29 gru 2011

Hunted Hunter

My name is Christopher Beck.

I’m a hunter, and I lived in the state of Colorado before . . . Well, before my life changed forever.

I hunted almost every day. I didn’t need to go to grocery stores or supermarkets, I needed only what I caught. Hell, I even stopped using guns at one point, and made myself a bow and arrows to hunt with.

I lived alone in the woods, with the nearest town being at least two hours drive away. It was better this way, I preferred being alone and at peace. I entertained myself by creating arrows when I had the time, or writing to relatives who were “concerned” about me spending all my time alone. I used the mail to write, I didn’t have a computer or a TV or anything “luxurious.” The mailman was the only person I saw regularly, and we didn’t speak often, which I was perfectly fine with, and I assumed so was he.

One day, I got a letter from my grandmother, who hadn’t written to me since a week after I left my city home. It was an invitation to her 90th birthday party. She was having it in Atlanta, where most of my relatives lived, and I was slightly torn over whether to attend or not. On one hand, the brief time in my childhood when I was close with my grandmother, she had been sweet and loving to me, and I would definitely feel guilty if I didn’t attend. On the other hand, Atlanta was a big city, filled with a lot of people, and at her party there would definitely be a lot of people.

I decided that spending some time with my grandmother on her birthday would be worth shifting through crowds, and I went to the town nearest to me to buy some nice clothes.

When I got back to the cabin things seemed off.
Nothing was out of place, darkness had fallen as usual, but my instincts told me something was wrong. I felt strange as I opened my cabin door. Fear gripped me, not the kind of fear city folk feel when they hide under their blankets, but the kind of fear that gets adrenaline running, the fear instrumental to your survival. As I laid my clothes down I realized it.

I was being watched.

I’m a hunter, I have no time to speculate or ponder whether my fear is pointless paranoia or a genuine sign of danger, so I put my back against the wall and scanned my surroundings. The windows were slightly ajar, stupid to have left them that way I suddenly realized, my bow and arrows were hanging on the wall opposite of me, and I had neglected to shut the door. I noted that if I was attacked, I could easily tear off a piece of loose wood from the wall to defend myself with. I also realized that whatever was watching me was not inside the cabin, I would have seen it otherwise, so the only logical conclusion was that it was in the woods, as the snow would have made an intruder plain even in the darkness.

I dashed to the door, shutting one of the two windows on either side of the cabin in the process. I slammed against the door, locking it. Then, as I dashed across to the other window, I observed it coming out of the woods.

I only saw it for a few seconds, and even then, only its outline, but a pang of fear coupled with adrenaline hit me. It looked human, but something was off. I couldn’t tell due to the distance. But I shut the window with a bang.

Heart pounding, I cursed silently. Fear had let me make the one biggest mistake game makes when it flees a predator: Trapping itself. Sure I was safe in the house (was I?) for a while. But it knew where I was, and I wasn’t going anywhere. I had trapped myself like a bear that climbs up a tree to escape.

Everything was deathly silent. I knew that thing was walking towards my house, but I could hardly hear it. An almost unnoticeable pit-pat as it slowly made its way forward.

Then it knocked on the door. And I heard its voice. A deep, masculine voice with a disturbing vibration too it.

“This night you are warned. Tomorrow the hunt begins in earnest.”

And then, nothing.

I didn’t move a muscle. It seemed like it had gone away, and what it spoke made it seem like it had, but I couldn’t be sure. I hesitantly began moving around, and after nothing happened, I began nervously cutting marks in the wall with my nails. What did it mean? What was it saying? What was IT? These questions floated around in my mind until I drifted off to sleep.

I awoke the next day feeling rejuvenated, despite what had happened last night. For a moment I thought that maybe I had dreamed it all. But when I saw the windows shut tight, the door locked, and the markings I had made on my walls, I realized that it was very much reality. Cautiously I opened the window. Light. It was morning, and judging by the sun’s location, it was about noon. I had slept for a WHILE. With a jolt I realized that if I wished to make it to Atlanta in time for my grandmothers party I needed to head out immediately. I picked up my new shirt and my grandmother’s present (a flute I had carved out earlier to entertain myself) and shoved both into my knapsack. I opened the door hesitantly, but felt safer when I realized I didn’t feel like I was being watched.

