The Hunter- Creative Response
AN- This was a piece written for my year 11 literature class so if it makes no sense fair warning!
Once again the little plane shakes as it crosses the ocean rift that separates Tasmania from the mainland. This time the man keeps his eyes open, staring out the window at the sea that for a split second seems move closer. Then the movement stills and the pilot delivers the expected apology. Across the aisle a greying businessman curses under his breath. M ignores him, watching the island grow larger.
The tiny airport has retained its lonely feel, there are only ten people gathered for the return flight, and M guesses that this already small community has shrunk. The baggage handlers are slow and M begins to feel the beginnings of frustration before firmly reminding himself that patience is the key to success. For some however the wait is too much and the businessman begins grumbling again, M continues to ignore him.
The trolley arrives and M seizes the large hiking pack, swinging it easily onto his shoulder. Then he has gone, picking up a small, battered jeep from the car park before heading out onto the main road and turning away from civilisation.
Mindlessly M follows the road, drifting, as he always does when driving, into thought. As he drives, quickly leaving bitumen for dirt and open fields for forests, he recalls his previous visit to what he has come to see as a forsaken island. He remembers the drive in, the daydreams of family and a home life, of breakfast in bed and love. He remembers how nervous he had felt.
And over something as small as a bar of chocolate.
Again he felt his mind take things too far and caught himself, concentrating on his task. After half an hour more driving the terrain became unfamiliar and he consulted his map, his aim was to reach the next remote town before sunset. It was the largest he was going to encounter on his long drive and he needed the supplies that it could provide.
He put aside the map and drove on but as he did so a question popped into his head. How should he introduce himself? He had no need to create an alias; he had quit the corporation and was now a free man.
This thought puzzled M, but he allowed it continue because a resolution was necessary. Frowning slightly he thought about it, why shouldn't he use his name? His real name, only his real christian name though, the corporation would still be looking for him and he didn't want to make it too easy for them. Yes he decided I will use my name but not my surname, after all, he had flown into the tiny airport because the corporation would be less likely to be monitoring it; at least that was what he told himself.
As the sun was beginning to set he arrived at his destination for the night, the drive had taken longer than anticipated and the shops had already shut. M shrugged, patience was virtue as always. He parked the Jeep and heaved his pack out before heading to the small motel.
He had had his fill of pub rooms, they were far to public, and the locals always gossiped. The motel was quieter, with far more privacy, it may cost more but M no longer had any concern about money. It wasn't as if he was going to need it in the not so distant future.
Entering the motel reception M looked around, the place smelt of disinfectant and air freshener and the walls were covered in tattered posters of wildlife information and local attractions above M a fan whirled, making an irritating clicking sound. A new noise startled him out of his examination and he stepped towards the counter, where a rather large woman with a kind face had appeared.
"A room for the night, if you have one," M asked politely.
"For sure we do. Would you like breakfast in the morning?"
M nodded, "that would be nice. And I was wondering if the restaurant is open, I don't feel like going far."
The woman smiled, "the restaurant is open, and will be until nine, breakfast is served from seven- thirty to ten and checkout is at ten- thirty."
M smiled in return, "sounds nice, how much for the night?"
"That'll be one-seventy-five, and I need your name and postcode."
M froze for a second then nodded, pulling out a wad of cash and counting out the required amount, "here you are, it's Mark. Mark Hunter. Postcode 2013."
Handing over the cash he noticed that the woman was staring at the remaining money and quickly tucked it away.
"Thankyou Mr. Hunter, here's your room key. I hope you enjoy your stay."
Mark nodded, took his key and proceeded to his room without a backwards glance.
Once inside he shut the door behind him and sank onto the bed.
He had told someone his name. For the first time in years he had told someone part of the truth about himself.
Raising his bed he was confronted by the painting that hung in front of him. It was the tiger, strong in all her glory she stood before him. Mark stood quickly and entered the bathroom, grabbing a towel he returned to the painting and covered it. It was those memories he was trying to avoid.
The next morning he left the motel after a very quick breakfast then visited the shops, stocking up on basic survival equipment and food before loading the Jeep and heading back into the wilderness. The next three days of driving passed in a blur, he takes it easy, he has no schedule and decides to enjoy himself. Each night he sleeps rough, taking shelter in the Jeep if the weather worsens.
Finally he reaches his destination and stops, unloading the Jeep and carefully rearranging his pack. He makes a quick call and then places his phone in the Jeep, leaving the keys in the ignition. He knows it will be taken care of. He then turns and takes in the view before him. He has reached true wilderness, the road suddenly stops and the forest takes over. Mark smiled the first true smile he had shown in years. This was where he belonged, he was a man of the wild, and while he didn't have a job to do he could simply enjoy himself. Still smiling he looked up at the mountains above him and set off into the wilderness of the Southwest National Park.
After several hundred metres Mark looked back; the road and his Jeep have disappeared into the undergrowth and he suddenly realises the enormity of what he is doing. He is abandoning his world for the wild. Giving up his humanity to live as a hermit, a thought appears at this and he laughs quietly, seeing himself in twenty years- if he manages to survive that long- a strong man, face weather-beaten with tangled hair and beard.
Wait, he couldn't live with long hair.
He would keep it at a reasonable length, his beard too.
He amended his mental image and searched it again; he held his gun loosely in one hand. Again he disagreed, yes he had his gun with him but what good would it do? He had bullets yes, but not enough to last twenty years. He thought over weapons he could make and use and decided on a sling- he could easily make one and they were easy to carry, with no shortage of ammunition. He nodded and the change was made, giving himself a mental note- make and practice with sling well before he ran out of bullets.
Still walking he continued to survey his future self in his mind's eye. He no longer wore shoes which made sense; his clothes had in part been replaced with skins. He smiled at the thought of sewing himself clothes and kept looking. Some things were familiar; his knife was still in its place, as was his compass. He still wore his pack but it had been patched like his clothes with animal fur. All in all, it was him, the same strong jaw, the same determined eyes he saw every time he looked in a mirror.
Leaving the image behind Mark pressed on, he stopped regularly to drink and check his bearings, even to admire the glorious landscape; but never to look at the past. That was what he was leaving behind, maybe one day he would review his life, but not today. Today was for new beginnings and for the first time in years, Mark felt happy, really happy, to be alive.