The Hunted from ~2009
So, on my old (now dead) 2TB external I have zips of zips of zips of backups from as many years as I've been able to save things. I lost nearly everything I had in about 2006, but I have everything from the last 11 years and I just found it all. So, here we go, down memory lane of terrible writing from when I was much younger. It's interesting to go back to and read now and look at how different a person I am ~10 years on.
This first one is a document just titled The Hunted from September 2009, but I'm honestly fairly sure it's from even earlier than that.
He groaned as he woke up, his entire body aching. His mind sluggishly searched for any memory of where he was or what had happened, there was nothing. He cracked his eyes open, forcing himself the wake up. The dim light in the room was almost blinding to his unadjusted eyes; he quickly shut them again.
The pungent odor of feces, spoiled meat and stale blood filled his nostrils as he inhaled and he gagged.
As he shifted he noticed he was in a corner, his arms cradling something. The rhythmic sound of breathing and feeling of warmth pressed against him told him it was living.
He slowly opened his eyes again, squinting. He found that a woman was curled in his lap. Her brown hair was matted to her head; something dark and sticky was drying into it. From what he could see of her body she was naked, covered in dirt, cuts and bruises. The only part of her that was covered was the bloody cloth wrapped around her neck; something he couldn’t identify was clinging to her skin.
He inhaled sharply when he realized that they both covered in blood and bits of flesh. His eyes darted around the room, flitting across the seven corpses scattered around the room. Two looked as if they had been attacked by an animal; their chests were torn open, organs and bone spilled on the floor.
Three of the others were missing their heads, though one still had most of its bottom jaw attached. The spattering of blood, bone and grey matter on the ceiling suggested a gunshot.
The last two were almost unrecognizable as people; their bodies were mangled and broken, skulls crushed inward, necks turned at unnatural angles. Shards of bone jutted from their arms and legs, their chests caved in. It took every ounce of will power for him to not scream, but, he couldn’t prevent himself from vomiting.
His retching woke the woman still in his arms; she struggled, pushing against his chest and stomach, hitting him. Her mouth was open as if she was screaming and she pushed his arms away, rolling off him. The woman scrambled backward, not looking away from him. Her hand brushed against one of the corpses, her head whipped around and she fell backward, mouth still open but no sound issuing.
The woman crawled back until she was huddled in the opposite corner from him. Her head darted around the room, her eyes wide, breathing rapidly. She stopped looking around and stared directly at him, she moved against the walls behind her more, instinctively trying for as much distance from him as possible.
“Where am I?” His voice was a harsh rasp; he could taste the coppery tang of blood from his throat. “Hell, I’ll settle for who I am.”
She didn’t reply, only stared at him, eyes filled with terror. Her mouth opened and closed again and again, but no words came out. She continued to stare at him, her eyes wide and unblinking.
Suddenly she climbed to her feet, steadying herself against the wall she stumbled out of the room. He could hear her vomit just outside the doorway. After a few more moments he heard her footsteps moving away.
He tried to move but his body refused, only sending fresh jolts of pain through him each time. He pressed himself against the cold stone behind him and closed his eyes, trying to block out the horror that surrounded him. “Please, don’t leave me here,” he rasped.
He listened, hoping she would hear him and come back; there was no sound of footsteps or the door opening.
She stumbled into the bathroom; she wiped vomit from her lips, her felt as if were on fire and another silent scream issued from her lips. She scrambled to turn on the shower, her bloody hands slipping on the polished handle. She fell into the bathtub, into the still cold water. For the first time since her nightmare began weeks ago, she allowed herself to think, to register the world around her completely.
She cried silently, tears mixing with the warming water that beat down on her.
The clang of pipes, a loud thump and the sound of running water startled him. He wasn’t sure if he had fallen asleep, or how much time had passed since she’d left him, he had no reference for time.
He struggled again, this time managing to pull himself up the wall and onto his feet. Every muscle in his body screamed in protest as he shuffled toward the door, stumbling over bodies and slipping on gore.
He fell as he came through the door way, his chest connecting with the wooden railing in front of him, torturing his abused ribs. The man stopped and looked around, catching his breath and taking in the first view of anything outside of the room of blood. He looked over the railing, to the floor below. The first thing he noticed was that a large section of one wall was missing, the landscape beyond was obscured by smoke, and the silhouettes of other buildings.
