I'm watching it from my tree perch, camouflaged in shades of chestnut and pine. The animal is a light tan color, like coffee with cream. Its brown eyes stare wildly around and its chest heaves. I watch it as it circles the clearing, sniffing a little bit. It looks panicked. Others must be hunting it besides me.

I enjoy just watching the animal's terror, quietly sitting unnoticed in my tree perch. A spider skitters across my hand and I brush it away without tearing my gaze away. The animal has sat down, I assume it has stopped to rest. I raise my Smith & Wesson over my shoulder, breathe, aim, slack, squeeze the trigger. A puff of dirt raises by the animal's back leg and it darts up and away. My ears ring from the shot and I can't hear myself swear. I missed it completely. It will be on its guard from now on.

I disentangle myself from the tree branch and drop to the ground, barely making a noise on the mossy ground. I patter to the trees, readying myself for whenever the animal comes within my line of sight again. I swiftly disappear into the forest.

An hour later, I finally see it again. The animal is laying on the ground, and I think it is dead until I see it blink. I raise my gun. This is it. The animal will finally be mine. It will be dead.

I breathe, aim, slack, squeeze the trigger and the explosion is more powerful than ever before, the flame shooting out of my barrel seems to be feet long instead of inches, the smell of burning gunpowder assaults my nostrils like never before. A burst of deep crimson shoots up in a spray from the animal and its cry reaches my ears at a keening pitch. I look, and it's holding its stomach, screaming. I move out of the brush and its eyes meet mine. Big, brown, expressive eyes. Human eyes.

"Jim! Jim! What're you doing? What are you doing, man? What the fuck? What've you done to me? You fucking shot me, man! What? Why? Why, Jim? Tell me why!"

I look at the animal, at its long fingers trying to cover the gaping hole in its stomach, its lips still screaming.

"Animal," I snarl. "Don't speak to me."

I aim at its head. Breathe, aim, slack, squeeze the trigger.

The hunt is over.