The Hunter

thehunter

The grass tasted terrible.

My first thought of the day. Every time I wake up it takes a while for my brain to start thinking, and it only did so only after I automatically nibbled the grass. It had none of the refreshing flavour grass usually had; instead, it felt like the inside of my mouth was being sliced up.

This wasn’t my grass, and it wasn’t my countryside either. It looked like my countryside; same rolling hills, same shades of green, and yet I could tell this wasn’t my countryside. It certainly wasn’t my farm.

I wasn’t supposed to be out here at this moment. Today was the day of the fair, the day of the sheep race which I was supposed to run in. Yet here I was all by myself, out in the open with the new countryside, the disgusting grass and what looked like a big blob of bubbling tar.

Seeing that made my brain fully awaken, and finally I had the energy to run. Run where I didn’t know, just away from wherever that blob came from. Instead I ran right to it.

Before me stood a man, dressed no differently from most men I’ve seen. Flat cap, tweed jacket, waistcoat, boots. Most men I’ve seen, however, didn’t have green skin. Most men I’ve seen had noses, mouths and ears. The face of this man was nothing but a pair of large yellow eyes and a tube where there should have been a nose and mouth.

Next to him was a dog. At least what substituted for one. What looked like a giant sentient wig with fangs and legs that reminded me of needles. As soon as the hairy lump snarled at me, I ran in the opposite direction as another blob of tar soared over my head.

I turned around quickly to see the man launch the blobs from the tube on his face. That, and his “dog” scuttling towards me.

Faster, faster I ran, as much as it pained my legs to do so. I tried to convince myself I was overtaking the dog, yet I swore I could still feel its breath against my wool. I was even certain I could hear its master laughing at me.

I forced my body to run through the empty fields, clenching my teeth in an attempt to lessen the pain in my legs. I turned left towards a fallen tree, leaping over it in an attempt to confuse the monster.

Then I ran right into another. What looked like a naked deer with skin as green as the hunter, whose antlers looked like skinny human arms. With a high-pitched shriek, it charged towards me, and again I ran, my legs throbbing all the more.

I ran to the direction of a voice yelling, ‘Over here!’

This led me to a wood, with trees similar to what I saw back home, and even an animal I actually knew. A stag, an actual stag, not a green shrieking parody of one. It moved its head to the left as a gesture to come closer, and as I ran into the wood, he backed away. As soon as we moved deep enough into the wood that we were sure neither the furry beast nor the green creature could see us, he spoke again:

‘I suppose he still isn’t satisfied.’

‘Who isn’t? The hunter?’

‘Yes.’ The deer nodded. ‘He got tired of hunting the animals in his world so he went and pulled animals from our world.’

‘How is he doing it? Can I get…’

‘If I knew how to get back, I wouldn’t be here!’ snapped the stag before taking a deep breath, and saying, ‘Sorry. It’s just…I’ve been evading him for so long, and I don’t know how much longer I can do this…’

‘I’ve got a race today and…’

‘That’s…’ snarled the stag before quickly recomposing himself, ‘…not really important right now. What’s important is that we get back. I know where the Hunter’s house is. You’re smaller than me, so you can probably sneak.’

Another screech made me run further into the forest instinctively, only for me to return to the stag once the dreadful noise ended. He lay dead, a bird digging its claws into his flesh. A bird with wings like those of a bat and a forked tongue springing from a twisted beak.

As I hid behind a tree and tried to ignore the giant writhing blob of guilt in my gut, the bird picked up the stag and flew his carcass over the trees. I snuck after it and saw the Hunter and his dog again, the former raising his arm. The bird dropped the corpse near the Hunter and landed on the Hunter’s arm, nibbling on his fingers. In fact, it bit the Hunter’s fingers right off, only for them to grow back.

The bird then perched on the Hunter’s cap as the Hunter grabbed the corpse and drug it away. I followed, trying to make as little noise as possible, my eyes fixated on the stag who would probably still be alive if I hadn’t been teleported here.

Soon we arrived at a huge monochrome mansion, looking like a giant tombstone with windows and a door. In front of the house was a stone table, which the hunter placed the stag’s corpse onto. As I dove into a nearby bush, the Hunter pulled a knife from his pocket and slit open the stag’s stomach. Then he walked away as the dog and the bird feasted on the stag’s entrails.

I closed my eyes, yet they were forced open when I heard a slurping sound followed by the stag’s scream.

The Hunter had extended the tube on his face, and it dug into the stag’s neck. The stag writhed and screamed.

I bleated in fear, only for the bird to dive for me.

I woke up. I woke up and my brain switched on instantly. I so wanted to say, ‘It was all a dream,’ but then I heard, ‘That was too easy. Let’s have a more challenging hunt this time.’

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