Chapter 1: Ryder

Carissa Brill, Staff Writer

Not everyone gets to start their day getting their face mauled off by a demonic spirit creature. With my luck, I get to have this life-changing experience before I’ve even eaten breakfast (It’s sitting on the counter in my kitchen right now). Lucky me. As a bounty hunter, or rather a bounty hunter wanna-be, I track the Spirited Ones, otherwise known as demonic spirits that can take the form of a human or beast. This often means that I’m on the run and trying not to be hunted myself. I often find myself hanging upside down from a vine trap or getting my face mauled off like this wonderful October morning. It’s a very rough job, and I have yet to make my first official kill, but I have my reasons for continuing to try, and nothing is going to stop me from accomplishing my mission of becoming the world’s greatest bounty hunter. Including this stupid beast that decided to crash through my wall to interrupt my usual morning routine. 

Glass shatters and wood chunks fly through the air like sharp razor blades, and I have just enough time to duck behind a wall to shield myself from most of the spray. The beast roars barreling around the corner, regaining my temporarily diverted attention before pouncing towards me. I barely manage to dodge out of its claw’s reach only to trip over the coffee table. Pain shoots through my side, and I curse as my ankle throbs in pain. I can barely stand without wanting to crumple into a ball of pain. The creature takes its opening and turns to pounce again. A rush of air knocked me flat on my back, and I barely had time to brace myself before it was on top of me. I draw my hunting knife and try to swipe at it. In hindsight, it was a pathetic attempt to save my life considering this is a close to 200-pound monstrosity.  It simply growls and knocks it out of my grasp, without so much as even having the courtesy to flinch. I twisted out from underneath it while it was in the air and proceeded to knee it in the gut hoping to catch it by surprise. If this were an action novel or a fairytale, this would be the part where I manage a powerful knee to the gut and reach for the dropped knife and stab it in the gut. It would then howl in pain and turn into a puddle of shame and misery. Sadly, I am no hero and this is no fairytale story, so instead, I missed and I fell forward for the second time this morning. No surprise there. I never believed in fairy tales anyways; I just wish for once that I could be surprised by my luck. Then of course, because I make a stupid wish to be surprised, the beast decides to hack up a spitball. The slimy goop splats and then slides down my face and shirt. I’m sure fate is having a good laugh right now. 

The beast roars with pure rage in its eyes, and its form burns a bright red. Not a good sign. If anything, it means certain death for me. I cower in a very heroic way, praying for a miracle. If any of my stupid prayers have ever been heard, I hope it’s this one. I want to live. I will survive this. I push myself up from the ground and boldly stare it in the face. It seems to study me. Searching my face for something, though I’m not sure what. It’s said that they can stare into your soul, but I’m not entirely sure that I believe that. Then again, you learn to believe in a lot of things that you aren’t used to when you’re dealing with monsters. After a few minutes of a stare-down, I’m beginning to wonder why it hasn’t attacked me yet, or better yet, why I haven’t attacked it yet. It was clearly angry, and I was clearly a threat (or so I thought), so what was stopping it?  I shift on my feet, feeling sore from just standing there. It shakes its head and turns away bounding out the window it shattered earlier.

 I blink, confusion clouding my thoughts. Why did it just turn and run? Did it just decide that I was so pathetic I wasn’t even worth devouring? Or was it going back for reinforcements? I decided that it wasn’t worth questioning, so I just started packing. I rushed into my bedroom and grabbed my duffle bag, I stuffed a few shirts, pants, and other necessities in it and zipped it up. I went up to my kitchen, rummaging through my pantry and refrigerator, grabbing anything that could be eaten after a week outside and bottles of water. Running into my bathroom, I grabbed my first aid and burn kit. I decided to also risk a quick shower while I was there. Once I get out, I quickly dress in traditional camo and slap on some basic bounty hunter weapons that one should never leave the house without, finally strapping on a pair of hiking boots. It was time to find a new home. I’ve moved so many times before that it would probably be more beneficial to stay in a hotel or something, but with the inheritance that I got from my father, I have no qualms about using it. I doubt I could ever run through that amount of cash. Not that I’m trying, I just don’t have many concerns; I have more pressing concerns to worry about right now, like staying alive. I reach for my breakfast which ironically was left untouched on its plate. I take a bite out of my toast and set out, leaving through the now gaping hole in the wall as if it were my front door. I sigh, Today is gonna be a great day.