Big Game: Part I
I don’t remember much. I mean, I was just a kid when it started.
You know the agency brought you here so I can help you remember. Let me do my job, okay? Now, try and relax. Clear your mind. There, that is it. Good. Close your eyes and think about the first time. What do you see? What do you hear and smell?
We’ve been over this a thousand times. This is pointless! Ouch! Fine. The first time was-
Is. I need you to be in the moment.
I can’t sleep because mom and dad are fighting. I hear the sound of breaking glass. Mom is screaming. I smell stale beer and dirty ashtrays. Hey, what are you doing?
Do not focus on me. Focus on the memory.
Let’s see. I cover my ears. Mom is crying. The rusty screen door slam shut. She yells, “Fine. Go! We are better off without you!” Dad’s old truck roars to life and I hear the screen door slam again as mom runs after him. “You can’t-” I have to stop. I don’t want to do this anymore.
She yells, “You can’t leave me alone with that child”, and then I hear cans clattering to the ground. She climbs into the truck and they take off. Gravel sprays the trailer and it sounds like bullets.
What does your mother mean?
I don’t know- OUCH! What are you doing?
Well, when I was young I had this problem with sleep walking. Sometimes I would end up in bad places. But, I couldn’t control it. Even when she tied me down, I got out but I don’t remember doing it. I know it scared her.
That memory is not the first time, is it? No. You need to think back farther.
That is the first, I-
You told Conklin about waking up covered in blood. Tell me about that.
Conklin? Why would he-
Tell us about the blood. We need to stay in the moment for this to work.
Tamsin didn’t transfer, did she? You partnered me with Conklin to- Stop that!
Next time we use the shock. Now settle down and think about the night they found you with the blood. Go there in your mind and tell me when you see.
I am young, not sure how old. Maybe 11 or 12. Mom is talking. She just said, “Go get the rope from the truck.” I hear Dad moving around outside. Our neighbor’s dog is barking. Dad comes back in. She opens the door to my bedroom. “Better double it up”, he says. She sits on my bed. “Look girl, I don’t know what is going on with you but you can’t be wandering around at night.”
“I don’t mean to, Momma.”
“Whether you mean to or not don’t much matter, does it? How am I supposed to explain you showing up in ripped clothes all covered in blood? Huh? You know Roy thinks you killed his goats?”
“I didn’t, Momma!”
“Of course you didn’t. Little thing like you couldn’t have done it. But still, they are praying for you. I can tell you that.”
“That was years ago, anyhow. They just don’t have anything better to talk about.”
“Well, maybe if we could tell them how you came to have that blood and fur on you they would let it alone.”
“I don’t remember. Dr. said it was sleep walkin’.”
“Maybe. Listen. Your daddy and me like to go out every once in a while and we can’t do that if I’m spending my time worrying about you getting into a mess. Now, I’m gonna tie you to the bed. Stop that crying, girl. Come on. Don’t fuss or I’ll call your daddy in here.” I want to tell her that he isn’t my daddy and that I don’t want to be tied down, but I just let her do it.
Momma ties me down, leaves, and I hear the T.V. come on. I feel my breath coming on quick so I try to slow it down. My nose itches. I try to scratch it against the pillow but it doesn’t work. I feel heat in my chest. My toes. My head. I feel angry and I don’t want to be tied up. I want to itch my nose and slap Momma. I want my real daddy to-
I don’t know. I don’t remember much after that. I could feel the heat and then nothing makes sense.
I feel like I am flying. But not in the air. Through the woods. I see a tree that doesn’t look like a tree. It is blue and purple. Then I see dots of red and the heat is burning hot. Painfully hot. I need a cool drink. I think I get one. I feel something sliding down my throat and the burning isn’t so bad anymore. Then everything turns black. I don’t remember anything else until I wake up in a field with some dog licking my face. Then, well. You know the rest. You guys came and said I couldn’t live with momma, with mom, anymore. I’ve been here ever since.
