The sunlit sky peeks down at us; barely sneaking through the trees. The rickety sound of a bullet being fired, escaping the clutches of a rifle, patrols itself with great haste, ushering in the bleating shriek of a deer. The bullet has struck its target, and now, it is merely a matter of time. The deer is taken aghast as it gallops forward with desperation fueling it. That, and instinct, but it won't do any good, and that is clear without a clue or a hint to the happening being necessary. The deer manages to run a distance of around one-hundred yards with its head held high in the air before dropping to the ground.
The bullet is mine, and now the life of the deer has been brought into my possession as well.
“Damn!” George Schultz says, sporting a pleasant look on his face. “Damn!”
“Well said.” I respond.
“You've gotten yourself the first kill of the day, boy! I was beginning to think you boys hadn't a lick of sense when it came to hunting, but I guess I was only half-right,” George says after taking a large gulp of beer, glaring at his son, James, who was trekking behind us while we made way toward the fallen game.
I ignore the backhanded compliment.
To be perfectly honest, I couldn't possibly care less about anything escaping George's mouth. There might have been a time where I could have humored his idiocy. A time where I could have repressed irritation from the constant berating he gives his son, but that was long ago, and in a galaxy light-years away. The tides have turned for the deranged and dangerous vigilante, and not for the better.
It would seem as though my eyes can't be shut without being graced with the vicious and remorseless projections crawling around my inner-being. I am simmering with a mixture of frustration and uncertainty, and once again, I can feel a reminiscent feeling squeezing its way through my crackled pores. I can feel the blindfold, covering my eyes, begin to tighten. I can feel the sickening withdraw stronger than ever.
Cepheus believes I am the epitome of evil, but how would he know? Cepheus left me on this blue and green structure to be beaten to a pulp because of something that I didn't know how to deal with. I am starting to have feelings of uncertainty, but they only conclude in furthering my anger. With all of this loathing, why do his methods seem so tempting? A way of living without restrictions, without having to search helplessly for the closest form of justification possible, feels whimsical and filled with beauty.
No, Orion, stop it! You haven't let this thing, this virus, spread entirely through your veins, you don't have to allow for it to control the steps you take. You're a good person, Orion. Why else would you only target criminals if this wasn't the case?
I follow George down the dark thick, red, glutinous trails of blood left behind by my fallen prey. We see the deer, dead on the ground, lying lifeless, obviously, with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. George looks on with joyous glee oozing out of him, along with the aroma of alcohol, and cheap cologne. The bullet from the rifle looks to have gone into the deer's liver, causing the blood to decorate the ground so profusely.
I've found that I actually like hunting, and I like to think that I am quite good at it. Mind you, deer have absolutely nothing on the game that I usually hunt, and provide but a mere smidgen of the satisfaction. It was still an enjoyable activity without question, and something that I might like to do again sometime. Of course, I would love hunting, my name actually means “The Hunter,” the name that my father … The redirection of thought back to my father is all that it took to deplete every bit of the enjoyment I could have been having.
“Ha! You got it good,” George announces with a chuckle before stumbling over his own feet drunkenly.
It looks as if he is going to pat me on the back but I walk away before he has the chance.
“What's with you?” George asks with curiosity in his voice.
“I'm fine,” I say, ever so coldly, before continuing to walk away.
While I am walking, I stare down at the grass below, moist with dew, and my ears give attention to the high-pitched calls of the birds frolicking throughout the woods, the crickets chirping, and the croak of a nearby frog. Under the trees, the air is clean, soothing even, and the sky is shaded out of view. An atmosphere that I could have appreciated once before, an atmosphere without blemish, but even that point in my life felt an eternity ago.
I turn to see James running my way, and my face distorts in something almost somewhat relatively close to a smile, kind of. James has been with me for the rockiest of roads, and has stuck through it all from the very beginning. Throughout this never ending roller-coaster of a ride, James has been by my side. Even if the flips, twists, and spins have left me growing cold and isolated, James is still a friend.
I am coming to understand we had more similar of a childhood than I had once believed, his father has spent most of the day insulting him. This makes me wonder why George even bothered to invite James in the first place, if not to make amends, what else is there?
“Look,” James says with what he believes to be an understanding smile. “I know that my dad can be a little bit overbearing at times, but you can't take it personally, I mean,”
“Why are you defending him, James? He doesn't treat you the way that a father should.” I ask him calmly but firmly.
“He's my dad, I gotta try, you know?”
“No, I don't know.”
“You don't get to pick your fathers, but you only get one. I mean, no matter all that he has done, he's still my father. I'm just trying to make this work,” James responds.
