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The animal within finds its way to the outside world in a cruel twist that forces a young woman into the shadows, but she does not want to stay there...

Submitted:Oct 17, 2010    Reads: 46    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Alan Dale Dalby
The soul has a taste for goodness, just as the body has an appetite for pleasure.
- Joseph Joubert
Her prey died the violent death befitting of such a beast.It suffered and screamed and squirmed and thrashed against the weight of her as she held it down.She tore at the flesh of the beast with her teeth and pulled its body apart with her thin able fingers.All the while that it was being devoured, the beast was alive.It looked to her with desperation, the huntress that had set her sights on this meal the very moment she had spotted it crossing her path, pleading in vein.This was as things had always been for Season.She was too strange to exist within the confines of the world that had birthed her and too agile and powerful to be destroyed by it.As death came finally to her meal, she too suffered and wept.Her screams and howls spirited the silence of the forest away.The eyes of her prey were still so alive, frozen in the torturous horror that was this beast's tragic finale.
This man had made the mistake of many men that had come before him.It was rooted deep in his nature and applauded by his nurture that he should find the shapely female form so desirable.It was simply the rashness of the moment which had sealed his fate.In this moment he found what a fool this had made him to be.He followed the body of the seductress but found only the fangs of the huntress waiting for him.
The blood cooled in her palms and the taste soured on her tongue.She was not far enough from the civilized jungle to feel free to bask in this, nor had she ever been able to do so.Regret was striking and panic flavored the song of the night.The dying echoes of her animalistic cries stayed with her.It was time to move.
Season felt her body fly into the trees as if she were carried by something outside of herself.The curious flashlight of the approaching witness began to shake wildly in his hand as he discovered what was left of the one who would have courted Season's long tempting legs yet could find only fear when her wild stare struck him; her whiskers would rise as her dark lips curled back, the flash of white from her fangs alone could have stopped the heart of many a man from finding the strength to go on beating.
Season fled from the cover of the woods and found her way back to the road.She pulled the hood of her jacket up to cover her feline features and pulled on her thick mittens to block the sight of long sharp claws protruding from the tips of her otherwise delicate fingers.The red gravel crunched and popped beneath the heels of her boots as she walked back to her home.
It was a secretive and safe place that kept her hidden from the world that would regret having spawned such a creature, the world that would fear her and hate her for what she was.She wanted them to be wrong.She wanted nothing else so badly.Her tears fell for the fallen man who had drawn the animal out of her once more that night.She never intended these things to happen they just simply did happen.
She waited for the day that seemed so distant and impossible when she would find someone who could understand her.She did not strive for something as grand as love.She simply wanted to chase the fear away for a change and let a man know her for the heart that was thundering within her chest and not the animal that licked at her leathery lips now with its coarse sandpaper tongue.
Along came a new creature made of plastic that she could sit in front of and use to talk to the outside world without being seen at all.The towers had come at long last to her corner of the world and brought the world with them, the only world that could ever know her.She typed away at the keyboard, catching on to the rhythm she required to stop her claws from popping small plastic letters up from it and onto the floor.Her profile was up and visible, her mask officially in place.She did not have to wait long for a gentleman to come calling in the form of a small box that appeared on her screen and sang to her.
Hello there.It said without speaking.My name is Evan.What is your name?
With her hopes higher than she knew she should allow them to fly she placed her claws onto the plastic letters and gently replied.
They talked often and at long lengths over a period of several weeks.Evan knew that Season was an orphan who had been shuffled from one home to another until falling on her feet as soon as she turned eighteen, though she made no mention of why that might have been.
Season knew that Evan loved to play his guitar and sit by the stream, or the creek, or any body of water that he could find and breathe in the freshness of the mountain air.
They both danced so carefully around the subject of meeting.
Evan was playing the gentleman as he claimed to often do, and Season was playing things safe as she never failed to do.
She was so careful not to tell Evan more than he should rightly know about her fourth stepfather as she spoke to him of the one and only man that she had ever felt comfortable around.She was able to trust the man who had schooled her well on the ways of the world that was waiting to devour her and spit out her bones for all to see.That way they could say to each other "Now we are safe from her.Now she cannot ever harm us for we have drawn first and last blood."
This had been a fine lesson but had come from a twisted mentor.Though she had seen in his face the same disgust that she had been accustomed to since her memories had begun, she had seen another thing for the very first time.It was the lust that he had tried his best to hide.His eyes found her so unnatural and so repulsive above the neck, but the rest of her had bloomed and become something that she now knew all men craved.The mixture of the thing that was so wrong with her and the shapes and contours that were so very right caused a sensation within this man that he had little control over.
Season had thought him sick.She had thought of his mind as having been distorted by the taboo that was her completeness.He found the monster alluring and could not abate his temptation.
