Categories > Original > Horror


by RW_Taylor 0 reviews

I have no home. I live off the land. I hunt small game to survive. I set up traps for rabbits and squirrels. If I'm lucky, I'll even catch a fox. I have to move constantly because the Hunters hunt ...

Category: Horror - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2018-08-04 - 2064 words

I have no home. I live off the land. I hunt small game to survive. I set up traps for rabbits and squirrels. If I'm lucky, I'll even catch a fox. I have to move constantly because the Hunters hunt humans. I am smarter than rabbits, squirrels, and foxes. The Hunters are smarter than me.

I set off early just as morning's first light bathes the world in soft, crisp shade. The land is empty. Nothing but rolling hills and wilderness as far as the eye can see. The sky is immaculate. Gray. Blue. Shades of red and other tones. I inhabit a wild land.

It has gotten very cold in the last week. Much of the snow from the previous month remains on the ground. Everything is beginning to ice over. I'm in the mountains. There's not many of us left. The Hunters are relentless. No one knows where they came from. Earth. Another planet. What we do know is that they arrived soon after the 24th century began, well over 300 years ago. Humanity was wiped out like an unwanted pest, but some of our ancestors survived. Our parents were the strong ones, and we have inherited their gifts—intelligence, speed, strength, intuition. Still, they're barely enough. I haven't seen anyone in seven months. That's because the Hunters came to our home and killed 32 of us. I alone escaped. I've been running ever since. I don't know if I'm being followed.

I haven't eaten in 13 days, but that's because 13 days ago I spotted a group of Hunters standing on a distant hill. They look like least from a distance. They walk upright. They have two legs, two arms, and ape-like heads. But they are much taller. Nine feet on average. And they have tails. Their faces are hidden behind masks. They wear many talismans. Dried ears. Fingers. Toes. Shrunken heads. Teeth. Bones. All human. They wear suits of armor, but they have exposed arms and legs. Their fur ranges from bone-white to coal-black. We believe they hunt us for sport, just like humans once hunted big game for trophies. Their weapons are things we don't understand.

The moment I saw them, I ran. I ran all night and all the next day. I didn't stop running until I'd covered 34 miles. After that, I kept moving, not caring to hunt for food and only stopping for water and short breaks. But I can't keep going like this. I need to hunt, to make a trap, to get food. I want to make the trap heavy. Kill quickly and quietly. A rabbit maybe. Be merciful and remain unnoticed—the universe rewards a swift hand. For my task, I'll use both a base-log and a striking log. I'm without tools except for my knife. I lost everything else I owned during the attack, and that means I need to use trees that have already fallen. The knife won't do for large-scale cutting.

I search the slopes until I find two pieces of yellow birch scattered among the land's moss-covered boulders and trees. I exert a great deal of effort in my famished state moving them to level ground. Finally, I lay them aside.

The logs won't hold until I stake them in place, one on top of the other. For that, I need four pieces of wood. Finding them is easy. There's a lot of dead hornbeam in these parts. Good wood, too. I choose the strongest, straightest pieces I can find and pound them into place using a flat cobblestone. I bury them deep so they won't come loose in the wet earth. Then I slide the striking log into place with the help of the guides. It thumps neatly on top of the base-log.

With that done, I now have to set up the trap's triggering mechanism. I'm using a three-piece design for this purpose. I find a few white oak branches freshly fallen from the recent storms. I separate them, then take one of them and carve it until one of its ends looks like a fat chisel. I make the stopping piece next. It is more challenging. First, I carve out a smooth, semi-circle. Then I cut a 90-degree backstop in it to finish. The final piece is the most difficult to create. The stick has to be longer than the others. It requires two stopping notches. The first notch and the second notch have to be a quarter turn removed from each other.

When I finish cutting, I arm the trap. My left arm shivers as I lift the striking log. I use my right hand to finagle the three-piece triggering mechanism into place.
I sit back when I finish. I stare at the trap—my creation of death. I feel afraid. My mind flashes back to the the trap they set when they killed my people. We didn't even see it coming. I still don't understand it. It just came out of nowhere. Like a flash. I imagine my design will seem the same way to whatever I kill.


I wake at dawn to the sound of an animal crying. The noise is sharp and high-pitched. I rise in a panic and run to the trap. I see a rabbit struggling beneath the striking log. Its back half has been crushed. Its body spasms. Its chest thumps. Its front paws claw wildly for freedom. There's a mad look in its eyes. I grab a rock and smash its head.
All goes quiet. There is no pomp and circumstance. Only the cold hand of death. I look around. My heart beats fast and hard. The woods stir in the cold wind. Clouds have moved back in, shrouding the land in darkness. Another storm is coming.

