The jungle was hot, steamy, maybe even overbearing with its humid air. It was a giant mix of greens and browns, trees towering overhead, their large branches and leaves blocking sunlight in some patches on the ground. The earth itself was a mix of fertile dirt and decomposing leaves from above, covered in bushes and ferns, hiding most of what was underfoot.
There was a sudden crack in the air, some thin foliage snapping in half as two men stepped through into a small clearing, streams of light breaking through from above. The one in lead carried a large machete, glinting in the sun, having been used to pave a path through the forest. He was large and had a barrel chest, wearing khaki pants, a shirt made from similar material. Behind him stood a much younger male, in the period of limbo between a boy and a man; a teen, to put it bluntly.
"Um… Mr. Owens? Sir? Why did our guide leave us?" asked the younger one to the elder, glancing back worryingly into the brush. The large man stopped, turning to look at him.
"The natives here don't like this part of the jungle, Desmond," he said, glancing around at the trees. "They call it… an evil place, to put it simply. Strange disappearances of men occur here." He looked back to the boy, seeing his face turned to one of fear. Owens chuckled some at this, the sound low and booming.
"Don't you worry, boy. I've been to this jungle many times; maybe even deeper then where we are intending to go, and I have never ran into trouble. Nor any evil, I must say." Desmond seemed to relax some, looking more tired then scared now.
"That's… a relief," said the teen. "But can we take a break, sir?"
Owens looked to him, trying to repress a disapproving sigh. They had not even hiked for an hour, and yet the boy was already requiring some rest. Owens himself did not feel that tired at all, maybe slightly strained, but still filled with energy. How could such a person, in the prime adolescent years of his life, need to stop so soon?
He's a rich kid, Jack… If they had to jog a mile, they'd pay someone to do it…thought Owens.
"Very well," he said with disapproval in his voice. Reaching up, Owens removed the dark green pack from his back, placing it down onto the ground. Strapped to its side was a rifle, already loaded and ready to fire at a moment's notice. It was one of Owens more prized possessions, one that had seen him through many an animal.
Spotting a fallen tree, he sat upon its decaying bark, removing a fedora from his head, wiping away the collecting sweat on his brow. His hair was brown, but fading quickly, bald skin peaking through. Just another sign of how his age was slowly catching up with him.
Taking a drink from the canteen placed on his belt, he looked over to the boy, seeing him find his own wooden seat a few feet away. Desmond was scrawny for his age, in Owens opinion, his figure not fit for the surrounding terrain, his black hair already drenched in sweat. On any other day, he would have never even dreamt of taking such a person this far into uncharted territory, where predators lurked and many dangers lie. But he was under a promise, and one that he intended to keep.
Owens was a hunter, just like his father, a tradition, and skill, passed between generations. He had climbed through the Rockies of America, searching for a grizzly, cut his way through the jungles of Asia, seeking tigers, and even had found himself on a rickety row boat in the middle of the Pacific, spearing whales. Owens had been all across the globe, hunting nearly any animal that was worth a trophy prize.
A few years back, a man named Robert Pierce funded a quick expedition deep into the Congo that would have otherwise been inaccessible to Owens. It was a large favor, Pierce not immediately asking for anything in return, being a wealthy and generous man. Yet, only a few months ago, he had contacted Owens, requesting that he take his only son onto a small expedition. Something involving "improving the boy's mentality". It was complete rubbish to Owens, absolute rubbish.
But, he didn't want to break past ties, so he forced himself to overcome his own wanting to decline the offer, and brought the boy along into the South American rainforest. Flights were made, cars were driven, and the boy had seemed on the edge of quitting due to jet lag, but for some reason, he prevailed, determined to tag along with Owens. Why would such a boy, one seeming more interested in sitting down and reading a novel then trekking out into wilderness, want to come along? He wasn't even fit for the expedition, or trained for that matter.
Whatever the reason, it was too late to do anything. They were miles from any civilization (the nearest being tribal) and were now on their own. Whatever would happen would happen, and Owens would hopefully exit the jungle with his sanity intact and the boy already being shipped home.
