Growing up in a family of hunters was the best place for someone like me. I was destined to be a hunter. My parents thought so too. Dad’s side has a tradition of waiting to see the child before deciding on a name. First time my mom held me and looked into my eyes she said, “This boy’s a Hunter.” At least that’s what I was told. I wasn’t there.
My parents were moral hunters. Skill-wise they were amazing. They took the time to teach me how to kill anything painlessly, and explained how it’s sin to do otherwise.
“If animals don’t torment their prey, then neither should humans. We’re supposed to be better than them,” Dad would rant.
Killing for fun or torture is not acceptable in my family. You kill within the bounds of the law, and you make use of everything a corpse can provide. I was taught that animals were put here for us by God. That we shouldn’t take any gifts for granted, especially a gift from God. Kill limits and seasons are in place for a reason. Driving an animal to extinction is a serious offense.
That being said- our family killed, to the limit, every creature in our area every season. When we could we would travel to kill for vacation, we killed with all kinds of weapons, in all kinds of ways. Bows, traps, rifles. We did it all. As a family we studied how to track and kill birds, squirrels, snakes, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, deers, boars, antelopes, goats, wolves, bison, cougars, bears, zebras, monkeys, giraffes, crocodiles, lions, hippopotamuses, elephants, and rhinos. We had the trophies to prove it too. What I would give to hunt a gorilla.
Ending life is by far my favorite tradition that this world has to offer. The more challenging the prey, the better.
You may think I was raised to be this. Trust me, this is inherent. My parents didn’t teach me to inflict pain- I want to. They didn’t teach me to get off on watching life fade away in the eyes of a living being- I do though. They definitely did not teach me to hunt people, by far the most fun animal to hunt.
No, I couldn’t have been born into a better family. Destiny saw I was going to be peanut butter, so it made sure I was raised in a jelly sandwich. Loving parents who understood how to kill, the thrill of the kill, and most importantly, they have the funds to hunt whatever they want. Exotic big game hunting isn’t cheap, you know. Well you probably don't, but trust me, it’s expensive.
No, it’s not my parents fault I grew bored of the big game. Bored of hunting things that can’t fight back, only run if they get the chance. The lack of a challenge astounded me. You would think murdering bears, lions, and rhinos would be hard. It isn’t. They never see it coming because evolution has taught them that they’re at the top of the food change. Unfortunately evolution isn’t fast enough to account for human inventions.
Then it hits me.
People are at the top of the food chain. Unlike the king of the jungle, humans are aware of how deadly they are. Men, women, gender fluid, non-binary, it doesn’t matter. They all know a gun or a blade when they see one. Sure, some freeze up, unable to deal or cope with the situation. They mostly run and hide. Maybe they fight when found, but most beg. The few that fight fire-with-fire are my favorite. All of them, however, are more entertaining to kill than any beast. The more effort, the more memorable the trophy. Not always the best meals though.
One of the biggest challenges to hunting people are the legal issues. When you kill one, odds are someone is going to notice. Eventually authorities get involved. This is why the number one rule for human hunting is: Don’t murder anyone you know. Being the last to see someone, a person of interest, or primary suspect in a homicide case is no fun. Trust me. Number one thing cops look for: Motive. They’re not going to question someone with no connections personally or mutually to a victim.
Rule two: Don’t shit where you eat. I don’t kill within a few counties of my home. Most of the expenses of us hunting folks are from traveling. Being from my family makes money a non-issue for me. Again, PB&J.
Rule three: Don’t get caught with a body. That’s self explanatory.
Tonight, I’m stalking the midwest for an exciting prize. A tall, muscular, and proud Navy Seal. This man, Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, is on a date with a lovely young woman that I happened to watch him meet a few days ago. Stalking my prey helps me predict them. She’s way out of Gallagher’s league. I have no idea what he said to land a date with her. Probably likes a man in uniform. No matter how well tonight goes their relationship won’t last. His date doesn’t know it yet, but she’ll be the last to see him.
When I first noticed Eddie, he wore a camo shirt, jean shorts, and a hat with a Navy Seal symbol stitched over an American flag. Saw him at a gas station filling up his Toyota Tundra with the following stickers slapped on it: A washed out American flag with a blue line going through the middle of it, a Navy Seals symbol, and the Punisher logo. I figured he was military. You never know though. Some people play dress up for false valor. It makes them feel special and gets them discounts. After a thorough background check, I delightfully discovered not only is Eddie actually a Navy Seal, but one with a fucking kill count that rivals my own! This could be what I’ve been craving.
Before you get pissy, I’m not targeting this man for his beliefs that are proudly displayed on his comically large, always empty truck bed. If the Chief Petty Officer drove an electric car with a Black Lives Matter sticker, that wouldn’t save him from me. When it comes to killing, I don’t discriminate. The skeletons in my closet are very diverse. Eddie’s a target because he’s physically fit, on my hunting grounds, and he’s a killer.
