The Last Hunt

Chapter 8

 Facing me was a gigantic wall, perhaps fifty feet high. I had no idea what purpose it played, but it must have been there for centuries judging from the old and gnarled vines clinging to its wall. The wall seemed to have been made from gigantic trees, cut down and then lashed together. I laughed out loud. My feverish mind went back to an old movie I had seen concerning an oversized ape that lived on the other side of the wall and which terrorized the natives from time to time and to whom the natives always offered a young virgin for sacrifice. Then I put two and two together: the map, the name Skull Island, this wall and that old movie. I was really losing it, I thought. Could it be that Bryan knew about this and that he was re-living the legend?

It did not seem possible. At that moment all suppositions went by the board. From far away I heard that sound from hell again. The pets were back.

I did not hesitate. I grabbed a vine and began to climb, quickly and without any plans. My only idea was to get on the other side of that wall. I did not think of anything else as I went hand over hand to the top. The barking became louder and louder as the brutes picked up my scent. I did not stop to rest. My breathing became more and more labored and strained. I was ten feet from the top when a voice broke through my exertions.

“Give it up, lady. You have no chance at all. I could be tempted to change my plans if you come down. After all it’s been a long time since I have had the pleasure of a woman’s company.”

Those words energized me like none ever did before. I heard a shot and felt the sting of the bullet as it creased my cheek. I redoubled my effort and kicked myself up with my legs. I reached the top but the madman’s second bullet reached me as he fired again. I felt it hit my shoulder as I flipped myself over the top and fell headlong into the fog that obscured the other side of the wall.

I fell through an endless string of vines and branches that fortunately slowed my descent. I hit solid ground and lay dazed for an eternity. I had no broken bones, so I got up and moved to the right parallel to the wall. I was safe for the time being. So, I planned my next move, which would be the location of a boat. But I stopped suddenly. A feeling of anger overtook me and I screamed aloud ”It’s my time now. Let’s even the score.”

I heard that voice again, chuckling. I knew I was on solid ground. I actually ran until I neared the end of the wall. I turned it and walked along the beach. Then I saw it—the house, not the boat. There was no one around, so I went in and made myself at home.”

“Marlowe here again. The lady smiled a genuine smile this time and took a deep breath. She drank her coffee slowly. She was obviously relishing telling us the end of the story. We all waited patiently.”

“I was at the dining hall table when Marko walked in. I will never forget the shock that went through him when he saw me sitting there quietly and seemingly without any fear. He still had his rifle, but it was pointing down.

“Congratulations, dear lady. You completely fooled me. It looks like the proverbial Mexican standoff. What do you suggest we do about it?’

“You still have the edge with that big cannon of yours. So, we should even the odds.”

I brought my right hand up and pointed the revolver at his heart.

We both said nothing for a long time. A fatalistic smile creased his face. I detected a sad look on his face as he said, “You have the pistol aimed at my least vulnerable spot. I lost all feelings for humanity a long time ago. One of us will dine alone this evening.”

He raised his rifle. We shot at the same time. I had a most wonderful dinner.”

“We waited for the end of the story. It never came. The beautiful lady excused herself and left the table. I was the first one to react. I went after her.

“What happened after. We know you survived but how did you get off the island?”

 She smiled a tender, wistful, gentle and lonely smile. She murmured, “That’s another story. Goodnight.” She turned and walked away.

I went down to breakfast very early the next morning. The lady was not there. In a way, that did not surprise me. I inquired of the desk clerk.

He replied, “She checked out at five this morning.”

Some time passed. Then one day I saw a series of articles and photos in the N.Y. Times. It concerned an expedition to some unknown island led by a famous photographer. Then her identity hit me. The headlines read: “The Last Hunt.”

I hoped that the lady had finally gotten rid of her demons. I never heard of her again. R.I.P. lovely lady.”

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