A few more hours to sunset in the outer ring of a dense forest, no prey came out of the cave all day.
The young lad kept rubbing the axe against the stick, with each flick the edge of the arrow kept getting sharper, no chance he could afford to miss this one. This one was thinner, lighter than the one leaning over his back. He needs two more of such sticks for better chances of a hit, if not for survival. If he misses with the two, then he would become the prey.
More time passed the prey still inside, his stomach rumbled and his eyebrows narrowed.
Did it come out anytime while he was asleep? Is he waiting outside an empty cave?
He carefully scanned the sand around the cave for foot marks. There was no wind today so no chance the winds could have protected its daughter. In fact, right then, the first breeze of the day blew. The grass fields outside the cave rustled and welcomed the calming breeze.
The young lad kept sharpening the arrow; he didn’t want to take a chance this time. He had seen his own father die right in front of him; killed only because the point broke whilst piercing the prey. The points of the prey’s claws wouldn’t be blunt; mercilessly he saw his father’s face get shredded. With each scratch; skin, muscles, eyes and, at last, the skull flew in different directions. Lad’s mother fainted on the spot. Lad saw the prey drag her into the cave.
This was two weeks ago. The lad spent a week searching for the right stone. It has to be long and sharp; the lad cut the lower edges to make a good handle. He used it to cut through the leaves and find the perfect three sticks, should be long and strong. He found the right ones to sharpen. He ate the remaining fruits gathered near the tree by his mother. The last of the fruits devoured and one more night to go before he starts waiting outside the cave.
He listens intently, eyes fixed at the entrance like in a trance. He waits.
His father claimed that no man he knew had dared be in her path. She was the daughter of the winds, he said. She chased and pounced on a deer before his sight could fix, the father said.
The daughter of the winds should come out and face the son of the man, the lad thought. The daughter killed his father and stole his mother.
The lad’s eyes gently went up to look at the sky, the sun will vanish any moment now, and the prey will see well than him, once that happens. The lad’s eyes shifted to a tree branch next to him, and he realized how weak he suddenly was. The daughter was sitting on top of a branch, her tail swinging like a pendulum; she must have been watching him for quite a while.
The young lad looked down and smiled; papa, I am coming. He picked up his bow and the first arrow and looked up again. She was not there anymore. He looked around and saw her eyes sparkling behind the bush. She gently came out wagging her tail. He stood steady, arched his back and pulled the string, arrow in place. The daughter vanished.
The next thing he knew was that he was on the ground, gasping for breath. The bow had snapped to two pieces. He looked behind from where he lay to gather some sense of what had happened. He took a deep breath and realized that she had knocked the wind out of him with her pounce. She started circling him with claws out, gentle hiss to make sure that his fur is stretched out, blood pumping fast in his heart. She wanted to waste no time on this one. She went for his neck, like how she had done with his father.
The boy grabbed the broken end of the bow and held out the sharpened end in front of her. Next thing he knew he was pushed back a couple of paces, with the impact she made when her chest pierced the bow.
She was still not out. Her first scratch cut his deltoid muscles. He was on his feet by then, picked up the stone and gave it all to her head with his heart. The stone pierced the neck, cracked the bow and went through to the ground. The daughter’s head rolled on the sand.
He was shivering, tears rolling down his eyes. A thunder should have struck by now, but instead, it was just the slow breeze. The first man in history to hunt a female cheetah. But, history had just begun for mankind.
Two cubs came out of the cave. They purred as they approached their mother. They kept sniffing her purring. The lad didn’t want to look any longer. He walked away to the sunset. Tears rolling he walked.
Author Notes: A bright red carpet for the most honest comments.