Hunting the Prey
Salmare watched the ship sail away slowly. Her right leg, left shoulder and tail ached with a dull throbbing pain. The man’s body, Graham was the name that Henry called him, hung limp beside her. Maybe it had been foolish for her to not strike at them quickly and kill them all but while that may have been the best course of action; she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t just let them be killed without them feeling some part of the deep pain that they had caused her. So she would let them go for now. A ship of that size was easily followed and she had the scents of the each of the men that she was hunting. It was no matter if they were at sea or at land; she would find them. And then she would make them suffer. But first things first. She needed to recover from the gunshots and Graham would help her do that.
Painfully she turned and swam back with Graham’s body to the isle where she had eaten the first man. She couldn’t drag Graham up to the rock, so she propped the body against the shallow shelf below into and transformed into her predator form. She whined a bit as the heighted senses increased her sensitivity to the pain. She took deep slow breaths as she jerkily tore the clothing off the body, exposing the chest. Blackened flesh and a rotting stench filled her nostrils. She smiled at Joy’s handwork and then ache in her chest blossomed into a hot rage. She screamed and ripped into the man’s chest not stopping until his skin was ribbons and his lungs were in bits and floating away. She collapsed with a sob onto the ruined corpse, body heaving until she finally found control of herself. She curled up the next to the body and began eating.
When she was done, she shoved off the remainders and hoisted herself into the rock and waited for the healing process to push the bullets out of her system. Her vision was blurred a bit and her movements were sluggish; she hadn’t realized that she was this badly injured. She hissed as the small balls of lead fell into the water beside her with soft plopping noises. The sky was turning a lovely bright blue on the horizon as the sun washed away the darkness of the night. Salmare felt her throat tighten at the sight. How many of those she had watched with her mother and sister curled up against her and then with Joy, Hula and Linna. Those lovely moments of peace and quiet with each other’s warm bodies entwined and strong arms holding the other safe was all gone. Everything that meant anything to her was gone. Her eyes misted up but the tears that filled her chest and choked her refused to come out. The hot rage that had overwhelmed her just a few minutes ago was now just a dull heaviness in her chest. It felt as if she was neither alive not dead; she was just existing. A creature with nothing to live for. She dropped her eyes to the water and her gaze caught the body of Graham floating not far from her. She clenched her jaw and flexed her claws. That was not true. She did have something to live for. Linna had asked her to live on. Linna, who in her own dying moments had thought of Salmare and not of her pain and soon coming end. Linna had asked her, made her promise to make those men pay for what they had done to them. And she had promised her beloved adopted sister that she would. The dull heavy rage in her flared to life like the hot pits of molten rock that bubbled under the sea. A deep slow roil of anger, hatred and deadly determination. She lifted her face to the horizon. The sky never looked as beautiful as it did now.
“I promise you Mother, my sister Lai, my adopted sisters Joy, Hula and my beloved Linna,” she spoke out to their memories, “I promise you that I will utterly destroy those that have taken you from this world and from me. I promise you that I will not rest till I have not only broken their bodies but their spirits and their hearts. They will pay for what they have done.” Just then a sweet scented wind blew and surrounded her, gently kissing her cheeks and ruffling her hair. She lifted her face, sang one pure note and then dived into the sea.
It took her the better part of an hour before she picked up the ship. The wind had worked well in their favour and the ship was moving at a fair clip. She swam up next to the ship, deep enough that she would not be spotted quickly but she could still make what was going on aboard. There was none of her quarry along the side of the ship. She left the ship and sped ahead to see if she could gauge where they were heading. She gauged from the angle of the ship’s heading and left the vessel behind. It was not long before the water’s temperature and smells began to change. The scent of fish became heavy and soon she was swimming among her fellow sea creatures. They brushed against her as she passed. Then came the scent and signs of men; murkier waters and bits of debris that came from the boats, nets and the others tools that men used to fish with. She surfaced and saw a long curve of land littered with buildings, long wooden piers and ships of various sizes and colors. There were men moving about the piers and calling, talking and laughing with each other as they worked on or alongside their boats. Above all the endless wheel and cry of the seagulls. It was a typical small fishing village getting ready to start their day.
She ducked and swam closer, gagging a little at the taste of the water. The land’s curve was uneven, with the center having the largest outcropping of rock with smaller ones undulating out to the sides until the curve gave way to sheer cliffs of rock and dense foliage. Most of the buildings were to the center which looked like where most of the trading took place. She did a slow swim along the lay of the land noting the increasing sparseness of buildings the further she moved from the center. It looked like the humans built their homes out from the center of their village and that most of the buildings were indeed close to the water with some looking at if they were sitting in the water itself. Salmare smiled. The humans may have made her promise a lot easier to fulfill. However she still had no idea which of these buildings belonged to her quarry. She turned back to the sea but the ship was not yet in sight. She smiled wider and took to the sea. She would give their ship as escort back to port and then she would leave the comfort of her ocean to seek out her prey.
When the ship finally made port there was a chaotic and panicked hustle. She used the chaos to sneak onto land and procure some human clothing. It took her a few secret looks and frustrating tries before she could tie the foul smelling cloths around her. She snagged a floppy hat, pressed it to her head and then made her way on bare feet to the port. The sounds were deafening and the smells were significantly more overpowering than what she had smelled in the sea. She fought the desire to just turn tail and dive back into the familiar waters. She didn’t have long on land before she would have no choice but to return to the sea before she became too weak and would die. She had to push against the gathering crowd in order to see her prey being taken off the boat with the help of many hands. She could smell their particular scents even in the midst of their fellow man. She tried to get closer to see where they would be heading but with so many people pressing around her, she couldn’t get anywhere near them or even hear what was being said above the din of the crowd. She snarled bit to herself and moved away, happy to be free from the touch of the humans but angry that she may lose track of her prey. Just then she heard the high cry of woman behind her. The crowd seemed to part as the woman rushed past her with a small boy in tow. She saw Henry stagger out to meet the woman. They tumbled into each other’s arms and the little boy pressed himself against Henry’s legs. She inhaled sharply with delight. This was Henry’s wife and child that he had sworn to her that he would get back home too. As Henry stooped to pick up his son, members of the family of the crewmen surrounded them. Salmare moved closer to the edge of the crowd to take note of the faces of the family members, inhaling deeply to trying to catch their scents but failing as they moved away, heading deeper into the village. She was about to follow them when someone knocked into her and her hat fell off. She looked to see an old man reaching for her. As their gazes met he pulled back in surprise.
“I don’t know your face,” he said, “And I know pretty much everyone lassie. Who are you?” Salmare didn’t bother to try and lie to him. She turned and ran, stripping away the clothes as she did. She heard the man call out to her and the sound of his footsteps behind her. She finally made it to a part of the pier that was deserted and with one move she dived into the ocean, reveling at the feel of the sea against her bare skin. She surfaced to see the man staring down at her with an open mouth. She smiled at him and began to sing a soft lure. He jerked once as if he had been struck and then he grinned stupidly down at her. She raised her hands to him. He hooted once and jumped into with a huge splash. She laughed and sang for him to come closer to her. He came with stronger strokes that she expected of a man his age and grabbed a hold of her waist. He smiled at her and she saw missing teeth and of those that were there, they were beginning to go black. She smiled back at him and then with one swift motion, changed into her predator form and sank her teeth into his throat. She dove with him, cutting off the wet gurgle that he managed to produce. He was dead in a few minutes and she took his body far out to sea. Now he would not be able to tell anyone that he had seen a strange woman on land and she would be safe to seek her prey out further under the cover of darkness.