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The Hunt | Gary Moloney

     His head is still displayed proudly above my mantelpiece. His deep brown eyes are as bright and full of life as the day we played our little of cat and mouse all those years ago. They are dead, but yet somehow still alive and while they place me under constant surveillance, I suppose it would be rude to blame the taxidermist for being good at his job. I’ll never forget that day: the day that I first went hunting with my father, the day that I split my first blood.

     He lay still in the forest’s clearing as he panted heavily and drank from a running stream. Through the scope I could see his body rising and falling in time with his breathing. My father had always told me that overnight rainfall was a blessing and I couldn’t help but agree. It had made the long, arduous task of tracking the beast so much easier, however the entire days work stil cane down to this one moment.

     “Do it” my father whispered as I aligned the sight, aiming with my left eye as I did so. My heart was racing, ready to explode, ready to escape from the confines of my chest. Sweat drenched my face, stinging my eyes and covering the handle of my rifle.

     You’re a big boy, I reminded myself. You can do this. I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. As the sound rang throughout the forest, in sweet, sweet harmony with the squawking of birds, I sighed. It was done.

     As we approached the body, I noticed the ever-growing pool of blood that poured out of the dying creature. Its rich, almost wine-like colour, stained the beauty around it, a perversion. I knelt down and touched the gaping wound on his side, the man’s eyes dilated and he winced as I felt the blood’s gooey, ooze like texture. My fathers smiled, another day’s work was done. Dipping his hand in the bloody, he marked my forehead with the sign of the wolf, the most ancient of our tribal traditions. I had been blooded. I had become Death’s journeyman. In my father’s eyes, I had become a man. It was to be the first of many hunts.