The day he made his move was the day that Season had her very first taste of blood.She had been no stranger to violence but it had never come from her own hands until she had felt the cold clammy paws of her fourth and most trusted stepfather upon her in places that they should not have wandered.He had suffered greatly as the animal claimed her entirely and turned upon him.She had learned to quiet a man's screams by ripping his throat out of his neck, but that let him die too quickly and did not sate the animal's desires.
Season told Evan instead of a man who had raised her right, set her straight, and had sculpted a rough idea of the woman that she had since become.The truth inside of the lie was that the fourth stepfather had created her.
She could only imagine what simplistic meaning Evan had found in the choppy version of her life story that she had read to him.His eyes would have smiled as they looked at her words forming on the screen that filled his own mysterious home with the same glow that filled Season's own little cabin in the woods.
The weeks became months and soon a year had passed by.Season could not understand at first why this man was staying with her, the unseen and untouched mystery woman called Season.She longed to know his face and find a place within his heart but she knew that it simply could not be.
I want you all to myself dear Season.Evan did not push her as many of her other would-be suitors had tried to.He was soft and gentle with his words, and very generous and patient when it came to his time.I think that soon I will no longer be able to hold myself back.I might simply track you down now that I have come to know you so well.Today I found myself alone again with the warmth of the summer sun caressing my face and thought only of you.I wanted so badly for you to be there with me Season.I think it is time, don't you?
Season felt her heart beating out of control with fear and love grinding against one another inside of her.She was panting hard and the world was beginning to spin.How could she now find this man who she longed to be with a monster just like the rest of his kind; a beast that would set his eyes upon her body with a smile only to give into sickness when he saw the face behind the mask?
The very thought of Evan reacting in such a way sent her into a wild frenzy of primal rage.She leapt onto the couch and howled, ripping the stuffing out of it and throwing the pillows around the cabin.Her body thrashed out of control and sent her flailing onto the sturdy table that held her computer.Thoughtlessly the animal destroyed the only connection that Season had to her beloved Evan.
She found her tears returning to her as she looked over the scraps of plastic and bits of wire that were strewn all over the floor of her cabin.The animal had calmed and now Season felt herself returning to sanity.She had ruined it all in her fury.She had lost her Evan for good, and perhaps that was for the best.Her heartbeat drowned out the sound of logic and found her emotions controlling her again only not so savagely this time.
"I am not a beast like the men of this world."She told herself."I will not give into what they think of me any longer."
Season was content then to let Evan go and let the world continue to turn without any threat from her.She would no longer kill.No matter what this required of her she had bound herself to keep this seemingly simple promise made in an instant.In that same instant there was a loud knocking at her door.
"I know that you are there Season."
She froze and waited as still as she could be, which was very still indeed.She could be so stealthy and quiet at times, times when it was a necessity to be just that.She waited for this man to leave her be but he did not do as he should have.She did not hear his footsteps walk away.How anyone had managed to sneak up on her was a great mystery to begin with.He had known that she was in the midst of a fit.He had to have known.He had used the moment to come to her door without her noticing his scent or his boots against the dirt causing loud sounds that tended to stab at Season's eardrums.
"I am sorry to impose in such a way but I had to let you know that I am real Season."It was clear now that Evan was the man at her door.This caused Season greater anguish.His scent was so sweet and his voice so beautiful that she could hardly stand not to let him in or herself out.That is when the fear arose once more.The fear that she would turn on him after he turned on her struck hard.She wished that he would just leave and that it would all be over with.
"I know you Season.You will have to forgive me for what I have done but I have seen you.I have seen you Season and I want you to see me as well.We are no different Season.You and I are the very same and I need you to see me so that you will know that what I am saying to you is the truth."
A thought occurred to her then. Could there be another out there that was just like her?The prospect spoke loudly to the animal and to her heart.She was at the door before her thoughts could speak of reason.It flew open and there she stood.Season was fully exposed for what she was, only to find that a very normal man stood on the other side of the door waiting for her.
"Hello Season."Evan was not the least bit frightened nor was he at all shocked by her appearance.He looked her in the eyes and extended his open hand.He was a man of average height with an average haircut and wore very average clothing, yet he accepted her for being exactly the opposite of himself.
"We are not the same Evan."Season ignored his hand and folded her arms.His eyes did not fall to the claws that vanished into the slot between her arms and her ribcage.They did not look down to examine her body, though if they had she might not have taken offense.He stayed focused on her face, whiskers and all.His eyes met hers without a twitch.He did know her after all it seemed.
"Yes we are my dear."Evan stepped in closer and his look became one of longing.Before she could fight it his lips were upon her own and her first kiss was happening almost without her being present.Season came back into herself and allowed the kiss to be felt and for Evan to wrap his strong arms around her waist.She sank into the kiss completely and did not fear the animal for the first time since it had first taken her so long ago.