As I exited the house I couldn’t help but shiver as I saw the front of my door. There was a large, black handprint on the door, about twice the size of my own. Whatever had knocked on my door was absolutely massive, and yet, there were no footprints in the snow. It had not snowed that day, and although I hadn’t heard it especially clear, I had heard footsteps in the snow. The only logical conclusion was that it had covered its tracks, like a hunter.

I left soon after.

Getting to Atlanta wasn’t much of a hassle. Relatives of mine who also lived in Colorado were actually waiting for me in Denver. They looked at my clothes in a strange way (I was wearing my casual wear, which was basically a fur coat I had made myself) and told me to put on my good clothes before I got on the airplane. I complied, and soon we were off. They tried chatting me up on the way, but I politely told them that I was a tad uncomfortable with talking with others, so they layed off.

Atlanta was too big and too bright. There were too many people, and too many noises. I could hardly concentrate on a single thing. Luckily my grandmothers house was in the suburbs, and there was a lot less of everything there. When I looked up at the night sky, it felt empty. I could hardly see any stars, even in the suburbs. My grandmother was overjoyed to see me though, and I just skulked away in the corner for the rest of the party.

Well, for the rest of the time the party lasted for me.

One moment I has been sitting down in the corner while everyone was off talking and making a ruckus, and the next, everything was silent, and I was in the woods, with my back pressed up against a tree.

For a brief moment I breathed a sigh of relief, and then reality caught on. What the hell happened? What was I doing here? And then it happened.

I felt like I was being watched.

I had no time to think. My memory was good enough to make one key association: The hunt had begun in earnest.

Staying in one place would get me killed. I couldn’t make the same mistake I was allowed back at the cabin. I needed to move and then keep moving. I bolted from the tree as fast as I could, and I could barely hear anything but the sound of me rushing through the forest. Luckily, there was little to no foliage in my way, and the ground was rather solid. It would be difficult to track me efficiently. After a bit of running I slowed down. I didn’t feel watched anymore, but that was hardly easing of my troubles. I had time to think, but I realized that could be dangerous. I couldn’t risk getting lost in thought, I was already lost in the woods, with something after me.

But then I felt it again. It wasn’t watching me, not this time, but it was close. And it was searching.

And so the hunt began. I ripped off my good clothes as soon as possible, running in naught by my underwear. I realized that the forest also had other animals in it: Deer, rabbits, and lone wolves were the chief inhabitants. The forest was also perpetually dark, no matter how long I spent in it, the sun never came up. I eventually surprised a deer, and tore it apart with my bare hands. I had a bit of an unsanitary snack, and stripped its hide from it. The feeling of its hide on my skin was slightly disgusting, but the blood and guts actually made me slightly warmer, and I had to keep moving.

I realized soon that whatever was hunting me always had my trail, no matter how well disguised it was. I could slow it down by covering tracks, but never deter it.

Eventually, the forest gave way to a clearing, and beyond that, a jungle. This was confusing, but I had no time to think, so I made my way into the jungle. Strangely, it was still inhabited by only deer, rabbits, and wolves.

Time passed, I don’t know how much time, but I managed to get myself food from rabbits and some warm clothing made from deer and wolves, as well as a pseudo-weapon by wearing the wolves’ claws and teeth on my arms. As more time passed, it dawned on me that there was no “time limit.” The hunt would continue perpetually, until I was brought down.

Or . . .