I disassemble my trap. Erase all signs of my being there. I finish quickly and set off, taking the rabbit with me. I travel 10 miles, heading up higher into the mountains before stopping again. By then, the day has passed and evening is setting in. I am starving. I find a small cave and crawl inside. The rabbit dangles limply from my leather belt. I draw it out and sit to examine it. Fat. Healthy. It has a plush coat. Good to eat. I won't risk building a fire, so I'm going to eat it raw.

I squeeze its chest and abdomen. Urine pours out of its bladder. I place it on its back and slice its fur horizontally near the diaphragm. My knife is sharp and cuts quickly. I change directions and cut vertically. I leave the inner skin intact as I separate the fur with my hands.

Once it's out of the way, I began gutting. I cut the surface of the inner skin, starting with the diaphragm. I work my way down its length. I pull the skin apart and expose the organs.

I pause. I stare at the dead husk and wonder if the Hunters have looked at my people in the same sort of way. I pull out the rabbit's heart and bite into it. Fresh blood spills over my teeth. It is still warm. Bit by bit I consume the other organs.

I spend the next 45 minutes removing the rest of the fur except for the feet. Instead, I chop them off, intending to use them as bait for future traps.

Now that the rest of the meat is cleared, I devour it. Blood fills my mouth. Goes down in thick gulps. The meat is soft, squishy. It tastes of salt and slime.

I wonder how humans taste to the Hunters. Do they cook us? Do they eat us raw? Do they just kill and chop off our body parts for talismans? Do they ever feel remorse?

I don't know. All I know is I eat to live. I already feel my strength returning. I turn and look at the dead remains of the rabbit. I thank its spirit.


It's gotten very cold in the last two hours. I collect armloads of foliage to barricade the entrance of the cave, for I can no longer stand the wind. The storm is getting worse. Without fire, I might not survive the night, but perhaps I can create a sealed atmosphere inside. I leave only a small hole out of which to see...and watch. The cave is at high altitude and provides a clear view of the surrounding land.

It is dark by the time I finish. Inside my makeshift shelter, I shiver. There is no way I can get warm without fire. I remain looking out the blocked entrance of the cave, expecting at any moment for killers to come bursting from the darkness.

My heart beats. I don't like being alone. I felt safer when there were many of us. 32 strong fighters. Men and women of high degree. We evaded the Hunters for years. Even injured one of them. Perhaps that was our downfall.

The night seems eternal. Empty. I know I will remain glued to the same spot until morning.

Or until—

—God, I hope nothing comes.

I say this even as I look and see three black shapes appear on the horizon. Time seems to stop, leaving me with a sharp picture of endless, dark, rolling hills, and blackness. Black shapes moving in the blackness, the deadly quiet. They are Hunter ships. Fast. Sleek. They make no noise.

If their ships are here, the Hunters know I'm in the area. I dare not move. I've seen their ships seven times in my life. Six of those times, nothing happened. The seventh time, my people died.

Silhouettes descend from the ships and disappear into the darkness of the surrounding hills. Then the ships vanish into the horizon, leaving their off-loaded cargo behind.
My heart starts racing. I imagine I'm like a rabbit when it spots a predator. I fight the urge to get up and run. I have to stay out of sight. Last time the ships appeared, my people tried running. We managed to evade them for an hour before the end...the flash. I lost consciousness. I fell down a slope. When I came to, I heard my people screaming. I knew somehow I had survived the trap. My experience was similar to the time I nearly caught a rabbit. By sheer luck, it escaped. My trap didn't work quite right. The creature shrieked and darted out from under my device before the crushing weight fell.

I peer at the darkness, fearing the drop. I hear a sudden loud bang that produces mad fear within me. An instant later, trees splinter in a burst of flame 100 yards away. There are flashes of something like plasma and billows of smoke. I hear deep, bone-chilling cries. It's the Hunters. Shadows shift and dance with feverish intensity. I've never seen something like this before.

I start shaking. I sweat despite the bitter cold. What's going on? Are the Hunters playing a new kind of trick?

I hear a voice that says, "Run!"

It's not a voice in my head. It's an actual voice that comes from the air. It sounds like that of an old, angry man. I can only assume it's a new weapon invented by my enemies.
I refuse to budge. The voice vanishes. The chaos continues to mount. It thunders toward me. Trees erupt into flames 50 yards away, then a Hunter dashes out of the darkness. I see its eyes looking straight at me. It rips a shining object from its armor and leaps into the air. It disappears from view.

The cave quakes. A blast sucks the barricade away. Wind whirls with indescribable force. I try to resist it, but it yanks me out. I careen down the slope, no time to think, no time to process. I'm like the rabbit, facing power with which I cannot contend.

I tumble. I hit stone. I turn one last time before I'm paralyzed. Invisible weight pincers me. I look up, clawing at the rocks above me, trying to pull myself free. My heart races wildly. My eyes dart in all directions with hysterical panic. I see the Hunter appear in front of me. It comes forward out of the shadows. It looks at me from behind its mask. Our eyes meet. Then it lifts its hand and there's the flash.


to be continued
Sign up to rate and review this story