For the first time in her entire life Season was completely happy.
They talked on into the night with Evan's eyes fixed upon her face.He listened to her, hanging on her every word so intently that Season began to feel self conscious.Her voice suddenly stopped.She cleared her throat and folded her hands in her lap awkwardly.
"Are you feeling okay?"Evan reached out and took one of her hands, claws and all, and held it in his.
"I am wonderful Evan."Season broke into tears of a different flavor than the ones she was accustomed to.These tasted of joy."I am better than wonderful actually.I am in love."
With that Evan kissed her hand.He looked it over and gently wove his fingers into her own, careful not to cut himself on her sharp claws.He wrapped his other arm around her as he scooted closer to her on the couch.Season fell asleep in front of the glowing fireplace that night.She curled into Evan's warmth with a smile stretched across her feline face and purred.
The next morning Season found herself alone on the couch in the very spot where she had fallen asleep.She thought at first that it had all been a wonderful dream but soon heard Evan's voice calling to her.She stretched and yawned and got up from the couch.She was outside in seconds and looking around for Evan, wherever he might have gone to.
"Where are you my dear man?"Season asked with a tone in her voice that sparkled and danced.The sun had come out and the world was beginning to show how bright it could truly be.A sharp sound caused Season to turn and look to the ground next to her feet.She saw the arrow and knew in an instant that her dream was very real but had suddenly become a nightmare.
"I wanted you to have a head start Season."Evan said from his hillside perch above Season and her small cabin in the woods."A head start before I mount that beautiful head of yours on my wall.I thought you should be flattered in a way Season.A woman who looks like you probably never could have seen herself as a trophy wife, but I will make a fine trophy of you yet."
Season waited for the animal to react.She waited for the beating of her heart to play the song of the jungle for her and guide her to this beast so that she might dispatch of him quickly and regret the act later if she found it to be regrettable.
Something was wrong for the animal did not stir.
"The fastest way to a woman's head is through her heart my dear."Evan raised his bow and took aim at her, pulling back an arrow whose head looked more deadly than her claws could ever have been.Evan was unhappy seeing his prey stand there, unmoving and careless of the danger he was presenting to it.
"I will not give you the sport that you seek Evan."Season could not hear the animal nor could she feel it anywhere inside of her; only the woman that inhabited her shapely body stirred now, devastated by a broken heart.She knew that the chase was what Evan was after.She knew from her own experience as a huntress that the feeling of it made one feel virile and alive.Yet Season felt more alive than Evan could ever hope to at that very moment.
The first arrow shot through the flesh and bone of her left thigh.Season's body responded and she fell to one knee, but she herself did not react to the blow.Evan slid down the hill as he reloaded his bow, pulling another arrow from his modern quiver and taking aim once again.Season did not try to pull the first arrow out of her thigh, nor did she attempt to move out of the way of the second.
It shot into her right thigh and sank in even deeper than the first.Evan frowned at her as her body writhed and jerked.Season was now down on both knees still refusing to offer her hunter the sport that he sought.The hunter approached the huntress with his third arrow aimed at her chest. She felt the ground between her fingers and dug into it gently with her sharp claws.It still would have been a simple matter of pouncing upon him and ending his life to save her own, but still the animal did not stir.
"Why won't you run like a good girl Season?Didn't you know it was hunting season, Season?"Evan tried to smile but he had no real reason to; a year of planning and watching for all Season knew, and now she was causing all of his work to go to waste.
"I am keeping a promise."She said as she looked him directly in the eyes.His seemed cold now.They must always have been cold, something she should have seen but she had let the animal become blinded by her need for human contact.
"I hope that it is worth throwing your life away over Season, I truly do." Evan released his hold on the third and final arrow.He was only a few feet away from Season now.The final shot nearly passed through her without making a stop.Season fell back and onto her side.Her eyes were now dim as the light that was inside of her, the life that she had once possessed was now gone.The world had done with her exactly what it had always wanted to do.She did not belong, she should never have been, and yet somehow she was.
Season's last thoughts as she waited for the final arrow to pierce her heart were of the men she herself had torn so violently from their lives and into the unknown.Would she meet with them again?Where did the creatures that did not belong go after their first life had ended?She thought it certain that she did not belong with human beings in death any more so than she had in life.Yet this was the final thought that gave her comfort, for as she stared at the tip of the arrow that would end her life she finally realized that she was no different at all. She and Evan had been exactly as he had said they were.She and Evan were the same.
One life ended and one life continued on that day.The beating of the jungle drums continued on after Season had vanished.The animal did not die with her that day.The animal lives on.


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