It has not been long since we set off, so it is natural that until now, we have not come across any animal. In addition, my condition is still optimal due to the little effort I have made.
Yes, I feel a slightly tired, and instinctively I try to open my mouth to breathe through it. However, considering the state I usually end each day in, this is minor, almost negligible.
As time went by, I realized that the habitat of the beasts was getting farther and farther away, so the distance to travel to find them was gradually increasing. This variation is not particularly evident, for it has been going on for years, but I have noticed it thanks to the exhaustion that I have felt unchanged.
I have stopped growing by leaps and bounds, but it is impossible that, even with all the exercise I do, my body’s stamina doesn’t improve. Still, I haven’t felt any change in how fatigued I am at the end of each hunt. So, it is normal for me to assume it is due to external circumstances.
I have considered the idea of resuming the exercises I had left in order to solve this problem, but since it is not a critical necessity, I have postponed it for a future that may or may not come.
In any case, that is not important currently.
Back to the matter at hand. Today is the day en I will engage in close combat against one of the prey to be hunted. This is an event that puts my life at risk, and that is why I carry a stick tied to my back, a straight branch as thick as three of my fingers and a meter long, which I cut from a tree days ago to let it wither in the sun.
Of course, this one will not be useful to me when fighting, but I prepared it for a completely different reason.
Emphasizing that, above all things, I am a man through and through, personally, carrying an object that pretends to be a weapon gives me confidence as my fears diminish. Not to mention that I still keep with me the impulse to pick up the sticks I see lying around and hit the air with them, pretending they are metal swords or magic wands.
An immaturity, some will say, but for me, that is a virtue of obtaining satisfaction in the little.
Now, as much as I would like to do it to relieve some of the stress I feel, I must still confront reality with all seriousness. After all, I am not living a life that allows me to behave like a child. So, carrying it on my back, without using it, is the most I can do.
Since we are discussing a serious subject, allow me to ask you a question. What do you think about me calling the beasts we hunt felines?… I know. Neither do I like it, but I do it that way because when I lived at my grandparents’ house, we had several pet cats that I loved very much. Therefore, to treat these that I have to kill in the same way disturbs me… Yes, I understand that they are not-…
While I was lost in my thoughts so as not to suffer from my heightened perception of time, a loud noise was heard to the left, far away from the party.
It was a thud against the ground, so it could be a large branch falling from a great height or, more likely, beasts fighting each other. Because of that, the group changed direction to head toward the source of the sound. Part of it did, as five of us kept moving in a straight line.
The motive for not turning around was because, in the distance, we spotted a pair of felines sleeping peacefully, huddled together. Only we noticed them since the trees obstructed the view of the others, or perhaps they averted their gaze before they could do so.
From their size differences, it is evident that they are husband and wife. Besides, I don’t even need to see them up close to know that, as it has been demonstrated in past hunts that these animals are very territorial, even fighting to the death for territories.
As if that were not enough, they are also cannibals, for I have witnessed them eating corpses of their species.
But that was the least of it because the instant we saw them, the three guys ahead of me, along with the one on my left, increased their speed dramatically, and, despite how excited they were, they didn’t scream or grunt as they typically would, demonstrating a level of cunning unusual in them.
They sought to claim those prey for themselves, so they did not want to draw the attention of the rest.
When I saw their actions, I forced myself to follow their paces, gritting my teeth and clenching my fists as I opened my mouth. I ran with all my might, feeling pain in my heels when they hit the ground hard. However, after taking four or five steps, I slowed down.
That short instant proved enough to show me that I could not compete against them, at least not in this field. I couldn’t catch up with them, much less surpass them, because even if I gave it my all, I would at most match their speed, but considering that they accelerated before me, that would be insufficient.
Therefore, I started to think.
I had no time to waste, so as I did so, my body kept moving mechanically. As a result, I was about to grab one of the rock slings stored in the bag at my waist but stopped halfway, for I remembered that it would go against my imposed goal to complete this day.
After that, I turned my eyes to my sides, but since I didn’t catch sight of the others who separated, it meant I had left them behind.
Then, having a blurred mental image of what was happening in real-time, I took a decision that I executed immediately. Stepping forward with my left foot, I buried it in the ground using it like a brake, and with it as a support, I propelled myself to the right.
No, I had not given up on these prey. I couldn’t do that as these were the ideal ones for me. After all, if I waited until the next batch, I would likely be too tired to deal with them. I’ve experienced it before, so I know.
That is why, once I had covered some distance and before the two felines were overtaken by the barbarians who silently approached them, I shouted in a tone that sounded like a beastly roar rather than a human.
Moreover, I was not the only one who did so, for the other four, upon hearing me, instead of getting angry that I ruined their ambush, gave in to their primordial instincts, joining me in a noisy chant, which was preceded by the awakening of the two beasts and the voices of the group behind us, who, because of the commotion, ran in their direction.
The two, now alert, with no desire to stay and fight after seeing the intentions and numbers of their opponents, fled in opposite directions.
The male, which was the largest, headed to the left, followed by all the barbarians who were looking to hunt the mightiest enemy, ignoring the female, the smallest and slimmest, who rushed to the same side where I was going.
This was not by chance, far from it, for I did it by taking into account past attitudes of their kind. To be exact, when they are in danger, they usually separate and run away unless there are offspring involved or their opponents are within the range of their capabilities.
Since none of these scenarios were met in this case, it was clear what would happen.
When I saw my target move, I sensed that today was my lucky day, as this one not only acted as I wished but also appeared not to be in its best condition because its speed and agility were slower than they should be.
These were not excessively low, but at least they allowed me not to lose sight of it, for in creating this plan, I had mentally prepared myself for it all to turn out to be useless.
Thus, not wanting to waste this opportunity, I accelerated at a moderate pace, not wanting to end up too exhausted to fight with it.