Sweat rolled down the hunter's face, starting from his forehead, then rolling down to his nose. Still he remained motionless, fighting the urge to reach up and brush the drop of perspiration from his face.
It was the middle of September; summer was on its last leg, but the cool breeze of autumn were still a few weeks away.
The woods were alive all around the man; birds chirping and flying from tree to tree, accadians playing their constant drone, and other small animals moving through the brush, completely oblivious to the stranger in the forest.
The hunter was sitting beneath a large oak tree, deep in the middle of the East Texas Piney woods. He had gathered some fallen branches and brush from nearby and made a half circle around the tree to conceal himself and his gear.
Directly in front of the hunters position was a strip of open woods, roughly 100 yards long, with thick underbrush on both sides. This area made a perfect shooting lane for the hunter.
Movement to the left of the lane caught the man's attention, and he gripped his rifle just a bit tighter as a small form stepped out of the brush and stopped in the middle of the lane.
Though the sun had just set over the treeline, there was still plenty of light for the man to make out the object in the open woods. It was a coyote, a dog like hunter and scavenger very common to this area, and whose numbers had grown in the past few months.
The small predator had stopped to feast on the bloody remains of half a cow, which had been placed there by the hunter as bait. As the first coyote began to eat on the carcass, two more stepped out from the brush and approached the dead animal.
"Damn" the hunter muttered under his breath. Cursing his luck, he slowly raised his rifle into shooting position and lined up the guns sights with the group of scavengers just shy of 100 yards away.
The rifle was semi-automatic, and could fire at a fairly fast rate. He might be able to put two or three rounds downwind before the animals scattered, but at that rate of fire his accuracy would suffer. If he was lucky, he would be able to drop two of the coyotes, but three was near impossible.
He took in a good breath, focussed down his rifles sights, and placed his finger on the trigger. Slowly he began putting pressure on the trigger, squeezing gently. But movement down the lane halted his progress, and he quickly removed his finger.
Down at the dead bovine, all three animals had their heads lifted from their meal, staring into the brush to the right of the lane. Low growls erupted from the coyotes as they entered defensive stances, lowering their heads to the ground. The sound of brush rustling and branches snapping found the hunters ears, but the woods were too thick to see through more than a few feet.
By this time the coyotes had moved to the left side of the dead cow, slowly inching away and back into the brush. As the rustling grew nearer, the coyotes one by one retreated from the opening and scampered away into the thicket, leaving their easy meal barely touched.
The hunter held his breath, his eyes focussed on the right side of the lane, waiting for movement and the emergence of the cause of the commotion. Suddenly the man could see the foliage begin moving as the source grew closer and closer to the opening.
The brush finally ceased moving as the figure of a human being stepped out of the woods. It was a woman who appeared to be wearing the remnants of a red dress, barely held together by small sections of dirty clothing.
The woman continued to amble into the clearing, slowly and with a strange lazy limp from one of her legs. The figure seemed to be giving chase to the three coyotes, but then turned around and stumbled towards the bloody cow remains. The woman then proceeded to kneel down a begin eating on the dead animal.
Soon after two more figures appeared from the brush and ambled towards the carcass, both human males. One was a large man with tattered pants and a white shirt, while the other was short and skinny, and wore no clothes at all. They immediately began feasting on the bloody cow, just as more humans began appearing out of the thicket. Within seconds there were seven people bent down feasting on the carcass.
A gunshot rang out the the quiet forest as a 5.56 mm bullet shot through the humid air, plowed through the head of the naked man eating on the cow, and buried itself into the ground behind him. The man quickly fell over, the blood from his head now mixing with the dead cows.
The six remaining people lifted their heads up from their meal, searching for the source of the loud noise, just as another bullet came soaring in, this time catching an elderly woman in the temple and sending her backwards onto the ground.
This second shot had given away the hunters position, and the five remaining figures rose from their dinner and began making their way towards the hunter's makeshift blind.
Three of them charged forward at full running speed up the lane towards the hunter, while the other two ambled along at a much slower pace. All were growling and howling, eager to locate what might be their next meal.
The hunter focussed his rifle on the lead human, the woman who had first appeared in the clearing, and who was now 75 yards away and closing fast. The first burst caught the woman in the shoulder, staggering her for just a moment before she continued her charge up the alley. THe second shot went high and missed, but the third hit the woman square in the forehead, dropping her in her tracks.
By this time an african american man had sprinted past the fallen woman and was only 50 yards away from the hunter's position. A quick aim and another pull of the trigger sent the charging man's body flying backwards and down to the ground.
The final person running at full speed, a young man, was now only 30 yards away, hands reaching out ready to grab the hunter as soon as he was in range.
The hunter quickly rose from his brush dwelling, put down his rifle, and reached down to pick up a long scabbard. From it he pulled out a long curved blade, a black machete, and began walking towards the oncoming maniac.
By now the charging man was within 10 yards of the hunter, his bloody mouth agape, ready to bite into its next meal. When he was just a few feet away from the machete-wielding hunter, the crazy man lunged forward, ready to devour his new prey.
At exactly that time, the hunter quickly sidestepped to the right, causing the man to miss his grapple. With one swift swing, the hunter brought his machete slicing downwards, and struck right on the man's neck. The razor sharp blade cut through skin, muscle and bone as the charging man's head was completely removed from his body. The man's forward momentum caused him to continue forward and finally fall to the ground, the bloody grotesque head rolling a few feet away.
The hunter paused for a moment to catch his breath and composer. He then walked back to his blind, reached down into his pack for his canteen of water, took a quick swig, and began calmly walking towards the two remaining bodies ambling towards him.
The nearest was a young girl, probably no older than twelve or thirteen, wearing old tattered jeans and a t-shirt with a logo on it which was too torn and faded to make out. As the hunter drew closer, the young girl reached her bloody arms outwards, ready to grab at the man as soon as she could. With two swings, the machete cut through the girls arms and shoulder, knocking her to the ground and howling in anger. One downward thrust of the hunter's blade into the girls head brought all activity to an abrupt halt.
The final bloody figure in the lane was a middle aged hispanic woman with long black hair that came down to the middle of her back. One of her legs was clearly broken, but still she hobbled on towards the hunter, arms out and mouth open.
The man paused for a slight moment to look at the woman slowly approaching him. Something in his mid caused him to hesitate. A memory from a time long passed entered his thoughts, and for a moment he was lost in it.
But he only gave it that moment.
The hunter looked up from his memory and back at the woman ambling towards him, now only a few feet away. With his long machete he sliced at the woman, knocking her to the ground and causing a large gush of black blood to spew onto the forest floor. The woman howled in rage and frustration, but could not pick herself up with her broken leg, nor reach up and grab the man standing over her.
The man looked down on the bloody, dirty creature one last time, allowing the memory to take over for one more instant. But that was all he could afford to give it for now. The sun was all the way set now behind the trees, and needed to be out of the woods before night fell.
Without wasting another second, the man flipped his machete over and drove the blade down into the woman's skull, causing her to cease her flailing and growling, and go limp. The hunter placed his boot on the woman's face and quickly pulled the blade from her forehead, wiped the blood on her tattered shirt, and returned it to the scabbard on his side.
The man paused, listening for any more noises in the brush. The gunshots would have attracted any others that were close by, but the woods had returned to its quiet overture as the forest began to fall into darkness for another night.
The hunter proceeded up the lane and back to his blind, took another drink from his canteen, and began backing up his things into his pack. With his rifle slung over his back, he drew out his pistol and small personal flashlight and began his trek out of his hunting ground.