One shot. One kill. That was my motto as a hunter. As a collector of prized pelts, from the red nosed reindeer to the ever elusive horned kangaroo. I never missed, never in my life, it was always a fatal shot. The lungs, the kidneys, a leg, if I wanted to bleed it out. If I intended to eat the prey, I would put it down painlessly. The meat was tender, filled with the ripe juices of the prey, rather than being tense and filled with the chemical cocktail that the prey's brain unleashed when under attack. That was supposed to be the case with this animal, a simple job, a reward for its skin and a warm meal in my belly. Fuck, how long has it been since I've had anything so delicious? Weeks, I thought to myself, possibly longer. I had survived in the savanna off of scraps, calorie bars and even the dung of an elephant - not my proudest moment. But now, I could see, clear as day, the prey in sight. It was an afront to God himself and all that was holy. No, I'm not a religious man, but even I can see how unnatural this thing is. Walking on two legs with an oddly human face, distorted into a smug expression, as if acknowledging it's abhorrent existence and stubbornly refusing to die. The hunter knew its tell tale phrase, it was rote in his brain after studying this mysterious beast for weeks. "You're too slow." It antagonized the lions. "Come on, step it up." To the giraffe. No one cared for this beast.
The hunter could see why, plainly.
I lick my lips, thankful that I was downwind of this speedy prey item. With a cock of my rifle, one that I never missed with, if you remember, I stared down the scope. It was. . Walking. Its gait slow, conservative. Nervous. Could it sense my presence, or did it just know that this would be the day of reckoning? I had no idea, this was a new item for me to add to my wall. With a steady breath, wiping the generous sweat collecting atop my brow, I teased the trigger. Gritting my teeth, I fired.
The hedgehog went down.
I missed the killing blow.
The mewling, pitiful and desperate, could be heard for miles, I had no doubt. Lions and hyenas would pick up on it soon. A curse, I jump from my perch and dash out for the monstrosity. Upon reaching it, I quickly observed its state. Laying in a poll of its own blood, a hole right on the leg. It would bleed out, the hunter assured himself. But the meat. . It would lose flavor. He couldn't have this. "Oi!" I say, false horror in my eyes. "Blimey! I didn't mean ta hitya, it's my bad me bud." My thick, South African accent spreading over the item of my interest. It looked on, confused and hopeful. I did not hesitate to take the beast home. It was a short walk to my jeep, a shorter drive to my shack, on a large hill clear of the elephant grass that flooded the plains. The despair in my dinner faded, as did consciousness. I was glad, having to keep up the facade of being an ally would grow tiresome. Patching the wound proved to test my knowledge of anthropromophic demons anatomy, but I saved its life.
For an hour, maybe two, I debated my goal. The peaceful snoring of the hedgehog greeted my ears, soothing me. . I had spent so long on the hunt, away from the comforts of home and a warm body. I sigh, looking at the round buttocks. "No." He tell myself. "I cannot do this." While the demon slept, trying to regain its strength, I eyed the knife between us. Without any hesitation, I grabbed it. "Sorry bloke." I whispered, a hand moving to carress the piney-hair of the beast. "Nothin' personal." And with a determined slash, the animal's throat was slashed. Eyes opened, panic and confusion, before the bliss of death took the suffering hedgehog into its arms. With a sigh, I laid my body against it, the blood gushing from its throat, spraying me profusely. "Bettah get the pot." I'd need to skin it first, debone the dinner item before I could even begin to think of my rumbling tummy. Shutting the confused, bewildered eyes that the dead beast gave me, I stood, looking around the cabin for the needed tools.
It wasn't a hard hunt. Not for this master tracker, but it tested his heart. It tested his manhood.
Did I make it?