Hunter or the Hunted?

Telling Tales / A Telegraph Writing Contest


Krishnarjun Bhattacharya / DAV Shyamali, Class XI / The Telegraph / Calcutta, India

Checking my rifle for the umpteenth time that evening, I got off the bus. I am David Forester, and I happen to be a hunter. I had been summoned here urgently but not told about the emergency. My destination was a small lodge right ahead of me. I walked up the steps to the lodge, went up to the door, and rang the bell. A letter had arrived only days before, from this small county I was familiar with. I always felt a strange affinity to it.

A scrawny butler answered and showed me to my room. As I was unpacking, the butler appeared again and requested me to follow him. He led me to a magnificent hall occupied by about four to five people. A short, fat man hurried up to me, smiling. "Mr. Forester, It is indeed an honour to finally meet you. I am Adam Webbster, the owner of this lodge." He paused, and I seized the opportunity to ask the question that was eating me up. "Why was I called?" My question was answered by a stranger. "It's 'cause we got ourselves a wolf and a killer at that. Everybody is afraid to step out after dark." I nodded grimly. "Casualties?", I asked. "Nine dead." came the reply. Webbster introduced me to the man. He was Steve Karts, the local sheriff. Webbster also introduced me to Joe Green, scientist and biologist. That excluded only one man, who was sitting quietly in a corner. He got up.Perhaps it was my imagination, but the room got colder. "Tell me, Forester, do you believe in second chances?", he snarled. I was taken aback by his question. "No, I don't." I stammered. And at that moment he looked me in my eyes. I almost cried out. The man had eyes of a wolf. I had seen that expression in eyes of many predators ready to spring. "Neither do I. We won't get a second chance at killing this thing. We start tomorrow evening." Saying this, he left the hall. "That was Charles Pawn. Another wolf-hunter." Webbster stammered weakly

I was ready and waiting the next evening. Since Mr.Webbster was nowhere to be seen, we decided to leave without him. It was still snowing and an eerie mist had gathered around the forest. Pawn looked relaxed. As if he knew when the wolf would come. Brushing aside these thoughts, I bent closer to the ground and discovered tracks. "Wolf prints!", I hissed. Mr. Green bent down. "No wolf has a paw so large.These are bear tracks." "No, all the bears are in hibernation," Karts contradicted. "But it's impossible!" Mr. Green shrieked. "This cannot be a normal wolf's tracks!" "What makes you think that this is a normal wolf?"came a low, cold voice. It was Pawn. "Not a normal wolf, Green. A werewolf." An uneasy silence descended upon all of us. No one spoke.Then finally, Karts said, "Wake up, Pawn. Men do not turn into wolves. They don't exist." "Oh no?" Pawn mocked, his eyes gleaming. "I have discovered its lair. Follow me."And he was gone. Feeling apprehensive, we followed. Pawn led us into the very heart of the forest, into the deep, unending darkness. All of a sudden I slipped, and fell into a deep hole. When I recovered, I saw that I was not the only one. Green, Karts and Pawn had joined me. "A trap! This hole was a trap!" Green screamed. I looked down. The floor was littered with animal bones.I sat down near a dark shape, screamed, and jumped up. The shape was the half-eaten body of Mr. Webbster. The hole was too high for us. We were trapped.

It was midnight. We sat there for hours, waiting for help. Only Pawn seemed a little restless, a bit edgy. He gave me the distinct impression of a man waiting for something. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Pawn spoke, "Fate has a strange sense of irony. It seems that the hunters have become the hunted." "W-What do you mean, Pawn?", Karts asked, his voice trembling. Pawn gave a low laugh. "There is a werewolf among us.", he breathed.

And by sheer coincidence, the clouds parted, revealing the full moon, shining on the hole. On Pawn. That is when I realised. "Monster! Murderer!", I screamed.

"You are the werewolf!" and raised my rifle at Pawn. The rifle responded with a faint click, which echoed inside the hole. "No bullets," I whispered. "No bullets." "Is there any such thing as a werewolf?", Mr Green whispered. "Sure." Pawn whispered.

The next moment, I felt like crying but I didn't cry. I didn't laugh either. I howled. I howled, as fur sprang from my skin and fangs replaced my teeth.