Updated: Jan 25, 2021
I wrote this short as a flash fiction challenge (#winterflashblogbattle) on Instagram and it was organized by Michael R Kiel Fictions. Thank you Michael for planning this! Please do check out Michael's own short story for this challenge at his website: www.michaelrkielfictions.com/blog . You can find a list of the other participants of the challenge tagged in the same photo on Michael's Instagram: @michaelrkielfictions. Most have posted their shorts to their own blogs, while some will be found on Michael's website.
Word limit: 750
Word count: 745
Now to the story itself!:
The Hunter's Moon
It is said in my village that upon this night the moon will be round and yellow like the eye of a lion, and just as dangerous. Although I don’t believe such superstitions, I know that the moon is as equally powerful as it is old. For every year on this night my stomach finds this routine churning. Maybe it’s my nerves. Either way, I keep these feelings to myself.
“The Hunter’s moon approaches, Lil,” Mother passes by me huffing, her own nerves wrinkling her brow.
I tell her, “Just as it does every year.” What I don’t tell her, is this time is going to be different.
She closes the shutters to our cabin, while father boards them up from the outside. The chickens even get boarded up in their coop–these are the preparations for the Hunter’s moon.
Once the sun begins its descent, all enter their homes and no light fills the space inside. Light is a sin on this night. It calls them. Whatever “they” are, I do not know. The only thing I do know is the sound they bring.
We hunker down – my mother, father, little brother and I – in our sitting room after dinner. The sun has to be gone by now which means the eye that is the moon can likely see the village. It’s unfair. I’ve never seen the Hunter’s moon. Not ever. But I want to. This is another deep-rooted feeling that I keep to myself. In the sitting room we huddle together under blankets. We sleep side by side on this particular full moon, so that no one may be left alone and taken without a fight. That’s what they think–that whatever the moon sends, it sends takers... hunters.
All settled in, we squeeze our eyes tight. The noise comes then, it approaches from a distance, quiet at first and like a pulsating drum there is a rhythm to it. But it grows louder overhead and sends goosebumps to my flesh. Unlike my family, I want to look. That’s why this night is going to be different. I give in to the urge this time and open my eyes. But I can no longer see the four walls around me. Instead a strange vision shows me snippets of my village as if I’m running through it, a trail of blood along the path below my feet. I close my eyes once again and the vision is gone. The house shakes then, and every time I wonder if it will collapse with us inside of it. This event carries on for several minutes, and once it passes, a thick eerie silence stills the air. This is the time my family catches some rest. What they don’t know, is tonight I won’t be resting with them.
Once they’re asleep, I slip my feet into my boots. The back door is the only door that hasn’t been boarded from the outside. I grab the metal rod that sits by the fireplace and crank the two bottom boards off. Thankfully the door opens outward. I crawl out and am greeted with a mild floral scent that I can’t identify. I see no sign of what could have caused the sounds or the visions. But what I do see sets me on a path toward the cave behind our home.
I climb the mountain’s ridge and enter the cave. The turning in my stomach worsens. Toward the back exit of the cave the moon reclaims my focus; a brilliantly glowing ball–so it is yellow, and it is beautiful. I walk through the cave and step upon the edge of the exit where the moonlight distinctly rests. I reach up and out, imagining I could tie a rope around it and hold it in place. When the light of the Hunter’s moon touches my skin, something happens. I feel an explosion–a new but familiar pulse rushes through my veins. I wake up in my bed in what feels like seconds later, no memory as to what transpired.
Mother enters my room, “She’s one of them,” she cries to father.
Confused I glance down at myself. My hands and my now torn clothes are covered in blood and bird feathers, highlighted by the morning sun. What’s peculiar is my stomach sits still. Suddenly it makes sense why my father boards up our house from the outside. I am one of them – a hunter – and the yellow moon is mine.
Photo by @skip_closer