Chapter Eleven: Hunt

Editor’s Note: taken from the diary of Peter Sten, a farmer who died in 1823, yet whose diary was kept at Elder Sherman’s family estate, I would later discover.

Into the fir trees again. Stay away from the river. It will not be near the river. At night its belly full of sheep picking teeth with bones lounging on spongy moss eyes peeking under leaf-cracks. 

Can you hear the footprints of the other more bloodthirsty men?

Do you smell the bull entrails from where the beast dragged horned head & severed testicles home as trophies? 

Or storing wares for later perhaps. 

Well no citizen of Vine deserved to be stored as wares. Turned up dead. Throat ate out. Eyes gouged out. All kind of parts you don’t want out out

The Lord tells us it is up to the men. Up to them. Up to the men in this town to stamp out evil and protect the women and children from the footsoldiers of the Devil. All manner of bile-covered monsters with the hair of the righteous between their teeth. 

Do you hear? The river current has gone silent and the crickets dare not even whisper a praise to God. The monster reposes near. 

“Help” spoke a familiar voice. 

Certainly it was the beast. I had seen it move in the same brush from whence I heard the cry. Certainly the beast was trying to trick me by disguising its voice. Yet I had nothing left to lose: consumption had taken my wife and children last winter. Was it my destiny to have the beast split my bones like firewood? Only The Lord can determine my path. Death would be a mercy. I abandoned my position in the firs to aid the wounded. 

“Help” came again the cry and I expected at any moment to see a lake of blood—my own or this victim’s—spread across the forest floor. Instead I did countenance the visage of one Elder Seth Ruth lying bloody and prone with scratches and bites covering his naked rope-like body as he shivered weeping in pine needles. 

“I am forgotten” he spoke “Third Son of Adam! I am the unmentioned the unmythologized the lesser than the afterthought of a monster. Dare I become one to match my brother’s murderous accomplishments? Or simply am I the predetermined outcome of the Creator’s genetics? I do not know why. I do not. I do. I do know. I do not know why I killed. I do not kill. I do kill. I do not know why I killed all them boys livestock women men birds all God’s creation trembles in my shadow and yet God Himself is less than shadow to me.”

Presently arriving upon the grisly tragic scene to discover me cradling Seth’s head in my arms were Elders Aloysis Wilkinson and James Sherman. They cleaned the blood off of both our hands. Stood us up. Wrapped Seth in robes and gave him a skin of wine and pint of brandy. 

They turned to me. 

“As you can see Elder Seth is unwell” Elder Sherman said. 

“Speak nothing of what you have here witnessed” Elder Wilkinson said. 
We rode back to town. Glory be to God. Thanks be to The Lord—the beast was slain. Valiantly hunted and defeated by heroes to whom Vine would be singing hymns until Kingdom Come. I watched blessings from orange sun stretch purposefully across wheat fields ordained by God and grown by the hands of Vine. I returned my rifle to the barn and hitched up the plough. I said a prayer of thanks for Seth’s continued health. This is the Word of The Lord I spoke to the morning. Thanks be to God.

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