Horror and Thriller Fiction posted July 9, 2014


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
A lonely man fights for survvial

The Hunter

by Dean Kuch

The Werewolf Contest Winner 

The Hunter

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Hunting in the woodlands of my beloved Romania can be extremely dangerous. Exponentially so if one happens to be alone.

I hail from Closani, a quaint little village nestled deep within the Carpathian Mountains. The
Balcescu clan, and all of my kinsmen, have called this place our home for many centuries.

I have little need for creature comforts any longer, ensconced here within my decaying ancestral castle. Heat from a fire, a hearty rabbit or grouse stew, and a goat skin flask, filled with wine from the local vineyard, generally suffices.

As my supplies have been depleted recently by a roving band of thieves, I find the need to set out in search of more. The sorry lot came and cleaned me out, down to my last soup bone. Not to worry, however. They won't be doing it again.


Lamplight from the village below bathes the hillside in lustrous shades of orange and yellow hue. Illumination from many lighted windows create an illusion of shimmering stars. Such sights often elicit pangs of sorrow deep within me. I exhale, releasing a heavy sigh.

Over the lengthy course of my lifetime, I have experienced much happiness, but infinitely more pain.

Gathering up my hunting blade, I bundle in my heaviest furs, shod my feet in leather boots encased in lambskin, then make my way out into the brutality of winter. Fierce, frigid winds rip and tear at my eyes, threatening to solidify them in their sockets. An achromatic moon sheathed in swirling snow desperately struggles to make headway.

 

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An hour into my hunt, I hear them. Twelve or more, by the sound of it. They've been gnawing on something, and the coppery smells of blood fill my nostrils, enticing my senses. I am near enough for them to pick up my scent, however thankfully, I'm downwind. While I am able to readily detect the scent of their kill, my scent they cannot detect. They will, I've no doubts about that. I'm too far in to turn back. If I try to run now, they will be upon me in an instant.

I carefully slip around them, then make my way into a dense bank of blue spruce along the frozen embankment of the river. The forlorn cry of an howl echoes throughout the tree-cloaked hillside, wafting away somewhere off into the distance. Soon after, the hungry howls of the wolf-pack are returned as a reply.

I have hunted these woods nearly my entire life, and I know them as well as anyone. They will have to come past this very spot. The river here is flanked by faces of slick, sheer rock, and the only pathway cut through this particular portion of the forest is the lone path in front of me. I hunker down, digging deeply into the snow, trying to fight off the chill that threatens to overwhelm me,. I watch, now, and I wait...

They're very near. So near, in fact, I can smell the musky scent of their bodies. Panting, they run in perfect formation; a cohesive killing unit. The pack leader spurs them forward, pushing them to locate the source of the scent trail they've picked up. My scent.

The snowfall has dissipated greatly, allowing the skies to once again become crystal clear. Puffy pillars of clouds are swept away by the brisk, icy winds, undressing the moon. The pack's vision is keen, highly tuned.  Light from the full moon high overhead in is bright, illuminating their path. The land is barren and frozen. Food is scarce here during the dead of winter. Their previous kill was probably paltry at best. Perhaps a fox, or a groundhog, likely little more. Something my size would prove to be a juicy, tasty meal.

The time has come now,  the wolf-pack has arrived. Through years of evolutionary hunting techniques and instincts honed throughout the centuries, they begin to encircle me. They feel they have me trapped now, with no place left to go.

Steeling myself, I stand erect – rigid– bracing for what I must do.

They have left me no choice.

Sensing danger, a wandering black bear lumbers quickly off into the forest, out of harm's way. Massive evergreens bow under the weight of torrential snowfalls, as if to mourn our coming clash of bloodshed.

The alpha male and largest of their pack approaches me cautiously. Coarse hairs begin bursting forth, bristling from my every pore. Bone and sinew pop and crackle. Bulging muscles strain to break free of the constraints the fur of my garments try to impose upon them.
White-hot pain fills my every fiber with agony and ectasy simultaneously.

My agonized screams cause the wolves to abruptly halt their pusuit. However, that brief pause is all the time I require.

My transformation at last complete, I tear head-long into the pack.

The hunted has become the hunter.


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Writing Prompt
There is a castle that's crumbling with age. In it lives man, all alone. The man is a werewolf. Someone comes. What happens?

The Werewolf
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