Summary of Previous Chapter
The Hunter's Year Chapter Two is the second installation of my story The Hunter's Year.
In the first chapter, an awkward Persi is invited on her first secret hunt with some of the most popular kids at the Facility, a place where young monster hunters are trained to be ruthless and to fight for the protection of humans. On the hunt, Persi, a gangly teen with self esteem issues, arrises to the occasion and saves the lives of her group with wit, intelligence, and brute force. Only when she takes a keepsake from the vampire she stakes, horrible dreams begin... and so does her destiny.
The Hunter's Year Chapter Two
Seven days later and my eyes were like dry meatballs in my skull. My back ached from hours of hunching over the 20 different books I’d pulled out of the library. My head ached and throbbed from sleep deprivation and I was pretty sure I’d gotten a fungus from the School’s Jungle exercise two weekends before. It was unrelated to the situation at hand, but damned if it didn’t count.
I opened a new book and stuck a pen in the corner of my mouth. The edges of it had been stress chewed, a little habit I tried to keep a secret but, as you’ll find, there are no secrets in the Hunters. Everything is aired out, judged, and marked accordingly in your chart. Good Lord, mine was getting big.
When I looked to my left, my half finished vision board was leaned up against my desk. I tried not to look at it. When I did, it was with squinted eyes and a scrunched mouth. One kill and I was done being a hunter? One bad night and I couldn’t even look at my weapons?
“You are pathetic,” I said with the pen stuck between my teeth and my eyes raised. I gathered my hair up into a messy bun and let it fall. “A loser as well but I think that’s besides the point.”
I thought about it.
“Yeah, just pathetic for now.”
Truth was, I was freaking out. I hadn’t slept since I stole the necklace. Every time I closed my eyes, I was taunted by strangers. They reminded me of my worst failures, the death of my parents, and the fact I was destined to be a delere like my teachers promised. It was like having Anna in my head at all times, except worse.
Well, maybe not worse, but it was close.
I stretched out and heard my spine give a few pops. I cracked my neck and then my fingers.
“That’s disgusting,” Anna said and stormed into our room. She plopped on her bed and threw her lunch next to her. “I swear you’ll get arthritis one day.”
I stared down at my book and ran my fingers along the lines to get a better grip of what the words meant. “You know, I’ll take that to heart,” I said with my voice falling flat.
Anna popped open her chips and leaned against her wall. “Great, now Candy Corn is a bitch,” she said.
I stared down at the book and narrowed in on the text.
Monsters are the same as us down to their core. They have fears, joys, and moments of anger. Only theirs is magnified to the point of disaster. And through the humanness of their emotions, especially fear, is where you’ll find the point where all monsters can be unified to the great remorse of the entire Hunter Family.
I sat back and absorbed the text. Unification in the SubGround? “What the hell?” I whispered. The Others hated each other almost as much as they hated the Hunters. Almost as much as we hated them. And now there was word of unification?
Anna leaned on her knees, “Tess is being a bitch again, big surprise,” she said. She took a bite of her sandwich and shook her head. “Her tits are such a waste. I mean come on, I’ve got an ass for days and God couldn’t have beefed up my chest a little?” She rolled her eyes, “I think I should get surgery.”
“Whatever you think is best,” I said, distracted.
“Nice, Persi,” Anna said and growled. “Oh and then Xavier is being a real prick. You know he took credit for your kill?”
That did cause me to look up. “What?” I asked. My brow pinched together and a red crawled up the sides of my neck. “He did what?”
Anna launched her hand out towards me, “Exactly,” she said. “It’s not enough to be daddy’s little prince or top of the class. Now he’s got to lie and say he’s got more kills than he does? Pathetic. He even turned in the stake to Ricks.”
My shoulders fell along with my face. I’d thrown the stake away in the dumpster behind the School. I couldn’t look at it a moment longer after I’d woken up the next day. I knew someone had been watching me, I just couldn’t find them.
“Don’t sweat it Pers,” Anna said. “He’s a rat. We’re all rats but he’s– rattier.”
I looked down and chomped on my pen a few times. Killing that vampire was the most important thing I’d ever done in my life. It was the bravest, the coolest, the most remarkable act I’d ever taken to reach my dreams of becoming a hunter. And that bastard had taken that away from me.
“You’ll kill something else,” Anna continued. “Probably not another vampire, but something else all the same.” Her eyes widened and she smiled, “Maybe a Frikir. They’re pretty docile and small so you’d be good at that,” she said.
I stared at her with my eyes pinched. My chest tightened and boiled, “Why wouldn’t I kill another vampire?” I asked.
She laughed, “Come on, Persi, let’s face that the other night was a fluke. You got some adrenaline and you became another person. It’s not like that’ll be your hunting mode forever.” She shook her head and popped in another chip.
