Mad Hunt

If you stop looking so hard, you can find it. That moment when your eyes stop focusing, when you feel yourself going drifting, that’s where it is.

No, no. Don’t try to grasp it.

Let it grasp you.

That’s the only way to get there.

Though, I have to tell you. Warn you, really:

It’s a terrifying place.

You land with a thud. Dark and dull.

“Hello,” I greet.

You seem surprised.

“What’re you doing here?” you demand, scrambling to your feet.

I laugh. “I live here.”

“But… you’re a dream.”

I laugh again.

“I think you’re quite confused. Balancing on the edge.”

“Edge of what?”

I gesture around.

There are things here.

Long trees that are wide. Their leaves purple and pink. The ground is full of bushes that look fluffy, cute. Almost like cottonballs. Sunlight filters through the trees, and it isn’t golden. It’s red. I gesture to all these things.

“Here,” I tell you.

That’s the only way to explain it. The only way to make sense of it.

This place is simply Here. There is no other name for it. No way to map it out. To place it. It simply is.

That is all.

“Are you here knowingly, or unknowingly?” I ask.

You look confused.

At the sunlight that isn’t right, at the ground that’s oozing purple and yellow. At the person standing before you, grinning like a barracuda.

You look so, so confused.

But, somehow, you rally yourself enough to answer.

“Unknowingly.”

“Oh my. That’s no good for you, is it?”

“What do you mean?”

“If you’re here unknowingly, then you’re not part of the hunting party.”

“Yeah… okay?”

You’ve got that look in your eye. The duller sparkle. Not a wildfire, but a flickering bonfire.

Definitely not a hunter.

“Well, no worries I suppose. You’re still part of the hunt.”

“How?”

The clouds darken.

The red sun starts to bleed, dripping darkly onto the trees. There is a sound like a great oak breaking, like a thousand beetles boring. Hooves pounding into the ground, crushing the lemon-color to dust. Bruising the precious skin of the hungry forest.

And I don’t just sit and watch.

I participate.

Crouching low, I call to them. My steed, and my hounds.

Daddy-long legs they’re called in The Other Place. They crawl up out of the shadows. Forming from the bruised earth. They crawl, hungry. Snapping their jaws. Eight legs rallying, steadying themselves. Preparing for the thrill of the chase.

My hounds.

A beast with beetle armor and buffalo skin crawls up as well, right underneath me. Allowing me to sit atop him. He churns the earth, burying the sun’s blood beneath his hoof. Snorts, exhaling smog and dirt.

My steed.

And I hear the hammering of your heart.

The way it unseats itself from your chest.

Your eyes fill with the sight of the hounds, their spindly legs and numerous eyes. With the magnitude of my steed, his thick hide and hungry black eyes.

I see your fear.

“Everyone is here to hunt. And if you’re not…”

One of my spiders lunges, stops himself, canters impatiently.

It topples you over.

“Better run now before they lose their self-control,” I tell you. “It won’t last much longer. If you can make it to the mountain, the hunt will cease for you. I’ll try to be fair, give you a head start. But, I can make no promises. And I certainly don’t speak for the other hunters.”

A cacophony rises up. Handfuls upon handfuls of hounds, all different kinds and shapes and sizes, all hungry.

All on the hunt.

All with their hunters.

All out for blood.

And still you sit there, gawking. Horrified. At a stammering point.

That won’t do for you, now, will it?

“RUN.”

And that does it.

You do.

You turn, and you run.

With all your might, you push. Further and further away from my hounds. From my steed. From me, the hunter.

I wait.

After a moment or so, it happens, as it always does.

I lose self-control.

But, that’s expected, isn’t it?

After all, I am here to hunt.

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