For Mandi, who has been inspiring since the day we met.
She put it in her mouth, trying not to think of the song “long thin slimy ones, short fat juicy ones….”
Marla looked down at the pile of leaves, twigs, berries, and grubs she had managed to forage.
She wasn’t sure, but she thought she was probably the only one left alive at this point.
When they had first been all dumped together, they had numbered eight. There had been five males and three females.
The “hunt” did not start until the fifth night. She remembered the exact moment she realized what was happening and that staying together was not an option.
When they had taken out the first person, a girl–her name was Tiffany or something very cheerleader like–they had done it using a cross-bow. Then they strung her up by her foot and left her there for all of us to see.
That was the moment Marla decided that she was going to find a way out.
She had heard a rumor about games like this one. Rich men usually paying a bunch to hunt humans for sport. She never understood it. Unless you chose humans that were armed and had the skills needed to be good prey, then what you were really doing is hunting something a little more skilled than a cow?
After she and a couple others had broken off from the group, she had only seen one other person alive. The first couple of times she had come across the strung up bodies of the others, she had used that area to sleep.
She was very sure that they wouldn’t come back to that specific spot since that was how they displayed their trophies and the hunters would not assume that the prey would sleep next to a dead body. Most probably would not.
As she looked down at the grubs wriggling in her hand, she wished she could bring herself to eat some of the dead meat that had been hanging around. But for starters, she couldn’t figure a way to get the meat off the corpse. She didn’t have any knives and most importantly, she didn’t want to be a cannibal.
She stuffed the grubs and leaves in her mouth and chewed quickly. She was constantly hungry but never starving. Then she drank a little from one of the streams she had found and made her way into the trees to find tonight’s sleeping spot.
She never slept in the same place twice. She was also careful never to leave a trail. She made sure not to break branches and to cover any footprints.
When she had chosen what direction to go, she had chosen left. There was no science; she had to choose a way to go and she chose left.
Marla had also found a branch she could use as a staff and a club if needed. It was interesting the relief she felt when she held a weapon in her hand.
It was late and Marla had been sleeping for a while when she first heard the noise. Whenever she was woken, the first thing she would do was hold her breath and listen. She heard the noise again. It was something large moving near her.
Most of the time, the hunters were in at least pairs if not a “hunting party.” She had seen them several times and had remained hidden through all of it. She stole a look this time and this one seemed to be alone. She wondered if he had gotten separated.
She watched him. He pulled out what she could only assume was a compass and turned around several times. It was funny to her when she discovered that most people thought using things like a compass or a map were easy.
As she watched him fumble, she realized that he must not have a cell phone out here. This caused her to smile. She did the only thing she could. She followed him farther. She wasn’t sure the total time she had actually followed him; with no watch, she couldn’t be certain and she also had to be careful. She couldn’t alert him to her presence.
She waited until he stopped, slung his rifle over his shoulder, and unzipped his pants to pee.
That moment she moved out, swinging her branch. She knew the first hit had to count and had to at least knock him down. That is exactly what it did. Then she bashed his head in until it was a bloody pulp.
She then removed everything of use from him. Even though he was much larger than she, she took his slightly bloodied jacket and all of his supplies. She even opened his wallet and removed the cash and his driver’s license. His name was Jim.
She smiled as she walked away. Now it was her turn to hunt.