XX The moon's supposed to have been broken in this story. I'll explain it later, and it'll make sense later. For now, immerse yourself and enjoy! XX
We never tell you what it's like. We entice you with gifts. We tell you you're beautiful.
We forget to tell you the part where beauty is what we abuse, and macabre is our life. Thus it becomes your life. If you choose this life, there is no turning back. There never will be.
She thought there was. Way back when; when she first sold her soul to us. It is not her fault. She didn't know better.
There is only so much we can tell you at first.
We stalk our pray, as if we want to slaughter the poor creatures, which, of course, we do. This isn't a hobby; we don't win awards for what we were born to do. We pick and choose. The few who are lucky enough to live, the ones brave enough, the ones who are capably of survival. They are the few who live to serve us.
The many who are weak, the ones who are willing to be slaughtered, the ones who can only foresee danger in their future. They are our prey.
We never tell you what it's like. But I…I will tell you. You've made it thus far. Perhaps you are worthy of our ignorance. Ignorance is, after all, bliss.
We filter into your cities, we roam your countryside, as if we own the air we breathe and the ground our unholy feet touch. We pat our little minions on their heads and push them out into the world, where they may bring us our next prey.
They are our lures. We are the hunters.
Nothing can change this.
Except for her.
The broken pieces of the moon lay high in the hazy sky. Far, far below the once ancient symbol of peace—how ironic it shattered when the world ended—what remained of the world continued to sleep.
Deep in the heart of what the locals had dubbed The Nawlins, one last strip of contorted highway still remained. Only three things ever used it, and even that depended on the season. During the rainy season, the highway was at least six feet underwater. During the cold season, the damn cement was slick as ice.
The MC's couldn't drive their huge vehicles on the road during the rainy and cold seasons. They had more on their mind than The Nawlins anyway during those seasons. When it rained and snowed in The Nawlins all hell broke loose in hotter, drier places, and Main Commanders didn't care that much about The Nawlins. It was just their only port city on that side of the coast…
The Holy Freaks used the tattered road as well, but it depended on the year. If they'd been run out of The Nawlins the year before, they were sure to come back not one, not two, but three years later. Three years later, when everyone forgot about the last time they'd arrived and begun spreading word about this "God" freak, and how He was going to save everyone.
Hunters used the highway, too. No one had ever seen a Hunter, actually, but they'd seen the followers. The kids with gaunt faces, with bodies too lean for them to be anything but criminals. The kids who carried only guns, knives, and crowbars. They needed nothing else; guns, knives, and crowbars acted as their payments.
Hunters followed the highway paths, though. They were the roads to the ruins of what had once been a glorious society.
Too bad the world ended shortly after they began.
About twenty miles out from The Nawlins, a rickety old shack stood, marking its place in history as a gas station. The shack had been looted, vandalized, and abused many times over the years, but it still stood in its original foundation. Dry, cracked, tilted pumps seemed glued to the uneven concrete. A flat roof once painted blue, now chipped bone white sheltered the pumps and the little shack.
Sagging next to the shack were two small booths. Wires poured from a hole no bigger than a fist which had been cut into a wall. The booth's faded plastic windows looked out towards an overgrown jungle of weeds and grass behind the shack.
A few poles towered over the shack and its roof. They had once been proud lampposts, but their glory days died as soon as electricity died in The Nawlins.
Not far from the gas station, someone was walking down the middle of the highway. They balanced their weight on the median, with arms held out like a child imitating a gymnast. They had a hard time balancing; they only advanced a few feet before losing their balance and falling off to the pavement below.
Once they hit the ground, they let out an aggravated shout, cursing the highway. Swearing would have been normal, but the problem was, they had spoken something The Nawlins region hadn't heard in ages.
The dead language.
"Yo, fuck you!" Cheyenne screamed at the road, irritated that she, supposedly gifted when it came to balance, couldn't even stand on a median for longer than a few seconds. "Fuck you and you're ugly little lines! Ugh, fuck!"