The interior of the house was the same as the other room, the walls stained and full of holes, missing floorboards, piles of debris and dirt were everywhere. A gust of wind kicked up a small dust cloud and chilled the patches of wet blood that still covered him, snapping him out of his trance.
He found the door to the bathroom, leaning against it, “Are you in there? Are you okay?” He couldn’t explain his desire to make sure she was safe, there was no reason for him to care at all.
He opened the door after a few moments of silence. Steam filled his nose and vision, the sound of running water came from the other end of the small room; he closed his eyes for a moment, taking in the first moment of peace he’d known. He was roused from it when he heard a quiet, choking sob from the tub.
Tentatively he pulled the curtain back, she sat on the floor, her head between her knees, hugging herself, crying. “A-are you-”
He sat on the edge, unsure of what to say or do. As the water ran over her and the gore washed away he could see the real extent of her injuries. Gashes and bruises covered her body, finger marks dotted her arms, rope burns circled her wrists and ankles, her lips were split, the bottom one swollen. The bandage on her neck had loosened, revealing the edge of a blood gash that started just under her ear. “God.”
He moved a bit closer to her, letting the water wash away the blood from his right hand, letting him see the shard of bone that jutted from his middle knuckle. He pulled it out after a few moments’ inspection, satisfied it wasn’t his own.
“Here, let’s get you cleaned up, okay? It’ll only take a minute, and then we’ll be done.” The only acknowledgement that he received from her was her slowly standing up. He filled a small tin bucket and handed it to her, which she promptly poured over her head.
Wordlessly they repeated this until she had rid herself of most of the blood. Tentatively he touched the bandage on her neck; her hands grabbed his wrist like a vice, her eyes filled with terror. “I need to at least wash it out.”
Slowly she let him go and closed her eyes, trembling. He unwrapped it as carefully as he could, trying not to hurt her. When he got the cloth off completely he gasped. “Abbie, please sit down. Please.”
A small trickle of blood ran from the long gash across her throat. Blood was crusted around the wound, obscuring most of it. Abbie’s eyelids fluttered for a moment, and then closed completely as she fell forward against him.
He started to clean the wound; it hadn’t severed her jugular, but her trachea was slashed open. It was have been terrifying to even breathe for her, he thought. Then, he stopped; how did he know what each part was called and how to clean and dress the wound?
He turned off the water and quietly left the room, searching the house for alcohol to sterilize the makeshift bandage. He stumbled
He asked, “What’s happening out there?”
She seemed startled by his voice, she pressed herself against the wall behind her, trying to get away from him and coating her back in blood again. He started to reach out to her, but stopped himself, “I won’t hurt you. What’s your name?”
She didn’t reply, watching every movement he made. He sighed and turned away, intending to search the house for any clues as to whom he was and what was happening.
He heard her shift behind him, then a stuttering squeal; he looked back to find her writing on the tile, her fingers making sloppy letters in the blood and water. ‘Abbie.’
“Is that your name?”
She nodded then suddenly started shuddering. Her legs gave out and she collapsed into the tub, her entire body shaking, teeth chattering.
He rinsed his hands the best he could and reached out, letting his hand rest on her shoulder. She cringed as if he’d hit her, “Here, let’s get you out of there, the water is cold.”
She pushed his hand away and sank down as far as she could, “Please, Abbie?”
She reached up, smearing the blood again, ‘Who are you?’
“I, uh, I don’t know. Do you know how I got here, like, uh, this?” He had the suddenly realization that he was still very naked and covered in blood.
‘Them.’ She shuddered again, her face going blank.
He stifled a groan as pain shot up his back, “It’s okay, I won’t hurt you. Can, I, uh, get you some clothes?”
She looked away from him, trying to cover herself. He stumbled out of the bathroom and came to another bedroom; the door was missing, the frame cracked. He searched through the closet and took the things that seemed to be in the best condition, a green shirt and skirt; both were torn and full of holes, but would at least give her some modesty.
He searched for something for himself, only finding an old, stained shirt on the floor and a pair of slacks.
