Prendick strolls into the forest and finds the scenery has a pleasant charm to it.
He sees something on the other side of a stream. He goes to investigate and sees it's a man on all-fours, drinking from the stream like an animal.
He tries to get a better view but accidentally knocks over a rock. Of course, the sound of the rock alerts the man to Prendick's presence. How come nobody knows how to sneak properly in these stories?
The two stare at each other. Prendick notices the same oddness in shape as the other men on the island.
The man slinks back into the forest, but now Prendick's feel-good nature-walk is over. He even jumps at a rabbit rustling in the bushes.
He hears the puma's screams again and decides heading in the opposite direction from the screaming would be a good idea. He comes across the body of a dead bunny, its head torn off. Prendick's senses are now registering at code red.
He stumbles across "three grotesque human[s]" (9.8). Having learned his lesson previously, he manages not to do something stupid, like break a twig or kick a rock, but remains still and watches.
One of the men talks to the other two, and they all begin to sway back and forth. Then they start chanting and getting excited, like a religious ceremony or a dance. For the first time, Prendick clearly recognizes the "unmistakable mark of the beast" (9.10). They get so excited that one slips and briefly falls on all four. The "true animalism of these monsters" is revealed to Prendick (9.17).
He's out of there lickity split.
Prendick dashes through the forest and almost runs into the creature he'd seen drinking from the stream. He hides, hoping "the Thing" (9.13) doesn't see him. While hiding, Prendick wonders whether it is a man or a beast.
Prendick decides to take a gamble and confronts the creature. He asks him who he is, but the creature escapes into the forest again.
Night begins to descend on the island, and Prendick is in the last place he wants to be. He tries to find his way back to the enclosure but gets lost instead. Worse, the creature is stalking him in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Prendick is not the cat in this scenario.
Prendick snags a rock for a weapon, and his stalker retreats into the forest.
Prendick makes his way to the beach and frantically runs toward the light of the enclosure. He hears the creature give chase. Prendick loses strength with each step as pain cramps in his chest. The creature gains on him. In an act of sheer desperation, he turns and strikes at the creature with the rock, hitting it on the head. The creature is knocked out cold. Intense.
The puma's screams seem to beckon Prendick back to the house.