A.N/ Hi there. This is another of my stories that I'm working on for an English assessment due at the end of the year. I apologise in advance for any misspelling, grammatical errors, if my knowledge on a certain subject isn't deep enough, or if it sounds suspiciously like a text that someone's already written;(If it does, chances are I haven't read and/or seen it). The is a part that I'm not sure about. Any feedback and criticsm would be greatly appreciated

Merge

By Renee Livingston

Part One

Weak light filters through the overhead canopy, leaving streaks of brilliance on the body of the young tanned man who walks through a world of rich greens and dirty browns, gently pushing aside groping plants. Cicadas and birds combine their song, an orchestrated symphony. The man moves smoothly, unhindered by his lack of clothing, a menacing but ancient bow grasped in his hand, a quiver across his back. His ears seem to twitch as he hears the subtle snap of something fragile. Bones. The natural noise of the jungle begins to ebb as he rotates his deadlocked head, his nose ring glinting in the diminishing light. There. The majestic animal stares at him, eyes wide with fear. Or is it curiosity?

Predator and prey. The wave of silence has all but descended over the jungle, the residents sensing the impending violence. The man tenderly reaches for his quiver, grabs an arrow, and nocks it into his bow, carefully drawing it back. The stag hasn't moved. There it still stands. Challenging him. Slowly, he raises his bow, lining up his point on the bulky neck of the beast. The man breathes in through his nose, out through his mouth; a soft whisper. Savagely, he pulls back his bow string. His pupils widen as his fingers release their captive.
Muscles bunched beneath glossy fur, the stag bolts and the arrow embeds itself in the base of a colossal tree with a satisfying thunk. By now, the rump of the creature has disappeared into the dense foliage. The man smirks, draws a crude looking blade from a sheath attached to his quiver, and gives chase.

Through the vines and low hanging branches, he sprints, feet making little noise. Within moments he hears a branch broken by a misplaced limb, and cat-like, he leaps over a fallen tree, all the while catching fleeting glimpses of the deer between branches. With a few more strides, the man is merely meters from his catch.

The stag runs, desperately weaving between fauna. But the man has practised this many times and calmly follows suit as the jungle begins to thin. Finally there is space, the man exerting one final bout of adrenaline, reaches out, blade glinting in the sun. He sees the rippling skin beneath as he viciously plunges the weapon downwards. The man feels the serrated edge of the blade catch on meat as he is violently jolted forward off his feet. The deer cries out in agony, dragging the man behind him. As he struggles to keep a hold on the blade, the man gasps painfully as something sharp rakes his front, a metallic taste fills his mouth. Deciding quickly, he yanks out the weapon and comes to a stop, watching with disappointment as the stag vanishes to the sound of his pounding heart.

The man lies there, face down on the jungle floor, waiting for his laboured breathing to subside. As he pushes himself onto his elbows, he catches a glance of the jagged vermillion line running down the center of his torso. Sitting up, he gently plucks out some dirt, wincing as he does so. At last he gets to his feet, dusting himself off when suddenly he freezes. He surveys the area around him, blade following his steady gaze. The jungle seems dead. No creatures, no movement. No sound. The silence is deafening. Then he hears it, like the sound of a distant thunderstorm. The man pivots in a circle, trying to pinpoint the location of the noise. Then he stops, re-adjusts his bow and quiver, and heads west as the jungle slowly starts to regain life.

At the edge of the jungle, rustling leaves part to reveal a dagger, followed closely by its master. The man is wary of this unexplored part of the land as he has never before journeyed this far. His eyes widen as he emerges fully from the trees. As he steps out from the jungle's embrace, his feet are enclosed by a sea of soft grass. Shocked at the sudden change of scenery, he looks down, his feet having disappeared. He views the emerald plain, confused. There are no trees here, not even birds. He pauses, his eyes locking on a flat black surface that stretches on towards the vanishing horizon. His lip curls in disgust. Ugly. Many questions filter through his mind as he approaches it.

What is it?
Where does it come from?
Where does it lead?
But most importantly, he wonders, as he runs his hand over the rough textured surface, who put it here?
He turns back towards his jungle then back to the black strip. Hesitating, he makes up his mind and begins to follow the massive black line,*staying flush with what small section of the jungle remained.**