Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Hunter and his prey

Running. Just. Keep. Running. Those are the only thoughts that are going through my mind. So long had I trained for this moment, and I was loosing! I looked up ahead, but the stress to each one of my aching muscles distorted my vision. Yet I could still see the dark figure darting between the trees that was my prey. Damn it why did it have to be so fast? It was strange. I had never seen something so fast, and I've seen some messed up things in my time.
"Crap!" I yelled. I twisted my foot in a ditch - probably a rabbit's hole, but I didn't have time to check. I kept running, the pain radiating from my ankle taking some of the pain away from my back. I couldn't see it anymore, but I could hear it. The cracks and rustle of branches and leaves it ran over, and it's heavy breathing. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that it sounded scared, the fearful breaths and whimpers of a girl. Well it should be afraid if me. Nothing had gotten past me before, I was the best hunter in the country.
And suddenly, silence. It had stopped, I was sure of it. I might have had better days, but I just knew it was hiding. I looked around. Sure there were tonnes of hiding places for it, but it was just a beast, an animal. It wasn't smart enough to beat me.

I dove into an area, under a tree, shielded by bushes and the tree's large, strong roots. I tried to control my breathing, but I couldn't help panting, gasping for air, afraid that my lungs were closing up, rejecting the air I so desperately needed. The hunter was right behind me last time I checked. I hadn't seen a human that was so fast that he could almost catch up to me. But I was sure that he had lost me. Then I heard it. His feet, trampling over the fallen leaves that covered every inch in a sheet of golds and reds.
Please, keep going. Please keep going I prayed, but it was inevitable that he would notice me stopping. I should have kept running. He wouldn't have lasted very long, he was only human. I knew what was going to happen next, but I didn't want that, and all my life I had tried to avoid it. I hugged my legs tightly, trying to make myself as small as possible. My blood rushed passed my ears creating the constant beat of death. Surely he could hear my heart beat. Surely the horrible noise is what made him walk those few steps towards me.

There! That's where it was. It had to be hiding there. It was a large area, probable dug out by some animal. It was perfectly shielded by bushes and roots, but I was smarter than any stupid animal. I could see that it was the place she'd hide. I took the knife carefully from the sheath strapped to my ankle, so that she wouldn't hear me coming. It was a large knife - my father's knife actually. He gave it to me when I took up the family business. He made some of his best kills with this knife, and this monster would be mine. If only my plan had worked the first time, she would already be mine; her head on a board above the mantelpiece. I took two careful steps. Still nothing. Another few; I was almost there. but still no movement. She was there, I know she was. I know what she thinks and I know she would have gone to hide there. I ducked behind the bush and looked under the roots into the dirt room. But there was nothing there! How could she get away like that without me hearing?

I ran faster than I have ever run before. My already wounded heart wasn't taking the mixture of fear and adrenalin well, along with the reduction of oxygen and need for blood to be pumped down to my feet, just to keep them going. I was going to run out of energy soon. But I wasn't going to let the hunter catch me. He had already done enough damage to my family, I wasn't going to let him eliminate all of us. The clearing was just up ahead of me. I was going to make it! Only a little further.
BANG! The sounds of gun shots rung in the background. I didn't dare look back or stop. The horrible sound rung loudly in my ears, but I was going to make it. Two more shots. They were too far back for him to actually see me. How could he know where I was? He was a better hunter than I could fathom. There was only one way out; one way to end this. It wasn't the way I wanted it to go, but it was the only way I could get out of this.

I had picked up her trail again. It wasn't hard, she might be fast, but she wasn't as good as her brother at covering her tracks. I unstrapped the gun from my shoulder. Firing into the air, i hoped to spook her into stopping again. This time I wouldn't let her get away. She was mine. I could feel it. And just as I predicted, she had stopped; she was hiding again. But we were too close to the edge of the forest, she was going to have some trouble finding a hiding spot in such thin bushland. And there she was, hiding behind a tree. Such a stupid beast, a child could find her. I slung the shotgun back over my shoulder, killing her in one shot was too easy, and removed the knife once more. I was almost in killing distance when she stepped out from behind the tree. Was she giving up? The girl stood before me, and for the first time I got a good look at a living monster. She was so...human. They all were, but only I knew what they really were. She was young, couldn't be more than 16. She was skinny, obviously forced to live off scraps and her clothes were basic and dirty. Her skin was a living account of all her battles, not only with me, but with other hunters. I could see the large scar across her collar bone that was beginning to heal insanely quick. She was afraid, I could tell so easily, just like any other child. But it was a mask, it had to be.
But she wasn't surrendering, she was changing. I had only seem them change once, and from a distance. It was disgusting. The skin on her right arm peeled back and revealed sharp black bone, growing and growing into jagged claws. She bared her teeth, in an act to scare me. Her human teeth was gone, and she scowled a full set of long black teeth, as sharp as my hunting knife. But I wasn't going to back down.

I tried to scare him off, I really did. I didn't want to hurt him. But he just stood there, knife ready to hurt me again. I knew what he was thinking. He was going to take his gun, I could see him slowly bringing his hand back to get it. If I didn't act fast I was going to die. I pounced, not thinking of anything other than protecting myself. He was ready for me, and swung the large knife at me. But I was too fast and dodged his feeble attempts. With the long claws in my hand I dug into his chest, rendering him helpless, and let the monster in me take over.
In minutes the human I had feared for so long was dead and I fell to the ground, away from the mutilated body, shaking. I hated to kill, even for my protection. It sickened me, and as I returned to my human state, the act I had just done really hit me. His blood dripped from my fingers, and I knew all my pain, my hatred, all the death he caused was over.
It was really over.

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