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Laura Via

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The Hunter & The Hunted
By Laura Via
Sunday, May 25, 2003

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What would happen if a hunter fell in love with a vampire?

As night settles in, the frogs come out to croak in the darkness. Fresh rains have brought them out to enjoy the moist night air and sing their songs. Lifting clouds from the day’s storms begin to roll out, mute the moon’s pale light to create shifting shadows upon the moors. This left over rolling fog, thick in some places yet not in others, brings with it something sinister. For within the mists hides a figure, cloaked in darkness, roaming the night. Shadowy, merely mist is this creature who begins its quest this night; walking the moors in search of a wayward soul, lost and alone.

The wind softly blows through the open window, curtains billow beneath its touch and the scent of freshly fallen rain lingers delicately. Rain still drips from the gutters above the open window, creating a false sense of an occurring shower. An oil lamp burns upon the desk where a figure can be seen with quill in hand, poised to conjure words upon paper. The dancing of the lamp’s flame creates flickers of reddish light upon the pale face, with brow furrowed in frustration. Seems her muse has left for holiday and refuses to return, her mind is troubled by the lack of inspiration as of late. She thinks back a month or so, trying to reach the memories from a more joyous time. Flickers of rose petals strewn across the bedroom floor; fine wines and satin sheets stir her emotions. She wonders what happened to that creature of the night, the one who would come to her in dreams floating on the moors. His voice haunts her each night, dark and brooding was this man that came to her in the darkness. A sigh escapes her lips as she fights the urge to look over her shoulder, hoping that this might be the night all this writer’s block is over.
The clock ticks slowly, moving forward without a glance back to the past. If one listens closely, one can hear the clicking of the hands. She looks at the ever-moving forward clock and grimaces, for the hands show her it is quarter to midnight. Seems she has been sitting at her desk for what seems like a fortnight, yet only an hour has passed. Then, without a second thought, she lays the quill down on the blank parchment she’s been staring at for the past hour. The chair makes that awful shuddering sound as she scoots it away from the desk. Her legs are stiff from sitting in the same position, her back kinked and needing to be stretched. As she stands, she reaches towards the ceiling to stretch and lets her head fall back slightly; her dark locks cascade in a wavy waterfall of hair. The sound of distant thunder catches her ear, leaving her to wonder if the storms have cleared up. Moving to the open window, her bare feet shuffle along the marble floor softly. The coolness of the stone is pleasing as she walks, her nightgown stirring around her legs as the breeze filters in.
The night calls out to her as she looks out the window. The dripping water from the gutter spatters upon her feet as the occasional drop hits the ledge. Off in the distance, clouds on the horizon light up intermittently. She wonders if the mists have lingered out on the moors tonight, or has the fog lifted as the storms seemingly move out. Perhaps this is the night my life returns, she thinks solemnly.

Time has taken its toll upon his form, as his battle scars slowly heal. Yet this body needs more time to heal, he treads on through the mists. He can see in the distance, a warm glow beckoning him to follow. Her window, she waits patiently yet restlessly for me to return, his mind reels with memories. Thunder rumbles softly as clouds begin to move in once more, covering the moon. To the wind he whispers her name, so that it might carry his voice to her open window, letting her know that he is near.
A twig snapping catches his attention, drawing him from the reverie. The fog begins to grow more opaque with each step he takes; yet his ears guide him to the shallow breathing. Seems that someone has wandered off the beaten path and got lost in the fog. How delightful! He exclaims softly under his breath. As he moves closer to the figure in the mist, soft sobbing finds his ears. This entices him even more to drink, a helpless lass lost at midnight, a tasty little morsel indeed. Yet the urge to make this quick is strong, for this is the night he comes home.
The fog cloaks him well and the lost young female doesn’t hear nor see him approach. He can see her tear filled eyes, red from crying; and she holds herself, shivering from fright. Her scent permeates his senses, overpowering she is to him. Sweet and young is her lifeblood that flows deep within. The sound of her beating heart quickens now as he walks out of the mists. He smiles softly as he approaches the scared young lass, noticing that she cannot be more than nineteen in age. His voice is soft as he speaks, asking her if she needs any help. She shies away from him at first, as he holds out a hand. A shrinking violet she is, he muses. Finally, she runs into his arms like a long lost lover. Again she begins to sob softly into his chest as he coos softly, soothing her unsettled nerves.
She looks up into his eyes, her face streaked with tears and lips trembling. He smoothes back the wisps of hair that are matted to her face. Quickly, her lips find his in a childish kiss and she presses her body against him. Her firm breasts lighting a fire within him, as he can feel through his shirt her nipples harden. She slips a hand down, groping clumsily until it finds the prize. He shudders beneath her touch and pulls her even closer still, breaking away from the kiss and letting his lips brush against her cheek and then down to her neck. Her pulse is easy to find as it races with adrenaline. He can bear it no more, he must feed and it must be now.
She moans softly in his ear as his sharp teeth penetrate her delicate young flesh. In that instance, her life begins to flow across his lips and graces his tongue with its flavour. Rich and sweet, full of innocence and life is her blood. Her body begins to shudder as her life is drained, and then she goes limp. Lifeless shell of flesh and bone, her spirit lingering for a moment around him as if to ask why before it is whisked away by the breeze.
Rain begins to fall softly, each drop like a kiss upon his cheek. This brings a smile to his face as he lets the lifeless body fall to the damn earth. It lands with a thud, making him chuckle under his breath. The sound of a human body hitting the ground has always amused him for some reason. His feet begin to carry him through the rain and mist to his destination. Thoughts of fancy cross his mind, bringing a sly smile to his face. He thinks back to the last time he saw her, the last time he touched her. Every curve memorized, etched in his mind like fire. She is the flame, which draws him in, like a moth.

