Fiction

Striped Shadows-Part 2

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II.SHADOWS

She followed the tracks, vengeance swirling on her mind. The mysterious beast or whatever it was that prowled the night air was made of flesh and blood. And she knew that by the end of the day she will taste it and have its beating heart around her claws. The hunter crouched in the shadows of the trees that surrounded her. Her reverie was disrupted by the scene in front of her. The thick smell of ash and burnt wood overpowered her.

A large expanse of land burned by fire caught her attention. Blackened trees edged the scorched clearing like broken grave markers. A large canal of torn brown soil cut through the coal black clearing. It led towards a steep crater big enough to accommodate two village huts. She craned her neck but her limited range of vision didn’t afford her the chance to see if the accursed beast was present in its lair.

The huntress circled the edge of the treeline, careful not to make any sound. Careful not to snap any twig or ruffle any dried leaves strewn in her path. She waited, her patience eating her very soul. A necessary thing to survive the ordeal, she convinced herself. An impatient hunter is no hunter at all, she added. The skies darkened as hours passed and the first drops of rain fell.

She paused as something emerge from the crater. Its clawed limbs bit the mud like sharp stakes as it ascended the steep path. Its long neck slits ended in fangs unceremoniously arranged in the place where the head should’ve been. The eyeless beast had a mouth full of daggers and a yellow fork tongue.

The huge thing stood on all fours its gray streaked hide drenched by the rain. An unearthly abomination. A creature from the worlds beyond. The beast from the stars swivelled its head from left to right. Its movement synchronized with the rumbling thunder from the distance.

The rain fell harder, filling the crater with water. The abomination shivered, expelling vapor from its maw. Lightning flashed, illuminating the denuded ground and with it the thunder drummed louder. Taking its cue from the heavens the huntress started its first assault.

Shades of orange and brown pelage leaped from the edge of the trees like a fiery blur. The huntress’ soaked white ventral fur and distinctive vertical black stripes, unique only to her, seem to blend with the darkness as she zigzagged her way to the beast.

Light and darkness alternated as the discharge of lightning peaked confusing the soulless brute, adding a little chaos to the huntress’ mission. She sprung towards the beast’s flank. Her feline claws digging through the beast’s thick rhino like hide. The huntress expected it to fall down but the beast shrugged her off. She flailed in the air and landed with her muscled forelimbs in the mud.

The huntress bared her teeth and flattened her ears. Her dilated pupils and yellow iris glowed in the darkness like jade gemstones exposed to sunlight. She circled the quarry almost sensuous in her grace. One step at a time,she thought. There was no need for her to rush things. She would slowly break her enemy without it knowing.

The beast’s didn’t follow through as he tried to orient himself. He didn’t like this place. Too loud and too confusing. His senses was always in disarray. He huffed and coughed expelling vapor and spittle. Too wet too!, he thought. Something attacked him, something he can’t locate. Something he can’t punish. Where is it?, he asked himself. He shrieked and turned his head waiting for the echo but the returning sound was too muffled to decipher. The mud splashed as he pounded his leg in irritation. The thing that dug its claw in his chest was taunting him. Another bolt of lightning followed by a resounding thunder fell, confusing him even more.

The huntress took the chance again and attacked. She vaulted in front of the prey sinking her stout fangs where she thought the artery was. The beast reacted with a swipe, pummeling her. She landed in the lip of the crater, hurt by the enemy’s blow. She tried to regain her composure but instead she slid down the pit. She rolled in the slosh covering her fur with gray mud. The huntress landed with a splash in the dark water of the crater.

Hearing her struggle in the muck the beast swooped down, his dagger like teeth snapping with eagerness. He stopped where the water met the mud and started striking. The huntress stopped her movement as the beast began swinging his taloned limb. She dodged the vicious blows and retaliated back at her nemesis.

She dragged the beast down the waters every muscle of her body straining. She gritted her fangs as she gave her last ounce of energy. Gravity and the slippery layer of muck aided her intentions. The beast began to slide down. He tried to struggle back to the surface but the huntress sunk her teeth in his neck slits.

Both creatures fell and sank in the water, only one of them ready to face its freezing bite. The abomination fell with a loud splash, submerging down the deep water. His weight made him sink faster than the huntress. The beast wailed in distress every time his head pierced the surface of the water. Again and again he cried but the huntress pulled her back using her sharp retractable claws.

Then the rains stopped and the last gurgled breath of the beast bubbled in the water like small transparent globes, creating small ripples in the grey water when they burst. The huntress’ face emerged in the middle of it all, orb eyes glowing in the darkness. Thick vapor rushed out from victor’s nostrils. She slowly made her way to the muddy surface, her striped tail helping her steer as she swam in the cold murky waters of the pit.

The tigress limped towards the lip of the crater, singking her claw on solid ground. And she raised her head to the cold night sky and cried as though she was challenging the heavens itself. Her true roar echoed through the night, heard by the myriad creatures of the forest. No one answered back. No one challenged her call. She roared again for the last time signaling the end of the great hunt.
THE END

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AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Reading a couple of Lovecraft stories inspired me to write this one. Basically, its about Shere Khan and the Predator’s house cat duelling and duking it out. I’m a bit biased so, I let the cat with a home court advantage win. This relaunch is the fixed version. I’m not sure if I spotted all the errors so for that I apologize.
Did you LIKE it? (Any comments? Suggestions? Don’t be afraid to sound off your opinions. If you want to give your critique or review, go ahead.) Have a nice day!

