The Last Hunt
He panics for a moment. The trail is gone. He can’t lose it now. He gets on his hands and knees and searches the snow. As he searches he thinks he must look like a dog rummaging through the snow like trash, and laughs. The sound of his laughter is strange. Whispery and more like a cackle than a laugh. It scares him to hear it come from his mouth, so he stops and continues to search. The trail will fade soon; he has to find it, before its too late. The panic builds in him, feels like a ball of friction shocking every nerve in him, keeping him wired, keeping him alive. A pain starts to build in his stomach, his hands shake, and he breaks out in a sweat, even with the cold. His thoughts race.
Where is it!?! It can’t end like this! What if he survives? What if he lives to tell someone? What if they believe him? No, no one believed him before, why start now? But what if he truly disappears this time? What if this last hunt ends in failure? No, it can’t end. Not like this. So much time wasted for nothing.
Now he feels the panic die out, the wired feeling dampen. Instead, he feels despair sink in, a sadness that is cold and black, filling his body, rising from his feet to his heart and beyond. He rises and rests on his knees, then falls back onto a cushion of snow. He looks up at the sky. He sees the first snowflakes of a coming storm begin to fall, and one lands just above his eye. He instinctively turns his head to the side to keep the rest from blinding him.
That’s when he sees it. So small, almost invisible against the sea of white it rests upon: a drop of blood.