He looked at himself as he passed a cracked mirror. A strange realization came over him as he saw himself for the first time, covered in blood and gore he looked almost animalistic; even his teeth were stained with blood.
His black hair was matted to his head, some areas still slick with blood, others dried. He looked as if he hadn’t shaved in weeks.
The man in the mirror was him, but still just as much a stranger as Abbie, more so even, at least she had a name.
The sound of the water turning off brought him out of his thoughts. He returned to the bathroom, Abbie stood in the tub, shivering. He handed the clothes to her and turned away, “Uh, sorry if I got something wrong.”
She stepped from the tub and shook her head. She took the clothes and slowly pulled them on, watching him the entire time.
He shook his head, “I promise, I wo-” he stopped and stared at the crook of his elbow. Her eyes followed his, landing on a scar in the shape of the number two hundred sixteen. The lines were jagged, as if they’d been scratched into him. “What the hell is that?”
“Uh, I, uh, I need to wash this off.”
He assumed that she would have left the room when he got into the shower, but she didn’t; she just watched him, her face blank. “A-are you okay, Abbie?”
She jumped slightly, looking around the room, confused. She left the room silently, still looking dazed.
He turned on the water, hoping there would be at least some warmth. His breath hissed out of him as the cold water hit him. It ran over the cuts that covered his body, sending shocks through him. He noticed that most of them were small, only the ones on his hands and sides of his arms were more than scratches.
After he was finished washing and getting dressed he went to look for her. He found the woman curled in a ball on a mattress in the room he’d gotten the clothes from. “Abbie?”
She jumped, whirling around, a small knife in her hand. Her eyes were wide, her chest rising and falling rapidly. She stared at him for a few moments, unmoving. “I’ll stay over here, okay? I won’t hurt you, I just want to figure out what’s going on.”
He sat down just inside the door, showing her his hands, “See?” She lowered the knife but continued to watch him. “Do you know how I got here?”
She shook her head; he sighed and leaned back, looking up at the cracked ceiling. He listened to the silence around them; it was broken by the far off staccato of gunfire. “What’s happening, out there I mean?”
“Is it safe to stay here?”
She nodded, ‘Now.’
They sat in silence, Abbie still watching his every move. After a while she looked like she was beginning to doze off, her eyes half closed, head nodding, “Do you, uh, want me to leave?”
Her eyes snapped open, she shook her head emphatically, terrified. Her hand shook as she scratched, ‘Please stay.’ The knife snapped as she finished the last letter, cutting into her hand.
She stared at the blood for a moment, almost curiously. “Are you okay?” He was next to her before she could react, already tearing a strip from the bottom of his shirt.
She pulled away when he reached for her hand, slapping him. He ignored the stinging, bloody handprint on his face and slipped the strip of cloth around her hand, “I’m just trying to help.”
Tentatively she let him finish wrapping her hand, wincing a few times. Afterward he wiped the blood from his face. She looked from her hand, to him, then back to her hand, without warning she burst into tears, sobbing silently.
Abbie turned away from him, her undamaged hand hitting the wall. She pushed her index finger into the soft plaster, scratching the word ‘Safe.’
Without warning she lunged at him, wrapping her arms around his waist, burying her face in his shoulder.
He froze, unable to think of what to do. Would she be more upset if he touched her, or if he didn’t? What was he supposed to do? He knew she had been through hell, he could tell that from her condition now, but other than that he knew nothing about her.
Finally, after a few moments of thinking, he put one arm around her. “I won’t hurt you, I promise.” He waited for a reply, but got none. He looked down at her and found her sleeping, her arms still tight around him.
He put her back onto the old mattress, covering her with a stained blanket. Silently he moved back to the doorway, determined not to let anything else happen to her.
Weeks passed and the two slowly began to trust each other. Abbie was still skittish around him, he would still catch her watching him from time to time. She still would black out and forget what she was doing as well, which worried him.
They did what they could to survive, gathering slightly better clothes and food from the areas of the city that they could move through without being seen. The man also stripped the bodies of all their weapons and usable supplies, arming them.
He’d met few others in the city, small groups that they traded with when they could.
“Abbie, hey, wake up. When did you say the next vent release was?”
