The snow fell all around the stalking hunter. The feathery fat flakes falling lazily between the dark trunks of the gnarled trees made the woods look like a harvest shadow play, reducing the world to shadows on white. The crimson blade, sticky with blood, seemed to be the only colour in the forest.
A sudden sound made the hunter pause. Crouching down he became one with the forest and seemed to disappear, the only remaining sign of his presence his sharp dark eyes, scanning the direction he heard the sound coming from. Slowly, still crouched, he eased himself in the perceived direction, a shadow amongst shadows.
Beyond the edge of the clearing the camp was a wash of smells and sounds and colour in the otherwise silent forest. The falling snow had lulled the guards into complacency and a flask of cheap wine was making its rounds amongst them, a fortification against the cold. The hunter could detect the sour smell before he could lay his eyes on one of the guards. He struck quickly and savagely.
The alarm bleared as it had been for the last few seconds. Groggily the hand hovered over the alarm and plopped down lazily. This time it finally connected with the snooze button. Slowly the hand sneaked back beneath the warm sanctuary of the huddle of blankets. Ten minutes, the alarm resumed again and the whole try and miss exercises started again.
His resolve fatally shattered for the day, Dermut finally crawled from the safety of his bed, his battle with the now silent alarm ultimately lost. His feet touched the cold flooring of the bunkers sleeping quarters. Many of the other soldiers had line their floors with carpets or rugs, but Dermut kept his floors bare. He considered the cold feet in the morning an acceptable trade for the ease with with the surface of the bare floor could be cleaned.
Slowly his senses returned to him, the sensation of the frigid floor helping to pull him into the present. He stretched his body, feeling every muscle snap back into its proper place. Lazily he dressed himself.
The noise interrupted his lazy morning routine. Dermut sighed at its intruding presence. He shuffled to the door from which the noise was emanating. Sighing again he mentally prepared himself to open the portal to the public hallway and his early introduction into the wider world. It was too darn early for all this hubbub. His eyes glances the old squat Bakelite alarm clock that had only just interrupted his blissful dreaming state. The orange LED’s blinking twelve sixteen. Dermut shrugged. It was still too darn early for this hubbub.
The touch pad beeped at his touch and with a familiar low hiss the door slid open. His eyes fell onto the pandemonium of the hallway. The well known faces of familiar soldiers drifted past as he scanned for the source of the noise. It seemed not to be a single pocket though.
Down the corridor a door slid open and screams of anger erupted from it at a slightly higher speed than the three hamsters that shot out of the open door and into the crowding corridor. One of the little critters had something in its mouth. Dermut couldn’t see was it was, some sort of shiny ribbon. The little hamsters were magpiean in their attraction to shiny things. They did seem to have stepped up their little raids in the past few days though. Dermut pondered this as another fellow soldier stumbled past, as white as a sheet. No, not a sheet, as white as flour, evident from the powdery cloud he was emitting each time he moved. All along the corridor dents in the floor were apparent. They seemed to regularly spaced out to be random. Almost as if some one with a large hammer had chased something small. A clip of an old Tom and Jerry cartoon flashed across his memory, like a comet of nostalgia racing across the night’s sky of his still groggy mind.
Slowly the pieces of the tempest swept tableau asserted themselves in a cohesive picture as he started taking in the scope of the turbulence before and on the sides of him. He could not remember having witnessed such a bustle of frantic chaos since…..
Briefly his mind conjured up the connection and flashed back to the event. Remembering he could still hear the shouts of terror and revulsion, the smell of the pipes and the feeling crawling across his spine making him want to step in a shower and never come out again. Most of all there was the memory of the small squeaky voice and it’s sincere but in vain apologies.
He quickly buried those memories. Even at his most wakeful the memory of the smell could make him gag and here he was, still half asleep. This was no way to wake up.
Dermut felt the frustration mount up inside him. Now focused on an avenue of investigation as to the cause of the cacophony that had thrust him into the vibrancy of this world too soon this morning, he took a deep breath and released it in a roar as the name of the target of his hunt (or at least the first stage of it, he thought fatalistically, would be directed.
The hunter stepped into the corridor, the reverberations of his growl still humming through the hallway, the sounds of cacophonous chaos mixing with the low rumbling “Timmy”