Everyone has their own ways of unwinding. Some people fish. Some people make stained glass or pottery. Some people drink, sometimes too much. Ride bikes. Go on hikes. Visit new places. Play games by themselves or with others. All wholesome or mostly wholesome. Some, though, prefer a darker route. It’s not often and it’s not common, but it does happen.
Karlo was one of those. Over the years, he had found a sort of release in hunting. It didn’t matter what. Deer, pheasant, elk, moose, bear. The bigger, the better. The more dangerous, the better. There was a primal thrill in dancing with death and coming out the victor, he had found. He had moved from rifle to pistol to bow to trying to get up close and kill things with a knife. His success rate had dropped, but the moments where he actually won were beyond words. There was simply nothing like managing to get the drop on an animal, tackling it, and cutting its throat, watching the crimson gush from the wound. Every forest floor he soaked with life fluid was a floor that he claimed as his own.
It was boring, though. Once he figured out the patterns and behaviors of the animals, it became easy to find where they were going to be and surprise them. It’s one thing to pit yourself against nature, but when you know the code, so to speak, of what you’re competing against, winning becomes a cakewalk. He was pinning squirrels to trees with knives. He was stabbing bears in their caves as they hibernated. It was easy.
The only time he came close to losing was against a mountain lion up in the Rockies. He had gotten turned around and came face to face with the cougar. It had reacted faster than he had and nearly took his throat out before he slipped his knife into its side. As he sat there, panting and treating his wounds, he felt only one thing. He felt alive.
He needed to feel that struggle in order to relax. He needed that fight. He needed that battle of wits and nature. He needed more.
It was when he found that hiker, then, that a whole new world opened up to him. He had gone up to the man, chatted for a bit, mentioned some hiking trails a little ways away, then handed the man a knife and told him to run. The guy had laughed before it sunk in that Karlo was serious and thus the game began.
It was over disappointingly fast. The man was panicked and didn’t give him much of a challenge. By the time Karlo was squeezing the life out of the hiker, he was already thinking about what to do next. Campers? Families maybe? What would be the biggest challenge? It was coming across the group of fellow hunters, all armed with rifles, that finally gave him that thrill he had been waiting for.
It was time to play.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.