.
They attacked from both sides, streaming down the hill, bounding into the barriers. He knew they couldn’t get through but each thud caused him to jump. He tried to keep his mind off it, tried not to think what would happen if the barriers were breached. Below him the herd was bellowing and running in circles. So far they hadn’t injured one another in their panic. They were large and muscular, their skin a deep red and rippling with muscle, their jaws were wide and dripping. They had appeared seven years ago, from where no one knew. They were unlike anything else ever seen before. Jake didn’t know what they were really called, everyone just called them the predators. They were smarter than they should have been. Know to use skill and trickery to take down herds and people. So far they seemed to be just throwing themselves at the barrier in hopes it would break. He hoped they continued to try it. The barrier was a simple wall, it wasn’t a dome. If they figured that out he would be screwed. The machine beeped twice, someone had received the signal, help was on its way. He looked around, trying to spot where the predators had gone. There was no sign of them, perhaps they had given up?
He spotted them as they returned, slinking down the hill. They circled the barrier slowly, warily. One crouched and jumped, claws snagging at the top of the barrier. It fell to the ground and looked up, trying to gauge where the wall ended. Another jumped, scrambled at the top, then fell over and inside the barrier, landing with a light thud. The herds panic grew, Jake tried to keep calm, help was coming, he was high up, the herd would distract the predators. Help would arrive.
They savaged the herd, tearing them all limb from limb, not pausing to eat. They circled around the machine, dark, malevolent eyes staring up at Jake. The first leapt, barely missing the top of the machine. Another tried, this time its claws caught and it began to scramble up. Jake tried to dislodge its great paws, but its grip was firm and tight. Jake managed to let out a single scream.