I open my black book with delight, penning details about the 21st sinner. I pause to gaze out of the window at the mountains. They are my muse, and I, their protector. That mound of rocks and mud ignites intense feelings within me. They are the holder of my secrets, burying them deep.
You see, I am a hunter. Okay, a serial killer. But, I don’t kill for enjoyment or twisted gratification. No, sir, I kill for protection. When I find campers desecrating my mountain, I am driven by an instinct to punish. For every piece of litter, I repay with knife stabs. Then, I dump them into newly-dug graves–sometimes, alive. Twenty-one miscreants have died for their mortal sins. The woods, they cover my crimes. They are deep, impenetrable. Only men (like me) who are familiar with them ever venture into their dark innards.
I finish the entry and close the book with a flourish. My eyes take in my beautiful pygmy mountains as they weave the dwindling light around their trees, a game of hide-and-seek. Their shadows, forgiving.
While enjoying my weekly Sunday trek with my ears tuned to the chirping birds and the rustling brook, an alien sound assaults me. I crane my neck from behind the tree, where I have taken cover. I spot the culprit. A solitary woman is playing music on her phone. Snack wrappers and empty bottles trail her like confetti. The campfire is still burning. The woman, with nary a backward glance at the mess, begins to skedaddle.
A white-hot rage envelops me. My arteries carry it everywhere. Every nerve ending is tingling. I retrieve my black book from my backpack, note today’s date, and the littered item count. I adjust my hat, pushing the flaps behind my ears. I ready my catapult as I aim for the retreating soon-to-meet-her-maker camper’s head. I tense the string, releasing the projectile, a stone. It meets its intended target with a muted thwack. And a muffled curse. Followed by a deadfall.
When I felt the stone hit my skull, the muffler worn under it diffused the impact, but the sheer surprise made me lose my footing.
As I lay on the heap of leaves, there was a rustling sound on my left. Through my half-closed eyes, I spotted the looming figure, donning the idiotic hat. I, then, focused on the background noises –finding none. Using guerrilla tactics, I waylay the offender.
I browse through the black book I fetched from the dead man’s backpack, a sense of grudging respect flowing. The entries are detailed, the actions precise. I relate to its creator, a kinship. For the first time, I feel a twinge of regret. But one look at his offending hideous headgear takes care of it.
You see, I hunt people who wear hats with ear-flaps, ushanka-hats.
After I wrung the man’s neck, I extract my own book and note the number. Twenty-one kills, yet.
Funny how the hunter becomes the hunted.
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