The woman’s head snapped up, looking around frantically. She settled after a second; she scribbled in a notebook that he scavenged from a house nearby, ‘Two more days.’ Her fingers were black, stained by the ink from the fountain pen he’d brought for her.
“Are you sure that we shouldn’t move? I’ve been hearing the sirens more lately, a lot more people are getting out as well. Anna and Thomas are gone, I went to check on them earlier.” He sat down next to her, laying a few more homemade blankets over her.
She shifted closer to him, still half asleep and pressed her head against his chest, sloppily writing, ‘Where would we go?’
He opened and closed his mouth a few times, unable to speak. Being physically close to her was still awkward. “I don’t know, doesn’t matter as long as it’s somewhere else, right?”
She was asleep again before she could reply. He reached behind her and turned the small kerosene lamp off, sending them into darkness.
Abby woke as the sun poured through the dilapidated roof. She opened her eyes to meet the white fabric of his shirt. One of her arms was around his neck, the other around his torso, his arms around her. She moved away as quickly as she could.
The man woke up with a start, sitting bolt upright. “Where?” She gave him a questioning look. “No one’s here?” A shake of her head was her reply. “Then why did you wake me up?”
Abbie looked away, her blush deepening. “What?” He rubbed an eye and flexed one of his hands that had gone numb.
She shrugged and shook her head, quickly writing, ‘Nothing.’
He shrugged and shifted a bit, getting comfortable. “Well, wake me up if there’s something wrong.”
She nodded and wrote, ‘Thank you.’
He cracked one eye open and read the cloth, “For what?”
“This again? I honestly don’t remember doing it. The thought of fighting actually terrifies me.”
‘You’re still here.”
“Where else would I go?”
‘You could have left any time, but you’ve stayed.’
He shrugged, “I wouldn’t just leave you here.”
She shifted slightly, moving closer to him again, scribbling the word ‘Safe.’
The man was almost asleep when she shook him, frantically pointing to the wall.
“What? Michael? What’s that?”
‘A name, for you. If you want it.’
“Did you just think of it?”
She nodded, the faintest of smiles on her face. ‘I had a dream.’
She gave him a look as if to ask if he was sure. He nodded, “Why not? I don’t know, well, anything really. I don’t have a name, and since you’re the only person I actually know, it seems like you should name me.
She blushed slightly, then nodded, a definite smile on her lips now.
He grinned back, “Wow, feels good to have a name.” Standing he went over to the map that she had been drawing on the wall over the last two weeks. “I still think we should move. I know, we can’t use the sewers since they’ve been using them as a dump for the oil from the faust and artillery.” He slid his finger along the lines that she had made to represent the sewers, remember her frustration when he laughed at her drawing.
“What about trying to get past the patrols around here,” he said, pointing to an area that was near them, “And heading around the city that way? We’re on the wrong half, if we could make it to the east side, the, uh Eidenbroch district?” He looked at her for confirmation, she nodded.
“Well, if we could make it there we could maybe get out with anyone else who’s leaving. Maybe even get on one of the trains.”
She shook her head and carved, ‘Dogs’ into the plaster near her head.
“Then we either try making it through the city, or risk staying here and being found.”
Abbie shuddered, curling into a ball, scratching the word, ‘Hunters’ into the wall.
“I know, but we don’t really have a choice in the end.” He looked back at the description that she had written next to the map for him after the first time she mentioned them. ‘Abominations’ was all she had been able to write for a while.
‘Children are taught to always fight Hunters, that way they’ll see you as a threat and kill you.’
He had been in shock when he read that, “Why the hell would you want that.”
Abby stayed silent for a while, “If they don’t see you as a threat, they’ll skin you and eat you. They are monsters. They aren’t people anymore.’
He sat down next to her, even thinking about them made her like this. When she described them she didn’t move for nearly two days after. Putting an arm around her shoulders he said, “So, through the city it is?”
“Like we won’t if we stay here?”
Abby shifted, uncomfortably and shook her head.
“If we go, it’ll be less of a chance for Hunters to find us.” She squeezed her eyes shut, shuddering again, “We’ll get out of here, okay. I’ll make sure of it. Let’s get our things together, we should leave during the vent release tonight.”