Below is a snippet of World of Prey an alternative reality fantasy story. I haven’t really come up with an audience demographic for this story yet. I am still in the first draft of this, and have to do some major rewriting and editing and such and such.
But I would love some feedback on this excerpt. I’ve not changed anything from what I spewed on the blank screen from when I originally wrote this, so I apologize now for major spelling and grammatical errors and the possible onslaught of run on sentences.
And no, I haven’t read this back to myself aloud yet. Do be as nice as you can, please with your feedback and comments and critiques. Thanks much.
As the sun began to set on the distant bumpy horizon, Jason’s stomach began to growl. His mind rapped hard on needing to find food fast.
Charlie must have sensed his hunger, because she slowed to a stop and stomped her front hooves into the hard earth underfoot. Jason took the opportunity to his advantage. He slipped off the side of Charlie’s saddle and hit the ground running, quietly deeper into the wood.
Charlie gave a snort as Jason disappeared into the trees. The air smelled crisp and fresh, as if it had just rained, which might pose a challenge to Jason’s hunting success. It also wasn’t that dark yet.
Even at this non-hunt-friendly hour, the wood was far from quiet.
Critters bustled all over the place. Each one smelled like fear to Jason, which meant there was a hunter present here. Jason changed directions heading away from all the critters towards wherever they were coming from, hoping to stumble upon a hunter, human preferably—human, hopefully.
It was ten shades darker in the woods, which helped in creating pockets of shadows worth millions of moments for hiding and surprising. Jason took advantage of all the shadows that he could use to his advantage against hunting this hunter.
Somewhere behind him he heard a twang and a muffled yelp, followed by a heavy thumb. Jason was going the wrong direction.
He spun around and could see the outline of a figure in a small opening, a meadow like area of the wood. The figure was outlined in light. Jason patted his jeans, and frowned.
Somehow he had left his throwing axes in Charlie’s saddle. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a switch knife. Without skipping a beat, he flicked it open, and crouched down.
He gave a high pitched whistle, mocking that of a medium sized bird. The figure shifted towards the noise and lowered its weapon. Jason guessed the figure was now squinting into the darker patches of the trees looking for movement that would show where the fowl was.
Jason, continuing with his plan of baiting the hunter to him, inched his foot to the bushes in front of him and shoved some of the branches with it. The bush gave under the foot-shove and rustled loudly, maybe too loudly for a little bird to make.
Quickly, Jason found the pit of his voice’s threshold and growled, low and menacing. The hunter’s head shifted from the tops of the trees to the base and bushes of the trees surrounding Jason. Jason gave his best imitation of a howling yelp combo, which must have worked, because the hunter figure person thing came closer, slowly to inspect.
Then, the hunter stopped, Jason turned slightly to see what the hunter figure was doing. He caught sight of the hunter turning and backing slowly away in another direction.
‘Quick, think of something quick!’ Jason urged himself.
The hunter took three more slow steps away from Jason, when a semi-brilliant plan dawned on him. It was perfect, almost.
He looked down at his pocket knife and frowned. Slowly and deliberately he carved three short lines somewhat evenly spaced onto his exposed leg, then again—as he bit his lip against the slowly growing intensity of pain—into his thigh through his shorts. Then again, well, two more times on his arm and chest. A haphazard design of self-carving that made this plan only near perfect. The pain ebbed slightly as the slices began to bleed.
Jason bit a different spot on his lip. Then checked the hunter, he was now 10 feet away but frozen looking off to Jason’s right.
One last look at his body, and the bloody mess he made himself, and then he shoved his feet hard into the bushes and hollered out in pain, more real than faked. He breathed out as the pain shot through his leg from where he cut himself. Then, he grunted loudly.
A second later, Jason heard faintly nearing foot drops, thumping louder and louder. Until, “Oh my God, sir, boy, are you OK?” Jason glanced up.