Taking another swig of water, Owens placed his fedora back onto his balding scalp.
"Alright boy, break's over," he said, standing and grabbing his pack. "We have quite a ways to go before we set up camp."
"What exactly is 'a ways', sir?" asked Desmond, slipping his own pack onto his shoulders.
Owens grinned, almost evilly. "Oh… I'd say another fifteen, maybe twenty miles."
Desmond sighed, his head bowing to stare down at a nearby fern, looking depressed. "Very well, sir… Guess we should be on our way."
Owens gave a small nod, still showing a devilish grin. If he would be made to do this irritating task, he would at least poke fun at the boy.
"That's the spirit! Now, hop to it lad…"
With that, he turned, crossing the clearing in long strides, not bothering to look back to see if Desmond followed. The boy would want to keep up; no soul would ever want to be, or even imagine being lost in this forest….
The sun crept across the sky over the next few hours, signaling the time as it passed, even though hidden from view more often then not. They walked, they climbed, they even waded through a small stream, but finally, hours after their initial break, they arrived at a spot Owens deemed worthy.
Without much hassle, they set up a small tent, its green melding in with the surrounding foliage. The clearing was small, but there was enough space for the two, the beginnings of a large hill to the north, its peak hidden beyond the tree line. To the south, just past a few trees, was a clear water creek, the quiet noise of water rushing across the rocks echoing to the camp.
Owens rested on a log he had salvaged from the forest, his pack, and some of its items, laying before him. Desmond had imitated his superior, seeming half asleep and his head drooping. Owens looked to the boy, then down to his supplies, picking up a small package, tossing it over to the boy. Desmond jerked back into a conscious state, fumbling with the item in his hands, nearly dropping it.
"It's your meal for the day," said Owens, picking up a familiar package.
"Oh…" Desmond stared down at the parcel for a moment, slowly undoing the paper, revealing a sandwich. He studied it for a moment before suddenly devouring the food, his hunger now evident.
Silence fell between them as they both ate, neither bothering to speak between bites. Even after the food had disappeared, nothing was said. After a few moments of quiet, Owens finally broke it.
"So, why is it you wanted to come out here?" he asked, looking up to Desmond, who returned the glance.
"…me?" he said, sounding confused.
"Yes, you," replied Owens. "I'm wondering why you wanted to join me on this trek."
Desmond then gave out a strange noise, one that was a mix of a laugh and a disapproving grunt, shaking his head. "It wasn't I who wanted to be here, sir."
"Then who did?"
"My father, obviously," said Desmond, a frown on his lips.
"Your father, eh?" said Owens, not at all surprised. Nothing had connected when he first saw the boy, as foreign as he was in this jungle. It would only make sense if he had been forced onto this trip by someone else, and that someone just happened to be his own father.
Desmond nodded, not saying another word, and Owens did not try to pursue the topic any further. If the boy wished to not discuss it, he would at least give him the small respect of letting the conversation lay to rest.
Glancing up, Owens noticed the sun had disappeared far beyond the trees, the shadows of twilight beginning to form around them. Night would soon be upon them, and with that, the dangers it included. He already could hear the nocturnal insects beginning their chattering. Letting out a sigh, he stood, looking down to the boy.
"I say we should both rest up now; tomorrow will be a long day as well. Hunting is not an easy task," he said, walking over to the tent.
The boy followed a few moments later, joining the hunter in the process of crawling into their tarp shelter. Both lay upon their sleeping bags, staring blankly up to the top of the tent. Before any words were spoken between the two, they had both quickly fell into deep slumbers, Owens heavy snores resonating within the tent, Desmond curled on his side, silent.
The sound was enough to jerk Owens from his heavy sleep, his body suddenly awake and aware. Had that been a gunshot? No, impossible. There wasn't a soul within miles of the area; it was only him and-
Owens head immediately whipped over to the boy, yet he found nothing, only the indentation of the young man's body upon his mat. He was gone, as were the pack and rifle he had been carrying the day before. Desmond had simply left for reasons unknown, and wherever he had gone, he had encountered something important enough to force his inexperienced self to pull the trigger.