She continues to stand at the window, her mind whispering his name as the rain begins to fall once more. Her heart calls out to him, begging him to return to this sanctuary. The wind buffets her face, sending gooseflesh along her arms from the chill. He’s close, she whispers softly. The clock chimes softly, twelve times, announcing the top of the witching hour. She can feel her heart beating faster, as time draws closer to his coming home. Her eyes search the room for her robe, so that she may venture out on the veranda and be protected from the chill of the breeze. It seems to her that as the rain begins to come again, so has the chilled air. Lightning streaks the sky, with it comes a low rumble of thunder off in the distance. Spring always brings storms close on its heels it seems, she muses.
The marble floor of the veranda feels cool beneath her bare feet as she steps through the double doors. Wind rushes in, making the curtains billow like rose coloured clouds at sunset. She crosses her arms over her chest, hands rubbing to try and warm her skin against the gust. The leaves rustle softly, casting shadows upon the veranda as lightning again lights up the dark sky. One flash is bright enough to make it seem like day for a quick moment. On its heels comes a much louder roll of thunder, echoing through the trees.
Her mind swims with images now. Memories of past moments come to light, those of joy, and of passion. Since he’s been gone, her heart has ached beyond belief. Now, as she can sense him nearing her, her heart beats rapidly with anticipation and relief.

His ears pick up the faint sound of hooves behind him. He counts three mounts traveling at a fast paced gallop. Reaching out with his mind, he picks up on the thoughts of the riders. Much to his dismay, gathering distance behind him are three hunters. Without a horse of his own, he may not be able to outrun them in time. He may not make it to her without losing his own life in the process. Yet, he cannot bring danger to her front door. The price she would pay, his heart could not take the pain that would cause. To see her die because of him would bring him an eternity of torture if he managed to survive an attack.
His mind tries to figure something out. If he can make it to her before the hunters catch him, she would be able to hide him. Yet, he is still torn by what he should do and what his heart tells him.
The rumble of thunder quickens his pace, as so do the horses that track his scent. As the rain falls harder, becoming a downpour now, his hair sticks to his face and stinging his eyes. All the while, he is determined not to let anything happen to her. His pace becomes a full sprint now as panic begins to set in. He can only hope and pray with every fiber in his being that he is able to outrun the hunters.