So, Chief Petty Officer and his date drunkenly walk back to his truck in the restaurant’s parking lot. Eddie opens her door. She kisses Eddie, and he kisses back. Shit, I hope she doesn’t give it up on the first date. Definitely don’t feel like waiting on any humping.
Eddie drives his date back where he picked her up earlier, her house I assume. It’s a small house covered by trees and bushes at the end of a lonely, dead end street. Beyond the house lies a graveyard.
Eddie walks his date to her door. They kiss again. She opens her door and says something to Eddie. Eddie enters her home. Fuck. Hope he’s a premature ejacutlator.
I crept through greenery around the house to the backyard. Sitting down in a bush, I made myself comfortable waiting for a show.
The performance is not what I paid for.
Eddie’s date leads him into a back room covered in polyethylene sheeting from the walls to the bed. His date looks out the window and right through me. She closes the blinds. I drew closer to peek through the corner of the window.
“Damn. You think we’re going to make that much of a mess?” Eddie asks.
“I know I will,” she says sensually.
“Wait. You’re not into liquid play are you? Like you’re not going to piss or shit on me right?” Eddie half jokes.
She giggles, “No.”
“Oh I get it. You’re a squirter aren’t you?”
“Take off your clothes and find out.”
Eddie strips in less than ten and even I’m impressed- by the speed of the reveal, not the package itself.
Eddie’s date pushes him on the bed. She strips for him slowly, sensually. She carefully climbs on top of Eddie. The lucky basterd. She kisses a path from Eddie’s chest to his neck. She nibbles on Eddie’s neck.
“You like to bite huh?”
“Uh huh,” she giggles.
Eddie’s date opens her mouth wide and bites down on Eddie’s jugular. HARD. Blood sprays around her lips. She rips and pulls away meat from the Chief Petty Officer’s throat with her teeth. She swallows her first bite whole, then goes right back in.
Guess I’m not the only one on the hunt tonight. I feel cheated. Never had prey snatched out from underneath me before.
My favorite predator is the Spider-tailed Horned Viper. The species is endemic to the deserts of western Iraq and eastern Iran. Beneath the sand the snake waits with only the tip of its tail visible. Above him, a bird spots a spider in the sand. Swooping down swiftly, the bird grabs its prey only to become prey itself.
Only a few things claim victory over a Spider-tailed Horned Viper. Monitors (big lizards), honey badgers, and lynxes are among the lucky.
This woman is a Spider-tailed Horned Viper, Eddie was a bird, and I’m a lynx. This will be my greatest hunt. It feels like destiny.
For the next week, I’m the monster’s shadow. The monster has a government name, Natasia Demetriou, who owns their house, and doesn’t have a job that it travels to. It doesn’t go out during the day or eat normal food, but it enjoys consuming the soft spot between your head and shoulders. First thing that comes to mind is the obvious: vampire. Thinking this makes me feel ridiculous. Monsters aren’t real. They’re made up to scare children and later appropriated by teen fiction writers.
Googling vampire strengths and weaknesses makes me feel even more moronic. Sifting through all vampire lore would be a nightmare. There’s too much and more added everyday. Sticking with the first historical mentions would be the most accurate, I’d imagine. Didn’t learn anything new. Better safe than sorry though. Algorithms are going to send me Hot Topic advertisements for months after this. My life is now a goth nerd’s fantasy, and I don’t have any black leather.
The smart thing to do would be to actually test these theories, so I do. First test is holy water. I take a few jugs to a local priest, tell him the truth.
“Sir, I’m hunting a vampire. I need you to bless my water for protection.”
Without a word, he blesses the gallons I brought. He probably thinks I’m crazy. I thank him anyway. At night, I pay an unsupervised group of kids to spray Natasia with the holy water using water guns. Blessed H2O splashed against Natasia’s skin causing her to laugh and play with the children. Holy water’s a myth.
Something tells me the cross won’t do much better. Gotta make sure though. I get a palm sized cross and make sure it’s not silver because I need to test its effect separately. Assumption could easily lead to death. As a kid I would steal for fun, this included pickpocketing. Instead of pickpocketing Natasia, I bump into her and slip the cross in her pocket. Less than twenty minutes later, Natasia fishes the cross out of her pocket. The only effect the cross had on Natasia was visible confusion on how it ended up where it did. Figures that wouldn’t work. Monsters may be real, but magic still isn’t.
On to the more reasonable vampire weaknesses. Garlic is easy to test. I rub a layer of garlic paste all over its front door handle. When Natasia gets home from a long night it grabs the handle to its front door. Only pain this causes Natasia is annoyance from a slick knob. Garlic is out too.
Since it barely noticed the garlic, I figure I could repeat the same trick. Using silver paint I coat Natasia’s door knob again. Again I wait until it comes home to unlock its front door. Whenever it touches the silver there’s an instant reaction. It’s hand recoils like it’s wounded, it yells “Shit!”, and it looks around for whomever did this. Bingo.
