The Final Hunt ~ Part 12 (Finish the Story)

I was nominated by Kim from I Tripped Over a Stone to write the next blurb of “The Final Hunt” having inherited the story bit by bit from other writers leading back to the original story beginning from Teresa, the Haunted Wordsmith. Normally I don’t consider myself to be one who excels at creative writing, living more happily in sarcastic, refreshingly (or is it uncomfortably) honest, snarky, sometimes serious but usually humorous prose and poetry. I feel at a loss unless I’m talking from my own experiences at some level so this definitely posed a challenge for me from the onset.

Before it even got to my inbox, the story grew through 11 other authors who added bits of this and that until the plot thickened and a couple dozen loose ends were wafting wildly in the breeze. As a teacher I know that it can be “fun” to just organically add another level of plot twisting madness to stories like this but after a while the story looses its plotline and zest and eventually turns into either a hapless mess or something that is no longer amusing to wade through. As an author I can’t stand the idea of leaving 394 loose ends floating around without finding ways to tie them up.

After all, one can’t start a new story until one has tied up all the loose ends of their one they’re in now.

So, below you will find all 12 parts of this tale, some longer, some shorter, and mine tacked onto the end where I *think* I found a way to tie all the loose ends up tidily…

I (we?) hope you enjoy…

the final hunt

The Final Hunt

*

Part 1 ~ Teresa, the Haunted Wordsmith:

Anne and Gladys waved as the men left for their hunt. When they were out of sight, they both laughed knowing full well that none would have the heart to really shoot anything. They liked a boy’s day out as much as they liked a girl’s day in.

“So,” Fred said as they passed the gate into his family’s hunting grounds. “What do you think the girls are up to today?”

Alec laughed. “Talking about us, what else?”

Sam nodded. “Yep.”

As they walked through the fields into the tree line, the dogs’ ears’ picked up. Boy whimpered and cowered close to Fred’s legs. Toby’s fur stood on edge as he stared into the woods and growled.

“Easy there,” Alec said, trying to calm him.

Sam kneeled and unzipped his gun as quietly as possible. Suddenly, both dogs were on alert as a …

* *

Part 2 ~ Morpethrode at Summer Stommy:

…Small, bespectacled man stepped through the bushes. The dogs were going berserk by now straining at their leashes. It was clear the dogs sensed a danger the men did not see.

The man walking towards them was squinting as he approached as he had the sun in his eyes.

“Good afternoon,” he said as he drew near, “your dogs won’t bite will they? I do have a fear of them.”

Sam stood with his gun in his hands unsure of what he was seeing and hearing. The place they were in was a piece of rugged bushland, no one lived there because it was the family’s hunting grounds and it was considered unsafe to even camp on the land for any reason at all.

Fred was trying his best to hold onto his dog, and Alec held firm on Toby’s collar. Once the small man came within a few feet of the hunting party, they could see…

* * *

Part 3 ~ by Di at Pensitivity101:

…He was holding something in a plastic bag.

Fred lost his grip and Boy lunged at the man who dropped the bag on the ground and threw his arms up to protect his face.

Fred was afraid they would have to shoot the dog but Boy wasn’t interested in the man at all, just the bag, which he snatched up and obediently brought back to his master.

The little man was shaking with fear as Sam reached out his hand to help him up.

“You realise you’re trespassing don’t you?” he said.

The man straightened his glasses and collected himself.

“I’m sorry about that, but we’d received a repor….”

“We? Who is we? And what are you doing here? You could have been shot!”

Fred had taken the bag out of Boy’s mouth and stared at the contents in disbelief.

“Guys? I think you need to look at this.”

* * * *

Part 4 ~ by Sadje at Life After 50 for Women:

Sam and Alec stepped forward to take a look at what was in the bag. Fred’s hand, clutching the bag, was trembling. The bag contained a severed hand, the digits were shaped like a claw. But it was like no human hand they had ever seen. It was like it belonged to someone very big and skinny.

“Whe…, Ahm….Where did you find this?” Alec uttered the question through vocal cords which were refusing to cooperate. Sam and Fred were looking askance at the stranger. The whole situation had taken on a nightmarish quality.

