The snow is as bad as he can ever remember it. Thicker than he can ever remember anything being.
It didn’t matter how thick it was though, he had to get through to Benstilen, the village that was just a few
miles to the south of his own little village of Evans.
It was only his third time doing this sort of trip, going to get a doctor from Benstilen. The first time had
been when his wife was having their first child; the second was after an accident happened to a small girl
who fell in the well in town. The other village was much bigger, and had the only doctor within a hundred
miles. Evans needed a doctor bad, and Trody was going to get him.
The attacks had started a week ago. They were terrible, bloody affairs, the villagers said. Trody had never
wanted to see the remains once they were discovered. He hated the sight of death in a new sun. It had
started with various animals, chickens, a pig, and finally, a horse. It was rare for any of the local creatures,
be it wolf or bear to attack a horse, let alone succeed in killing it.
Two days ago, a hunter had disappeared. The man had gone out into the woods near the outskirts of the
village, hoping to find the bear that everyone assumed was doing the damage.
They all had heard the screams, but no one did anything, no one ran to see what was happening in the near
by woods. Finally, Trody arrived on the south end of the village, and was sat upon by the various gawker.
He carried a small deer over his shoulder, blood covering his hands and chest, but no one minded. They
were used to Trody, the great hunter coming back in such a state.
They quickly informed him of the other hunter, the one that Trody had always dislkiked. The man was
always quick to run at his mouth, but slow to actually do any real hunting. Trody often thought that if a
creature didn’t run into a trap set by the man, he would have never caught anything.
It only took Trody a few minutes to find the remains, which was just a large stretch of red snow, that
seemed to go on forever before disappearing into the woods.
There was no talk of sending a search party after the man. Everyone knew there was no point.
The loud moth was only the first victim. Less than a week later, a farmer was taken. His wife rushing
outside at the sound of their barking dogs, only to find her husband mutilated, missing an arm and a leg,
both of which, everyone guessed, had been eaten.
Trody made a show of searching for them, but he knew they would never be found. As he walked past the
dogs, he remembered how much he hated the way they barked all the time, robbing him of his sleep.
Whispers circulated around the town, what could do this? What could kill a man, and leave no tracks? Even
with the new snow they had during this time of year, tracks, at least blood trails, should remain. Something
enough for the Great Trody to use.
It was the third attack that finally sent Trody into the woods and snow banks beyond, to begin the hunt.
This time, it was a woman, one that Trody had known since she was a baby. At one point, he even thought
he may have loved her. She was working on a blanket, trying to clean dust off of it, but too close to the
They had found nothing this time. Not even blood.
Trody stopped his mind’s wandering as something appeared in the snow ahead of him. Two red eyes, low to
the ground but moving quickly. He froze in place, trying to get an idea of how far the thing was. The snow,
something like a cold and moving fog bank, was making it impossible to guess the distance.
Slowly he lowered himself to one knee, the snow stinging in his face and eyes. In a smooth motion he pulled
his rifle from his side, and put it against his shoulder. His left hand, gloved but still very cold, cleaned off the
snow from the hammer. He wanted to make sure once he made a sound, and alerted the creature to his
presence that a bullet was soon to follow.
The eyes drew closer, stopping at times, moving fast at others. When it was within maybe ten feet, but still
invisible, Trody gently lined up his site, and pulled the trigger.
An empty click, like the sound of a hammer hitting a nail, was the only noise that emerged from his rifle.
Trody sighed every so slightly, as the eyes fixed on him.
Just as quickly, they moved to his right. Rushing past him, now seeming to bounce as they did. As his eyes
adjusted just a bit, Trody made out the high red tail of a fox, as it escaped into the night.
A small laugh escaped Trody, and he wished his little friend much happy rabbit hunting in the bad weather.
Bears were spotted this time of year, but not regularly. That was why the village had such a hard time
believing one would come out of hibernation and attack people. But then again, there was no accounting for
Settling back into the camoflague he had created out of loose snow and forest refuse, he thought back to
the words of the woman’s husband.
“Find her please, kill whatever did this, bring her home for a decent burial,” the unsaid words were what
annoyed him most. The man didn’t mention that he beat his wife, that he was so drunk he never heard her
be taken. A man like that, didn’t deserve the woman he had.