Normally, Cheyenne would refrain from expressing herself so loudly, but she was extremely frustrated. At five foot seven, quick as a panther and strong as steel, she was the prime candidate for luring prey into the Hunter's playgrounds. However, she'd let the prey get away for the night.
Once she had expressed herself thoroughly, Cheyenne rearranged herself. She sat down on the cement and ran a hand through thick, glossy pale curls. In the daytime, one could see the tips were dyed a rusty red color. Her chest heaved momentarily as she tried to calm herself down.
"Can't wait till I get out of this hellhole," she muttered loudly; it was pointless to be quiet after her outburst. If anyone was watching her, they might as well have come up to her with a knife by now. "Can't wait to get me back to Chi-Town…fuck, those freaks are a hell of a lot better than these fucking Nawlins kids!"
Cheyenne had a much larger vocabulary than just "fuck" and a few more random words, but she found a limited vocabulary had its advantages. No one questioned her when she made it extremely clear that they were going to die. Putting in words with more than three syllables made it hard for kids to understand what she intended to do, and she preferred a well-informed prey. It made the stalking so much more intriguing.
With that in mind, Cheyenne suddenly stood up, her head whipping in the direction of the gas station. Her prey had been headed this way.
She took in a deep, quiet breath, smelling the air. It smelled like kid. Her prey was definitely close. She was willing to bet her prey had taken shelter in that damn gas station. Glancing over both shoulders, Cheyenne sniffed the air once more and smirked; a Hunter was almost as close as the kid. Across the freeway from the gas station a crowded wooded area stood. The Hunter had awoken. It knew she had prey for it. She frequently left a trail of dead prey wherever she went, and so Hunters were always near when she stalked.
Cheyenne's eyes traveled up to the broken moon and she nodded, as if it had told her to get started. She reached into the side of her tattered, ripped-up jeans and extracted a gun clipped to the waistband. The black metal shone in the moonlight as she cocked it.
"This'll teach you to think twice before running out on me, fucker," Cheyenne growled. Gun in her left hand, she placed her right on the median and hunched her back. Her boots pressed down into the pavement and she jumped, hurtling over the median as if velocity wasn't an issue in the slightest.
As soon as her boots hit the other side she was off and running, making a beeline for the gas station. Her heels pounded the concrete; she must have been running faster than any vehicle she'd ever seen.
Speed was one of the things she loved about being a lure. She had the speed of a panther, was strong as steel, tough as nails, and had the intuition of a businesswoman; cheap but effective.
Her speed increased while she closed in on the little shack. The scent of prey enveloped her, and she knew she was right. A kid was somewhere inside the shack. Quick as lightning, she surveyed the building and slung herself into the interior through a stinging broken window.
Her boots hit ancient rubble and tile. Cheyenne stayed still, holding her breath. She wiped off the hand she'd used to jump inside, almost proud of the new blood that stained her old jeans.
The kid was somewhere inside, crouched close to the floor. Prey were typical like that. They were all the same in her opinion.
Inside the shack was as ugly as the outside. Dark plastic tables, deformed by heat and cracked by cold, remained as testaments to what the gas station once used to be. Twisted metal shelves drooped, threatening to collapse onto to ground sooner than later. All the windows were broken, the glass long since having melted into the tiled floor.
A small scuffling sound echoed in her ears; she turned sharply, already moving before she could decipher what it was; somewhere in her genetic coding, she already knew what it was. Cheyenne could smell the fear on her prey's breath.
Sliding to the tile on her knees, Cheyenne grabbed a hard plastic table and yanked it with all her might. The gaudy old thing ripped out of the floor as easily as one might pluck a daisy. Tossing the table behind her, Cheyenne glared down at a shaking figure in a black Hoodie.