My eyes never left her. My heart was wild. The tension in my chest from anxiety had turned to anger in a flash. “You saw me out there, Anna, I was calm and collected. I’m the reason we survived that night,” I said.
Anna wavered, “I mean Xavier would have kicked in eventually, but you did help out a lot. I mean it was good practice for the real thing, I’m just saying you’ll probably not have to go through that a bunch more,” she said. “It’s a good thing Persi, you’re not built for this. The delere are good people and they do a lot for missions. Plus it won’t matter that you’re bottom of the class if they transfer you there.”
My eyes went wide, “The delere are losers that only do intel,” I said. “Any other Hunter could do their job, we just give it to them so they don’t leave and spill our secrets.”
Anna bobbed her head from side to side. “But look at you,” she said and pointed to all my books. “You’re already so good at it. Just stick to your strength.” She shrugged, “You’ve always wanted to be the best, Persi. You can be the best delere most likely.”
It was too much. It had pushed me too far that day and I had half the mind to roundhouse kick her in itty bitty titties. First I’d need to learn how to do that, but I could aways research it like she said. Research it, weaponize it, and take that frizzy haired slut down.
“You know what?” I said and got up. I shoved on my boots, grabbed my go bag and took the necklace out of my sockdrawer. “Screw you, Anna. Oh wait,” I yelled. “Everyone else has already done that.”
Her face fell, “Well, what the hell did I say that was so bad?” she said.
I stormed out and down the hall to Xavier’s room. I banged on the door with my fist, “Xavier,” I yelled. I pounded the door again for a solid 30 seconds.
“Jesus,” He said, then ripped the door open. Missy Pelk was in his bed putting her shirt back on. “What the hell is your deal?”
I stormed in, “You,” I pointed to Missy, “Get out.”
Missy stared at me, “When did Candy Corn get some balls?” She said.
“Out,” I yelled and charged at her.
She jumped up and ran out of the room. “Freak,” she said.
Xavier stared at me from the door and his eyes almost burst out of his skull. “Do you know how long it took me to get her in here?”
I walked past him and slammed the door. “Open a portal,” I said.
He made a face, “What?”
“Open a portal to Calapoosa, right now,” I said.
He stared at me and ran his hands through his hair. “Persi, that’s– what could you possibly want in Calapoosa? We almost died there.”
I stared at him, “Yes, we did almost die. And I saved us,” I said and slammed my hand on my chest. “Me. Not you, you pathetic waste of opportunity.” His eyes went wider. “You took credit for my kill, Xavier. Mine. Something that could have changed everything for me and you took it away so daddy would like you more,” I said and got close to him, “And you’re opening that portal for me right now, or I’m headed to him and I’ll tell him everything.”
He stared at me for a moment and then his eyes turned, “And who’s going to believe you, Persi?” he said. “We tolerate you and I’m beloved around here. It’s my word against-”
“You think your dad loves you?” I said and reached for the bottom of my morals. “Your dad is the one that tolerates you and he’s looking for any validation to the thought that you’re nothing but a pretty boy piece of crap. He doesn’t believe you killed that vampire anymore than I do,” I said.
God. It sucked to say. It was like sixteen years of oppression was unleashed into the world. Then it candied in my mouth and I wanted to go on forever. It was like I was finally stepping up into a Hunter’s role and not a servant’s. Like I meant something for once.
He stared at me, “You will not tell my dad.”
I smiled, “Ricks won’t hear a word from me. You can take credit all you want and have your popularity, just get me where I want to go,” I said with narrow eyes.
He took in a deep breath and a new level of hurt bled into his eyes. My throat caught for a moment. An apology almost slipped out. Then I swallowed it. Pushed it down. This wasn’t the time to be a coward. It was the time to press forward. Press hard.
It was the time to get what I wanted.
Xavier went to his desk and pulled out the journal from the night of the hunt. He stared away from me a moment, “Persi, you could die if you go back there,” he said.
I gave a tight smile, “It’s like you said, Xavier. I’m tolerated around her, it’s not like anyone would miss me.”
He licked his lips, “I can’t get you back here. I don’t know how to do that. You’ll be on your own and No one will come to save you unless I tell someone about this,” he said.
I nodded, “And you won’t because you’ll get found out.” It wasn’t a question. Xavier was about protecting Xavier. “And I don’t want you to,” I said. “This is my thing, I just need your help getting there.”
Xavier sighed one more time and shook his head. “Fine. I just hope you know what you’re doing,” he said.
Truth was, so did I. Logic wasn’t in my wheelhouse at that moment though. I was too angry at the world. Too scared of being a coward for the rest of my life. Too lost in being hurt for me to think clearly.
But when Xavier opened that portal, all I could think was– this is it.
This is my destiny.
Note from author: Thanks so much for reading ch. 2. This is a passion project that reminds that writing should be fun! Hope you love going along for the ride with. Check in next week for Ch. 3
XOXO - Kate