a journey into Wonderland
|Write a story about a game/match gone horribly wrong. (<1000 words)
Once upon a time, a hunter stalked the woods. He was after game, (what? you meant a different kind of game? sigh. let's see if this gets anywhere, anyway) speciffically deer, of course, which is a common thing for hunters to be after, mostly because of venison and antlers. Antlers are important because of their potential as wall decoration after the service of a competent taxidermist, which is an important professon after hunting season.
As he approached his blind, which is a place where hunters hide so that they can take their prey with the minimum of effort and fuss, a white shadow caught the edge of his vision. He turned, lifting his rifle, and discovered a white stag.
Because this was in modern times, he didn't know that White Stags are generally the beginning of quests, and that following it will lead into strangeness. So he lifted his rifle and got a shot off. And the stag fled, not even limping a bit.
But he was fairly sure that he had hit it. At the place where it had been standing, he did see some blood. When he saw that, he swore a vile oath and followed. Now, let me make it clear, this hunter was not a bad person, not at all. And he knew that to leave a wounded animal in the wood to slowly bleed out and die was one of the worst things he could do. It would be cruel. He was a competent hunter, and he didn't kill just for the pleasure of it. He ate all his kills. And he certainly wasn't going to let this stag suffer in the woods. And so, he followed the stag, out of his story and into a stranger place.
If followed a fairly complicated line through the wood. He could see smears of blood that he used to follow it, and soon he became aware that he'd been following the stag for rather a long time. In fact, he should be hearing the road by now. Instead, the wood was full of the sounds of nature, birds and beasts and the rustles of leaves and it didn't look to him as though the stag was slowing down at all.
He followed for hours. Past lunch, which he ate random food in his pockets as he followed. He followed until his legs were sore and the trees were bigger and older and the undergrowth thicker than any that he'd seen before and he'd been coming to this wood since he was a boy.
He followed until it was starting to get dark, and still he couldn't find the stag, and when he looked behind him, he wasn't sure he could see his own trail either. He'd been marking trees along his path, because he was a fairly competent hunter (as I've mentioned before) but nothing behind him looked familiar. He was sure he had marked a certain tree, but when he backtracked, there was nothing. He was lost. He was alone, and somewhere ahead of him was a poor being who was suffering because of him.
But it was dark, and he knew he shouldn't go on. So, he made up a fire. And here's where things got even wronger for him (because he didn't know they were wrong before). He cleared the ground and set the fire and got out his matches (wait, is this the wrong kind of match as well? sorry) to light it with some newspaper (he had lots of stuff in his pockets) but his match refused to light. Any of them. No fire. He huddled against a tree and waited for morning.
He must have dozed off, because he dreamed. This was fairly unusual, because the hunter was a practical man who didn't remember his dreams, but in his dream, a woman stood before him, fair of hair and glowing from within.
“Why did you hurt my brother?” she asked, and the hunter didn't know what to say because he hadn't hurt anyone that day but the stag, and she was so completely beautiful that he didn't want to tell her that he had no idea what she was talking about.
“Why do you now hound him through my wood?” she asked, and again, he didn't know what to say, so he remained silent, but he thought something along the lines of “huh?”
Now, at this point, as readers we're all thinking, uh oh, she's talking about the stag, you idiot, but the hunter hadn't read those kinds of books, and even if he had, he didn't have that much imagination or dreams.
And so he didn't realize that she was angry. Or that kissing a dream woman was a bad idea at this point. Or that as she slapped his face (it was a hearty slap, and would have woken him if he'd really been asleep) she was casting a spell on him that he would suffer her brother's fate. Or that competence as a hunter doesn't mean competence as a stag, even a low born brown one. Or that the kiss meant that she would call in a favor and that the Wild Hunt would ride and that such a hunt, with its white hounds and mighty hunter with antlers on his head, never fails.
And his last thought, as the hunt ended in blood a death was, "let me wake up, now. This all has gone rather horribly wrong. I want to wake up."
word count: 918