[Writing] Nort's Hunt [Short Story]

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Author's Note: This is another one of my favorites. It certainly has the same vibe as A Good Man. I was sort of going for something more psychological with this one. Maybe.

**Warning: This story contains minor instances of adult language**


by Deanna Coulton
Theme: Decline
Word Count: 1,600


   There was the scent of danger in the air. Drifting gray clouds of smoke rose from three powder-coated ashtrays, each containing a lit and decaying cigar that puffed its last breaths. Those were one of the few small light sources in the room, other than a flickering light bulb that was reaching its final moments of life.
   They must be here somewhere. They couldn't have gone far.
   Nort's eyes scanned the room, analyzing every detail. Years of life as a researcher made him into a detail-oriented person.
   The light bulb finally surrendered and everything went dark.

   Nort swore under his breath, quickly rushing near the door, to where his backpack rested. He needed to find his flashlight to continue examining the scene with the triplet cigars. That was his only link to the bounties.

   The door slammed open, almost hitting Nort as he stumbled through the dark. The silhouette of a large, burly man took up almost the entire size of his vision. In his hand was what looked like a baseball bat.
   Before the terrified Nort could utter a scream, the long weapon was raised to the air and brought down upon him. It struck him painfully in the shoulder, barely missing his head. He yelped, feeling the anguishing pain of the wood striking him over and over again.

   The injured man struggled to back away from the vicious shadow, reaching to his own hip in search for his only way out. He found it.
   Nort raised his weapon, a small pistol, and barely hesitated to fire it at the creature. A loud noise rang through his ears as something wet splattered across his face.    The big man tumbled like a falling tree, and the rumbling of his demise was enough to make Nort shake.

   He had never shot anyone before. For some reason, he didn't think he'd have to. He thought he could just point his gun at the criminals and they'd obey him. Being a bounty hunter was apparently not what he thought it would be.

   Nort forced himself to his feet and limped over the dead body and into the hallway. From here, he could see the toothless grimace and hairy face of Sherman Loat. That was one of the men on his list, along with two other beast-like bounties.

   The hunter didn't really care about the money for the bounties right now. He was terrified. He had just killed someone –  criminal or not. His body ached from being repeated beaten. His guilty conscience hurt him even more. At this point, Nort really just wanted to go home.

   As Nort walked through the run-down house, he thought of what brought him to such a terrible fate. He went from being a brilliant journalist to a murderer. He used to write about people like this, but now he was one of those monsters. The irony was enough to kill him with shame.

   The bounty hunter opened the door to something splintering into the wood next to him. A bullet. He ducked, slammed the door shut, and covered his head.
   More rounds viciously made their way through the wood in front of him as he whined to himself and shed a couple of tears. His whole body was shaking. He really wasn't cut out for this.

   Everything fell silent after awhile, and two deep voices filled the void.
   “You think we got 'em?”
   “Let's go an' check.”

   The hunter looked around desperately as the sounds of footsteps matched his beating heart. There was table in the corner of the room, covered in a long and shabby cover. It was a rather weak idea, but anything would suffice at this point.
   Nort crawled under the table like a rodent, barely fitting his feet through as he heard the door swing open and crack against the brick wall. There wasn't much room under the table, next to the stash of what must have been bags of cocain and marijuana.

   A tiny tear in the tattered sheet was all he needed to view the sight on the other side. He saw the two big, ugly men looking for him, each with a pistol in hand. They were the other two criminals on his bounty list.
   One turned to the other, “you stay here and guard the door, an' I'll look around the house.”
   The other one nodded.
   “If you see the bastard, kill him on the spot.”
   As if that needed to be said.

   Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
   Nort couldn't tell if he was whispering under his breath or thinking. He was sure that they would find and kill him.
   The feet of one of the men walked past the table and down the hallway. The one guarding the door stared in Nort's direction, obviously considering if someone could fit under the table or not.
   He took a couple steps forward.

   This is it. I'm going to die. Nort still wasn't sure if he was thinking or whispering, but the big guy didn't seem to hear anything.
   Unless... He looked to his gun. The hunter could feel his pounding heart ease with a creeping feeling of security at the sight of the weapon. A tiny voice whispered in his ear, though he could not identify its origin.
   After all, this man is a criminal. I would only be killing a bad guy, right?

   Time was running out. The man was bent over, reaching for the table cloth.
   Nort pointed his gun forward, biting into his lower lip until it bled. He squeezed his eyes shut and pulled the trigger.

   There was the sound of the man crashing to the ground. The chaotic avalanche brought a twisted feeling of excitement and adrenaline as the voice, and his pounding heart, grew strong.
   Like a hungering wolf, Nort's eyes darted towards the hallway.
   It's either me, or them. He snarled under his breath. Perhaps it was the voice speaking for him.

   The last man was shrieking at the distance as his footsteps grew louder, in a chaotic flurry from no doubt discovering the first man's body and hearing the shot that slew the second.

