She demands his attention. She demands his strength. His cunning. His sacrifice. She demands the facets of himself he’s honed to spearpoints, as he chases Her through the brush and wilds. This is something else now, something new and terrifying, but She will not leave him be, content to watch himself fling his soul into the arms of the waiting ocean, asking for others to put him back together. She drags his body back when the strain proves too much, when he fails, when She gets the better of him.
She doesn’t speak to him. She only facilitates what she knows.
Do you think yourself wise to throw yourself against a foe you have no standing with? Over and over again? Do you think it prudent?
He follows the tenet well, when he doesn’t answer.
She finds his tracks first. She finds his spear second, dropped upon Her from above.
There is nothing more to say, for the hunt. She allows him to walk back to the beach, and She is waiting there upon the white sand.
Is this not what you wanted from me?
Why do you struggle so fitfully? We could hunt forever, you and I.
I have to go back. I need to go back.
A rumble. A pause. A thought.
These friends of yours, hollow in their skills, their words, their motives. These less thans. Do you really need them?
So quick to answer. A hunter is on his best feet when they are solitary and silent.
A wise hunter knows when to rest.
Are you lonely?
I’m not lonely, I just like being on my own.
Another rumble. Another pause. Another thought.
You should rest, then. Reflect. Consider. And when you have your answer, you will come to my den.
He does not thank Her. He cannot, just yet, not with lessons unanswered, unacted upon. When he begins his hunt, he moves through the forest and under the threat of shadow. When he begins his hunt, it is with eyes clear.
Time does not exist, and he has no idea what little he has left.
No, no. No. No…
The skull is an eye. The eye, a window, an entrance. It makes sense to him, then, that there is another way in. A second eye. Aural canals. Brain stem. He swims. He swims, and he swims and he swims until he finds a hole in the rock, a squeeze-through that he passes into like water, and tumbles around in the currents of it until he can feel the sandy bottom settle. Clear, unbroken glass above him.
He rises slowly.
He rots in his chair, just yards away. Falling apart, picking himself back together, dead eyes watching for a solitary soul that would never come from the bullheaded front. Not anymore. To him, this battle has been won, so why must he still exist?
This soul has an answer to that.
A guided hand.
It should have been as easy as rending the run from its hand and firing. Nothing ever is.
It’s mine. It’s MINE–
No. It’s mine.
Defiant to the last, defiance in the face of an eternity left unbound and untethered. The stubborn refusal he knew so well. The corpse spins on his bony heels and rips into him, a single hand tearing chunks from his flesh. It seeps in. It pulls at his marrow.
You don’t get it.
I don’t want to.
His two hands grip into the putrid cavern of its body, and he pulls. He pulls.
He lets it consume him.