This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

*** WARNING ***
This story contains graphic descriptions of violence. Reader discretion is advised.

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The Hunter’s Daughter – Final

An original story by Holden Gerrig

The howl of the coyotes seemed to come from a few feet away and brought him back to the bitter reality. Damn it! Spencer told her, he realized shivering and feeling the increasing pain in his burnt genitals. He clenched his teeth and eyes when the howls reverberated him. For the first time, he felt remorse for his actions and wished for an escape. He continued crying and shivering when he noticed the howls fading away.

There was only silence and darkness. He sharpened his ears trying to detect sounds. He only heard tree-frogs and the chirp of nocturnal insects. He started to feel relief, thinking he may have gotten away. She must have lost me, he thought with a hint of hope that made him smile. I’ll make it through the night and find my way in the morning, he decided.

“Maaarciaaaaa!” Janet’s chanting broke his elation. The hunter’s daughter had tracked him down.

“Enough!” he yelled from his hiding spot, trying to locate her. He stood up to assess the surroundings. “I’m going to kill you, Janet,” he said as he heard the rustling of leaves and her chanting voice approaching. “I can’t hit you but I can choke you,” Seth said, hoping to intimidate her, positioning to pounce. His heart pounded as a shiver traveled down his bare skin.

“Maaaarciaaaaa!” She was only a few feet away. Seth would wrap his arms around her neck and push the remnants of the handcuffs still attached to his wrists against her eyes. “Yoo-Hoo!” she taunted. Seth saw her shape in the darkness and the rustling of the forest floor got more distinctive. He took a deep breath and readied for the assault.

The violent explosion on his back blasted through his mouth and dropped him to the ground. Seth tasted his blood and could not move his legs. There was a burning sensation around his mid-back growing in discomfort and breathing became difficult. His broken hand searched for the source of the agonizing pain, struggling as every motion produced a shock that traveled from his abdomen to his brain.

He heard the rustling of leaves and heavy steps approach. They were too heavy to be Janet’s. His hand felt a shaft protruding out of his back. The steps became more distinctive and he could hear breathing. He looked up as his strength faded and only saw a pair of red dots.

Seth reached out with his broken hand and felt large boots in front of him.

“I warned you to stay away from my daughter,” Spencer said.

Seth was dismayed when he realized this was not a random vendetta. He saw another pair of red dots approaching and heard Janet’s laughter. “Let him see our eyes, dad,” Janet said, motioning her father to remove his night vision goggles as she took hers off.

“Really, Janet?” Seth said in a soft voice, feeling his life draining away. “Is this what you wanted? You think you won?”

“I think nothing!” Janet said crouching in front of him as Spencer turned his flashlight on. Seth noticed her cammo jacket on top of her negligee and hiking shoes. Her breath misted in the cold, damp air. “You brought this to yourself!” she said erupting in tears.

Through the shaky light of the flashlight, Seth saw Spencer kneel to comfort his daughter. He also saw the compound bow Spencer had tuned in front of him the time he gave him the warning. Seth thought of his humiliating condition, his dying naked body on the forest ground, his genitals scalded, his broken cuffed hands, and an arrow stuck on his back. He regretted his defiance to the former special-ops officer.

“I loved you, Seth,” Janet continued in tears. “I didn’t want to believe my dad, but then I followed you and saw it with my own eyes.”

“You’ve got your revenge. We’re even.” Seth felt pain dissipate as his body shut off but he wanted to cling to life.

“We’re far from done,” Janet said mixing her tears with laughter and adding to Seth’s anguish.

Seth did not want to depart. He thought of the places he wanted to visit, he’d never get his chance. He thought of his mom and dad, how his mother reminded him to say his prayers, and how they’d be consumed in anguish not knowing of his fate. He thought of the new-born nephew he’d never meet and of the adventures he'd never live. “Go to hell, the two of you,” Seth mumbled with bitter tears, lamenting his life cut short. “I hope you’re happy.”

“Not even close,” Janet said as she got up and went around to his back. “You turned me into a laughing stock and that won’t die with you.”

“I don’t care!” Seth gasped when he felt the arrow in his back getting tugged, reigniting the pain. Blood began pouring through his mouth. “Soon it won’t be my problem.” He convulsed as his blood drowned him. “We’ll meet in hell again.”

“I know, darling,” Janet said grabbing the arrow shaft with her two hands. “But leave this world knowing that I'm wiping the slate clean.”

Seth managed to turn his head and look at Janet. His weakening heart hurt at the fury of Janet’s eyes, looking demonic under Spencer’s light. He feared what was coming.

As if reading his dying eyes, Janet smiled as she placed her foot on his rear for leverage. She tightly gripped the arrow shaft and prepared to pull out. “Because they knew we were together, darling. They knew but went along anyway, and for that, they deserve your fate.”

Seth wanted to speak but his tongue could no longer produce words. He wanted to tell Janet it was his fault alone and to exact revenge on the other women was a sin more horrid than unfaithfulness. Nooo! You can’t do that! he thought, unable to maneuver his mouth. He was distancing from his body and it could no longer react to his anguish. I can’t leave! Not like this! his mind screamed. He wanted to stay for the chance to make it all better but he was floating above, driven toward a light, still pleading to Janet in a tearful voice only he could hear.

His last sight was of Janet yanking the arrow out of his corpse as he transitioned into the ether screaming his remorse and tears.

I hope you enjoyed this story and as I always, I look forward to your feedback and suggestions. Stay tuned for more upcoming stories and keep your eyes open for the release of the complete novel The Diver – A Tale of Adventure, Deceit, and Redemption.

Happy reading!