She's worth a life and the price of a bullet.

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The hunter's heart must be hard. The hunter's will must be patient. His breath must come cool and quiet, softer than the sloughing wind that trembles timid nature, slow and even as the tides of sunrise and sunset. His eyes must move judiciously, ever constant, seeking the prey he would destroy while evading the Mesmer's show of nature, which would calm his mean spirit, if it could, endearing his murderous heart to a slower pace, a gentler knell, the kinder rhythm of a peaceful disposition. His bones must ache un-assuaged, if they will, and his flesh protest impotently, for he must not disturb the silence of the blind he has readied for himself beneath the shelter of a deep shade and a tangled thicket.

In the stifling heat of camouflage, the hunter feels the snail's crawl of icy perspiration steaming along the contours and ridges of his crouching body, while the delicate senses of his ears betray the whispered sizzle of each drop's boiling, bubbling plunge atop the inferno's plateaus of his flesh. His darting eyesight tracks the blazing brilliance of a sunbeam, as it seers across the detritus of the forest floor, its course through the debris a cacophony of snapping, crackling shrivel and burn. Small things flee before its blinding approach, terrified and superstitious of this raging god come among them solely to destroy all things living, dead and dying.

Then the dash of his gaze scatters the meadow stretched before him, where butterflies dance their strange ballets, apparent angels, but devils of their own accord, tossed into nature as beasts, however beautiful - bound by the hunger of their bellies to feed, and doomed by the same condemnation to lure sparrows down from the heavens. Their multi-hued wings flash reflections of the sky's fiery hell, and the hunter knows the tortuous labors of their slight, supple bodies. How they struggle to admire their gods of creation with their solitary soaring, so how desperate and cruel their tales of snapping beak and dashing, predatory claws.

The hunter watches such small things struggle before the undeniable will of larger, hungrier things, and he knows himself through all that he sees. Withered by a parched summer and a frozen fall, the grasses of the meadow lean low, long ago surrendered to their fate, their stemmed backs bowed to the approach of winter, their empty heads bent low to the ground, eager for their graves. An anonymous farmer, cruel beyond reason in this world of cruelty, has planted the field with clover and left it fallow through the seasons, so the dove, quail, rabbit and deer must come, irresistibly drawn to its false succor, sacrificial fools on a pilgrimage that pays homage to wicked, destructive gods.

For, behind such desperation and dire need as an empty belly may be, the hunter comes, wicked of the wicked, cruel of the cruel, ravenous of the starving. Slinking slow and soft through the pre-dawn darkness, insidious as a silent disease, cautious as whimsical slaughter that seeks only some to leave behind others, the hunter has come. Into his chosen thicket, into his selected shade, the hunter makes himself ready before the face of invisible opportunity. He carefully assembles his weapon and judiciously lays it handy, prepared for a deft grip and an intent adjustment, and then an awful thunder. Its barrel he entwines with a wiry bramble, a leafy, living thing drawn from the forest to pervert its passive being and forge it into an accessory of death. Its sights he drapes with a mottled green fabric liberally sewn with black and brown yarn, beneath which the crosshairs linger on a deceptive sanctuary of randomly chosen wildflowers and dying angels.

Himself, he situates carefully, feeling the earth through the thick fabric of his clothing and the impenetrable soles of his heavy boots. He finds a bestial manner in which to lie with nature, such that he might crouch there all the day long without moving, without itching, without the nervous tingle of bored flesh and a weary heart, because the hunter knows patience is all. Patience is eternity.

Through the icy thaw of dawn, into the tepid stew of a steaming morn, across the brilliant ethereal boundary of a blazing noon, into the dull inferno of a stifling afternoon, the hunter sits. The hunter watches. The hunter waits.

He stalks his prey without motion, with but the movement of his dark, emotionless eyes. The hunter is forever in a forefinger's certain squeeze. The hunter is all knowledge from the vantage of a trigger's brief study. If the sparrow is god to tiny flying things, then the shotgun is god to the sparrow. If the deer is god to green, growing things, then the rifle is god to the deer. The rifle is god to every beating heart, as the hunter well knows. The bullet is its death angel, swift and certain.

Silently the hunter leans forward his cheek to the stock, his eye to the sight. Breathing steamy breath through the twin sirens of his nostrils, he watches the gloom of a falling evening far across the meadow, where the grasses surrender once more to the deep shades of a tangled wood. A thousand thicketed blinds linger there, he knows, each all but identical to his own, though the enhanced vision of his scope penetrates deeply into only one. He spies a motion there, but his pulse refuses to hasten and his breath continues the slow, patient respiration of a reptile sleeping beneath the sun.

He will not be anxious. He will not be hasty. He will not be impulsive.

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Hunted Is The Hunter