The sound of horses carries on the wind, causing her mind to become panic stricken. She quickly makes her way back inside, in hopes of locating a weapon of some sort. At first, all she can find is the poker for the hearth. Then she spies something better glinting in the light of the oil lamp. She can hear the gears of the clock moving slowly, yet determinedly in the silence of night.
“This just cannot be happening!” She exclaims inside her mind, yet finds herself utter the words aloud.
Her feet carry her quickly to the wall where the old sword hangs. She can only hope that it will remain sturdy long enough to win whatever battle lie ahead. Over to the window she wanders, hoping that perhaps by some wild chance she can catch a glimpse of him in the flashes of lightning. Her eyes scan the ground, the trees, everywhere frantically. That’s when a knock on the door fills her heart with dread.
With sword behind back, she makes her way to the door and peers through the little peephole. Standing there is a man clad in black armour, yet no helmet to speak of as she can see. Without hesitation, she pulls the door open, allowing the sword to hang in her hand by her side. With the other, she picks up the lamp, which softly glows on the table near the door. She holds it up so she might see the face of the man more clearly than without assistance.
“Is there anything I can help you with at this late hour?” She asks rather harshly.
Her tone of voice catches the man off guard and he clears his throat. “Sorry to disturb you at this late hour. However, my comrades and I are searching for something sinister.”
His words bring a slight smile to her otherwise sad face. “The only thing sinister round here is writer’s block. I’ve not seen hide nor hair of any beastie roaming these parts.”
Yet, she finds something interesting of this man. His dark hair, warmed with red highlights in the light of the lamp. She chuckles silently to herself, If only he knew of what she was! And for a moment, she becomes lost in his hazel eyes.
“Sorry to have troubled you M’Lady. If anything seems out of the ordinary, please don’t hesitate to call. We shan’t be too far,” he gives her a wink and then is gone.

All she can do is stand there, sword in one hand and lantern in the other; still held high as she stares into the night. With a shake of her head, she clears his image from her mind. Then it comes back to her, he is closer than before! Yet, she cannot seem to find her feet; firmly planted to that spot they do seem to be.
“What a laugh! A monster such as I smitten by one single glance with that of a hunter,” she muses morbidly. “Ah, but to die by his sword. I would be honoured.”
She shuts the door and goes back out on the veranda.

Her pale face seems forever etched in memory. Her dark hair framing that pale face so perfectly. And her eyes, the same as his yet full of sorrow and pain; how sad she seems! His mind wonders if she might be one of them as well. Yet, uncomfortable he is with the thought of taking her life. She seems too precious to waste, even knowing what she is. Could he bring himself to stop his comrades from killing her as well? Worse yet, could he bring himself to end her life and lose the chance to end her sadness? His mind reels with these thoughts as he mounts his horse. He clucks to the animal and his mount begins to walk slowly away from the house. Then the sounds of his comrades yelling snaps him back to reality and he pushes his steed to a full gallop without hesitation.

She screams in terror as the sight of two men on horseback race after him with blades held high. Now, standing at the edge of the veranda with her hands leaning on the railing, she wonders if the man at the door was merely but a ploy. Yet, something deep inside her tells her otherwise.
“Please! I beseech thee to end this madness!” Pink tears roll down her cheeks.
One of the men shout back to her, “Silence, woman! Are you so blind as to not see what this man truly is?!”
All she can do is let herself slip to the marble floor and weep. Her heart breaks as she watches the two men slaughter what little life she has left in life. She watches in horror through the wrought iron railing as his head is swiftly, unmercifully, removed form his body. Then, much to her surprise, the one who was at her door not too long before all this began, rushes into combat. Yet, not to aide his comrades but to aide her. After he’d been felled by one man’s sword, his killer loses his life to that of his comrade. The knight’s other comrade charges at him, sword held high and his voice hoarse as he yells.
She watches all this in awe, as this stranger finds it his duty to save her and extinguish the light from those who’ve brought her even more pain than she’d had before. Her eyes, swollen from crying, blink in shock. Never has anyone charged in, just for the sake of her. Never has anyone ever risked his or her own life, even the man who lay there headless now. This leaves her to wonder if, at all possible, this knight might be the one to save her. Yet, all she can do is sit there, soaking wet from the rain. Her blood tears mixing with the cold water that falls from the sky; with her fingers wrapped tightly around the bars.
In an instant, he fells his former comrade. Her weeping finds his ears and he quickly climbs the trellis and over the railing of the veranda. Her sobs are soft as she lies there upon the pale gray marble, wishing that her life would soon be over with. He smoothes back her damp hair, soothing her with his voice. Something inside him speaks to his soul quietly as he helps this woman, even though she might be a monster in the eyes of others. For him however, in his eyes, in his soul; she is that which he has been looking for.

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Reviewed by Adam Walsvik 7/6/2003
I swear you have created life with this marvelous piece! My head spun with the shifting perspective and I think the present tense lends a sense of immediacy. This is nothing short of a brilliant treatise on the nature of desire.

Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 7/1/2003
strong modern Gothic tale here. Coming from a person who as an eye for the gothic this is good.
Reviewed by Evelyn Simon 5/26/2003
A very poetic like read. Detailed stories are the best, because it allows the reader to interact with the story's characters. I liked this story.

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