The man, again made an attempt to introduce himself. “I am Bennett, from The Agency of Alien Detection, TAAD. We received the alien activity signals from this area and a party has been investigating the situation. This is part of the remains we were able to recover. Do you have any information regarding this?”

The three men stared at him with gaping mouth and glazed looks. Who in their right mind would believe this man. But the evidence was in their hands.

Sam took the bag from Fred and was going to examine it closely when…

* * * * *

Part 5 ~ by Cheryl at The Bag Lady:

…When the bag’s contents started moving. The claw-like severed hand was scratching at the plastic bag. Sam dropped it like a hot potato! The boys started to freak out and started to whimper. The spectacled man even stepped back. “Oh my,” Bennett stuttered, “I thought it was, uh, uh, dead!”

Sam kept his gun at the ready. There was no way this “thing” was going to hurt the boys. Bennett fumbled nervously in his pocket to retrieve what looked like a cell phone, but was actually a communicator to the rest of the landing crew. His face seemed to change shape a bit and he started to adjust his hair. Sam looked at the little man with more than just curiosity. Who was this guy, really?

* * * * * *

Part 6 ~ by Fandango at This, That, and the Other:

“Do not touch that bag!” Bennett, who was no longer a small, bespectacled, unimposing man, shouted. He had suddenly grown taller. His skin took on a shiny, reddish tone and his hands took on the same claw-like shape of the severed hand in the bag. The three men stepped back and even the two dogs stopped barking and cowered.

“What are you?” Alec asked. “You definitely are not human.”

“No,” Bennett admitted, “I am not. My companion and I were sent here from our home planet to explore your planet. Our mission was peaceful. Our intent was merely to collect air and mineral samples. We intended no harm. But then we encountered a hostile group of creatures who jumped my companion. I’m ashamed to say that I ran for cover, while these creatures devoured my companion. All that was left of him was the hand that I put in the bag. But he is apparently beginning the regeneration process.”

“Creatures? What kind of creatures?” Sam asked.

“Similar to those,” Bennett said, pointing to the two dogs, “but larger and much more viscous.”

“Wolves,” Fred said.

Sam raised his rifle and aimed it at the alien. “Sam, what are you doing?” Alec shouted.

Suddenly…

* * * * * * *

Part 7 ~ by Lisa at All About Life:

There was a noise overhead and both Alec and Sam turned sharply to try and identify it’s source; necks craning upwards they searched the sky but there was nothing other than a dense cloud bank.

“Looks like there’s a storm coming,” said Alec, “Perhaps it was thunder we heard.”

He turned to look at Sam who had resumed his position; stock still with his gun aimed at Bennett’s head.

“That wasn’t thunder, was it Mr Bennett?” Sam said quietly.

“Sam! Please put down your gun, there’s no need for threats, Mr. Bennett has explained that he has no beef with us, he’s just doing some research.”

Alec was surprised at his friend’s behaviour especially as Boy and Toby were no longer agitated but laying peacefully at their feet. In his experience, dogs were far better attuned to sense danger than any human.

“And you believe him do you?” Sam was absolutely rigid and he spoke from the corner of his mouth through clenched teeth as though in mortal terror or suppressed anger, Alec couldn’t be sure which.

“Yes I believe him, Sam, now put the gun down for God’s sake before some gets hurt.”

Alec was becoming genuinely concerned; they were both hunters but he knew from long experience that Sam was not a violent man. He stepped forward to try to placate his friend and persuade him to drop his weapon. But just then the sky darkened and…

* * * * * * * *

Part 8 ~ by Billy Mac at Superman Can’t Find a Phonebooth:

They were slammed to the ground by a sudden, swirling and violent thrust of downward pressure. The trees bent outwards in futile surrender as they were pelted by leaves and underbrush. The noise was deafening. The dogs, unable to stand, yelped as they crawled towards the outskirts of the clearing. Sam, having lost his tenuous grip on the shotgun, helplessly watched as it was flung beyond his sight. He found himself being tossed around on the forest floor as he tried to find something to hold onto. He cried out to Alec who was frantically hugging the base of a tree at least 20 feet away.

“Alec! What the ever loving f&*k is going on?!” He shouted. As the words left his mouth he knew that the cacophony around him had drowned him out.

