What Once Was

I do not know how long it has been since I have become trapped in this living hell. All I know is that I cannot escape it, for I do not have the will to end it. Only the sweet embrace of death can finally free me from the torment and horror I must endure. I try to remember what life used to be, for only the memories can bring me some peace. I try to remember what I had that gave me warmth and joy. I try to remember the man I once was to place before it was taken from me. But those sweet memories can never bring me back to the time when I was ignorant and content with what I had, not knowing the horror hidden away from all but a few. Going about my day as if nothing would take it away, I may never know whether it was bad luck or simply an act of fate. It matters little to me now, understanding what I have become and the torment it brings me every moment. For I may never return to what I used to be, for no matter how I try my burden, no, my curse will always stop me from trying to start anew. For I belong in darkness, and it has claimed me for its own, and I will never escape until death comes to take me into its cold embrace. I can only look back at how it all began and how much I regret making that choice that has brought me here.   My life was simple, to say the least, or at least from a farmer's perspective. Sure it had its hardships and struggles, but my family has long since endured making us strong and resilient. If only that could have helped us, I might not be the only one left. We lived near a great forest that went as far as the eye could see, but we never went near it because of its dangers; most were about old folk tales of monsters and witches that lived in it. However, I was more concerned about foxes and wolves, especially wolves that often killed our livestock and occasionally snatched a poor unsuspecting soul that came too close to the forest. But that had not happened in a long time, and I cared little for stories I believed to be nothing more than tales to frighten children into behaving. If only heed those tales, I might have avoided the fate I am in now. Yet I was just one of many who believed that lie to make us feel safe, only to witness it with our own eyes to shatter our understanding like the brittle glass it was.   It’s not hard to remember how it all started or the beginning of the end of the life I once knew. A cold and harsh winter came upon us that year, and the community suffered.   Even my family suffered as we lost a few cattle to the cold, with their bodies frozen to the ground and immovable as a rock, so they had to be left there until the weather got warm to get rid of the bodies after the scavengers came and picked it clean. However, one night, my wife and I were awoken by a loud sound that seemed to echo into the night. Though neither of us could see it, the sound was hard to ignore, as if it was the sound of a starving animal feasting upon its first meal in days. It was missing all around it to feast upon without caring what was around it. The sound of tearing flesh and the snapping of bone could be heard in a field that was beyond the house. It was disturbing to hear, and neither of us was unable to sleep much that night and dared not make a sound in case we were heard by the beast that was outside our home. All I knew was that It was big, and I dared not go out to face it alone.   The following day went to instigate where the beast's sounds came from. I was fortunate not to find the beast, but I was met with a horrifying sight, a splattering of crimson that broke the endless white snow that covered the ground. Where once was a dead, frozen cattle was now torn to ribbons and torn apart easily. Its body parts scattered about the field, almost causing me to puke from the grotesque gore that I had never seen in my life. However, the most troubling aspect was what was left of the body was gone. What was left seemed to have been dragged away. It was not difficult to follow since the snow made it easier to find. But when I saw the track the animal made, I was baffled at what I saw. At first, I thought it was a bear seeing the carnage it caused. It was not uncommon for one to wake up during the winter in search of food, But these were much more different from a bear and almost looked like a -, but I dare not finish the thought, for if I did, I would have thought of myself mad. But when I looked up to where the trail was leading, a chill went down my spine as I looked up at the forest before me.   I did not think twice before heading home as fast as I could. Later on, I would meet with my neighbors about that night, but they had heard anything that night and just told me that it was and told me not to be troubled by it. I let their white lies comfort me as I wanted to believe them and return to my life. Yet fate and its invisible strings seemed to have other plans for me as they were used to lead me to my current uncertainty. The next night nothing happened, but I felt ill at ease as if something terrible was going to happen, and rather than lie in bed, I stood to watch over the field where it all began, using only the light of the moon to aid me in seeing if anything was out there. I eventually fell asleep, armed with an old crossbow I had since my youth when my father and I went hunting for game to feed ourselves. The following day I was awakened by the sound of banging at my door and thought it was something trying to break in. Only to be met with one of my neighbors and my crossbow aimed at him as he was shaking like a leaf out of fear instead of the cold morning air. He was panicking and speaking faster than my mind would process, resulting in me shaking some sense into him. He told me that something had broken into his barn and slaughtered some of his cows and told me to come with him quickly, and I did, only telling my wife to stay inside and not to let the children leave either. With my crossbow, I promptly went after my neighbor at breakneck speed.   