Death Hunter
Author: Neil Evans

Chapter 2
CHAPTER TWO

I sat on the stoop of the street, looking down at a tiny ant hill. Ant colonies are beautiful things. Every ant has a role in its society, and none of them are in particularly lazy. Hell, nowadays us humans make a small fuck up, and our whole society could go into a depression. I guess I was both marveled and envious of the ants. They lived the simple life, working every day for their entire life, and surely they never had to deal with cheating spouses, corrupt politicians or even feelings.

I glanced a wrist watch on my left wrist. "She should have been here by now," I said aloud. It wasn't like anybody could hear me, though. I was alone and sitting on an old road that was no longer used. From the pocket of my shirt I pulled out a single rose. The Rose was entirely black and the stem had two thousand tiny thorns--I need not count them to know the number, just by holding it I knew. The Rose seemed to be calling me: Jared, Jared, become number two-oh-oh-one! Suddenly, I felt a chill. I didn't look up to know what was going on.

I sighed. "Leo killed you, didn't he, Mary?"

After more than two minutes, I got a reply. "Yeah . . . but it was expected. I see you still have the Rose, that's good. Be careful, though, you know what happens when you have it with you for more than three days, right?"

I lifted my head up and looked at her. For a moment I couldn't even recognize Mary. She was missing one eye and her stomach was cut open. Her lips were removed sloppily, and two large, deep cuts were on her neck. Looking at Mary I could only feel terrible. We had agreed that I would stay behind and keep the rose, I would be the one to stop Karen, and if she didn't come back alive, then I would have to find a way to stop Leo as well.

"Yes, I know," I said but my voice was weak. I fought back the tears that wanted to leave my eyes and then continued. "The thing will steal my soul, like the two-thousand before me."

"Yes," Mary said. her lips didn't move but the words she spoke were crystal clear. "I gave the Rose to you at the very last moment. But the thorns took some of my blood. Leo will be able to track you--as he did me--and the Rose. You'll have to stick with the plan this time, Jared. You've still got two days and fifteen hours left with it. You do remember what to do?"

I smiled, "Of course. Can't say I like the plan too much, though, I'd rather ensure both the bastards were dead. Guess we can't always have what we want, eh? What's the only thing that can kill it again? Fire?"

Mary didn't reply. She slowly faded away. I watched as my heart sunk down, knowing another person I loved was dead. I stood up and glanced at the ant hill again. Just then, one of the thorns pricked me, making me instantly drop the Rose. The thorns on this particular rose never pricked someone. Not unless they wanted to prick the person. "Shit!" I screamed and tried to catch it before it hit the ground. It was too late, though. The Rose slapped against the ant hill and bounced less than a centimeter above the ground where I finally got it. I put the Rose into my shirt pocket again. I watched the ant hill for a minute.

Thousands of ants rushed out of the hill, each going fast at first, but they quickly slowed down. The Rose had poisoned them, just as it would any other being that touched it. The amount of time it took for the poison in the Rose to kill depended on the strength of the animal itself, though.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I walked down in the middle of the street for at least ten minutes

(Only two days, fourteen hours and fifty minutes left, Jared. Tik tok. Then you'll be mine!)

each second feeling like days. It only felt that way because I knew I was being followed. I knew who was following me, too. There are certain things you can tell when you have the Rose. It heightens all your senses to where you can hear another person breathe from a mile away. And, amazingly, that's not an exaggeration, it's a fact. Leo was the one following me. I could hear his dark heart beating slower than possible to sustain life. He wasn't nearby, Leo must have been at least seven-hundred feet away, maybe more. He didn't want me to know he was there. Not yet. Leo didn't know of the Rose's powers, though, he didn't know that I was already two steps ahead of him.

As I was walking a run appeared below me. A rune is what I use to draw magic from. It is generally a circle with a design in it, the design shows the caliber of the magic used and what kind of magic. I was using a magic to turn myself invisible. The symbol on the rune looked, ironically, like a flower. There were small lightning bolt designs going in a circle around the flower, as well. This particular rune made me invisible for the time being. However, a run must be visible in some way, shape or form; and nearby the person using it. This would make the purpose of the rune obsolete.

I gripped the shirt pocket that held the Rose, feeling the thorns through my shirt. I held on tight, letting it take some of my energy in exchange for its power. The power from the Rose made the rune sink underground slowly, making it invisible to the naked eye. I must have grinned like a coyote at that moment. Leo didn't know what happened, I could feel he was already pondering what had just occurred.

It's odd being invisible when you can see yourself but nobody else can. Like hiding in a closet and watching someone go through the room, unaware that you're there. You watch the person, and perhaps they can sense you, but they're not fully aware. You have a sort of adrenaline rush at first, excited they don't know, but you slowly calm down and feel normal again. The only difference is hiding in a closet and being invisible: When you're invisible, there's no chance of anyone seeing you.

I continued to walk, aware the Leo had now started running, trying to pick up my scent or see me. It was too late for him, though, I had erased any trace of me. He would have a better chance at finding a god in this wretched world than finding me. He'd have a better chance at finding one specific ant in a colony.

After walking at least four more miles, I came across the gates of a city. "Finally," I said, then consulted my wrist watch. "I wasted more time than I needed to, though."

Two days and eleven hours, Jared. Tik tok. Then you'll be mine!

 

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