Alec, instead of futilely trying to shout over the deafening noise waved his right arm, his left clinging to the tree base, caught Sam’s attention and frantically pointed upwards, jabbing at the forest ceiling.

Suddenly branches and debris began raining down upon them and both men cowered under the onslaught. Sam forced himself to look up. Squinting and covering his eyes with one hand he could see a large object slowly lowering itself into the clearing, effortlessly forcing aside the trees that dared block its descent.

The heat was overwhelming, Sam could only presume it was exhaust.

But from what?

He scrambled to escape the clearing. Alec, with a sudden burst of brevity let go of the tree and did a military crawl to join his friend. Once he reached Sam they locked arms and watched what they could only presume was Bennett’s ride home finish it’s descent.

* * * * * * * * *

Part 9 ~ by Steve at MSich Chronicles:

Ending its descent before touching down, the craft hovered several feet above the ground. The cacophony of sound, which was deafening as the alien ship forced its way into the clearing, was gone. The woods was eerily silent, as if aware of a malignant presence that it did not want to disturb. The symphony of birds, insects, and the other creatures that inhabited the grounds had vanished. Even the sound of water cascading down the brooks and streams that crisscrossed their route could not be detected. If not for the sound of their heavy breathing, Sam and Alec might have thought they were struck deaf.

The air was calm and still, but somehow felt alive, pulsating with a vibration and energy that was palpable. Sam wiped what he thought was perspiration beading the side of his face, and was alarmed when he saw blood on his hands. Turning to his partner, his eyes widened as he witnessed blood seeping from Alec’s ears and nose. Gently elbowing his friend’s bicep to get his attention, Sam pointed to Alec’s face and then his own. As Alec rubbed the space between his nose and upper lip, Sam heard Alec moan, “What the hell?” but Alec’s lips did not move. Confused, Sam hoped this was a nightmare he would soon wake from when he heard Alec respond, “This is no nightmare, Sam. Can you hear my thoughts? I sure as hell can hear yours.”

Sam nodded. He didn’t question their sudden telepathic capabilities, instinctively knowing the alien presence somehow enabled it. Perhaps it was best under the circumstances that they could communicate in this manner, and not draw attention to themselves by making noise with their voices.

“We have to get out of here,” Sam heard Alec think, pointing to Sam’s face. The drops of blood from Sam’s ears and nose had developed into a trickle. Sam saw Alec grimace when he felt his own eyes suddenly tear, and knew it wasn’t tears emerging from his eyes.

The men resumed their military crawl to get as far away from this place as they could without being detected. Moving backwards in this fashion so they would not lose sight of what was in front of them, the air around them suddenly became heavy. Their bodies became immobile, seemingly tethered to the leaf covered terrain, as if an invisible lead blanket enveloped them.

“Christ!” Alec heard Sam think, and was about to reply when a sound that was similar to the opening of an enormous vault pierced the silence. As a sliver of blinding light emerged from the ship, Sam reflexively turned his eyes away from it, and saw leaves, wooden debris and several mice, chipmunks, and a handful of other small rodents get sucked towards the ship, as if caught in a vortex of gravity.

The men felt their bodies become caught in that vortex and become involuntarily drawn towards the ship. Fortunately two large oaks were in their path, and stopped their momentum. They shielded their eyes from the light that was no longer an emerging sliver, but a floodlight of sun-like intensity that enveloped the entire scene.

Bennett, who had transformed into his natural form, approached the ship and appeared to be communicating with something neither Sam or Alec could see. Their blood turned cold when Bennett raised his arm, turned his body and extended a long, bony finger from his claw-like hand and pointed in their direction.

“Oh shit!” both men thought in unison.

* * * * * * * * * *

Part 10 ~ by Susan from Stories From the Edge of Darkness:

Overcome by a terror that burned like a live wire beneath their skin, Alec and Sam shut their eyes, wishing themselves away from the horror that roared before them.

Suddenly, the unbearable clamor stopped.  Anne and Gladys appeared at the edge of the clearing, their voices drifting gently into their husband’s minds, “Don’t be afraid, they aren’t here for you, but keep your eyes closed.”

Pummeled by shock, but unable to fight his curiosity, Alec opened his eyes.

