The early evening took its grim hold of the sky, now a dark purple veil that bled above his world. The gloom was only dispelled by the moon that peeked from behind clouds of polluted air. Night was taking over. It was the hour of his kind.
Hungry… The voice whispered in the Blind Hunter as he spread his dark wings. The dusk had crept upon the wood with an icy touch, the hint of a long, dull winter to come. Like the others of his kind, the Blind Hunter couldn’t see very well, but even in his fur, he could feel the cut of the autumn’s wind, and hear the murmurs of the leaves that withered and fluttered off the old cedars. He didn’t like this. A winter meant that most insects would die, and he would have a harder time feeding himself, adding salt to his wound. Right now, he was navigating through the wood deftly, hoping to come across a moth or a wasp, something he could take a nibble at. Hungry…
The thought of feeding on insects filled the Blind Hunter with disdain. His kind was unlike most other creatures. They would feed on insects, fruits, and some even on small animals like rats, but the banquet they relished most was the red liquid pumping through the veins of other creatures. The Blind Hunter had been a young of two when he’d had his first taste at the ‘red nectar’. Back then, there was a barn not far from the cave he lived in. He still remembered the dark night, when he nervously sneaked up on a cow. Amidst the cows’ snores, he sank his fangs into her flesh and sucked from her vein. At the next instant, he could feel the red nectar swimming between his teeth, filling his mouth and sending his own blood rushing into his head. It was an exquisite so delightful that he had since then despised insects and fruits.
But you’re hungry… The faint voice reminded him. Winter is coming, and there isn’t much food left… The Blind Hunter wasn’t pleased, but he had to feast on insects. The wood had grown thinner, and the days when larger mammals could be found all over the land were gone. The glints of winter howled again, sending the Blind Hunter shivering in his black fur, reminding him of his subservience to hunger. He had been searching through the wood for hours, and his belly remained empty. Now, you’ve no choice. You need a moth or a fly. Something small will do…
The Blind Hunter both loved and dreaded hunger. It used to be the prelude to a feast, but now it was looming, threatening to kill him. He didn’t fancy death – he had seen what happened to the dead of his kind. In the cave where they rested while hung upside down, the dying and the sick would fall from the ceiling, down onto the grey earth where worms and beetles would come and eat their flesh. The creeping dread of seeing his kin devoured by the swarm made the Blind Hunter wince. And by then the voice inside him was praying, Just a fly will do… A fly will do…
Hungry… the Blind Hunter jerked as the thought of hunger took over his mind. A moth… a wasp… whatever will do… He glided from trees to trees, wishing to see a fly or two, his heart ticking as his stomach growled louder.
But he was alone with the voice of winter.
A fly will do. Just a fly will do… Shuffling along the paths between cedars, the Blind Hunter at last came to the edge of the wood, to the place that made him stiffen with grudge: a town, a riddling sprawling of wooden houses lined against each other. And there were the bizarre beasts – rumbling things, running through the grey roads while carrying humans inside them. It had been erected only a few moon cycles ago, when hordes of humans came with their roaring tools and cut down half of the wood. The sight of humans made the Blind Hunter tremble, and venom filled his eyes as he glared at them. He loathed but also feared them. Humans were so much stronger and armed with weapons. He wouldn’t want to face their wrath.
Then the Blind Hunter’s stomach growled again. His heart almost halted as he thought of foraging in a humans’ dwelling. He thought about his fear and for a while, wanted to turn back to the wood. Yet, when one thought drove him away, another did the opposite. You won’t be finding anything in the wood. He knew it, deep down. As the rumbles in his belly loomed closer, the shadow of death blinking in his mind, the Blind Hunter forgot about his fear. He only flapped his wings and flitted towards the town, prepared to face humans for the first time in his life. Perhaps I wanted to come all along… I’d been flying towards this direction all this time…
The Blind Hunter made his way slowly, stopping and hovering above the town. The air was filled with strange scents he’d never known, sweetness he’d never sensed in insects and fruits. He couldn’t land – he could hear the hisses of raccoons and stray dogs around, but the scents made his mouth flood with saliva. There’re great feasts. He mused. There’re feasts… The Blind Hunter shivered, and glided through the air, and kept the silence. There’s a great feast ahead…
The golden scent came trembling through the air.
The Blind Hunter’s nostrils met them with foreboding. When the golden scent drifted into him, a bristle went through his fur. It was the sweetest smell he’d sensed. He shivered with anticipation, his gut yearning for the taste of its source, his thought scrambled from excitement. He was panting now, his heart racing. Food…! Food…! His breathes were rash. The golden scent lingered and sang to him, beckoning at the Blind Hunter, luring him to go near. Ever since the wood had been cut down and the barn replaced by a town, there’d never been a smell so sweet, not even the scent of a deer’s red nectar.
