I squeeze around the windpipe. My heart is jumping in my ribcage. My boner is raging. I look up to watch the terror unfold on her face.
Irritation clouds my excitement. Cynthia doesn’t seem frightened. Her eyes aren’t bulging. Her breath is stable. In fact, she seems mildly bored. Her hand has retreated to her side.
I throw pretense out the window. No more playing “Mr. Nice Guy”.
I push her against the door, with such force that she bangs her head against the window. I clamp my other hand on her breast and dig my fingers deep into the flesh, as if ready to tear it apart from her body. That could be her memento.
She gasps, her eyes widening.
I smirk. There’s the look I’ve been waiting for. The thrill rushes from within, giving strength to my arms.
Cynthia thrashes in the seat. She claws against my chest. The pain is bearable. It only makes me want to savor the moment longer.
However, my irritation remains. She’s not giving me eyes of terror.
She’s narrowed them. They shine with malice. I’ve never seen it on my victims before.
“Did you do this to Helena as well?”
Her question momentarily stuns me. My fingers freeze. How is she talking? I’m squeezing as hard as I possibly can.
Her smile is rueful. “Did you know that was her name? The woman you killed and left here in the woods?”
My own breath lodges in my throat. Cold sweat glides down my back. How does she know? Is she a police? Are they already onto me?
Panic grips me. I clamp both hands once more on her throat and squeeze.
“Enough with the foreplay, I guess.” She speaks calmly, even though I’m so close to crushing her windpipe.
She grabs my wrist and bends it. It hurts slightly. I grit my teeth. She smirks and bends it back more. My stomach drops. What is she doing? The ligament has begun burning. Her eyes glint with a dark purpose. She bends it back even further.
Finally, a crack. It penetrates my ears like a drill. I stare at the crooked shape of my wrist. Then blinding pain shoots up my brain, like venom. I scream.
“Did that hurt? I bet Helena was hurting more when you killed her.” Cynthia cocks her head to the side, as if actually oblivious of her own action.
“Who the fuck are you?” I scream, clutching my broken wrist.
She ignores me, instead opening the glove compartment and picking up the necklace that I had put there for safe keeping. “Another victim? Where’s Helena’s memento?”
“How do you know about her?” I spit angrily.
“Her sister, Lydia, prayed to me when Helena hadn’t been found within a week. Given her line of work, Lydia knew she was dead. And Lydia wanted revenge.”
Prayed? Is she a priest? She certainly doesn’t look one with those ripped jeans and leather jacket.
A wolf howls in the distance. Cynthia smiles as she gently pockets the necklace.
“I thought I wouldn’t find you. Portland’s a big city. Lots of people. But I’m patient. As a hunter, you have to be.”
My brow furrows. Hunter? What is she talking about?
She laughs. “You still haven’t figured it out? Nah, you killers don’t seem to have either the intellect or the patience. I go by many names. Cynthia after my birthplace on Mount Cynthus. Diana in Rome. I, however, prefer my true name. Artemis.”
She slowly turns her head to me. Markings appear on her face and body, like stars popping up in the sky outside. They look ancient, pagan even. Like Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek letters melted into one. Black soot covers her eyes, yet they sparkle like diamonds.
My balls shrivel. I almost forget about the pain in my broken wrist.
“I promised you a thrill. You have twenty seconds to run. I wouldn’t waste them. You saw what I did with your pathetic human hand.”
I can’t explain how she changed like that. Is she an illusionist? How can a girl her size be stronger than me? She said her name was Artemis. If I remember my high school mythology class correctly, she’s said to be the Goddess of the Hunt. How is that possible? How can she even exist and inflict pain on someone like me? I want to stay and fight her, but my dominant hand is useless. I can’t trust my own strength.
I do, however, trust my balls.
I scramble out of the car, and rush into the woods. I haven’t run like that in ages, the searing pain in my side reminding me of that fact.
The moon is the only light in this maze of a forest. Trees everywhere. Nowhere to hide. Why can’t I hear her running after me?
A wolf howls again. This time, it feels closer.
I don’t like this. How my heart is almost exploding. Not with exhilaration, but with a fear that digs deep.
Something whistles in the air.
It plunges into my shoulder, nailing me to a Douglas fir. I scream. Wincing through the pain, I look down at the wound. Nothing. So, why do I feel like there’s an arrow stuck in my bone? I grope for it in the dark. Again, nothing.
I scream again. My other shoulder has been hit. I wheeze through the pain as it sends flames up and down my body.
A laugh echoes through the forest.
It sends chills down my spine. I’ve never felt fear like that.
She struts towards me, carrying a primitive bow. Her smirk is victorious. “Nothing beats the thrill of the hunt.”
“All right, all right. You’ve got me. You’ve got your hunt. Now let me go.” I demand.
She shakes her head, chuckling. “You’re right that I’ve got my hunt. But I haven’t avenged Helena’s death yet.”
Light footsteps pitter-patter on the soft ground. Too limber for a person.
A wolf strolls towards Artemis, its amber eyes gleaming in the dark.
Sweat beads down my temple. “Your pet?”
Artemis scratches the wolf behind its ear. “A companion. He usually gets what I hunt.”
I struggle against the invisible arrows. The wolf growls as it approaches. I kick frantically, sweeping dirt into the air.
“Are you really feeding me to the wolf?” My voice comes out high-pitched in disbelief.
“Not just the wolf.” Artemis’ smile is sinister.
Heavier footsteps crush the ground. I feel slight tremors behind me.
I swivel my head. My breathing has become erratic, fearful. Not at all what I’m used to. What could she possibly have summoned from the dark?
A giant bear comes lumbering at my side. The scent of rotten leaves on its fur tickles my nose.
My legs go numb. Blood drains from my face.
“Too late for please. You gave that up when you squeezed the life out of Helena. I’d wish you a good journey to the underworld, but I hear your kind isn‘t received well there.”
She gives her head a jerk forward.
The bear stands up on its hind legs. It raises its clawed paw and strikes down in one, swift motion.
For a moment, I think it missed.
Something slithers with a squelch on the ground. My middle feels cold. I look down. My stomach has been ripped open. Innards leak in a mess down my pants. The grass below is painted in crimson. A part of my dick nestles between my feet.
Blood trickles down my mouth. My eyes shoot up when I sense movement.
The wolf’s open maw is the last thing I see.
But it’s not the last thing I feel.
I’m still alive as those beasts feast on my open stomach.
The last thing I hear is a girl’s tinkling laugh.