The Cold Hunt

The boy crept through the woods with his dad, searching attentively as he had done for hours. He used all of his senses, scanning for any sign leading him to his target. He blended in with his surroundings except for his squinting, piercing eyes. He was silent, his dad not so much, but the boy was a stealth predator. With his bow in his left hand and an arrow in the right he felt invincible, infallible, instinctive. He continued his hunt in utter silence and with intense focus.

The cold, stale air stung the hunter’s skin and stiffened his face paint. His hunting suit wouldn’t normally have given him sufficient protection from the frigid air, but he was solely focused on finding a buck. His dad was losing focus and fatigue and temperature were beginning to set in as he began to lose interest. The dad was moving increasingly slower now, but his son didn’t notice nor care.

The boy saw movement in the distance and his heart rate started to climb as he lowered his body and crept forward through the dense forest. He now recognized the tan hair of a buck in the distance. His heart rate climbed even more as he signaled to his dad to stay back. The boy stalked his prey slowly and almost blindly but precisely. His heart was racing as he came within 50 yards of the buck.

He watched and listened to the, now clearly, huge buck. Different ideas were rushing through his head as time seemed to slow down. The most predominant were those his father told him of a boy’s first hunt. “You’re probably going to hesitate just before you take your first shot… You’re gonna have doubts…You may think that you are a stone cold killer but you aren’t… You will have a feeling of regret or sarrow or pain… I mean what good human wouldn’t feel bad about slaughtering such a noble, innocent creature … It will be hard to finish him off.”

As the boy took a slow step forward his foot brushed up against a rather loud bush. The buck raised his bulky neck and turned his head to face the boy in response. The young hunter’s heart stopped and it felt as though he were staring into the buck’s eyes for hours while in reality it was seconds. The beast finally lowered its head and made a fatal mistake. The hunter slowly drew back his arrow and stood up aiming for its chest. The boy was just about to release when the buck felt his gaze. The boy released as the buck lunged forward. He sprinted faster than ever before and was barely able to see the arrow that was stuck in the thigh of the scrambling buck. The large animal was only a step faster than the boy because of the steel seed planted in its thigh.

The chase continued for almost half an hour until the boy heard silence once more. He followed the obvious trail left by the frantic animal into a small clearing. He was breathing heavily and his heart was pumping more adrenaline and blood than ever before. The buck was lying on its stomach as it looked into the eyes of the boy. The hunter could tell that the buck knew it couldn’t look for long. The noble beast stumbled up to its feet and walked, not ran, as calmly as it could toward the boy.

The boy was shocked at how conscious and self aware this animal was. It could have attempted to run for some time but instead it decided to go down with honor. But the boy also took this as a taunt. He threw down his bow and charged the massive buck. He drove his small but powerful shoulder into the buck’s dying shoulder knocking it to the ground and landing him on top. He quickly and mindlessly withdrew his hunting knife and cut the animals mind from its body.

Blood spewed from the neck onto this newly crowned hunter. He was overcome with emotion as he stood up and unleashed a terrible battle cry. The boy looked down with a grin on his face at his prized trophy. The antlers were massive and brilliantly red-stained, off white. The coat was a rich beautiful brown with a smooth ivory underbelly riddled with deep red splotches.

The boys grin started to fade as he thought of his father’s words. “You may think that you are a stone cold killer but you aren’t… You will have a feeling of regret or sorrow or pain… I mean what good human wouldn’t feel bad about slaughtering such a noble, innocent creature?”

He looked down at the horrendous massacre of a great creature. He started trembling. Tears melted down his face into the dark-red palms of his hands. He had trouble comprehending what he had done. He cried and shook silently for a few minutes until he felt his dad’s hand on his shoulder.

“Why are you shaking? Are you cold?”

“Yes.” The boy whispered. His father now noticed he wasn’t too excited based on the tears hitting his up turned hands.

“Harder to do than you thought?”

“No.”

“You feel any regrets?”

“…No.”

“Are you hurt?”

“No.”
The dad peaked his neck around the boy’s body and looked as his blank face.
“What’s wrong then? Are you scared?”

“…Sort of.”

“Scared of what?”

“I’m… I’m… I’m cold… stone cold.”





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