A story I wrote some time ago. When Joe finally posts his story today, it will form a sort of theme for the day.

Come on, come on, sit on down while I tell ya a story. Ya see, there’s a cycle ta things and yas just a part of it. Yer daddy once sat there, right where yer butt is planted, and he listened to my story just as yer gonna. So keep yerself still a while and ya let me think…

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Once, a long time ago, there was a man. And this man, he was a bad man. He lived ‘round these parts back when there were no houses, no towns, and no stores to go shopping in. The man, he was a hunter, but he never limited himself to just animals and such. No, he hunted a different sort of prey. Now, regular folk, that is, folk who didn’t often wander around such parts, they were few and far between. This here place was once wild and overgrown. You seen pictures of the jungle, eh? Well, it was like that…

Anyway, these parts were wild and unlived in, excepting that hunter. There are folk who will tell you he more a beast than man and they think they have the right of it. The hunter had a hell of a bloodlust, that’s for sure. They wrong though. The hunter, he was as much of a man as any other man, but he was different. He didn’t have the mind of the animal and as much as people say, he didn’t have the spirit of one either. The hunter was just a man. Near naked, half wild, and thirsty for blood, but a man sure enough.

I said before, the hunter was a bad man. A bad, bad man. Ain’t a soul alive that’ll argue that one. Though I figure his own soul might take afoul of the sentiment. You see, the hunter, he did not limit himself to what crawled about on four legs, flew, slithered, or swam. Nope, he got bored of that sort of thing easily.

So he say to himself, “But there two legged animals that be traipsing about where they shouldn’t. Why can’t I hunt them?” And sure enough, there soon came a couple men looking for a place to settle. Rick folk, pale and red and breathing like they just ran all the way from wherever it was they came from.

He stalked them day and night as they wandered about the forest, his forest. They scare away the animals and that makes him angry. What right do they have to scare away his prey? None, he decides. Just a couple of people who didn’t belong messing things up like usual. He would sit in the trees and watch them, a spear in one hand and a knife tucked into his belt. The hunter, he was good, he could have taken them at any time. He didn’t though. Better to make them sweat some more, to fear for their lives before he took it, he thought.

Nightfall wouldn’t be long so the hunter waited. The sun and the moon went about their cycle and soon enough the sun has fallen down somewhere behind the edge of the world and the moon has begun its vertical walk across the night’s sky. The forest faded to dark and sound slowly leaded away until all was left was the sound of crickets chirping and two men talking in accents the hunter hadn’t ever heard before.

The hunter just shrugged and started his work. Never one to lie down and wait, that one. Gotta be proactive! The two’d get scared anyway, just a matter of time. Natural sounds would do it, sure would. A roar here or a slithering sound there or perhaps evens the rustling of the bushes. All manner of sounds that would put the fear in even the bravest of souls, the hunter didn’t even have to lift a finger if he didn’t want to. Oh, but he wanted to, of course. The hunter, well, he lived in the forest for as long as he could remember and never once was he scared. He had seen things that would turn the men paler still and killed things so horrible that on their best days the men couldn’t imagine them.

Not that they didn’t try, for surely they did. The hunter, he started a pounding on the ground and throwing things about. A rock into the bushes, a great crack of a rotting log against a tree trunk, he did these things with joy. He flushed wild animals from their hiding places towards the men’s camp. The hunter, he imitated the bears and big cats, roaring as loud as he could as he ran through the underbrush.

The men, they sat closer and closer to each other and closer still to the fire. Their voices were hushed as they shared the horrors they imagined. “That sound reminds me of the zoo,” said one.

“Yes, it reminds me of the great cats, terrible beasts,” replied the other. “Why, oh why, did you decline the guns?”

“Those troublesome things, what need do we have of those? Do they not say that animals are more afraid of us than we are of them?” The other muttered, his voice filled to bursting with fear.

His friend grunted. “I can think of one need.”

Now, the hunter, he did not understand a word of what the men were saying. He had never been of the folk, the sort that lived with other folk. His parents, well… he wasn’t even sure what parents were. Of course he had seen animals mate and he figured that something similar had happened, but he had no inkling as to where his parents could have gone or who they were. No, the hunter grew in the wild and without that silly notion that the animals raised him. No animal had a hand in that boy’s raising, had they a hand in it the boy may have done right by them. Instead he did his best to hunt down and kill anything he pleased. The hunter simply lived. Maybe he was too strong to live or maybe death just didn’t want him. No one knows the answer, the hunter especially.