Something large caught Trody’s attention in the distance. A sound, like a boulder falling to the ground from
a high rock face, echoed in the snow. It was impossible to tell which way it came from. He lowered himself
to the ground again, thinking that if the bear came towards him, he would have plenty of warning just by the
fresh snow crunching beneath it.
This time he took a few moments to check his rifle, surprised at himself for not doing it before. Everything
seemed fine, and it should work. Just to be careful though, he pulled his hunting knife out of his boot. It
was old, and in the bit of light he had, it seemed rustier than he remembered it being. He really should clean
it more often.
A silly thought, one that was distracting him from his own danger. He snapped the knife back in his boot,
and listened carefully again.
There was something moving alright, but just out of his range of vision. He knew he was near the mountains
and hills, so there could be many caves for the bear to be hiding in. But of course, he couldn’t see
anything. The only thing he could do was listen, but even that was proving hard.
The wind was picking up, creating a whistling in his ears that was confusing his sense. In addition his ears
were freezing, and starting to ache. Whatever might be out there, just beyond his site and possibly hearing,
better be slow moving, or he wouldn’t stand a chance.
He had been tracking this bear for three days, only returning home once. Arriving in the village just after the
attack that had now sent him searching for a doctor. It was his wife. Mangled so badly, the town didn’t
even recognize her.
She was unconscious when he left, unable to describe what had happened, thankfully. He left her in good
hands, knowing full well she would never wake up again, no matter how hard he hurried to the doctor.
That had been almost a day ago, and he knew she would be dead by now.
Other men had said they would go, but Trody said no. It was his burden, his mission. He asked the men to
fix his home, the door the bear had ripped off, the things it has smashed. He asked them to see for his
children, who had been at her mother’s cabin that night.
He told the men to spread out, to protect the village from anything that might come. To take his post in the
watch tower, he would handle this personal business, they should protect the village.
Protect the village at all costs.
Trody had a job to do, he was going to find a bear.
In the distance the sound returned. This time lighter, as if the boulder that had fallen had rolled on its side.
More noises followed, whatever was there was growing closer.
Trody raised his rifle again, but this time he stood straight up. A bear would be tall enough that he could fire
into it from that height, especially if it lunged. Besides, he needed to keep his legs ready to move, ready to
The red eyes appeared again, this time it was no fox, far too tall for that. Trody caught them out of the
corner of his eye. He turned and focused in on them, smiling as he took aim. There was no fear in him,
there never was. Just excitement, and eagerness for the kill.
When the bear finally appeared from the flurry, it was smaller than Trody had hoped it would be. What was
worse, was that when it saw him, its eyes didn’t glow red and full of hate like most animals Trody killed.
Instead, it seemed almost fearful.
Good, Trody thought.
A single shot ripped the night, breaking through the snow and fog. The bear, hit right between the eyes, fell
to the earth with a sad thud. A bit of a twitch from its paws, and then it was over.
Trody almost laughed, thinking how the victims suffered, not the bear, it went down cleanly with one shot.
Pulling out his knife, he realized now he hadn’t cleaned it properly at all from the last time, blood was still all
over it. Frozen now, far too cold in the exposed air like this.
The village was safe again. He would drag the bear back, and proclaim everything fine. His work was done.
One last task awaited him before he began the process though. He would cut the bear for warmth and use
it for a while to heat him, while the blood was still warm.
He liked being near the body when it was still warm. But the bodies of his hunt always cool too fast, and he
has to find more.
Winter was hard, because the bears hibernated, and it wasn’t easy to blame foxes and wolves for the new
hunts he liked.
Somewhere in the distance Trody heard a wolf howl. Smiling, he wondered if it had found one of the other
hunts Trody had left laying about the last few days. The arm and the leg of the man with the barking dogs,
for instance. He had left that out to feed anything that might come along.
Most of his prey was hidden well though, where no one, but a hunter such as himself, could find them.
Trody loved to hunt, and even more so how, hunting those problems in his life that walked on two legs.
Trody was a great hunter.
by LL Adams