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Striped Shadow-Part 1

Posted on Updated on

1429869159200

I.STRIPED

A great roar tore through the thick impenetrable jungle-flora disturbing the migratory birds in their perches. The panicked reply of the other animals followed. Monkeys howled atop the canopy, cuckoos and other exotic birds chirped their lungs out and even the jaguar gave a lazy growl. The unfamiliar would dismiss the mixed cries and shrieks as noise but in truth it signaled the start of the great hunt. The cacophony of the jungle’s occupants also disoriented and confused those creatures who relied on their auditory senses, adding more chaos to the madness.

The stifling humidity of the jungle didn’t dither the huntress as she continued to stalk the beast in the maze of vegetation. She leaped from branch to branch and finally down the ground. The heat of the noon sun added to the difficulty of her mission.  A mission fueled by the primal anger in her core. She reined it, focusing it to one single point. The anger heightened all of her senses. It made her every muscle tensed and ready to pounce at her prey.

The huntress paused and looked around. Vines hung like dead serpents in the canopy above while thorns littered the ground below. Beams of light pierced the canopy like silver spears giving more than enough light to guide her pursuit. It was all she needed.

She typically hunted gaurs, nilgais, and sambars but this time she hunted a predator like her. A very shrewd and experienced beast, she thought. Death was eminent and danger was just around the corner. So, every action she’ll take must be calculated and precise. She sighed and resumed her precarious mission.

Her naked body contorted and snaked through the greenery, soundlessly. She halted over a fallen tree covered in green moss. She leaned closer to the rotten wood to examine it. A ghost of a smile formed in her lips. She crouched closer to the clawed foot print in the moss. Still fresh, maybe a day old, she thought. She raised her head high, only a faint smell lingered in the air. The prey was closer than she’d imagined. She followed the odor towards a dark twisting trail, vigilant for a possible trap.

The huntress used its innate speed and agility as her journey took her in the unexplored part of the jungle. An adept swimmer she crossed a deep and narrow pond crowded with white and red lilies. Every step she took made her heart pound in excitement. The first step of her plan was closing the distance between her and the beast.

She shivered as she emerged on the other side of the pond. Water dripping down her back like small rivulets. The huntress slowed down as she set foot on the pebbled surface. She craned her head and sniffed the air. This time the odor was a lot stronger. The faint coppery smell of blood and the beast’s urine stink lingered in the jumbled roots of an ancient acacia tree. The beast had its fill, she thought. The smell gave the details she was looking for. The huntress bolted back to the trail and continued on.

A she expertly avoided the labyrinthine foliage marring her way she thought of the things that happened to her. It will never be the same again.

Three starless nights ago she had been playing with her first born when a great burning orb pierced the black night leaving behind yellow contrails in the starless sky like claw marks on a granite slab. Bright blinding light followed as the orb crashed itself in the deepest part of the jungle. She already sensed the danger it brought but ignored it.

It was the first error she made. And it would be her greatest regret.Soon after that night animals began dying, torn to pieces by taloned paws and left to rot in the forest floor.

The forest became an open charnel house as carrion began to mount. Its assiduous butcher seemed to be in a murder frenzy. Jungle folks whose tribes adapted and made use of everything around them grew alarmed as they discovered the mysterious and merciless killings. Some suggested that a rogue creature stalked the shadows. While others who considered themselves more sensible concluded that the gruesome events were the omens their pagan gods sent them. The Spirits of the forest needed appeasement, they thought. So they proffered sacrifices to halt the massacres only to be disappointed of its savage continuance.

But the huntress’ proud ancestry didn’t cowed her. For she knew what it’ll take to protect her youngling and what she’ll do to those who will be foolish enough to cross her path. It was the second grave error she made and it’ll have the biggest toll of all.

The beast came and it came shrouded by the dark night. Its sound muffled by the light flitting rain and the rumbling thunder. While she and her firstborn were in deep slumber it arrived like a specter from a long lost time. When dawn came she awoke and terror struck her nerves.

Her firstborn. The love of her life. The heir of her little kingdom was missing in their den. No longer in her protective arms. No longer safe from the dangers of the jungle. She panicked and searched for it. Turning every stone, but to no avail. Where could it be?, she asked herself. She almost gave up when she heard the faint whimper in the bushes half a league away from their lair.

She approached it, wary of the creature that waited for her in the gloom. She brushed away the vegetation from whence the sound originated only to find what she was looking for torn to pieces and dying. The sight was both appalling and horrid. She dropped down to her firstborn’s side helpless, a bead of tear fell from her eye. She scooped the remains as it croaked its last breath of life. Time stopped and the bustling jungle paused in silence. She felt her heart sank in the cold depths of her anguish. The unfamiliar pain strangled her will to live. It was worse than the wounds whose scars she proudly wears. It was the agony of losing a love one. It was Death’s whisper itself.

The huntress roared with ferocity, tears streaming down her face. And the jungle expressed its sympathy in its own silent way. Anger swelled up from her chest, filling the emptiness of her heart with molten hate. What creature could’ve done this to her young? Who would do such a ghastly thing to her precious firstborn. The answers to her questions came in the form of padded paw prints leading away to the deep jungle…