The most difficult part of the hunter’s plan, which he thought was especially grand, was the very last piece. He could scare the men all he liked, but if they stuck by their fire then they had some protection. The hunter did not like fire, he never had. Oh, he was far from afraid of it, but after surviving a forest fire he had marked it chief amongst his enemies. The last bit, the most difficult piece, was flushing the great bear from its den. It was an easy thing to do if he wanted the thing dead. That was a simple manner. Letting it live and even more, guiding it, seemed an impossible matter.

Details here, well, they a bit sketchy. There are some who say the hunter, he trick the bear out and stare it down. Force it to follow him to the camp. There are some who say the bear was gone and sitting in its place was its fur. They say the hunter, he slip on this fur and run into the camp roaring. And then there are some, and I am one of them, who say the hunter walked boldly into the den, poked the bear in the butt with his spear, and ran for his life towards the camp. Don’t no one know what happened, not a soul, except for the hunter of course, but he ain’t the one telling the tale, is he?

Whatever he did, it sent the men out of the camp in all hurry. They ran for their lives, each one in one direction for another and screaming at the top of his lungs. They left everything at the camp except a confused bear that followed them a bit then shuffled back to its den as angry and tired as it had ever been. Way back in the ages there was a time when animals could call curses down on their tormentors and the bear, well he knew that the hunter had bothered his peace, but those times had passed into oblivion. So the bear muttered and cursed to itself in the language of bears and promised that he would put an end to annoying git.

Meanwhile the hunter followed one of the men, running on the ground and through the twisted boughs of the trees. The bloodlust was upon him, he wanted the man’s death. He wanted to feel him shaking at the end of his spear, to feel his flesh between his teeth. The hunter, oh he wanted it bad. The pale man stumbled and tripped and got caught up in the thorny vines that criss-crossed about the forest floor between trees like scratchy trip wires. And the hunter, he chased him on and on and on. At first he laughed at the man whenever he tripped or fumbled or fouled himself up in the vines, but soon enough he never stopped laughing. The man was unnerved by this and the hunter could see that plain enough, so he began to laugh louder and louder. Soon the entirety of the forest was drowned in the sound of the hunter’s laughter.

The other pale man could hear it as he ran off. He did not know what direction he was going and he did not care, he only knew that he had to escape. So try and escape he did, but it did not help that he was out in the middle of nowhere looking for cheap land that no one gave a damn about. His partner, well as far as he was concerned he no longer had a partner. Made no difference that it was his brother, he was on his own and that was that.

The hunter found himself tiring if his game. There was only so much joy to be gained from playing with your food. The man was tired and stumbled more than anything else. He was lying on the ground and shuffling forward after a fall more than he was actually running. Oh well, thought the hunter, all good things must come to an end and so too must all lives. The hunter was up in the trees when he came to his decision and decided that there was little point in leaving it to finish the hunt. He waited for the man to fall again. It did not take long.

The hunter lined himself up and crouched on the branch, a thick bit of oak, building the tension in his legs like a cat. The man, he was a pitiful sight, all heavy breathing, moans and groans, and drenched with sweat. He tried in vain to climb back to his feet, even goin’ so far as to grab hold one of those thorny vines and cutting his hand up. Didn’t matter though, he only managed to make it to his knees when the hunter sprung from the tree, a small stone knife held with both hands. The hunter screamed as he fell through the air and the man looked up and screamed as well, though the knife that cut into his chest and the body that toppled into him quickly put an end to that. Such things tend to do that well.

The hunter was not content with one measly stab! He continued to do so over and over again and occasionally he would take a big bite. Now, he had eaten all sorts of flesh, yes he had, but none compared to that of the man. He smiled as blood trickled down his throat and down his chin. Oh, he did love the taste. He loved it so much that he forgot all about the other man as he sat and enjoyed his meal, but it did not take him too long to remember. The hunter eyed the body. He did not want to leave his meal there. It would be eaten by something else. Some little trickster would come along and steal it!

With more than a bit of sadness the hunter let the body be and went after the other man. Oh, it would be a great hunt, he felt. Better than even before. If he pushed the other man even further perhaps it would make the meat even tenderer. For the briefest of moments he thought about letting the man go and enjoying his one meal. Surely the other man would bring others along with him, hunters in their own right, but not hunters like he was. He had seen what a gun could do. It was powerful like the bear and strong enough to put one down. Surely it was something to be feared, but oh, the hunter feared nothing. The thought of hunting the hunters with their bear sticks thrilled him, but so did running down the other man.

