Twins of Prey
Chapter 4 DEATH
The boys stood over the hunter, silently surveying the body.
“Who was he?” Drake pondered. “Why did he come to us? Did he have a family, and was he going to shoot me or the deer?”
“We need to burn him, gut the buck and send his boat downstream,” Tomek said nonchalantly, breaking the silence.
Drake agreed, but it was not what Tomek said that caught his attention. That is, in fact, what Uncle would have told them to do. It was how cold, simple and calculated it was delivered by Tomek. This man was just an animal to Tomek. Drake did not spend too much time worrying about the change in his brother and laughed to himself, “At least Tomek does not want to eat him.”
While dragging the carcasses back to their fire pit, Tomek recollected how the stalk through the orchard happened and admitted that even he could not see Drake inside the tangles of wood, seaweed and rocks. Drake realized that Tomek had no idea he was saving his brother’s life and Drake was not sure if that was a good thing or not. Drake knew that Tomek killing a man to save his own brother is much different than Tomek killing the man just to do it.
“I found his blind and his pack,” Tomek said. “It was loaded pretty full. We need to go back and see if there are any supplies we can use. And now we have a gun.”
“You know what Uncle said about guns,” Drake quickly retorted. His concern was met with a reply that was truer at this moment than any before.
“Well, Uncle is not here, now is he?”
No, he was not there. Yet Drake remembered back to the many talks they had about firearms with Uncle.
“It is better to silently hunt with the disadvantage of a handheld weapon than to easily kill with the blast of a gun,” Uncle had said around the fire pit many a night. “There is no honor in killing with a gun.”
Until this day, Drake never really realized how true that lesson was. For the simple fact that if the hunter had killed the buck with a bow, the twins would be still be sleeping.
The dead hunter’s wet clothes weighed him down as the twins turned the river bend just before their camp. Exhausted from the double drag job of both the man and the deer, the boys were not concentrating as they normally would on their stealth. This allowed neither to notice the canoe missing upon their return.
Drake dropped the man at the banks of the river and removed his clothes while Tomek went back to the orchard to retrieve the hunter’s pack. They had been taught to utilize as much as they could from a kill and this would be no different.
“Clothing is not natural and burns different than wood,” Uncle would warn them. “Never burn anything that is unnatural. The smell and the color of the smoke could alert someone to your whereabouts. Campfires are often ignored but trash burn piles never are.”
Drake was now hearing Uncle’s voice more and more each day as the logic behind the lessons they were taught became abundantly clearer.
The body was covered in driftwood as Drake ignited the tender kindling he had set as a base layer. It did not take long for the warmth of the blaze to radiate on his dark, blood-stained skin. Drake figured Tomek would see the smoke and return soon to enjoy the fire. Kneeling at the river edge to scoop up some water and begin to rinse his body, he saw Tomek’s reflection in the river. Drake anxiously turned around to see what kind of gear his brother had returned with.
The bullet had grazed Drake’s cheek and removed the lower part of his left ear. Drake found himself now lying in the river, flat on his back. He lifted his head and deciphered the blurred figure. The hunter was alive and stood with his blue flannel shirt, orange vest and pants back on, grasping a shiny silver handgun, which was shaking in his right hand. The hunter yelled at Drake, but Drake could not make out the words. The sound of the running water mixed with an intense ringing in his ears only allowed him to see the hunter’s mouth moving. Drake attempted to get up, struggling onto one knee. Not knowing for sure if he was dizzy from the shot or if he was already dead.
The feeling of the gun barrel pressed against his temple was one he knew he would never forget, especially if his life was about to end. The cold metal pierced through his hair as it pressed against his skin. He looked down into the river watching the blood run down from his ear and cheek and disappear into the current of the river. Drake’s hearing partially returned in time to hear the click of the revolver’s rolling drum magazine, which seemed surprisingly loud next to his damaged ear.
With the barrel held tight to his head, he could feel the hunter’s hand quivering almost uncontrollably. Drake knew now was his moment as he heard Uncle’s voice.
“Never close your eyes just before you kill a man, that is the moment when your weakness will be seen. The snake has open eyes when he strikes the mouse!”
Without looking, Drake knew the hunter’s eyes were closed. If the hunter was a capable killer, Drake would already be dead. Drake reached to his left ankle under the water and removed the tactical knife from its holster. With his grip firm on the leather-wrapped handle, he rolled forward, swinging his leg down behind the knees of the hunter. In one fluid and fast motion, Drake reached across, grasped the hunter’s waist and pulled him backwards over the leg trap. As the hunter fell backwards into the water, the shot rang off,
The round fired harmlessly into the sky as Drake looked into the hunter’s eyes now from above. Drake kept his eyes open and drove the knife deep into the hunter’s heart. He drew the blade from the man’s chest in a split second, and as quickly as he felt the knife clear the man’s ribs, Drake slashed the man’s throat.
Drake pushed the enemy’s dangling head underwater to finish him off while standing to his feet. He looked to his left and could make out the vague figure of a second body with his blurred vision. Alongside the fire, wearing the original blue flannel shirt was Tomek. In the fire was a body, but whose body? Drake knew he had just killed the same man Tomek had shot with the bow. Drake had seen his face close up and looked into his eyes as he died both times.
Tomek walked out into the knee-deep water where Drake stood and took his brother’s head to his shoulder. Tomek then spoke softly and directly into his undamaged right ear.
“We killed twins.”
Stay tuned till next week for the next chapter from the Twins of Prey by W.C. Hoffman. Want to buy the entire book now?