Without hesitation, Owens grabbed his own weapon, scrambling out of the tent into the morning air. The grass was wet with dew caused by the cool night, chirps and squawks of birds resonating through the air. There had been no other noises besides these since the crack of the gun, Owens scanning the tree line.
"Desmond!" he yelled out into the jungle, hoping he would receive some sort of response.
And an answer he did get. A small holler could be heard echoing through the trees from the south, Owens immediately dashing towards the source of the sound. With his rifle strapped over his back, he jumped over the small stream that they had discovered the day before, diving deeper into the forest without much elegance. Desmond was the first priority here; avoiding scratches and other small injuries from the brush second.
The yells were consistent, leading Owens through the jungle as he ducked under branches and skirted around the thicker brush. Fortunately enough, the shouts didn't sound urgent, only seeming to be there for the sake of giving a direction to go. Owens was relieved by this, slowing his pace to be a bit more cautious about the path he was creating through the jungle.
Finally, after maybe a half mile of crashing through the forest, he came across a small valley, the trees spread wider, allowing a better view of the surroundings. Down below in a thick patch of tall grass stood Desmond, staring up to Owens. His face was pale, looking as though in disbelief, his stare darting between the man above and something hidden within the grass.
"Desmond, what the hell are you doing out here?" boomed Owens voice, his relief drowned out by annoyance. "And why did I hear a gunshot? Please tell me you didn't manage to shoot yourself in the foot…"
"N-no, sir!" he stammered. "I… I only wanted to explore some…"
"And what of the gunshot?"
"I saw something in the trees…" Desmond continued, looking nervously up to Owens. "I thought it was a bear, so I shot at it."
"You fool," said Owens, starting his descent down to the boy. "There are no bears in this jungle. I would think with that bright mind of yours you would have known otherwise. And even then, you shouldn't shoot at one unless you know it will charge."
"I'm sorry, sir. The moment just took me. I wasn't thinking properly," Desmond said quickly as Owens approached. "But I learned it wasn't a bear…"
"Oh, so you actually managed to hit it, eh? Is that why you're still standing out here like a lost child?" questioned the hunter, walking through the grass. "And what the hell was the blasted thing if it weren't a bear?"
"Yes, I did shoot it… surprisingly enough," answered Desmond, looking to a spot at his feet. "And take a look for yourself…"
Owens gave Desmond a questioning look then, but stepped forward to peer down into the grass. What he saw was unexpected. Lying at the boy's feet was a significantly large animal, covered in a dirtied brown fur. Four limbs were distinguishable on its body, leading to its hands and feet. But the strangest part of it all was that it had a figure of a… human. It was no ape, Owens was sure, but it was like no other humanoid creature he had seen before. It seemed only to measure to about five feet, its oval-like head covered in a long mess of hair, hiding any facial features.
"You just saw this walking around, correct?" asked Owens, kneeling down to the creature.
"Y-yes, sir. I was at the peak of the hill, looking down at it," said Desmond. "I don't know what caused me to shoot it, but I did, and it was dead when I climbed down here."
"Hm…" Owens saw the wound then; a fatal shot right into the creature's chest, exactly where a regular human heart would lie. Dark, dried blood surrounded the spot, a near-black stream running from its chest to the ground. The boy had been unbelievably lucky with his shot, the bullet causing a fatal blow.
But what interested Owens the most was the creature itself. He had never seen such a thing before, appearing as though to be a cross-breed of a human and ape. With one hand, he let his fingers brush away the tangle of hair from the creature's face, revealing its facial features. Its fairly small eyes were closed, probably having done so seconds before its death. It had a squashed nose, leading down to a wide mouth, its jaw nearly inexistent.
Something occurred to Owens then, standing up, peering down to the animal.
"Congratulations, boy. It seems you've killed the largest natural discovery in the last half century," he said disapprovingly. "And not only that. You just shot a child of this species."
"I… I what?!"
Owens turned to Desmond then. "From what I can see, the features on this animal look quite… young, to say the least. It just doesn't seem fully developed."