Other men would come, be they hunters or just men like the one he had killed. They would come and continue to come and he would hunt them just the same. He was the hunter after all, what else would he do? He ran for the other man. The hunter, he looked forward to the grand hunt and the others that would follow.

The hunter, he was a killer. A murderer of man and animal, he was loved and accepted by neither. The bear, for all its mutterings and curses, never did catch up to the hunter, but neither did the hunter catch up with him. The hunter was a bad man, the worst kind. He was a man who acted like an animal with the ego of a man. He felt that was his right to hunt and kill and eat, to do as he liked. The animals disagreed with him. So did the men.

But the pale men weren’t the only men wandering the forest. There was another type, darker of skin and spirit. They listened to the animals, heard their complaints and took note of them. They called upon the spirits of the dead, both animal and men alike, and took note of their complaints as well. They were not happy, but it could be said that they were never happy.

So, as the sun ran over the edge of the world they gathered about a fire. Around this fire was the spirits of the men and animals. So too, did the other animals of the forest gather. The dark men stood around the fire in a circle and began to sing. The spirits joined along in their whispery voices and the animals leant their voices to the song as well. Wind began to blow in circles around the fire blowing about leaves and sticks and dirt and all manner of things. The wind made it all dance around the fire for a short time before it marched all of it into the dancing flames.

The wind died. The fire died. The song died. And in the embers of the fire crawled something different from the rest of the animals. It was a hunter and it was small. Eight furred legs guided it from the burning embers and the ashes and onto the dark brown of the soil before it. The animals and spirits could barely see it! One of the dark men knelt before it and let it crawl onto his arm. The dark man held it close to his mouth and whispered and the thing on his arm hissed in reply.

“The spider,” said the dark man, in the language of the animals and spirits, “agrees to hunt the hunter in exchange for  life.” The spirits and the animals looked upon it with fascination and they wondered just what such a small thing could do to such a fierce enemy, but they trusted the dark men and they held their tongues. “Go little wolf,” whispered the dark man. The spider hissed back and leapt from the dark man’s arm to the forest floor. It blended in immediately.

If there is one point that ain’t wishy washy or confused by anyone it is the end. The spider is a trickster, they clever little beasts. And they like the wolf, too. Just like the dark man said. The bear was the one who found the hunter, all curled up in a ball outside his den with his spear by his side. First thing the bear did was laugh, then he whispered thanks to the little spider, and finally he roared with all his might in the language of the animals and the spirits. And soon enough they all came close, to stand about the body of bad man and whisper their own thanks to the little wolf. Then the dark men came and they looked over the body of the hunter. There, on the back of the hunter’s neck, was a tiny bite. The little hunter went for the kill, but it did not need tear out the throat of its prey.

The dark man, the same one from before, he bent down and touched his hand to the ground. The spider popped up from the dirt and crawled up his arm to his shoulder. “Thank you for your service, little wolf,” said the dark man. “You are free to live.”

With that final statement the spider once gain hopped from the man and onto the ground. It fell through the air slowly, as if something held it fast in the air. Few saw the small strands of silk that it floated on like a parachute. They all saw the thousands and thousands of spiders that hovered in the air though. Not all of them looked like the little wolf. Some had no hair at all, some were bigger, some were much smaller, and some barely looked like a spider at all. The wind caught them as the hovered in the air with their silken parachutes and carried them up and away, to spread them far and wide throughout the forest and beyond.

They would live where the wind dropped them.

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Now boy, I seen what you did and I don’t blame ya one bit. When I was younger I did the same thing, but I was sat down and told this story and I learned my lesson. Yer daddy, he did the same thing and he too heard the story. By rights yer daddy should be the one tell ya the tale, but he ain’t good fer anything more than putting bad thoughts in yer head. Tell ya, don’t know where I went wrong with that one, but he won’t go killin’ no spiders, I tell ya that.

The spider, he did us right, our folk. He did the animals right, too. So don’t ya go killin them. We owe them what we promised them. The dark me, they ain’t never left the forest, even after the pale men came along and paved it away. They still here, in you and I. And we still here. And boy, as long as we here, ya gonna honor our promise. Ya got much to learn, more then yer dad is willing to teach ya, but that is why I’m here, eh?

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