Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Faery Hunt by Alexia Purdy
“Grab your gear; we’re almost ready to go,” Jay hollered out to me.
He was dressing in full hunting gear, cargo pants, black shirt with
knives sheathed across his chest. A quiver stuffed full of arrows
crisscrossed the belt of knives, making him look like a black ops
Groaning, I pulled myself up into the back of the truck, grabbing my
hunting gear that matched his and snugly strapped it on. “Oh come on, I was heading towards the mall to hang out with my girls. What’s going on that you guys had to screech on over here and interrupt my perfect evening?”
Jay tossed a bow at me and snickered, “I think this is much more important than shopping for shoes. “
I glared at my brother, wishing I could give him a slap. He never
cared for anything but the hunt. Sighing, I was glad I remembered to wear decent shoes, I had learned long ago that a hunt can happen at any time and it was better being ready than sorry.
“Heads up!” Craig yelled out from the cab of the truck. A
flashlight went sailing out the window and barely missed my head.
Catching it, I cursed him under my breath.
“You could have killed me, moron!” Stuffing the flashlight into my
belt, I pulled the truck door open and plopped on the seat, glaring at
my older brother Craig.
“Sorry Pudge, didn’t mean to almost take your head off. Just helping you prime your lightning fast reflexes. It’s gonna be a doozy
tonight!” He stuffed a flashlight of his own into his jacket and hopped out. I did the same, slamming the truck door and scurrying towards the back to find him and Jay scoping out the woods.
“Hey, don’t I get a say in the game plan? This isn’t a ‘boys only’
club.” I sighed, turning to scan the darkening woods before us. A
trail on our left led deeper into the trees, disappearing from the road
after the first turn. It looked scary, and the pit of my stomach
agreed. Shaking off the dread, I followed my brothers into the forest, letting the truck disappear behind us in the thick of the woods.
“You sure there were sightings in these woods? I don’t see any
tracks yet.” I knelt down to study the dirt, looking for any
disturbances. The twigs and dead leaves cluttered the forest floor and made it difficult to pinpoint any tracks. I studied it intensively
until a small splash of dirt across some sapling leaves betrayed our
“This way,” I said, confident that I had discovered a track. No way were they getting away from us this time.
We tracked them for about an hour, as the dusk sucked the daylight
away. The trees rustled in the cool evening breeze and made it hard to hear any movement around us. As the night approached, the lights became clearer, marking the faeries in the distance.
“Faery lights,” whispered Jay, motioning towards the darkness
beyond. In the distance, firefly-like glowing orbs reflected back
towards us. I sucked in my breath, steading my bow as I swept my
flashlight back and forth, counting the lights. Faery lights were the
retinal reflections of the woodland faery tribes that haunted the woods around the city. They had caused a number of disappearances lately, thus keeping us hunting them regularly.
My brothers were on full alert, guns and arrows pointed and readied
towards the flashing targets. They watched us approach, not wavering in their positions. Their confidence made the hairs on my neck stand on end; these were not so easily spooked like the others we’ve encountered.
“Amy, take the left flank, I’ll take the ones on the right, Jay
you’re center point man. Don’t spread out too much, stay together,”
Craig said intently, stepping carefully towards his right as they
expanded their perimeter.
“Now!” Jay gave the command as he had many times before. Craig and I followed with a cascade of arrows flying into the darkness, hitting the glowing targets around us.
The infernal screams that followed were deafening. Even the now loud roar wind through the tree canopy was swallowed by the carnal wailing all around us. I wanted to fall to the ground and hold my hands over my ears to muffle the screeching. This band was louder and madder than any we had extinguished before.
We continued to hit them with arrows and bullets as Craig shot some
down with his handgun. I reloaded as fast as I could but realized that the mass of dark faeries had taken a different stance and began to bum rush right at us.
I pulled out a hunting knife from my belt, just in time to slash one
across the chest and butt another in the head with the bow. Their
bright green blood splashed across my face and arms as their veiny skins burst open under my blade.
Their hair was made of twisted twigs and thistles while their skin
was green like an emerald forest in spring with veins like leaves that
spread across their bodies like emblazoned tattoos. They wore moss and long grasses woven into capes and pants. Their eyes glowed a yellow of cat’s eyes, reflecting the moonlight like feral orbs. They fought us bravely, falling in piles as our weapons got the best of them. Iron arrows and bullets decimated their numbers efficiently.
Their sheer numbers pushed me farther from my brothers as they too spread apart to keep up with the rampage. Sweat gathered on my brows as my heart jumped in my chest. If we don’t end this soon, we would be no match against them.
As if they heard my thoughts, the attack slowed, more warriors came to stand around me as my ammo ran out. The ceasing of gunfire let me know that Craig too had run out. Panic seared through me like lightning, threatening to burst my chest open. I held my knife out, dropping the now useless bow to the ground.
In a flash, one faery grabbed the hand holding the knife, squeezing
hard enough for me to yelp out and drop it. He moved in a blur as he twisted my arm painfully around my back and held it tight. Unable to break free, he shoved me forward, deeper into the forest and away from the calls of my brothers. The pain in my arm seared through me, making my eyes tear up as I stumbled under his impatient shoving. When we approached a clearing, he shoved me down to the floor where I struggled to get back on my feet, rocks and mulch scraping my hands. Looking up, my eyes rested on another faery that stood staring down at me intently.
“Let me go!” I yelled. The still face remained unmoving, boring down into mine. I tried my best to look away; knowing that to stare back into the bright yellow glow of faery eyes was to become a prisoner of Faerie itself. I pulled my gaze away, tears spilling down my cheeks as I stared at the ground.
“Please, don’t hurt my brothers. I’ll go with you, but please, don’t
hurt them. Let them go.” My voice quivered as my body shook,
exhaustion and terror crawled over me, threatening to collapse the last bit of strength left inside me. Looking back up, I waited, studying his features, which were similar to the rest of their kind. The only difference was a twisted crown of wood and vines sitting on his head.
His eyes glared at me, seemingly sucking my soul out into them as the world swam around me. I could hear but a whisper in my head as he agreed with my terms. Reaching out, he touched my cheek.
A blazing burn ran from his touch down my neck and set my body
writhing in pain. It seared through my bones like a raging inferno
until a moment later when it receded slowly. Lying on the ground, I
blinked back into consciousness. Slowly getting up, I stood and stared at the woodland Faery king. He nodded, turning back towards the forest and motioning me to follow. Glancing down at my hands, I realized the same leafy green texture of their own now tattooed my skin.
Reaching up, I touched the twisted twigs and vines that now was my
hair and felt the mossy softness of the soft grassy dress that replaced
my cargo pants and shirt. Gulping, I watched the faeries retreat behind their king. I turned and saw my brother Jay tied to a tree, watching in terror.
“Oh, Amy, no, don’t go with them, no, no, no.” His head bled a deep scarlet where he had sustained a hit. Craig lay on the ground near him, knocked out but breathing. Relieved to see them alive, as the king had promised, I smiled to my brother, whispering my love you guys into his head. Turning away and ignoring his pleading, I walked with the procession of retreating faeries and knew I would never see my brothers again.
©2011 Alexia Purdy