Gladys stepped from the shadows first, slowly but with confidence.  As the light flooded her petite frame, she began to transform.  Gracefully, she slipped from her human skin, revealing a body covered entirely by what looked like an armor of glowing red bones.  As she unfurled into her full height, stretching claw like fingers into the sky, her long dark hair turned into thick black vines that crept eerily toward her husband’s throat.

Alec gasped as a voice that hummed like a blade against gravel invaded his mind, “I told you to keep your eyes closed.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Part 11 ~ by Kim at I Tripped Over a Stone:

Gladys easily maneuvered the thick black vines that used to be her human hair. One coiled around Alec’s neck with the precision of a python encircling its kill. Alec was helplessly pulled towards the ship. Sam watched with horror as Bennett welcomed Gladys at the ship. As Alec was being dragged behind Gladys, Sam knew that Alec would soon be lost.

Sam put his fingers into his mouth and whistled for Toby and Boy. Then he yelled at Fred to release the dogs! Fred, frozen where he sat, had been unable to comprehend what was happening. Fred seemed to awaken as he heard Sam’s voice.

The dogs, once released from their leashes by Fred, responded! They ran greedily towards Sam, eager to begin their hunt. The hysterical cries for help from Alec were savagely burning inside Sam’s mind! Sam’s eyes rolled back into his head as he fell to the ground. Toby and Boy zeroed in on Alec’s cries, jumping on the alien form that was Gladys.

Gladys swung her giant claw hands at the dogs, Toby yelped as the claw dug into his side. Boy went into an angry blur of motion, teeth barred and going for Gladys’ neck. The freakish howl that escaped from the alien form was of pure agony, but Boy finished off his prey with a final shake of his head.

Toby limped back towards Sam…

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Part 12 ~ by Gwen (Kit) at The Kintsukuroi Life:

Anne and Gladys waved as the men left for their hunt. When they were out of sight, they both laughed knowing full well that none would have the heart to really shoot anything. They liked a boy’s day out as much as they liked a girl’s day in.

“You know,” Anne thought, “After all this time I’ve rather grown accustomed to these primitive creatures. I do hope the others are able to extract their samples without killing them or causing them any lasting damage…”

“Me too. It would be a shame to hurt such helpless pets,” Gladys responded while sipping her tea silently.

They’d hinted at and introduced the idea of a hunting trip for weeks, slowly creating and building the idea within their primitive husbands and their closest friend, Fred, while planning a rendezvous with others from a separate landing party. The others were seeking samples for testing and reluctantly Anne and Gladys had agreed to allow their behavioral subjects to be sampled provided that the samples be taken in a place and manner that would allow for minimal opportunity for interruption and contamination of their studies as well as mitigating the risk of harm to their primate pets. A trip to uninhabited and difficult terrain in a tricky autumnal season where harsh weather could be called up and a mild state of delirium could be induced and blamed for a few missing days in the wilderness and odd night terrors seemed like the perfect cover for this scientific sharing. Gladys hadn’t quite had the soft spot for the humans that Anne had, but overall they did not want to inflict any undue harm to their test subjects.

“They’re so helpless and they don’t even know it,” Gladys thought, shooting a sympathetic sideways glance at Anne.

“The sooner we get this over with the sooner the other team leaves the surface again. I’ll be happy to see them gone. That one whose Earth name is Bennett is too quiet here. I don’t trust him… He keeps far too many of his thoughts in his second brain and shielded.”

Gladys nodded. They watched from the porch as the men turned the corner of the lane into the wooded area, following a path toward a fence toward a gate. A threshold.

“I wouldn’t mind if those dogs didn’t make it though,” thought Gladys. “I don’t care what they say about breeding and training, they still give me the creeps… All those old stories…”

“So,” Fred said as they passed the gate into his family’s hunting grounds. “What do you think the girls are up to today?”

Alec laughed. “Talking about us, what else?”

Sam nodded. “Yep.”

Sam hadn’t moved from where he was still grasping at the oak tree’s ancient trunk. Toby, with a gash in his side, black with dirt and clotted blood, had placed himself between Sam and Bennett, who looked on in horror at the writing mass of what was once Gladys. Boy eagerly swallowed chunk after chunk of still wriggling black vines and the red, bony armor covered exoskeleton of her body. Some primitive switch had been flipped in Boy and he was feeling a bloodlust that had been forgotten over millennia of breeding and training, a bloodlust that was wild and untamed. It was pure instinct, and he wasn’t the only one feeling it.