Nurse, do we have a lock yet? We do? Good. You are doing excellent. Now relax. Nurse, give me another 5ccs. Okay, we are getting close. You need to reach a little farther. We need to find the very first time. Tell me what you see.
What is that stuff? It feels-
Close your eyes. There you go. That is better. Just relax. What do you see?
I am a little kid. I am wearing a Cinderella nightgown. I slide out of bed because I’m hungry. Momma has been gone for a while and I can’t go to sleep because my belly hurts. I open the fridge but there’s nothing but butter and a few blobs of tinfoil I’m not allowed to open. I think about making a butter sandwich but I can’t find bread. All at once, I’m surrounded by the smell and the taste of this place. It’s sour, bitter, smoky. I can taste the dried, crusty egg from yesterday’s breakfast still stuck on the plate and it is making me want to puke! I get out the bleach. It is really heavy and I spill some on the floor. I use my nightgown to sop it up. I try to pour more into the mop bucket. It is clear and it doesn’t bubble. I’m not sure if it will do the job so I pour in a little bit from all the bottles under the sink. I start to clean the counter top and I can’t reach all the way to the back. Now my skin is stinging a bit. The smell is real strong. Too strong… I just need to get some fresh air! I run outside. Usually I would be afraid to walk out by myself but the moon is so bright. My heart is beating faster. The moon is so big and beautiful. It makes me feel safe. Everything is glowing and I can see the dark green of the tree line. I can see the texture of the bark.
Wait. It is too quite. I can’t hear the cicadas or frogs. I can feel something in the trees. Something I can’t see. No, I can see something. Smoke. A small flash of smoke. Maybe someone smoking a cigarette? I don’t smell cigarette smoke. I smell something sweet and meaty. I smell blood. The puff of not-smoke is real clear now. I hear a grumble and it is making my skin ripple. I should be afraid, but. Oh, I see him. He is big. Real big. He is moving into the light. He is moving so slow, like he doesn’t want me to be afraid. Two more wolves creep out of obscurity and start to flank. I can feel the heat. I start to walk towards him. I know him. He howls and I feel my skin melt away. The world stops being dull. I see all the colors and I feel myself running to him. His fur is wonderful. The puffs of hot air warm my face as he licks my head. The two smaller boys rub against my side. I rub my face on theirs. I howl and then- We are flying.
That is enough, Nurse. Let her come up. You did very good. You can stop now.
Flying. We are-Sorry, what was I saying?
Just the same thing as last time.
Oh. Wish I could help you more.
That is okay. Someday we will recover all your memories. Better to do it a little at a time. You are free to go join your partner. I think he is working in weapons training.
Thank you, Doctor.
Before you go, do you know why you are here?
To become a hunter.
Good. Till next time, then.
Cyndy, get General Krayle on the line.
Hello, General. We retrieved the memory. Yes. No, she doesn’t know. Yes, Sir. I understand your concern, but we have an agent watching her. I am confident he can keep her on task. I cannot say for certain yet, but I believe this memory is strong enough. It is the very first. Yes, if we can synthesis his scent we can get it to our field agents. The girl will track him. No, she cannot know. If she knew he was her father she might become resistant. She is very powerful. The medication is still effective, she is unable to transform. Though we will need to keep modifying the formula. She seems to be developing a- well, a certain amount of insusceptibility. No, the side effects are minimal even at the higher dosage. Yes, that fast we act the better. Well, he will either come back or we will take him out like the other defectors. This time we have leverage. The two boys will fight with their father, but if he knows we have her he will tell them to stand down. Yes, Sir. I will have my agents on it right away. I would like to remind you that it was your boys that ruined our last sample. There was nothing left of him. If they had just waited- No. Yes, but. Yes, Sir. But- I understand. Yes, Sir. She can find him. Yes, I know she will. She is an excellent hunter.