Prey

Reads: 64  | Likes: 3  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 3

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A deer is relentlessly hunted by hungry humans.

Submitted: August 08, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 08, 2017

A A A

A A A


Prey

 

The woods were still. Plants cried raindrops off their leaves, and emaciated stalks hung over the ground as if they had given up. The trees breathed softly, their trunks the colour of dark mud. There was a mist in the air that covered the fauna in a ghostly cloak, and the shifting clouds were irritated and grey. They threatened more rain, but refused to unleash their downpour for now.

Nibbling on a bush of nettles was a spotted deer. She was as still as the trees around her, only her masticating mouth making movement. She stood on long, pole-like legs, and her fur was a warm brown with streaks of ash-blonde. Her eyes were large and unblinking. As she ate, her movements became smaller. The woods were becoming too still, too quiet. She looked up and noted her surroundings. Nothing breathed or moved, and that was the problem. Birds had ceased their chattering, small mammals had ceased their scuffling.

She didn’t eat another bite, but only stood where she was, listening, and turning her head. And more disturbing than that – she found herself waiting. Minutes creaked past like an opening oak door, and soon the stillness became unbearable. She bolted.

She reached a noisier section of the woods. It was quiet, but not chillingly so. There were rustles and tweets, and she found a patch of velvet-purple flowers to munch on. She did so quite contently for a while, and then the sullen clouds that thrashed out rain earlier decided now was a good time to throw another tantrum. Rain swept down like waves, and each drop acted like a kamikaze as it pelted down onto the Earth with suicidal velocity. The deer shook her head and threw the fat droplets away from her ears and eyes. The clouds also threatened thunder, but none were quite so bitter as to rage out a storm.

Birds stopped tweeting. Small mammals stopped scuffling. The rain kept pelting - loudly. Rain kept the woods busy, kept it noisy. The deer continued to feed. Even when the long, flying object whipped towards her, she didn’t look up. She heard it whip the air past her, and splinter off the tree next to her. The arrow fell to the ground almost angrily, its pointed, shining head still sharp and spiteful. The deer snapped her head to the left and in a flash saw four grizzled men. One was lowering a recently-fired bow, and the other three were hissing and snapping at him. The deer turned and fled uphill,

She ran for a long time through sheets of green and brown, and her feet barely touched the ground. She danced and skipped past trees, her hooves leaving deep prints in the wet mud. The deer’s body brushed past bushes, snapped off twigs, and flattened grass. All of it left a trail so obvious it might as well have been a footpath. By the time she stopped, she was in a section alien to her. Fat, cantankerous rocks were strewn here and there, and she had to attentively step over each one. The trees were fewer, the fauna thinner. The rain raged harder. On shivering legs, she moved into a collection of hedges and sat down, panting. She wanted to sleep, but she daren’t.

Barely twenty minutes into this grey storm, she heard something coming from the south – the direction she had just bounded in from; something that fell out of sync with the infinite rain. It was too loud, too inelegant. They were stomps, they were slushes. And they were stalking. She moved her head up, her breath still rattling in and out. Her nose touched the air and wiggled, but was unable to report anything. Those slushing stomps came closer. And there, in the distance, through the thicket of trees – emerging shapes that pushed the bushes aside. She observed the oncoming humans, their bare bodies burned brown by the sun, their faces lined with streaks of white war paint, their hair long and bristled. They crept through the woods, studying the branches she had snapped off, the grass she had flattened, the hoof prints she left. They followed these signs, and then one by one their faces turned towards her. They uttered not a word, but made strange hand signals to one another. One patted the knife affixed to his hip, and another brought up his bow and reached into the quiver strapped to his back…

She fled.

She ran far this time, and her journey was a long one, despite her weary legs and heaving breath. Rain rushed into her face and eyes with every step, and thunder grumbled threateningly. A crack of lightning shrieked, and the flash of it dazzled her eyes and confused her mind. She made a crazed right turn after hearing that hideous boom, and the diving rain seemed to hit her all the harder. The once grey clouds were now black and rumbled acrimoniously to one another. The rocks tripped up her feet, the thorned trees snagged at her hide, and the branches whipped at her face. Small red blisters emerged all over her body, and her lungs deflated like old balloons. Lightning cracked again.

She stopped because she had to. This place was something of a wasteland. The ground was gritty and black, the rocks were big and stupid, the trees were gnarled and ancient. There was no cover here, but she had travelled far away. Too far for the humans to follow, surely. Her lungs cried. Her head was dizzy. Her legs were screaming. She sat down and curled up, hoping to camouflage herself against the ground. The storm-clouds were merciless in their onslaught; they cast rain down like machine gun bullets, and their bellows rumbled deeper, like giant, hungry stomachs. The deer was cold and afraid, and there was nothing to do but wait for the storm to pass. She closed her eyes.

*

They slipped out of the woodland like wandering spectres. The humans were not cold, afraid, or tired. Their advance was inexorable, and they stepped as lightly as they could over this dead, black ground. They noted the deer and nodded and eyed one another. They also noted the deer’s fatigued form, struggling for breath and warmth under a waterfall of clouds. They moved to within forty feet of their prey, and three of them gave the archer a hard stare.

Don’t fuck it up this time.

The archer didn’t need to meet their stony gazes, and nocked an arrow. He focused on the deer’s head, whose eyes were scrunched shut. Perhaps the beast didn’t know they were there, but maybe it did. Maybe it had given up trying to outrun them. The metal arrowhead gleamed sharply in the rain, and it almost seemed to send a message to the clouds above, because it conducted a terrific bolt of lightning. A blaze of white roared into the humans, and in less than a second, their blackened forms toppled over, their charred bodies quickly dampened by the relentless rain.

The deer forgot its fatigue and dashed back into the woods; cold, afraid, and alive.


© Copyright 2017 Reagle. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Reagle

Short Story / Horror

Dive

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Tickle

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Popular Tags