Anne still stood in her human form at the edge of the clearing making eye contact with Sam, Alec, and Fred, willing them to remain silent in the coming moments. Sam seemed to understand what she wanted but he didn’t know how or why while Fred began to shake uncontrollably as the shock and utter bewilderment had suddenly struck him. He closed his eyes and wished for the nightmare to be over.

The tension seemed to leave the clearing as Anne communicated with the being who had remained inside the landing craft throughout the entire ordeal. Sam watched in awe as his wife carefully picked up that twitching blob of red, pulsing goo that only a few minutes before had been the clawlike hand that started the whole thing off; it had seemingly doubled in size over the course of a few minutes. She brought it near the ship until it began to float gently through the air toward the opening.

That’s when they heard the wolves howl. No one had noticed them closing in around the clearing.

That’s when Sam felt Anne’s fear rise… A fear that comes from a hundred ghost stories and terrible tales told to children to keep them in bed at night but whose base is in reality.

No humans or aliens had seen the wolves coming but they were drawn to the place like moths to a flame brought in by an ancient bloodlust, called by their tamed cousins. Once awakened, the dogs knew who they were and why they were there: to keep the monsters of the night in the darkness. More importantly they knew they needed help.

The wolves had never lost the ability to know good from evil because they had never known the kindness of a scrap of meat or a roasted bone tossed from a hand and followed by a swift kick. The knowing had been bread out of the hounds after millennia of love and abuse reigned down, after millennia of only practicing the hunting with balls and the knowing with people who were safely on the other side of a window or door, but it had never left the wolves.

The alpha, his mate, and the elder walked into the clearing from three different directions. The mate passed Anne as if she were naught but a butterfly. She was no monster…

The elder weaved his way between Sam and Fred, glancing sideways at Toby before stopping by Boy, who was finishing up the last bits of Gladys… No monsters there, not anymore…

The alpha lowered his head but kept his gaze steady as he approached the open door to the landing craft with a growl…

An eerie howl began from the far side of the clearing as wolves around the clearing joined in one at a time. Toby joined the din… then Boy… The sound was deafening!

The alpha bared his teeth, his hackles rising. He looked ready to kill whatever was inside if it stepped a clawed toe outside the landing craft.

Sam and Fred couldn’t hear the closing of the vault as the door closed or even the sound of the engines as the ship took off over the sound of the wolves and dogs. Only after the craft was gone did they stop their cries, the wolves mostly disappearing silently into the brush except for the three who stood in the clearing. The looked hard at Anne and she lowered her eyes. She knew they knew, they knew she was not a threat, at least not yet, but they also knew that Toby and Boy had been awakened from a long slumber of forgetting. They would keep an eye on her.

Two days later Sam, Fred, and Alec woke groggy and feeling rather achy. Anne explained that they had sheltered from a freak thunderstorm and had accidentally eaten a psychedelic mushroom thinking it was a puff-ball in their attempt at scrounging food for survival and had experienced what she could only assume was a collective hallucination brought on by their vivid imaginations while they told scary stories to one another in the dark around a fire.

While Sam and Fred accepted the explanation without question, Alec felt ill at ease with the idea that he had only imagined his ex-wife Gladys turning into an alien and trying to kill him, yet it did seem to fit. She always seemed to know what he was thinking and when he was up to something. It was a good thing when she ran off with that no good, bespectacled neighbor of theirs, Mr. Bennett.

Toby and Boy watched Anne intently as she tended to the three men and she always kept her eyes low as she passed them. They knew now and they were not going to forget again. She knew they knew and she was not ever going to give them a reason to remind her why her species had abandoned exploring this planet so long before her team arrived.

Those beasts were the stuff of legends and nightmares, after all, and Anne had assured the wolves that that day in the hunting grounds would be the final hunt for either side.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The End

25 thoughts on “The Final Hunt ~ Part 12 (Finish the Story)

  1. A great ending. Loved how you tied up everything neat and tidy. A difficult feat considering how many were involved in writing this story. It now reads as a complete story written by one person. Great 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Final Hunt (FTS 2019 #2) – The Haunted Wordsmith

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