Hiking

by disperser

Hiking

By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright March 2005

From his hiding place he saw them approach, coming down along the well-worn trail; two of them, moving in single file.  They moved carefully down the slope, oblivious to everything but their progress.  He watched their approach.  He had positioned himself earlier that day, and had spent the last few hours watching and waiting, motionless besides the path. 

The two continued their progress, and it now looked like they would pass just inches from his hiding place.  His mind switched to automatic.  There was no thinking of consequences, motivation, or reason.  This was his nature; the nature of a hunter, a killer, focusing on his pray.  No enjoyment, no hate; just pure instinct.  He risked repositioning for a quick strike.  The movement was slow and deliberate, so as to not alarm the two soon-to-be victims. 

The two did not notice.  They had strayed from the main path, and the trail was their main focus.  The smaller of the two, pulling up the rear, suddenly stopped.  The other continued on a few steps, also stopped, and looked back.  One glance, then continued on.  As the distance between them increased, the one that had stopped seemed almost to panic.  She practically ran to catch up.  

He observed all this with some detachment, but when they stopped he almost panicked.  He was close enough to them that if he had to he could chase them down for the kill, but he preferred complete surprise.  His patience was rewarded.  The two resumed their progress toward their doom. 

Within seconds, they were before him.  His brain switched to one task and one task only.  Killing.  

Practiced movements activated almost without his knowing.  His muscles tensed, and he jumped, aiming for the one bringing up the rear.  His leap was perfect, and the mass of his body knocked her sideways, legs losing tractions and flailing.  Poised above her, he was ready to deliver his killing blow when she sprayed something at him.  PAIN!  The burning was intense, and his instinct to flee almost overcame his desire to kill.  He momentarily stopped, regaining control and shutting out the burning.  She had regained her balance, and seemed poised to fight.  His size advantage made the result a foregone conclusion.  Just as he was about to strike out, something jumped on his back and punctured his shoulder. Her companion was attacking him.  

Pure fury took over.  He rolled to shake the attacker, and in one motion jumped up before her companion could recover.  He landed almost on top of the two, and immediately jumped back as another burst of burning spray hit him.  His pain, from both the spray and the puncture, rushed vast amounts of adrenaline through his body, increasing his strength, agility, and letting his animal instinct take over.  Incredibly, the two still faced him, oblivious to their doom. 

Darkness fell.  It came suddenly, and was followed by an incredibly loud crunch as a ridge at the bottom of the hiking boot crushed the wounded spider like a soft jelly bean.  The two ants were spared, ending up directly under one of the boot’s deep grooves.  Just as suddenly as it appeared, the boot was gone.  The two ants stood motionless, then each grabbed pieces of the dead spider and headed back, retracing their steps.  They would need help in harvesting their find. 

The hiker continued on his path, unaware of his participation in nature’s life-and-death struggle.

The End

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5 Responses to “Hiking”

  1. Very clever, requiring a drastic mental adjustment at the end!

  2. Very well done! Impressive

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