This leaves silver, sunlight, and fire as vampire weaknesses. There’s not really a safe or covert way to test fire. Everything alive on earth burns. Why would this monster be the exception? Safe to say any contact with fire will hurt. With these tools and some bait, I’ll be the first to trap and kill a vampire. I wonder what it tastes like? I hope it doesn’t just turn to ash.
Natasia is walking down an empty city street at 3:30 am. A crying child is heard from an alleyway, intriguing Natasia. Most women avoid dark corridors, Natasia walks into it.
“Hello? Does anyone need any help?” Natasia calls out, almost sounding sincere.
Deep within the alleyway lies someone huddling underneath blankets. The source of the wailing.
“No need to be scared little one,” Natasia tells the shivering ball of covers on the concrete. No doubt Natasia is ready for an easy meal. Without fear Natasia walks casually to the sobbing person.
Looking down, Natasia finds their left leg stuck in a foothold trap that’s chained to a grate in the alleyway.
Rising from the blanket is Hunter wielding a handgun. He was lying next to a stereo playing audio of a kid in distress.
“Gotcha!!” Hunter cheers.
“Who are you?”
“A hunter. What are you?”
“What do you think I am?”
“A vampire,” Hunter declares proudly.
Natasia laughs, “That’s hilarious! How do you plan on killing me? Stake in the heart?”
“Silver bullets, and if that doesn’t work.. Fire.” Hunter flicks his lighter to the rag of a molotov cocktail.
“Must’ve been expensive.”
“It is. Fifty a bullet.”
“You think it’ll work?”
“I know it will. I’m hoping silver does the job. Burnt corpses do not make for good trophies.”
“Yeah. I’ll hang your head on my wall. I got the perfect place.”
“Like a deer? How funny. Why go through the trouble of telling me this? Why not just kill me?”
“I like to watch life drain from the eyes of what I kill.”
“That’s dark. What are you waiting for then?”
Hunter fires a shot into Natasia’s chest. Natasia doesn’t move.
A few more bullets, and she finally falls.
Without taking his eyes or his gun off of Natasia, Hunter waits a handful of seconds for the vampire to move. It doesn’t. Hunter blasts the motionless Natasia a couple more times. Six shots is probably enough.
Hunter casually holsters his pistol and unsheathes a large combat knife while approaching his prize.
As if being helped by an invisible force, Natasia rises to her feet.
Hunter drops his knife and unholsters his handgun to unload the rest of his clip into Natasia, the last hitting Natasia between their eyebrows. The rounds cause mere flesh wounds. Already the skin begins to heal.
“You’ve done your homework on the wrong demon, silly boy. It hasn’t been you tracking me this whole time, it’s been me toying with you. I can smell you from a mile away. Once I caught on to what you were doing all I had to do was fake a weakness. Oh no, it really hurts to touch my door for some reason! Like I wouldn’t notice my door smelling of garlic and silver?” spits Natasia.
Natasia lunges at Hunter as he tries back away in a panic. Natasia’s claw swipes at Hunter’s face, only missing because of the trap holding her back.
Hunter turns around and crawls towards the lit molotov on the ground.
Natasia’s tongue rapidly ejects a couple meters to wrap around Hunter’s left ankle. Papille from the monster’s tongue are visibly long and curved, like a cat’s- this solidified the grip on its prey. Natasia belts out a monster scream at Hunter. Then, she reels Hunter closer to her- bit by bit, swallow by swallow.
Hunter realizes he’s not making it to the molotov. Change of plans. Hunter pulls a remote out of his pocket and presses a button. UV light hits the man and the monster from both walls of the alley. Another trap laid by Hunter.
Natasia recoils, lets go of Hunter, swallows her tongue, and crawls backwards out of the light, dragging the trap with her.
Hunter crawls to the molotov and picks it up before picking himself up too. He throws it to the ground, lighting the ground behind him to buy some time to get away.
Behind Hunter, Natasia sprouts wings from her back. The top half of Natasia’s torso splits from the bottom as she flies into the sky.
Hunter makes it to the sewer grate he would use as his getaway. After slipping into the sewer, Hunter replaces the grate, securing it in place with a chain and padlock.
Relief hits Hunter as the padlock clicks. Natasia’s top half swoops down to claw Hunter, instead finding metal bars holding her back. Natasia’s tongue shoots through the drain to wrap around Hunter’s right arm. Flesh is punctured by her tongue’s papillae whenever it tightens. Both Hunter and Natasia pull with all of their strength. For a moment that seemed like forever neither party moved. In an instant, Hunter wins the tug of war, but loses most of the flesh that made up his arm.
So, I lost an arm. Big deal. At least I’m still alive. Able to hunt another day. In the end I got what I wanted. The challenge of a lifetime. Hell everything’s more challenging with one arm.
In the end I found that I was no lynx. I’m a bird, people are worms, and Natasia’s the Spider-tailed Viper. I don’t want to find out what the lynx is.