Chapter Three Justice
The fire crackled, it’s embers floating up, its light barely enough to illuminate the woods. Ivan sat there staring into the flames, thinking, he had been in the woods for months in fact he had lost track of how long, he sighed and looked away. His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he stared at the body of his colleague, friend and fellow soldier, the body stirred, Gregor was dreaming again he did a lot of that lately. He knew out there, somewhere, someone or something was hunting them, had been for months, he knew the signs, it was what he had been good at, hunting man.
Ivan stood up his legs cramped from sitting so long, he stretched, suddenly a long howl, distant but close, close enough to be a problem, the howl was joined by another. Gregor sat up, the howls had woken him, his eyes wide “Ivan?” Ivan placed a finger on his lips, “Shhhhhh, Gregor Shhh” he whispered. Ivan stepped forward, peering into the darkness, he heard rustling and his stomach leapt, adrenaline flooded his body, his heart pounding, he snatched the rifle from the tree, and turned.
He watched from the trees as he had done so many many times before, patiently waiting. He had also heard the howls, he knew where the wolves were, he knew where they hunted, he was safe where he was. The man saw the soldier turn, rifle in his hand the soldier looked scared. He smiled to himself, it was right the soldier was scared, he deserved to be scared, he knew this soldier he knew them both. He had left signs, clues for these men in front of him, he had wanted them to know fear, to feel the unknown.
He had known from the start the ending of this particular story.
The man stared at them, his mind recalling events in the past. The room was dark, blood on the floor, he was face down, his head being held by others, forced to watch. The man saw Ivan not as he was now but as he was then, uniform clean, boots polished, he saw the smirk and hard eyes staring at the man’s friend. He saw Gregor stood to one side, laughing wiping blood from his hands and the knife. He saw his friend kneeling, head bowed, blood flowing like water from his nose, dripping from his chin to the floor. Time seemed to slow, each drop of blood taking an eternity to hit the floor, the man heard each drip as it spattered echoing in his mind.
He wanted to help, to stop Ivan but he couldn’t, he couldn’t do anything, his friend had seemed to snap for no reason he had attacked another soldier, a frenzied uncontrolled attack full of rage. The man had never seen this in his friend, he had always been a quiet unassuming man. He knew now why his friend had done it but not then not at that time. His mind recalled Ivan staring at him as he raised the gun, the same gun he held now and putting it to his friends head, Ivan smiled at the man, his eyes never leaving his as he pulled the trigger.
Ivan and Gregor, two names etched into the man’s mind, put there by pain, suffering inflicted by these men to him and the others. They both took satisfaction from what they did, enjoyed their power they had held over them all, enjoyed the pain they inflicted. These were not men but animals, this night was their night. The man knew of others out there, the same as these animals before him and in time the night would also be theirs.
The man closed his eyes, he heard the howls, they were closer, the pack would be circling now, he knew how they hunted, he had followed this pack, watching. The alpha male would be cajoling the others, nipping at their heels pushing them towards the light. He had fed this pack, they saw him not as food, the pack tolerated him. It had taken him months to gain that tolerance, a low growl behind him, heavy breathing at his neck the stench of rotting meat, wet fur, overpowering, the alpha was here.
The man stared at Ivan, he already knew the outcome of this nights events, it had the feeling of deja vu but he knew it was more than that. This wasn’t revenge for his friend, this was something more. The man closed his eyes, he felt the alpha brush past him, in his mind he saw the shadows in the woods of the pack moving in, the man mouthed his dead friends name.
He heard Ivan scream at Gregor to get his gun, he heard Gregor scramble from his bed, the panic and fear in the air was thick, he heard the click of empty guns, he heard the fast quiet padded steps of the pack.
The last thing Ivan saw was a flash of white in the trees, his finger frantically pulling the trigger, the sound of the pin hitting an empty chamber, his finger pulling the trigger again and again. He stared and saw a face, a face he recognised, the eyes of the man staring back at him seemed to reach into his soul, he saw the man appear to speak, he stared as he felt himself knocked to the ground and then he saw no more.
The man stood, he stared into the eyes of Ivan before turning his back and began to walk away as he did so his hand opened and behind him as he walked away he left a trail of the bullets he had taken.