Desmond looked flabbergasted. "But, it's so large for a monkey! How could this only be-"
"It's no monkey," interrupted Owens. "This is nothing like I've ever seen before; a new species from what I can see. But, besides that, this is definitely a child. Which can only mean…"
Owens eyes suddenly darted upward, slinging the rifle from his shoulders and holding it in sturdy hands. His body was tense, searching the trees above, slowly rotating in circles. He was only greeted by the normal sounds of the jungle, not one disturbance within the foliage above.
"…sir?" said Desmond.
"Be quiet." Owens continued to scan the trees, his rifle halfway raised, whipping around every so often to take a different view of their surroundings. After about another minute of this, he stopped his feverish searching, looking to the teen.
"We're going back to the camp," he said.
"But what about this…" muttered the boy, motioning to the limp body of the animal.
"We're keeping it here. I don't want it with us."
Desmond appeared to be on the verge of questioning his leader's decision, but silenced himself, only giving a slight nod. "Okay."
Without speaking again, Owens turned around, his weapon still at ready. Beginning his ascent back up the small incline, his feet dug into the earth below, his senses highly aware of every small detail around them. Soon, they were paving their way back to the camp, Owens not letting a moment be at rest as he kept alert. When a small crack occurred to their left, he instantaneously whipped around, pausing mid-step, causing Desmond to bump into his side.
The teen was about to say something when Owens pressed a finger to his own lips, his signal obvious. They stood there, silent and still. The rifle dug into the hunter's shoulder, looking down its sights. He was a statue; unmoving, not even twitching when a bead of sweat dripped from his brow down to his eye, completely focused on the patch of forest before him.
After what seemed like ages, Owens relaxed, jerking his head back in the original direction they were heading. He did not want to speak; not yet anyway. The boy would soon understand his alertness once they arrived back to the camp, but for now, it would be best if Desmond was left in the dark. It would prevent any unease falling onto him.
Finally, after the fairly long trek, with many more sudden pauses to peer into the jungle (Desmond fortunately not questioning Owens motive), they arrived back at the camp. This did not mean Owens was now at peace, not at all. He was just as tense and attentive as before. Before even drawing any closer to the camp, he inspected the circle of trees around it. After the area was deemed secure, he drew to the center of the clearing, finding Desmond sitting upon one of the logs they had drug into the camp the day before.
Taking a seat across from the boy, Owens wiped the sweat from his face, his eyes stinging. He propped his rifle at his side, ready to be used..
"You believe the parent is around here somewhere, don't you?" came Desmond's voice suddenly, Owens' eyes darting over to him.
"So, had time to think that one over, have you?" replied the hunter. "But yes. Wherever there is offspring, the parent, or parents, should be quite close. It is almost seems like a law of nature… or at least for most animals, that is." He sighed then, the dash and return through the forest having drained him of a good amount of energy. "The parent very well may have been nowhere close to that spot… maybe searching for food for the infant. But we cannot be sure on that. That child was very large for the look of its age. I fear what size an adult can reach."
This statement was true; oh so horrifyingly true. In the time it had taken the duo to arrive back at the camp, Owens had felt that his every step, his every movement, had been watched. Yet he was unsuccessful in finding their stalker, even though there was the chance it wasn't even there. He had no knowledge of how one of these creatures behaved, or more importantly, how they would react to their young being killed. And with the size he imagined one to be…
"Pack up your things. We're leaving."
"Wait… what?" Desmond looked to Owens in confusion.
"I said we're leaving. I hate to admit it, but I'm not comfortable staying here." Owens frowned slightly at the statement.
"But why, sir?"
"Because of that animal you shot!" said Owens, giving off a small glare. "Tell me this, Desmond. If someone stumbled across your land, broke into your home, and then proceeded to murder your own child, would you easily have forgiveness?"
Desmond bit his lip, bowing his head to hide his eyes.
"That's what I thought…" muttered Owens. "Now, I want to leave within the hour. Get moving."
A half hour later, there food and other necessities were packed, ready for the long travel through the jungle. Owens had not bothered clearing the area to make it look like they were never there; there was barely a mess anyway. His first objective was to flee from the area, a deep fear coursing through him.
