Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Microstory 1772: Archer

I survived, against all odds. A group of men abducted me, and held me captive in a barn. Once they were ready, they released me into the woods, and told me that they would give me a five-minute head start. They expected me to run as far as I could, but I circled back, and stole one of their vehicles. When I look back on that moment, I’m filled with regret at how disappointing and anticlimactic that ordeal was. That was my chance; my chance to see what it feels like to take a life. I wouldn’t have gotten in any trouble for it, and any of them would have deserved it. I only ran, because some idiot left the key in the ignition, and didn’t give me a choice. Had I tried to fight back at that point, it would have looked suspicious. If I had just gone for it, and ended up not liking it, at least I would have known the truth. As it stands, I feel like I don’t know who I am. Am I a killer? Am I no better than those rich bastards who liked to hunt the most dangerous game? I try to move on with my life, but these questions nag at me, and refuse to relent. I wake up one day, and find myself on autopilot. No hope to stop myself, I drive to the prison to visit the ringleader. He acts like he saw this coming. Does he see something in me that no one else does? I ask him why he did it, and what turned him into the kind of person he is. Since I’m not a lawyer, this conversation isn’t privileged, so I have to worry about them listening in. I frame my interrogation like a victim who is trying to get some closure and move past it. I get the sense that he understands why I’m really here, and he frames his responses to help me work through my existential crisis. When the hunt began, someone flung an arrow at my feet, and nearly struck me. As it turns out, this is the guy who did that. He wanted me to know that he had my life in his hands. The arrow, according to him, is the purest weapon history ever came up with. I don’t know what that means, but my attention shifts to it, and I know that I have to find out.

I start learning archery on my own. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m into, so I build a range in my basement all by myself, and let internet videos teach me the basics. From there, it’s just a matter of practicing. I breathe archery, and dream about it. It consumes my whole being, and before I know it, I’m an expert marksman. I keep wondering if I’ll get tired of it, or if I’ll eventually stop feeling the need to continue, but that day never comes. I have to do more. I have to know how far that arrow flies. I feel like a junkie, chasing after something I’ll never get. The difference is that I think I can get it. I think all I need is some better targets. Out of the dozen people who tried to kill me two years ago, one of them got an easy sentence. He cooperated with law enforcement, and basically sealed all the others’ fates. He was apparently new to the crew, so he hadn’t killed anyone yet. He’s the only one not still in prison, so I decide he’ll be my first. I can’t tell you how good it feels when I watch that arrowhead sink into his kidney. It’s like witnessing a miracle; I’m euphoric. The high doesn’t last, and I must find another. Vigilante is not the word I can use for myself, though that would be a fantastic excuse. The truth is that my experience screwed me up more than I realized at first, and I have become obsessed with understanding why those people did what they did. After killing a few random criminals here and there, I determine that I’ve been sloppy and unorganized. If I want to hold onto this feeling, I have to become something new. I form my own crew, but we don’t go after normal people. We go after the rich.

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