He stayed in there, scarce daring to breathe, while the moon shone lazily above on the black sky. Finally, his muscles cramping and his stomach shouting with hunger, he flew towards the source of the scent.
The Blind Hunter surveyed the place with caution. It was growing brighter. The clouds cleared, giving way to the moonlight. He trailed the golden scent, coming to a house, one made of wood. It was just like any other houses that stood around it, but there was a window on the second floor, and it was opened, its drape fluttering in the winter’s wind as if waving at the Blind Hunter. He gulped, not once but twice. It was where the scent came from. It made his chest tighten, and the Blind Hunter dreaded a confrontation with humans. He glided towards the window, peeking inside, to behold what was giving the golden scent.
It was a young human. Female. Auburn hair and pale skin. She was sleeping in her mattress, with a softness in her that made the Blind Hunter tremble with unease. He could catch the golden scent. It came from her veins, her red nectar flowing inside her in rivers of pink and red. The scent came flooding into the Blind Hunter’s nostrils. He stiffened, and by then hunger had claimed him, arousal rushing into his chest as he thought of drinking from this creature. It’s a human! A part of him screamed. Flee! It’s a human! Yet, the Blind Hunter found himself crawling towards the young human. The golden scent roared, overshadowing the screams inside him. It was sweeter than a deer’s red nectar, and gluttony had taken hold of him.
Come to me… the golden scent seemed to whisper. Come, and taste me… Then the Blind Hunter was already facing the young human. She was breathing quietly, her chest moving up and down, her eyes shut; she was spitting mumble from time to time, as if in a dream where she was gulping down a banquet. Now, the Blind Hunter could see the source of the golden scent clearly – on her smooth, soft skin. Come to me… Through the human’s vein, red nectar was pumping through in streams.
Humans are dangerous! The voice echoed inside the Blind Hunter. Humans are dangerous! They’re going to kill you if they…!
Yet suddenly the Blind Hunter found that he was leaning forward. He crept onto the human’s mattress, drew closer to her, his chest bellowing in excitement. And sank his fangs into her neck. At the next moment, red nectar came rushing into his mouth. It danced between his teeth, flowing down his throat, and warming his stomach. For the first time in moon cycles, the Blind Hunter finally came to face with the breed of twisted ecstasy that he’d once felt back in the days of drinking from veins.
A scream shattered the silence, and then the human had snapped awake.
The human pushed herself up and thrashed her hands at the Blind Hunter. She made a screech, a sound that pierced through his sharp ears painfully. Her palms forced their strength onto the Blind Hunter as she struggled to push the Blind Hunter off her, drawing blood as the nails scratched across his fur. Yet he couldn’t let go. His fangs remained transfixed at her smooth skin, drinking red nectar, his mind blurred in the ecstasy of the relish.
“What’s going on, sweetie?” a human’s voice called out, and then screamed.
A grown human had banged into the room. He yelled at the instant he saw what was at the young human’s throat. Then he hurled himself forward, and grabbed at the Blind Hunter with his thick dark hand, his fingers squeezing onto the Blind Hunter’s limp body, breaking a rib and squashing his innards. The Blind Hunter gave a grunt of agony. After that, the grown human pulled the Blind Hunter away from the young one and flung him across the room. The wall rushed to meet the Blind Hunter. By then, he was falling, bleeding inside, and pained from his almost crushed body.
“Are you alright, sweetie?” the grown human asked desperately.
The young one only replied with sobbing.
The Blind Hunter tried to prop himself up, but then his ribs screeched in agony. A wry grimace found him. He was panting, his lungs struggling for air and his inside pricking with pain. Yet, he could no longer feel: the only thing he could sense was the relish of red nectar that lingered in his mouth. He thirsted for more. He hungered, and he wanted to feel the ecstasy again. He stared at the sobbing young human, crawling forward on his shaking legs longing for another taste of her red nectar. Red nectar… I want more… I want more… I want… I want…
There was another scream from the young human.
When the grown human’s feet descended to trample onto his skull, the Blind Hunter’s sensation was fading away, only replaced by the golden scent and the faint taste of red nectar that remained on his tongue.
I want more… I want… I… want… I… I…
That was the Blind Hunter’s last words at the instant he saw his own brains sent splattering. I… Afterward, it was darkness and silence that took hold of him.
Li Boyang, aka Ralph, is a Chinese writer who writes fictions in English. He likes bats, ghosts, supernatural stuffs and all kinds of creepy, weird things associated with the night.