Eventually, they had cleared out their tent, the tarp shelter the only thing left to take care of. Crawling inside, Owens pushed himself onto his knees, reaching up to undo some rope holding the tent to the framework. Hearing Desmond outside shuffling around to hold the tent up to prevent it from collapsing as he removed the rope, he began to undo the knot-
A scream. A bloodcurdling scream. The sound itself caused Owens to jump, pulling the knot undone in the process, the tarp falling onto him. Frantically twisting and turning within the tarp to free himself, he heard the scream again, the noise now obviously coming from Desmond. As Owens continued to be caught within the clutches of the tarp, he heard the sound of Desmond being literally dragged away across the ground, hearing the boy crying out in fear and panic. There were low, heavy grunts as well, not coming from the teen.
After another moment, Owens finally freed himself, jumping to his feet. A large ruckus was occurring in the east, more yells and the rustle of brush coming from that direction. Rushing over to the center of the camp, Owens hastily picked up his rifle, immediately sprinting in the direction of the commotion. There he found an obvious path with partially destroyed bushes and claw-like marks in the ground, more then likely caused by Desmond desperately grasping at the earth.
The parent had found them. No, it had not found them. It had been watching them, waiting for an opportunity to strike, and in Owens' small disappearance into the tent, it had pounced on its first prey. Desmond had been caught off guard, and in the attack, Owens has almost stupidly been caught within the tarp, allowing the creature plenty of time to gain a lead. Where it was heading off to, he did not know, but he was going to give it a good chase, that was for sure.
Running into the jungle for the second time that day, Owens kept his rifle at ready, following the makeshift path the beast was creating. Far ahead, the crashes and screams continued, giving the reassurance that they were still in range. But this did not matter to Owens. His expression had turned nearly blank, almost stern, really.
Owens was in his own world now. His body may be the one dodging under and hopping over obstacles, but his mind was separate. Focused. Breaking down the situation so that it could be studied and thought out, planning ahead to think what could go right and what could go wrong. This is what happened for every hunt of his, but the stakes just happened to be higher this time around. There would no time to rest, to recuperate. He would go as long as the animal would go.
But, unfortunately for Owens, this would turn out to be true, but for the wrong reasons.
As time passed, the noises faded, Desmond's panicked yells disappearing into the distance. Owens did not give up hope though, continuing onward. He searched for signs of the others' presence. Broken branches, indentations on the ground, and, after some time, blood. It was only small specks on leaves, but it still worried Owens, only bothering to peer at the red substance for a second or two before dashing off. There was no need to linger over it.
After what felt like miles, the specks became spots, the spots became drops, and the drops soon became large stains on the ground and surrounding brush. The air even smelled of the blood; a sick, deathly odor. And the farther Owens went, the more it increased. Soon, he was almost unwilling to keep moving, but he forced himself otherwise, knowing Desmond could still be alive…
…but his hopeful thoughts were the exact opposite of the boy's well-being. Stumbling into a small clearing, just a circle of dirt surrounded by trees, he found him. Or parts of him, at least.
Immediately at Owens' feet lay an arm, still covered in the fabric of Desmond's shirt. A little farther along lay a leg, its foot now shoeless. And finally, just beyond that was the torso, almost unrecognizable. Every limb had been ripped from it, the only extremity left being the head. Even then, the face was disfigured, covered in dark purple bruises, the expression left in one of utter pain and fear.
Owens had sat through much gore in his life, being a hunter and all. He had skinned animals himself, cut open others to cook their meat, had seen every bit of blood and bone within those animals… but this… this was just horrendous. Sickening. He felt stinging bile against the back of his throat then, pushing against the urge to release the previous night's meal onto the jungle floor.
He only had to be glad he hadn't arrived to witness the scene that had unfolded here. The boy's death had been brutal and obviously painful. Owens could only hope that the pain itself had ended the boy's life before he had to endure more… limb by limb…
A shudder ran through his body, ripping his eyes away from the scene. He couldn't look at it anymore, or be anywhere near it. Without bothering to retrieve something significant from the boy, a namesake or possession that he could take back, he simply walked off back the way he came. He walked as if in a daze, stumbling through the jungle, the patch of dirt with the boy's shredded body still painted before his eyes.