   Nort crawled out from under the table, letting the pool of blood soak up into his shirt before he made it to his feet. He pointed his gun down the hallway and waited for the other man to get into view, holding back the twitch of his finger on the trigger. Was this a rush of fear...or excitement?

   “Did you get 'em?!” He heard as the voice raced closer.
   Soon, there was a full body in sight. The man didn't even have time to react before Nort pulled the trigger, firing into the large chest of the giant. The beast fell to the ground, screaming.
   He was still alive and able to reach for his gun.
   Nort shot him again, with hatred burned into his face like a brand.
   The body seized, then grew stiff. This time, the man was certainly dead.

   ***

   A heavy-weight man with a balding head and whiskers past his chin sat across from Nort. He looked like a walrus. The office table between the two men had chunks of wood missing or splintering off, and the heavy lighting of the bulb that dangled above them was enough to make Nort's eyes water.

   “You're a lucky guy,” the police chief spoke through his unruly facial hair.
   Nort nodded slowly, still a bit shaken from the event.

   The chief wheeled back in his chair, turning at an angle to reach a filing cabinet. After moving around a couple of compartments, he located a small lock box and began to open it with a tiny key.
   “I didn't mean to kill anyone,” Nort whined, “all I meant to do was capture them. Like you asked.”
   “That's alright, son. I believe you.” The man turned over his shoulder and flashed a little grin to Nort.
   “Who's gonna miss a few criminals, anyways?”

   Nort's weary and heavy eyes drifted slowly to the desk in front of him. Stacks of cash fell into his vision, contained only by a single white band.
   “Go on, Nort. You've earned it.”
   “Thank you.” Nort's voice rasped as he reached forward and grabbed the money he bloodied his hands for.
   “That should be able to take care of your family for a little while longer.” The large man proudly proclaimed, “and I'll have you know that hiring bounty hunters saves us a bit of money, too. Everyone wins!”

   Nort didn't quite feel like a winner. He made his way to the door, solemnly hunched over like a walking corpse.
   “One more question, Nort.”
   He stopped, but didn't look back at the chief.
   “What do you intend to do once that money runs out? Assuming you can't find another job.”
   Nort's voice was dry and weak as he responded, “I don't know yet.”
   The man nodded, but it wasn't like Nort could see this with his back turned.
   “If you need more work...you know who to come to.”

   Nort heard those words from behind him. The tone was marred into that of the tiny voice that pushed him to savagery. In his mind was a painted picture of his own silhouette, surrounded by the light of a doorway with the shape of his pistol in his hand – almost just like the first man he had shot that night.
   The hunter now knew that the voice must have belonged to his shadow, his darker half that made him into a monster that night.
   And that shadow will follow him forever.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 09:18:11 AM by boe »
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I gotta say I really enjoyed this one.

I like the progressive changes in Nort that takes place, from a non-violent man to willing to do whatever it took to survive. You played this out beautifully at an even pace, and it wasn't rushed or too slow for the length of the story.
Aces! :3

There wasn't any grammatical errors I saw.
The style was neat and clean, and the dialogue really brought out the personalities in play.


And it was just a wonderfully played out, DARK sort of theme.
I loved it! ^^
MORE!!

Spoiler for:
And the transformation for Nort is very accurate - you become a different person after events like these when your life is threatened, and I saw some very familiar feelings in him that I once had myself.


Now where is M00s with his shtampf? :3 ^^

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Thank you, Breeee! ;o;

Reading over this again, I think it actually may be one of the ones that makes me the most proud. I think it's because I took my time on it, and actually critically read over it and searched for things that I could change. Plus, I had some help from LadyJ~ <3 ;o;

And for once...I felt oddly connected to the character. He walked into danger with a sense of naivete and pulled through against all odds, turning into something empowered and somewhat cold. He was put in a situation that I know too well: having to make decisions where you just can't win.

Originally, Nort was going to turn into a horrible person and find that he enjoys his new life as a bounty hunter. But it just didn't feel right. So, I'm actually really glad that I changed that. I like him being able to maintain his heart. And although he did what was necessary (though arguably went overboard for the last kill), he still feels guilt for his actions. And that's what I like about him. ;_; He takes death seriously. His victory isn't black or white.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 01:05:38 AM by Queen yuyubabe »
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My contribution was very minor, you wrote a great story and have every reason to be proud. I love that he feels remorse for his actions. I like characters that are good guys/gals at heart.  You got the Jules stamp of approval xD 

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Yes, I also liked that he felt remorse afterward, and didn't let himself really become the monster that is potentially in us all. I even found the guilt he had taking the money for payment to be seen as blood money.
Tells us he has a heart.
And I like that, too. :3

And Jules is right!
You did a terrific job critiquing yourself and rethinking the ending.
Smart moves, and it paid off. ^^

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