|Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:20 AM|
The water is cool against my lips. I feel the clear liquid run down my throat and into my belly. My eyes quickly scan the riverbank for any fish, but I can see none. The sun has set and the darkness is slowly beginning to engulf the forest. The other animals have gone back to their homes, and only the predators remain out in the open. It is silent now, and the only sound left is the rise and fall of the riverbed; the forest is sleeping. Still my tongue continues to lap at the water. I have spent the whole day hunting and am very thirsty.
“Lap-lap. Slurp! Lap-lap. Slurp!” goes my tongue.
That’s enough, I think after a while, licking my lips, time to return home. I raise my head and cast my eyes one last time over the riverbed, it is so still, so peaceful. I turn and begin to tread back to my lair. My mate and our young should be asleep by now, I hope they are safe.
Suddenly I stop; a noise has broken the silence. I lower my head to the ground to listen: … footsteps, heavy footsteps … and branches braking—
“BANG!” I jump up, my fur standing on end.
Humans, I think, not far from here. I sprint into the trees, quickly finding a hiding place deep in the undergrowth. I crouch down low, listening carefully.
“BANG!” I jump again, but stay hidden.
The humans are close now, and they have brought their killing sticks with them. I close my eyes and try to relax until they pass, but all I can think about is my mate and our young back at the lair. I hear voices, and footsteps. Two tall, black figures emerge from the shadows of the trees, one carrying a killing stick, and the other … carrying the bloodstained body of a wolf. I grind my teeth, raising my head slowly for a closer look, but it is no-one from my family. It is a lone wolf; female. I relax, lowering my head as the two figures approach the undergrowth.
One of them leans against a nearby tree, and the other one sits down on the big rock, his back to me. They begin to talk to each other, but I cannot understand their language. The standing human fiddles with the killing stick, opening it up and putting little rocks in it. The sitting human is breaking the bones of the lone wolf, so that it will fit in his shoulder sack. I shudder nervously. It is clear to me now that these are the Hunters.
The Hunters talk for a long time, stopping only to drink from their containers of brown liquid. It is getting very cold now, and I am shivering. I need to get home soon. My only chance is if they walk back in the opposite direction soon, otherwise I will have to attack the one with the killing stick and sprint home into the darkness.
Finally the one on the rock stands up, says something and begins to walk away in the opposite direction. But suddenly the standing Hunter shouts to him and points his hand into the heart of the forest. My muscles tighten.
“No,” I whisper.
But it is too late; they are already walking deeper into the forest, in the direction of my lair. They are not happy with just one dead wolf. My mind begins to race, I have no choice now, I must attack the Hunters; I must protect my young. I emerge slowly from the thick undergrowth, and begin to pace forwards. The Hunters are almost out of sight. I begin to trot through the long grass, bobbing my head. I am in killing mode now, my mouth hungers for blood and flesh; for meat, human meat. My legs move faster now, I am running. I single out the Hunter with the killing stick: my enemy; my prey. I am several yards away from them now, and still they are unaware. Not yet, I think, not yet. I sprint forward through the trees. Not yet, not yet. I sprint faster.
NOW! I think, letting out a menacing bark. Both Hunters turn around. I spring forwards at the one with the killing stick, pushing him backwards with my paws. I lunge at his throat biting down hard, hot blood pours out into my mouth. He has fallen to the ground, the other Hunter is screaming. I rip out his throat cords, tearing the veins from his neck. Blood is spurting everywhere, and the other Hunter is still screaming, he has fallen over now. I leap of the Hunters mangled body and sprint back towards the river, away from my lair. I hear the Hunter choking and spluttering his last few breathes of life. The other Hunter has stopped screaming, and is trying to help him. I turn left at the river, and begin running downwards, into the Black Valley, where the bears stalk.
If I can lose the second Hunter, I think, I will double-back. Otherwise I will have to hide ahead of him and attack him as he passes. As I run deeper into the darkness I lick the blood from my lips. I can hear feet pounding the dirt behind me.
I veer away from the river, traveling deeper into the Black Valley, trying desperately to lose him. But still he follows me.
“BANG!” a shot echoes through the forest.
I turn left, then right, weaving in and out of tree trunks, my paws pounding against the soil, acid flowing through my veins.
“BANG!” a second shot is fired, this time much closer.
I run faster, my shadow flickering against the forest walls. The trees are getting denser now, and the Hunter is getting closer.
“BANG!” his next shots clips a tree in front of me, spraying bark in my face as I pass it.
There are fewer places to run now, and I have never been to this part of the forest before. The trees are thick and close together, and thorny vines gather up along the forest floor. My legs ache from running; I pray that the Hunter will give up soon.
“BANG!” I hear the little rock wiz past my left ear.
I sprint now, with every ounce of energy I have left inside of me, I sprint. But it is so dark now that I can barely see what is in front of my face—
“BANG!!!” … I collapse in a heap on ground, hot lead piercing my innards.
My mind is racing, and I can feel my heart beating fast. My body suddenly throbs and aches with a terrible pain. I can hear the Hunter’s footsteps approach my twisted body, but all I can see is darkness. He whispers something in my ear, but I cannot understand their language. I try to stand up, but the pain is too great. I try to growl, but all that comes out is a whimper.
As the silence and darkness of the forest closes in around me, swallowing my soul, I hold onto a single thought of comfort – my young are safe.