The hunter was definitely human, he smelled human that was for sure. Jason forced himself not to wrinkle his nose, nor sniff the man too hard. “I-I’m,” a half-faking moan, then, “I’m,” Jason pointed through the bushes he was kicking, “it went tha-that way, ah!” He groaned and flexed his sliced up leg out, grasping it hard near his groin as if trying to cut off his circulation off.
Feeling phony and drama-lama-like, Jason chanced a glimpse at the hunter, which turned out alright because the hunter was still looking in the direction Jason had pointed. Then slowly he reached into his pouch and pulled out a roll of something white.
Jason didn’t wait to see what kind of first aid this human hunter was trying to don him with. He pushed himself hard to his feet, sucking in hard against his natural urge to scream. ‘I hope this works,’ he thought.
Then the hunter turned back to Jason, right into Jason’s iron grasp. The man didn’t even have a chance to form a look of surprise or horror. Jason squinted as he twisted his arms, cracking the man’s neck completely.
Jason let go of the man’s head. It dropped heavily and thumped loudly against roots and compacted dirt, displacing some crunchy leaves.
“Clancy, did you hear that god awful no—” Jason whole body froze as two men holding rifles crunched through the underbrush. The one who was speaking had come the same way the hunter, Clancy, had come. He stopped over Clancy’s body, knelt down to feel his pulse. “Blimey, Andy, he’s dead.”
Jason held his breath. Andy came up behind the hunter that said “Blimey” and froze, eyes held hard onto the fallen man that was called Clancy.
Finally, Andy opened his mouth. “What the hell?”
Jason’s eyes darted between the two hunters, while his mind raced between possible outs. He could try to kill them both, but they might shoot him. Getting shot trumped getting sliced up by “claws,” even if they were from his imagination.
Halfway through planning his escape, one of the hunters, the one named Andy possibly, looked up in his direction. And then, he gaped at Jason. “Dane! Look!”
The other’s head popped up too. ‘Shit,’ Jason thought, as his escape plan evaporated quicker than it had been thought up.
“Blimey!” He did like to use that word, apparently. Dane looked Jason over, is eyes widening as he took in the claw marks Jason had carved into his own body. “Boy, how are you standing?”
Jason looked down at himself. He looked like hell. When he looked up, the hunter called Andy was eyeing the ground next to where Jason was hiding earlier.
Matching the hunters gaze, Jason’s eyes bulged as they came to rest on his bloody switch knife. When he looked back at the hunters, he could clearly see how the one was becoming more aware of the situation. Then hunter-named-Andy smacked hunter-named-Dane’s arm, and pointed. Dane found the knife faster than Jason had, his mouth dropped.
“What the hell?” Dane whispered.
Another flicker glance between the two men and Jason was off and running through the trees arching out of the way from Charlie and his gear. He heard a gunshot and ducked, out of habit. Nothing.
He picked up the speed, forcing his legs faster despite the pain of the one. It just so happened that the faster he ran the more it pulled on his stomach and chest, and that didn’t feel very nice to his other self-inflicted mock-wounds.
He smelled Charlie and cut a hard right away from her. He tried as best as he could to not make more sound than he had to, but it wasn’t good enough.
The hunters, Dane and Andy, were hot on his trail fueled no doubt by shock and anger. Pretty soon though, they would have to stop running. They would have to slow; their exhaustion threshold was smaller than Jason’s. They had to—
Jason was startled by a sudden buzzing that got loud super fast “What the—”
A millisecond later, he felt a hard piercing, or stabbing from something. A glance down at his leg, confirmed the fact that he was shot. Blood trickled slowly out of the hole that the bullet had made deep into his calf.
It somehow, whether purely psychological or not, intensified the pain and he stumbled over his own feet. Jason hit the ground hard, cursing and getting a better look at his leg. The same leg that he purposefully sliced. The bullet didn’t exit.
Jason sighed in frustration.
Jason held his breath, straining to hear the bullet. A beat later, a muffled hum started from in back of him—the direction of the pursers.
Hunter had turned hunted pretty quickly.
Another second later and he heard a crunch, a bullet slicing through a tree kind of crunch.