A plan began to formulate itself in my head, and as it did I began to run. Not sprint like before when I realized I was being followed, but just run, at a pace which I could keep for a while. And then I found it. Was it by chance? Was it a mercy placed by a higher power? Sport? Who knows, but it was a blessing regardless. I had chanced upon a small cavern. I went inside, and found it was inhabited by wolves. I briskly slew them and had myself a quick snack, before taking their corpses and smearing blood all over the surrounding of the cavern. I then rubbed myself all over it too, so that it would leave a scent of some kind, it was rash to assume that the hunter used scents to find prey, but it was an assumption I had to take. I did everything to leave my scent everywhere, so that it would be indiscernible as to were in the cave I was. After I had done everything I could, I positioned myself in a little gap on the caves ceiling, comfortable enough for me to stay in for a while. Now, all I had to do was wait.

In hindsight, the plan seemed rash and stupid, but it was all I could do at the time. I had no time to fashion tools to make traps with, or even make the traps themselves, and I did what I could.

Not two minutes later, I felt it coming. I could hear its barely audible footsteps coming from outside the cave, and I held my breath. I could barely see it in the darkness of the cave, but its silhouette was strange. Its torso was human, but its legs looked like that of a wolf’s, and its head had the outline of an antelope skull. As it made its way into the cave, it positioned itself right under me.

This was it, now or never. I lunged at it from the top of the cave, and I dug my claws into its back. The thing shrieked a high pitched shriek, and began to attempt to throw me off. I had only one chance left to go for its weak spot (hopefully it had a weak spot) and my hand-claws wrapped around its neck. Without a second of hesitation I ripped it open. The thing gurgled, still attempting to throw me off. I jumped away, and ran out of the cave. I turned around and saw it full on for the first time.

The legs of the creature were undoubtedly wolf legs, at the very least, those that belonged to a canine. Its torso and arms were human, but covered with more hair, extremely muscular, and painted in blood. Its head seemed strangely out of place. It was almost skeletal, with the fringes and ridges of the skull clearly visible along with its horns. It turned to look at me. Its eyes were not those of a beast, but of something else. It attempted to rush at me, but blood seeped from its throat in torrents, and it collapsed. I lunged at it and began clawing and scratching it all over, anything that could potentially hurt it more. It struggled a while longer, but then grew limp.

The hunt was over.

I stood up, panting and breathing heavily, and looked down on my kill. Suddenly, a light erupted from the creature, and I was blown back. I had grown accustomed to the darkness, and the light blinded me. Then I heard the voice again, except this time it was . . . Laughing? The laughing didn’t chill me, it didn’t feel diabolical. It felt rather comforting actually. Then it spoke.

“Human, I have not had a hunt like the one you gave me for a hundred years. I would have gladly slain you in that cave and felt happiness.” It rumbled a bit. “But you have not only managed to elude the hunt, but invert it! I have been slain! THAT has not happened in an age.” There was a pause in the air.

“Your reward is the greatest I may bestow upon you. Become the Hunter. Not the one you were before, but greater.”

I felt a great warmth overtake my body, and drifted off into unconsciousness.

When I woke up, there was no confusion. I knew who I was, and I knew my purpose. In a way, life hasn’t changed all that much, except all the good things I enjoyed back then I enjoy now in a magnitude that is far greater. My eyes are perfect in the darkness of the jungle, I have time to plan and prepare, to lay traps and use tools for my quarry. I prefer the jungle. It is dense, and there is much prey that resides within, and it is a great challenge to hunt without being known. I am undisputedly the most powerful creature in this jungle. I am Hunter. They are Prey.

Report from Detective Williams Vare of the Atlanta Police Department

We are getting nowhere with the investigation. Dogs and people are still going missing, and there is not one eyewitness to confirm a suspect. We’re running out of options here, and the reports are getting more and more ludicrous. People taken in the middle of the street? Apartments eight stories high just emptied out, with nothing but the window open? Bones found on top of skyscrapers? My investigation hasn’t revealed anything in common with those gone missing, so we don’t have any real “leads.”

And whoever keeps sending me reports based off rumors of some kind of beast twice the size of a man being responsible, stop it. This is Atlanta. We have no time for fools.

original content, 12/29/11, /x/

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