As he staggered through the trees, not even sure if he was following the same path as before (his attention was now on other things) he even happened to forget the utter danger that could be lurking nearby…
It was getting dark, and he was lost. The two worrying facts held each other hand in hand like a troubling couple, adding onto Owens' fear. After snapping out of a deep reverie, he had found himself in unknown spot within the forest, no signs of the path he took before anywhere. After circling around from a single spot, he had no success, the shock of Desmond's bloodied body having caused him to become lost, every spot looking the same as the one before.
Now there he sat, propped up against a tree, cursing himself for letting this happen. Not only was he lost, but also he had the death of an innocent boy on his hands. He knew there was a slim chance he could have actually prevented it, but he was still swimming through his own self-hate. Desmond hadn't even wanted to be out in the jungle in the first place…
Pushing himself from the tree, Owens took a look around. This wasn't the time to mourn over the boy's death. He may have been rude and disapproving, maybe even cruel, to him, but he would think over it later. Right now, he needed to learn which way to travel, either towards the camp or maybe a village. Maybe if he-
A crack. So small and insignificant, but it was still caught by Owens' ears. His eyes went wide, suddenly recalling what actually had caused him to be this far out into the unknown jungle. The beast that had torn his follower to literal pieces. The one that still had one more person to place its revenge upon.
As if on cue at his realization, something solid and hairy rammed into his side, knocking him to ground. Feeling the wind become knocked out of him, he gasped for air as he flipped onto his back to have a good look at his attacker.
It was more frightening then he had imagined. The beast loomed over him, looking about nine feet tall. Its fur was long and ragged, its brown color mudded with dirt and grime. Its whole body was hidden by the veil of dirty hair, but he could still make out other features, such as its lanky arms and broad shoulders. If it had been completely bare of fur, Owens knew he would see rippling muscles, prepared to rip him apart.
But this is not what scared him. It was the creature's face. It looked like an aged version of the child before, even having a few scars cut across it. But this time, its eyes were open, small and black, but were filled with a deep rage. Its teeth were bared as well, yellow with age, some of them long, curved, and pointed. He could see the beast was intending to kill, just from the one expression.
Attempting to scramble backwards away from the animal, it only gave out a loud roar, the sound shaking the branches above. Slightly paralyzed by the sound, Owens stared up at the creature. Immediately after giving out its cry, the beast reached down and grasped Owens tightly by the ankles, and in one swift motion that didn't seem to show any strain at all, it swung him around and threw him. Owens flew through the air, his arms and legs flailing before his side connected with a wide trunk of a tree, falling to the ground again with a grunt.
Groaning in pain, having felt one of his ribs snap, Owens hands clawed at the tree, pulling himself up. Standing on shaky legs, he looked to the creature, seeing it already approaching. Ignoring his pain for a moment, he slung his rifle from his back, attempting to raise it with trembling arms. His actions were not quick enough though, the ape-like animal already upon him.
With another rumbling roar, it lifted him by his shirt this time, shaking him wildly. Yelping in pain from his pulsing side, Owens lifted his rifle, jamming it forward. The butt of the gun connected with the beast's head. Luckily enough, the hit forced its head to snap back, causing it to drop him to roar in its own pain.
In the small moment of victory, Owens whipped around his gun as he landed onto his rear, pulling the trigger, not bothering to aim. There was a pause after the crack of the gun, the bullet digging itself into the beast's thigh. It looked down to its leg for a moment, and, seemingly unaffected, roared loudly yet again, its gruesome breath washing over Owens.
The next few moments were a blur. The beast picked up Owens again, tossing him against the tree once more, more ribs snapping like frail sticks. Next, it dragged him a few yards, raising its fists high before slamming them down onto his already battered chest. Blood spurted out of his mouth by then, dribbling down his jaw. It was a miracle his spine had not broken yet, or his skull crushed… even though that would be a much more peaceful end to all of this.
