The Hunter--Part Two
The Hunter--Part Two
He already knows something is wrong, but he doesn't know what or where. He studies my direction hard, but I'm just a clump of dead wood. A mosquito lands under my eye. Oh, the torture! Don't twitch, Caleb ... don't you dare twitch! Forty yards now ... not quite close enough for a sure kill ... closer now ... thirty yards. I wait for him to turn his head away from me, and raise my bow. But I can't draw, not yet. He's looking at me again. A squirrel catches his attention for a moment ... just enough ... and I slowly draw back. The wood of my longbow creaks a bit at its limit, and his eyes dart to me. No, clever old buck ... I'm just the wind in a tree. He's nervous, but I can't loose the arrow while he's looking at me. He'll dodge it for sure. My fingers ache ... white as dead flesh under the pressure I'm holding back. He looks away, and my arrow flies. The twang is enough warning for him to duck ... he's so fast! But I'm crafty too, and I knew he would duck, so I aimed low. The arrow enters behind his front shoulder, passing through his heart and out the other side. Still, he runs for nearly four hundred yards before his legs give out and he falls. His last breaths are leaving him when I reach the scene, and I mercifully put an end to it with a well placed knife blade. I go to my knees beside him and stroke his coat, in awe of the creature before me. I thank him for his death and meat. I didn't enjoy killing him, not for a moment, but I'm hungry ... and that's the way of it. His blood tastes metallic and hot as I take a bite of his freshly stopped heart, like my ancestors did. I run bloody fingers across my eye, so I might wear his mark and remember his sacrifice. And while I pack his body out to be taken home and shared, to give life back, the other animals will know who I am and what I came for. I am the hunter, neither wasteful nor cruel. I know what feeds my body, and where the life comes from. I saw the life before it was given, and took it as well. One day my own death will come, and the worms will hunt me, giving me back to the plants. Deer will pass, and I pray that I might feed them, just as they have fed me. I am the hunter.