James looks out at where his father is standing, and looks down at his muddy hunting boots before heading back to the deer with an unpleasant expression resting on his face. I am left staring back at them while they try to find the quickest way to bring the deer out of the forest. I can feel myself fading, I am losing myself. What is happening to me?
I follow the blood-trail before joining James and his father while they gaze at the fallen deer.
I stare toward George for a moment until my eyes wander to James. George is only a couple of inches shorter than James, and only one or two inches shorter than me. However, he is much skinnier than both of us minus his belly which hangs slightly over the waist-line of his pants. George has a more menacing ensemble draped over him, however. A pair of camouflage pants, along with a shirt and cap to match.
James and I opted out of the idea of going as all out as he did for the occasion. We merely wore greenish gray-colored jackets over white t-shirts, and jeans. George looks at the deer intently with a perplexed stare on his face before taking yet another sip out of what appeared to be a different can of beer. Throughout the day, he had done a significant amount of drinking, making various trips out of the forest to the Cadillac to retrieve it from the trunk.
It was only fair that we left him to handle the task of how we were going to load up my prized kill. A kill that won the hearts of millions, and multiple hollers of the word “Damn!” from James' drunken father.
“We'll need to get this deer to the car,” George says with a certainty in his voice.
I open my mouth as if preparing to speak but even then find myself drawing a blank, I wanted to thank him for his idiotic pearl of wisdom, but I didn't have it in me. My mind is in absolute shambles, and unfortunately for George, this means that I won't be able to point out his stupidity at a consistent basis. If only my acquaintance, James would be a kind fellow and pick up the slack, but alas, James seems to have dispatched himself from speaking when it comes to speaking to his father.
George looks at me for a moment, provoking for me to nod my head back at him, humoring him, and showing that we are on the same page. If only George knew that I was in a whole different library of thought. This isn't to say that there is a rampaging circus of rascals banging their drums violently in my head. Rather, I hear the faint tapping from a metal beater against a triangle. For some reason, nothing is frolicking greatly in my head.
I want to be able to take a moment and think things over, and recollect on what has happened over the last couple of days but can't bring myself to.
I feel agitated, hostile, and withdrawn, but can't actually bring myself to try to find a solution to my query. Maybe this is just what life is, a vast assortment of time and effort dedicated to the discovery of a whole wad of nothingness. Maybe life never actually leaves behind its primal state, and we're still merely just small children looking for answers that won't be found. All crying, angry, and sad children consumed with validation from other people when we have still yet to accept ourselves.
This optimistic thinking is unable to bring me out of this sinking boat, but I guess life is always harder for the people who dream. The riveting rifling of thought did bring to me a question, though. One in a million.
I've been riding the fence of who I believe in more, but what cause do I believe in?
Where do I draw the line in feeding this insatiable quench?
Is there even a line in existence that I won't cross?
Can nourishing my inner-demon by taking the life of an innocent be unjustifiable?
My eyes wander down at the deer, the blood is no longer pouring from its open wound, but a considerable sized puddle has been left.
A noise is all it takes to finally bring me back to reality, a noise of simplicity, a ringing sound, a phone. James walks away from the deer with his cellphone in his hands, held against his ear. “Gulp!!” is the sound that follows accordingly after the series of events. George loudly taking a sip from his beer bottle. A sip with an emphasis so loud that a single exclamation mark wouldn't do it justice.
Clearly, it is something that he wanted for me to hear.
“Okay, 'Rion, in-order for us to get the deer loaded back in the Cadillac, one of us needs to get the rope back in the trunk. And since it was you who scored the winning kill of the day, I nominate that it should also be you that gets the rope,” George drunkenly slurs with an uncanny logic that nearly sent me stumbling.
I didn't bother talking. I let my eyes stifle their view away from George and went on my way. I hear the snapping of twigs happen under my feet, and secretly wish that it could be somebody's neck.
The reason that I secretly wish this is because it's wrong, isn't it?
I am beginning to become more and more unsure. Where is this rule-book instructing me on what is wrong and what is right?
Belladonna claims that it's justifiable if the individual is deserving of having his or her life included, but Cepheus doesn't share the same opinion. Cepheus believes that he doesn't have to justify anything. He believes justification isn't necessary, and accepts himself as being a heartless and remorseless individual, and he believes that I am also.
There is a small assurance mingling itself into the weary debate, something that almost pales in comparison to its opposition.
An assurance posing as David while he prepares to go to war with Goliath.
The thought that I'm not like my father.
The thought that I am not the epitome of evil, and that I don't hold resentment toward those who don't feel the way that I feel.
These words feel, oh so, good slipping off of my tongue and frolicking in the air happily, but do I really believe them?
Is there truly any real certainty behind this assurance?