What I witnessed in that barn was far worse than what I encountered that first night in the field. The doors were torn and splintered with ease as if a storm had gone through them. But it was far from it as the carnage was laid out before me with no end in sight. It was something that I had experienced only a night ago, only at a larger scale. Everything inside was torn apart in a festival of gore and blood that seemed everywhere from what I could see. Several cows were dead, their bodies all over the place. Some were partially eaten, while the rest were just butchered as random with no signs of being eaten. My neighbor told me last night something big had come onto his farm and broken into the farm. All he could do was hide as the cows cried out as they were slaughtered with ease. Nothing seemed to escape this force of nature that had no regard for anything around it and utterly destroyed everything.   He asked me if I had seen such savagery before the other night, and I told him I did. As I looked over the damage before me, something caught the corner of my eye, and It caused me to try and process what I was seeing in front of me. On the blood-covered planks, which had since dried, a set of tracks had stepped in the blood, leaving tracks. They matched the same ones I saw the other night, and all I knew was that it was not a bear's cause. It didn’t take long before a small gathering of many of my neighbors and their workers came together to try and solve the problem before it got out of hand, or many more of their animals would be killed. Many wanted to ambush the beast when it reached a farm, but no one knew its pattern of hunting and no one wanted to lose their livestock.   It was here that I suggested that we go hunting before it went out hunting as I told them of the tracks leading into the forest, and I could probably track it to its lair where it slept in the day. All we needed was to set up and have live bait to distract it when we killed it. It seemed the best option, and we hastily gathered what we needed for our expedition. We all said our goodbyes to our families and headed off to search for this terrifying beast and end its reign of terror. But we were unprepared for what awaited us, and my fate would be sealed. It did not take long for me to find the trail as the snow quickly revealed its tracks as we ventured further into the forest, but it was not as pleasant for the danger we were heading towards. The eerie silences of the winter kept us on edge, and the cold air denied us any comfort that warmth could bring us. Still, it had no place here, for we all needed to remain vigilant and ready to face this monster we were hunting. It took half a day until I finally found the tracks leading to a den under the earth. No one knew if the creature was in there or not but were dared not look in case it was.   We prepared ourselves as fast as possible, setting up traps and a live goat to lure the beast to its demise. If the traps could not finish it, we would, the weapons were nothing special, only everyday tools such as pitchforks, axe,s and hammers with a few bows or crossbows, myself included. Along with a net to trap it once it fell into the trap. All we had to do was wait for it to come for this nightmare to be over finally; instead, it was just the beginning. I do not know how long we waited for it to arrive; all of us remained hidden under was cover we would find to remain hidden. I found a place with another under a fallen tree waiting for the moment to strike. I had never been so anxious at this moment as I had questioned so many things, and I would soon have them once the beast finally revealed itself. Soon enough, the night came over us with its dark veil hiding away any light that could see, except for one. The moon was full that very night, and its bright luminesces aided us in seeing through the darkness.   Then it happened, the goat tied up was startled by something and tried with all of its strength to break free from the rope tied to its neck. We all readied ourselves for the arrival of the monstrous butcher and to finish it. Yet we heard nothing and waited for it to finally reveal itself, only to remain hidden like the elusive enigma it was.   Then we were suddenly startled by the blood-curtailing scream of one of our companions as the beast's roar could be heard. From that point on the we were no longer the hunters, but the hunted instead. I could do nothing for my companions as they were taken by beast one by one, as they were torn to pieces. Their blood spashing being found everywhere under the pale moonlight. The beast’s speed was nothing had seen before and I had barely saw a glimpse of it as we became few with each passing moment. By the time the screaming stopped their only a hand full of us left and we decided to group together to give us the slightest chance of getting out alive, lighting fires from torches and lantern to allow us to keep it away from it. I desperately searched for it in the darkness to aleast get a clean shot on it, if I was going to die here I wanted to give this monster a present from me. Then out of the darkness I finally saw it, it glowing eyes piercing the night as they gaze upon me as if looking into my very soul. Its black fur no longer hiding it from the light we had created. As it came it to view I was could not believe what I was seeing, it was a wolf! It was the biggest one I had ever seen in my life, even larger than a bear as it began to circle us with a hint of intelligence in its eyes as it looked at us with caution. We alteast knew it was afraid of fire, but it did not scare it off as we hoped. It intend to kill us all as we try to think of away to escape this freak of nature.   