Her prey realized he'd been caught and glanced up, looking into the eyes of what he considered the devil. He tried to let out a cry for help, but all he could manage was a strangled gurgle. To help him out, Cheyenne wrapped the fingers of her right hand around his throat and clutched the skin tightly.
"Why'd you ditch me back there, Roger?" she asked in a sweetly malicious tone. "I thought you and I were going to be buddies. I thought we were going to go out later this week!" She gave his throat a hard shake; it felt good to let out all her pent-up anger finally. "Why did you do such a fucking stupid thing Roger!?"
Roger closed his eyes, already crying. Hardly fifteen, the gangly teenager had tried to outrun Cheyenne when he discovered her only interest in him was to steal his bloody carcass. He had stood up in the middle of a dinner date with her, and claimed he'd had to go to the bathroom. As it turned out, he'd ditched her and that was the end of that—or so he thought. He'd left her more than three days ago. Why was she still stalking him? He'd never heard of lures who continued to stalk their prey when their efforts would only prove fruitless.
"What, you thought I would give up?" Cheyenne inquired, shaking him again, but this time she had the barrel of her gun resting against his skull. Roger only cried harder. He had so much to live for, so much left to do! She wasn't seriously going to kill him, was she? No, she couldn't…this was all just a big joke. It had to be! "Well I got news for ya, Roger! I never give up. And you know what? Today's your lucky day! You'll have a painless death, and you won't even have time to miss your body. You know why? Because there's a Hunter out in those woods, and it's going to consume your body whole. You'll never have to look at your ugly self again!"
"Stop, please!" cried the boy, finally finding his voice. "Please, don't kill me! I'm too young! Hunters kill so many humans; what difference would one less make?"
"A lot," Cheyenne replied in a low, hostile tone. Staring at him intently, she pushed the gun barrel a little harder into his skull. "Any last words, Roger? Because you've got me fucking pissed, and I don't have anymore time to waste with you."
Roger's mind raced and he blinked his eyes rapidly, trying to see Cheyenne clearly through his blurry vision. He'd lost his glasses on the sprint to the gas station. Roger wanted his family to know this wasn't their fault. He opened his mouth to say exactly that.
Only, Cheyenne didn't care. She pulled the trigger and a loud crash crackled through the air. Roger's head lolled to the side, and blood began to pour down from a small bullet hole in the side of his head. The crimson liquid covered her hand and gun, and Cheyenne unwrapped her fingers from Roger's neck. The dead boy's body fell to the floor listlessly, ending up in an awkward looking position.
Licking her left palm absently, Cheyenne placed her gun back into the side of her jeans. She grabbed one of the boy's arms and dragged him towards the shack's entrance, hardly caring if the body caught on anything on the ground.
The Hunter wouldn't mind a little rubble embedded into its next target's skin.
Cheyenne was a lure for the Hunters. She tricked humans into coming with her, and she took them out into woods or secluded areas. They always thought they were getting into something completely different, but she always surprised them.
Lures technically didn't kill prey, but Cheyenne wasn't just a lure. She was on her way to becoming one of them, if that was at all possible.
Lugging the dead body across the highway proved tricky, but Cheyenne managed. She tossed the body into a ditch and turned to the woods.
"Here's your prey!" she shouted harshly. "Fresh and still hot, just like you fuckers like them!"
The foliage shifted and twisted in the woods, and Cheyenne turned away. The Hunter was coming to get its prey. The prey she'd technically tracked down, not it. She shoved her hands into her jean pockets and began walking on the road, northern bound; it was rude to watch a Hunter consume the prey. She'd never watched, and she didn't want to start watching now. She still hadn't a clue as to why Hunters preyed upon humans, but she wasn't about to begin questioning them, either.
All she wanted to do was get back to Chi-Town, and maybe pick up a few prey along the way. It was what she did for a living, and nothing could ever change that. She had chosen this life, and that was it. She'd learned that a few decades ago.
When she'd really been young.