I finally find myself at the Cadillac once walking what was more than a couple hundred feet, and I stop for a moment, I swallow a great deal of air. Pretending as if this is actually only to somehow make all of the worries go away, I take another breath, and another. I am waiting for the time to come that I actually start counting to ten, thinking that it'll take the anger away. That's what it says on the TV shows and the book and all that, that if you stop to breath and you count to ten, it will become easier.
I regain my composure, and my perspective sways back to the matter at hand.
I open the front-door to the Cadillac and pop the trunk by pulling a switch under the driver's seat. The wind blows in my hair, and I look at the black clouds glaring back at me before finding myself holding the rope on my shoulders and heading back to the hunting grounds.
“What the fuck do you mean you're leaving!?” I hear yelled from a distance.
My feet begin to accelerate at a faster pace, not running, but close. I find myself standing beside an intoxicated and pissed, middle-aged man, and his handsome, but worried, son.
“My mom just called and said that I might be able to be in a commercial for a company and,”
“Oh, your mom says that, does she really? Well, great balls of fire, why the hell are we just standing around here for, we should be out kissing her ass. What about what your father says, huh? Did that ever occur to you?” George yells, anger spews out of his voice.
James looks down at the ground, his face becoming an unnatural color, while George looks to be only getting angrier.
“Look at me, boy, when I'm talking to you, or so help me, God, I'll slap that pretty boy look right off your face. You think that little slut gives a damn about you? Don't make me laugh, if she did, maybe she would've stuck around for you. You hear that, boy?” George says, his face now profusely sweaty and reddened with frustration in his voice.
He was just being petty now. Desperately trying to get a rise out of James, but that didn't seem to be happening.
James continues to stare at the ground, and is noticeably shaking before finally glaring up at George with an embarrassed anger on his face. George stares back at James with an expression of satisfaction before smacking James. A hard enough smack. Not enough to take him off his feet, but sure as hell hard enough to hear it connect from a distance. James stumbles for a moment before walking forward and staring at George, his shoulders arched up and frustrated, staring at his father with a large look of hatred in his eyes, hatred for a man that spent the last twenty-one years treating him like shit.
James doesn't act on his rage though, and instead, he pivots to the opposite direction of his father, and storms away, leaving sight.
“Yeah, walk away like you always do, little pussy,” George hollers with a demented satisfaction in him.
The type of satisfaction that could only be discovered from someone of tremendous cruelty. Someone so completely consumed with himself and by bitterness that everything else pales in-comparison. George laughed up a storm, and beyond that storm might have been self-hatred, but there also amusement that was absolutely flourishing in its misbehavior and hate. I begin to feel all of the frustrations that James has toward his father inside of me. Maybe an overstatement, or maybe not realistic, but rather to say that my own frustration feels absolutely amplified. I feel frustrated and fuming. Intermingling with all of my anger, my uncertainty, my frustrations, and there is only one thing that I can thing of to do.
“I bet your mom never told you that her so called acting career, was in porn.”
James is already far from view at this moment, leaving George to only hope that his son remains in earshot. The man is only looking to make a spectacle nothing more and nothing less, and it's a show that isn't for anyone else but himself. He's the entertainment to his own world, and his conflicts outweigh everything else. Everything else is irrelevant and needless.
“You little prick!”
Eight. George finally comes to realize my presence and looks at me, not with the friendliness he once offered, the friendliness that his son deserved to be graced with, but with anger.
“What the hell are you looking at?” George asks before walking drunkenly toward me.
Nine. George finally makes his way over to me and stares at me in his drunken stupor, and then, he does something that he'd surely come to regret.
He spits on me.
And that is all it took to postpone the countdown. George backs away from me for a moment before turning around and attempting to drive his beer bottle over my skull, but alas, it'd be to no avail. I grab the beer bottle out of his clutches and charge him forward against a thick tree. George exclaims his dismay aloud, but nobody is around to hear it. It's as if he didn't make a sound. I cling the bottle against the tree roughly, causing for the bottle to break in-half and leave me a sharpened shard of glass for my troubles.
“What the hell, leave me alone, what the hell's your problem?” the animal wails, but it falls on deaf-ears, the hunter is too focused.
I drive the edge of the sharpened glass into his liver. Something already severely damaged by years of abuse. He stifles thoughtless, aimless, like a grasshopper with its head ripped off, arms still twitching.
I step back away from him for a second. The heat in my body still built to a surprising amount, but I step back nonetheless. He manages to walk a good series of feet until dropping against the grassy plains. There, his blood scatters around, painting the ground as if it were a canvas. The life of the man has been brought into my possession. The life of the man has been brought into the possession of the hunter.
“Ten,” I utter to myself softly.
I actually feel better.