In a matter of moments, it stopped in its tracks and stared at us as it let out a vicious growl trying to make us scatter and pick us off one by one. But we would not do that as we were too afraid to do so as the fear weighed our feet down like stones making us unable to do anything except watch as the embodiment of death was looking right at us. What it did next completely shocked us as it began to stand on its hind legs as if it were a man and revealing its front paws were hands. It had grown tired of waiting and went right towards of with a leap, causing us to scatter, only for one of us to be taken. It was here that I finally let off my shot, and it would aim true as the beast howled in pain. The act alone gave us the courage, and tried our best to kill it here and now. But our blows were not enough, and it cut those who were left down like it was nothing. Its arm swatting me away with monstrous strength across the ground and knocking the wind out of me. It took me a few moments before I could breathe again, but I began to hold it as I realized my position. I was surrounded by bodies all around, all of them torn to pieces across the ground, and I saw no one else amongst the life besides myself, for I was now the last of one alive out of all that came to slay this creature.   Then before I knew it was upon me before I could process what was happening as its fangs dug deep into my should it prepared for the killing blow as it began shaking me on the ground. Only to be met instead with my knife to its neck, and it cried out in pain as it released me from its grip. I tried my best to get up, but the pain made it difficult to do so, and I was met with more of it across my back which knocked me down again. I managed to roll on my back only to see the beast trying to pull the knife out of its next as I tried to find anything to defend myself with, only to find an oil lantern still lit beside me. It took me a few moments to realize what I had to do as I knew I was going to die here, and I planned on taking this monster with me. With what little strength I had left, I stood before the beast once more as it finally pulled the knife from its neck.   Its eyes were full of hatred as it looked at me just like mine. It took no time for it to rush at me at full speed as I through the lantern at it, unable to avoid it as it shattered across its face as flames began to dance upon it and consume it. Its cries pierced the night as it tried to put out the flames I began to spread as I searched for a weapon frantically. I soon found an axe and grabbed it as I limped toward the beast. It soon placed its head in the snow in an attempt to put out the fire. I took advantage of the moment and brought the axe down on its neck, not even giving it a moment to react as I continued in a mad frenzy as all of my rage was poured into my blows until finally, I stopped, covered in the blood of the beast its head severed from its body and before I could do anything else blackness took me.   In that final moment, I thought I was dead and was okay with it, knowing that the monster was finally dead. However, it was far from over as I woke up from a seemingly endless night, only to be met with the light of day. At first, I thought it was all a dream, but the cold air and the snow that covered me had to differ. As I tried my best to stand up, I realized I was still alive and had survived that night of hell. As I looked around, I knew I was alone in this place of death as the crows began to feast on the corpses that were once my neighbors. I then looked back upon the beast's corpse, where I planned to retrieve its head to take back with me as proof of its death. What was there shocked me to my core. Instead of a beast was a man, naked in the snow with his head missing and covered with burns and cuts that went deep into his body. Not too far from it, his head was on the ground, a look of shock and severe burn across his face that was one by oil. It did not take me long to know what creature we encountered that night I looked upon the bite the beast gave, fully healed as if it was never even there. I knew my life was over from that point, and I could not return home or place my family in danger. I started walking away from the place of death around me and never looked back.   From that day, I have chosen to stay hidden from civilization and anyone I may cause harm to. The forest has become my hunting ground, and no one dared trespass over it. I was to be forever alone from that point on as I spent my day trying to live as best I could. The moon is the only one who truly knows me now as it shows all my true self. My cruel mistress, whom I both love and despise, for it is the only thing that will never leave me and bring out the beast within me when its light brightens the night. Each time I turn into it, a piece of me is taken away, and its animalistic nature takes hold of me. I know it will eventually consume me as I become the very thing I have grown to despise with all my strength. When that day comes, I can only hope for someone to end my pain so I can finally be set free from this hell. Deep down, though, the thought of digging into the flesh of anyone trying continues to excite me even more as they try to challenge the hunter of this domain as I count the day when I can be free to hunt once more under the light of the pale moon.


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