Finally, as to add salt to the wound, the animal grabbed his leg then wildly shook him, and within a few seconds, there was an audible CRACK as the bone broke, fierce and sudden pain shooting up Owens' body. A scream, one that he never imagined to come from his own lungs, burst from him, rolling in agony on the ground.
"Damn you! Damn you, you bloody bastard!" yelled Owens, his last offensive strike having to be verbal. He was broken, dying on the ground beneath an animal undiscovered by man, to be pummeled until his last breath left his lips.
With one last toss of his body from the creature, he lay on his side, defeated. He could see black at the edges of his vision, tasting blood within his mouth. It was almost over. Now, at his final moment, he only wished for the beast to deal the finishing blow.
But it did not come immediately, the animal stalking over to him, only to stand by him. Owens could only see its feet and a portion of its hairy legs, only standing there. He could hear its breathing, but it did not move. Was it mocking him, letting him die slowly? Was it truly smart enough to reach such a level of cruelty?
No, he wouldn't take that. Not now, when the pain was too intense. Slowly, his hand reached forward, intending to grasp the creature by the leg, to anger it to kill him. Instead, his hand fell short, landing on a smooth surface. Polished wood.
Realizing that his weapon lay below his own hand, he thought over the luck of being in the location he had dropped it before. And he also received an idea. Even though it was quite simple, it would be his final act, and that was important enough to him.
Taking in a panted breath, he gave out a large, agonized moan, using the last reserves of whatever of his strength remained to flip to his back. Now he his eyes were fixated on his enemy, the animal's eyes staring right back. In that one moment, Owens felt a surge of hate and spite, recalling all the suffering this beast had brought down onto him. And Desmond, the innocent boy, so naïve within the depths of the jungle.
He loathed this animal for it all.
With one last painful grunt, Owens swiveled his rifle upwards, letting it fall into its familiar place on his shoulder. Leaning his head towards the gun, he looked down the sights, aiming it straight between the creature's eyes. He was aiming to kill, that's all he wished to do. Not to wound or disable; to end a life.
It was then the beast seemed to realize what Owens was doing, but it was too late. His finger already secure on the trigger, he pulled the muscles needed to fire the shot, the bullet whizzing through the air and hitting its mark perfectly, blood and bone bursting from its head as the bullet shot through.
The animal stood there for a moment afterward, swaying in place. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, it fell back, landing on the ground hard enough to cause it to shake near its impact. The rifle fell from Owens' hands, falling next to the beast's feet, its purpose having been fulfilled.
With the excitement of the event having passed, the pain became clear again, his vision fading once more. As the waves of agony washed across him, he allowed his body to fall into the black, letting himself be surrounded by darkness.
John Pierce had been preparing his small boat when the man appeared.
Pierce, every year for the last twenty, had taken a small trip into the South American rainforest to a small cottage he and his father had built just outside a local village. Each time, he would only stay a week, maybe two if the conditions were well and his mood was good, letting himself merge with the outdoors in that time.
It was a nice little getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city; calm, peaceful… except, of course, when someone stumbles across your land to disturb your peace.
He had been standing within the kitchen of the small home when he heard the large rustling coming from outside. Confused and curious, he had stepped outside to find the man staggering across the small patch of forest he had cleared out before the cottage.
He appeared to be close to Pierce's age, his clothes torn to near shreds and covered in a considerable amount of dried blood. His shirt was unbuttoned, showing heavily bruised ribs and chest, more of the purple blotches on his face. His leg was clearly broken, held in the grip of a makeshift splint, made from a few branches and long strands of grass.
In other words, the man was in horrible shape.
Pierce immediately rushed forward, the man looking up and falling to his knees only a few feet away. On his face was a crazed smile, his eyes glinting with insanity as he stared up to the other man.
"I… I killed it! You hear me? I killed it!" he exclaimed, letting out a laugh that sent a shiver through Pierce's bones. "Ripped the boy apart, like a toy… but I killed it! No animal can escape Jack Owens!"
And with one more maniacal laugh, the man who claimed to be Jack Owens collapsed to the ground dead, his story to remain a mystery to the world.