I feel wind course through my feathered crest as I bolt across the plain. My clan has tasked me with the hunt today. The raid on our home by a brutish beast has left us tired, exhausted, skittish.
I was too young to defend our home yesterday. I was ordered to guard the females and the children, and I did as I was told.
But I was not happy.
I had shepherded in the non-fighting remains of the pack into a reinforced cave we had claimed, and from the mouth of the cave, I watched. I watched Rra'gaash leap with powerful legs into the air and land on top of the Thick-Chest. I watched Rra'gaash's latching-claw dig deep into the back of him. Perhaps right between ribs. The feet of the Thick-Chest stomped the plain, kicking up dust and grasses, and his short tail thrashed at the air ineffectively.
The Thick-Chest roared in pain and I saw Rra'gaash sink his teeth deep into the neck of the invader. The Thick-Chest was screaming and waving a massive club above its head, attempting to dislodge Rra'gaash. It failed to notice the three other hunters of my pack sneak up from behind.
I watched their whistling sticks unsheath with powerful flicks of their tails. Each stick landed firmly into the side of the Thick-Chest and Rra'gaash only tightened his jaws on its neck.
I watched the Thick-Chest flee into the darkness, leaving behind its club.
Now I track its scent. This is my test, to kill the wounded beast. I smell blood upwind, and I push harder, faster than I ever have before.
Within hours I find a watering hole. Many have been there, including my quarry. I sniff the air eagerly and see one of the whistling sticks. It is half sunk in the mud and small waves of water lap at it. I pry it from the muck and take in the scent of blood.
Not too old. I am close.
I lean down toward the water and lap at it, quenching my thirst for the moment. This is the furthest out from my clan's hunting-grounds I have ever been, and who knows where I could get my next drink.
I taste the blood on the breeze and I continue my hunt. Soon, I am upon him, but he is not alone.
I creep low to the ground, but my gait is awkward as I move through the dried savannah grasses. I hear him speaking in a language I cannot identify. My clan knows little of the Thick-Chests beyond their aggression.
I am close enough now, mere strides away, peeking out from between golden blades. I see my quarry, smaller than the others. He gestures as another one of his kind studies his wounds. My quarry winces and roars as his companion pokes at a whistling stick wound in his side.
My quarry hurls a heavy, clawed fist at the inflictor of his pain, and then barks something. I cannot make it out. He rises to his feet and points in my direction. I feel my pulse quicken, but I realize it is not at me he points, but the direction from whence he and I both came.
Back to the clan.
I carry little on me but a whistling stick and my own teeth and claws. There is little I can do now. He is well defended. I slowly reverse from my current position. I must get a head start.
My feet brush past dried grass and onto hard, cracked earth.
I feel something crack beneath one of my feet, then, and worse still, I hear it. I dart my eyes towards the Thick-Chests, and they are alert now.
I do not clear in time, and one of their heavy clubs sails through the air and strikes my head. I bounce along with it upon the ground several times, following the trajectory. I shake away the pain and dizziness as best as I can as I try to rise to my feet, but I am not fast enough, and I feel one of their large feet strike me right in my ribs. Pain jolts me to awareness and I thrust the whistling stick between my claws at the source of the pain and feel the resistance as it snaps in half, digging deep into the foot.
I land on the ground, hard. My breathing is like fire in my chest. But I see the Thick-Chest, a large one, fall back in agony and I watch blood gush from its foot. I begin to crawl. I must keep moving. Soon I feel strength returning to my legs and I am on my two feet. I dart off, hearing the thumps of their clubs bouncing along the ground, each one missing me.
I was a hunter, but now I am a messenger. I return to the clan, but each second is agony. I feel crimson blood staining my green and orange skin. I press on.
I do not know how I make it, but I return to our hunting grounds. My legs give out from under me and I collapse a few strides away from the communal fire. I feel dryness in my mouth, but I am conscious of dirt and mud clinging to my drool. I can barely breathe now. My chest feels sticky from where I was kicked.
Rra'gaash approaches me. He looks concerned, perhaps angry that I came back in such a state. With my last few moments, I tell him about the Warband on the way to the clan.
I feel like my chest is on fire. My eyes begin to close.
The last thing I see before my final sleep is Rra'gaash looking down upon me, thankful.
YOU ARE READING
Weird FrictionShort Story
An ever-updating anthology of the little bits of writing of David A. Davis. This collection features original short fiction of just about anything that comes to the author's mind. Primarily focuses on scifi, slipstream, horror, and just all around w...