The Hunter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A hunting chase is on in a medieval forest during the early spring. 'The Hunter' attempts to explain certain dangerous, risky, and brutal decisions that may be taken by both animals and people when they are cornered and have no other choice but to partially gamble with their life. Yet it is made clear that in living beings there should be little wish to do harm when forced to hurt, and to approach even such deeds with humility, at times - mercy, and not to do more harm than necessary. This short story debates whether to hunt and hurt are merely natural urges that ought to be respected, or artificial and unnecessary pieces of nature that are not aiding to its balance, but disturbing it.

Submitted: March 01, 2019

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Submitted: March 01, 2019

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His steps were soundless and almost did not even leave a trace upon the soft, soaken soil of the early spring. There wasn’t any doubt that such elegant movement could only be the fruit of longlasting practice and huge life experience. That he was born exclusively to become as best as he can in his craft was a fact. His sharp, reliable sight was splitting the daylight into countless number of colors that gleamed over the dewy burgeons of the sleepy beech forest, as his ears carefully focused on the whole space around him in order to notice any sort of irregularity in the silence that fulfilled him. He was born to hunt.

It could have been considered a blessing – the possibility to live in a time when his body was purified by the fresh, cool air that still held a savour more alike to that of snow than the lush spring leaves that almost shyly shunned from the cold at the peaks of many branches. Maybe he would have valued this moment even more than he did, but a thought was engraved in his mind. A thought that this forest shall forever stay this clean and this fresh. In his mind the beeches were as eternal and insensitive as the rocks upon which he was stepping and the rays of sun forever weighed and unvaried. But, his admiration, all of a sudden, was interrupted. He did hope for that to happen, however.

He turned slightly to the left, towards the source of a sound alike to that of a wrong step and towards a scent warmer than the dry breeze that was swaying the young and greenish stems of various flowers with enough courage to spite the treacherous weather. The search was continued with those same careful steps, though now his walk was a bit faster. Losing the trace was not an option. After a short while of wandering, he would stop for a moment in order to let his sounds die down and the ones of his prey liven up, and then he would again continue dodging the branches of bushes and pulling through the narrow passages between the skinny tree trunks in virtually the same direction. The scent was only becoming stronger, which assured him that he was going to encounter his future victim. Indications of fatigue were now present in his wrists after some time spent in this silent, calm chase, but he for sure had the intent to persist, given that he did not eat for two days already, since the others have driven him off, in order to prove himself that he does not need them. In the end, he was not the first to whom such a thing happened, and judging by the shortage of the game, not the last one either.

In the next moment, he sighted his target. It was a skinny rabbit who probably left his burrow hoping that he would find something eadible after a long winter spent hiding from the frost that raged across these areas up until recently. The decision of a small critter to appear on the surface in its root carries the fear of fatal destiny, but his future would not have stayed unchanged had he not done anything, as it will not remain now either. When two options were put in front of him, one – to starve without a fight in the dark, underground, and peacefully meet his end, and the other – to try his luck and attempt to save himself under the threat of painful death, he truly had no other choice but to be brave. Life made him appear in that place, at that moment. To his remorse, the surface proved to have been equally barren as the burrow from which he came out, but it was neither warm nor protected as that rabbit’s home.

At one instance, the hunter thought he might have heard something else besides the upset breathing of a small, brown rabbit, as if someone else was also present at the other side. equally wishful of the pray and equally carefully hiding his presence to the weak animal, but he was almost certain that that somebody could not have noticed him.

And he was right. As soon as the right chance appeared, a man of black hair and high stature stood up from the shelter of a nearby bush, drew his bow and aimed it towards the rabbit, willing to kill him as quick and easy as possible. Once he let the arrow loose, everything was over in the blink of an eye, with the sounds of sharp metal splitting the air and the painful outcry of a body whose soul is leaving it. At first, that seemingly experienced archer was more than satisfied with his hasty reaction and accuracy, as he watched his victim whose muscles were yoking without any order or reason, so posthumously, during that mysterious passing beyond. The arrow stuck in the animal’s belly equally followed those movements, and from the wound streamed clear, young blood, staining the soft rabbit hide. However, the man’s euphoria lasted shortly. His step towards the catch was followed by the step of a hunter opposed to him that finally decided to step out from the safety of a thicket. It would be an understatement to say that the man’s legs were set in stone once he had seen the sharp white teeth and the dense grey fur of the beast in front of him that shortly thereafter started growling, and that low, threatening tone permeated through his whole being and froze the blood in his veins. Its hungry eyes were facelessly targeted towards the drops of sweat on the man’s forehead. The ones of the archer could not shift their sight away from them. There was something in those two wolf’s eyes that indicated that he would never see them again from this proximity and with this fear.

Those moments passed slowly. The time was measured by heartbeats and the future and the past disappeared, seemingly leaving the whole life to that one moment of the present, as if it is the only one that exists and that ever existed. And maybe it was, then... *and always*.

The wolf started approaching.

The man managed to murmur something out of his mouth, perhaps hoping to calm down the beast, and at first, it looked as if they could not make the wolf stop in any way, but already the next moment, he slowed down his movement, and later even halted in front of the rabbit’s body, as if that was the border that he did not wish to pass. Two of them looked each other in the eyes, one more than eager to run, another more than eager to tare his opponent apart... yet there they stood, simply looking.

In the next instance, the wolf took the rabbit’s neck in his jaws, and pondered for a moment more, perhaps looking for acknowledgement or submission in the man’s fear. He hoped that this would serve him as a lesson.

Then, the time resumed, and the beast was gone... the man did not even notice when it disappeared, when the swift winds have taken it away, yet he was grateful to all that there was for another chance to live that he had been granted.


© Copyright 2019 Urke. All rights reserved.

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