Natural Freedom: Part Three

            After trekking through dense jungle until the sun is completely overhead, our wild man guide finally stops and starts pulling on vines. A screen of branches and leaves woven to look like part of the jungle foliage rises silently and reveals a small clustering of huts. Our guide motions for us to go in first. I carefully pick my footing on the steep, rocky hill. The last thing I want to do is fall. I hear leaves rustling as the screen falls back into place. The wild man takes a breath as if he’s about to say something, then the same scream we heard this morning cuts again across the air with the same knife-like clarity. I turn around and see something injured and covered in blood drag itself closer, and closer.

A man with black curly hair runs out towards it and holds it in his arms. “Hannah, it’s going to be okay. You’re going to be fine.”

Shuddering, the thing called Hannah pulls the man closer. “Brandon, I love you.” She dips her hand in the blood pooling underneath her and gently traces Brandon’s chin. “I love you.” Hannah says, still shuddering and gasping for breath. She cups Brandon’s face and takes one last shuddering breath and then slumps back, dead.

            “Hannah? Hannah! No, stay with me! You’re going to be okay. Hannah!” Tears start falling down from Brandon’s eyes and onto Hannah’s face. “Hannah, don’t leave me! Come back! We’re getting off this island together. Hannah, come back!”

Brandon looks up slowly at the man standing in front of James and me. “Austin, she’s gone.” Brandon leans down and kisses unyielding lips, cold as marble. Austin walks over and puts a hand on Brandon’s shoulder.

Brandon slowly looks up. “I’ll kill them, I will hunt down every cursed Zaroff on this island until they’re extinct.” Brandon gently lays Hannah’s corpse on the hard ground. “Good bye, Hannah my love.” I shudder at the sight of Hannah’s body and the thought of the monsters that did it, and realize that it could be me. Austin turns towards us.

            “That is what the Zaroffs do.”

James looks at Hannah.

            “Then they’re murderers?”

Austin lets out a harsh laugh. “Yes, but that’s not what they call it. They call it ‘hunting’ but it’s murder to anyone sane.”

I gulp. “And how long will we have to be here?”

            “As long as it takes to build a boat. But few stay alive that long.”

The End

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