There's an artistry to killing that I never confess to. Everything can die, and the way you kill them, the way you leave them, is the message you send to others that would cross you. When I was so lost in the world of hunting that I barely remembered my name, this message became the key focus of my killing. I hunted without mercy then. I destroyed anything that came across my path.
It's part of the compulsion, the hunger of the hunter. We exist between human and monster, needing the compulsion to push us beyond our physiological capabilities. This mostly manifests in how people perceive us, stronger, faster, a little bit more adaptable and a little bit tougher than the average human. But the blood we spilt to get there is the part people don't see. The cost is high. The continued cost is higher still.
The hunter is just as it sounds. We hunt. We yearn for blood to be spilled and for the kill. The more we do it, the more we want to do it. The more we avoid it, the crazier we get, the more disastrous the fallout when we finally do succumb to the base instinct of blood letting. I try to only kill once or twice a week. It's enough to keep the urges at bay with the liberal application of alcohol and fucking. Fucking is close. It's probably why I leave my lovers with bruises at times.
But emotional stress, or even physiological stress, can trigger the instinct. Sometimes it's a choice we make, like when I killed Florence. Sometimes it's just the thing inside takes over. No one looks at hunters like we're lunatics though because it's monsters we kill. No one sees the casualties that we leave behind. We're too solitary, too lost in our own world of kill or be killed.
When I walked away from Merov to hunt the demons, I thought it would take a couple hours, at most. I'd be there to have last call with Curtis, fuck him, and probably have a decent sleep before class tomorrow. I didn't realize I was entering a brutal fight to the death that would end in more blood that I had anticipated.
Boston's been on the radar for most of the supernatural community. Between the Amber Vampires and the ley lines that Cesar is trying to fuck with, hunters have felt the trembles of the on coming war for awhile. It meant there were more of us. A city alive with hunters is rare. A crowded city of hunters means there's maybe ten of us. Ten people who are lost in the hunt and the kill. The sanity of the hunters ranges from people in control and stable, to those who are feral hunters just living for the kill.
We were lucky that of the eight of us, only one was mostly gone to the urge. Every inch of the fucking city was crawling with the demons. People were screaming. Most were just dying. None of us knew each other. None of us were friends. But the blood speaks to us and we hunted as a pack, solitary and yet unified. If one of us fell, we didn't flinch or try to save them. We moved on. It's the way of the hunt.
It was three in the morning when the pounding of the wound on my neck and shoulder had begun to make me pull away from the joy of the hunt. I don't remember a lot of what happened between the fifth kill and the last one. Some people would call it frenzy, but it doesn't look like it. From the outside it looks controlled and deliberate, even when we leave our enemies in pieces. Salza and I were the last standing.
My phone buzzed. It was enough to break the spell. The vampires were dead. Demons. Whatever. Salza was struggling with the last one. I dropped the heart that was bloody in my hand and walked over to end the last one. It sank its fangs into my arm and I sank my dagger into its skull. It was a fair trade. The other hunter was horribly wounded, his leg mangled.
Curtis left a message. Something about Derek. And that I needed to come home. My muscles hummed with the urge to keep going. I had to grit my teeth and turn away from the world to be able to even fully remember Curtis. Then it came back, crashing into my reality like a wave of cold water. The torture. Florence's death. Solomon's hands on me. The drugs. Carla's eyes. I had abandoned Curtis because I didn't want to feel any of it. I didn't want to tell him I had fucked Solomon because things between us were complicated and I didn't want complicated.
The hospital didn't question me when I dropped off Salza. They're used to me just appearing with half dead people. It used to make a difference. Now they knew they couldn't stop me. One of them offered to look at the wounds on my shoulder and my arm, but I shook my head and walked out. From my pocket I slipped my driver's license and as I climbed into the truck, shoved it back into my wallet. Beside my wallet, a bag of driver's licenses sat, blood smeared across it.
We always keep our licenses on ourselves when hunt. It's a way of leaving a message to our families. We died. You don't have to wonder. We died.
The pile of them made my jaw tense. There was just Salza and I and he was out of commission for awhile. It would be up to me to protect the whole fucking city. When I reached home, Curtis was still mostly drunk, but at least showered. Carla was no where to be found and he called me home... because he was worried.
I tried to ignore the immediate anger that flooded my body. Curtis knew better. I was a hunter. I hunted. If I disappeared it was usually for good reason and not arbitrary. He's afraid of abandonment. But this is who I am. It's what I am. I hunt. I kill.
The shower revealed just how many scrapes, scratches, and bruises I had managed to get. The cut over my eyebrow wasn't bad, and the bite had closed over, but the deep gouge in my shoulder was still seeping blood. I covered it and grabbed a towel before I walked out to talk to Curtis. He offered coffee and booze. Smart man.
We talked. It was a conversation I didn't want to have. Not really. It was admitting that we had changed, that something had changed enough we needed to take it out and talk about it. I hate talking about how I feel, more than I hate most things. But the words were said and they can't be unsaid. We love each other. In ways that we shouldn't and that aren't going to make life any easier. We talked about what that meant, and ran in circles with it. I was too tired. My body hurt.
Finally I told him the truth about my research, that I was finding a way to remove the hunter genes in me. He asked if it would work for him, and I honestly didn't know. In theory it should. It worked on a vampire, once. One of Alistair's friends. It was petty of me but I wanted to know. He was only one of other humans I had killed.
Curtis reluctantly let me take his blood. Morning began to arrive and we crawled into bed. I needed a few hours of sleep. At least two. Just enough that my hunter genes that I so wanted to get rid of would start to heal me. It was the first time I had slept beside someone who knew I loved them since I was a teenager. It was terrifying and comforting and I was afraid for the future, more than I had been in a decade.