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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.