The Hunter – Mickey Collins

A new job, a new journal. If found please bring this journal to the police, for it means I have been killed by less than normal means.

Through my sources, I heard there were some missing people in a small town. People no one would care about in a dead-end town no one pays any attention to. No one except for people like me. That’s how monsters get away with things; they hunt where no one thinks anyone would pay attention. I pay attention.

The town is smaller than I’d thought, but big enough to hide any number of foul creatures here.

I must be careful who I say what to. Word gets around quickly when someone sticks out. I need a drink.

That’s where I saw her, dancing, singing in the bar for a couple of locals. We made eye contact. My scars itched. I’d been taken in by girls before, both normal and not. The normal ones were always crazier, at least with monsters you know what they want from you.

While she sang, I tried making nice with the bar flies. All I got were glazed-over looks. Even the bartender was clammed up.

I drank to pass the time until she finished singing. She came up to me afterwards, I have that power. I always attract danger, and women.

I guess I stared a little longer than I meant to, on account of the drink. “Can I help you?” she asked. She noticed my looks.

“I just wanted to tell you, you sounded really good.” I smiled at her.

“Thank you. The name’s Layla, by the way.” Her voice was singsong even off the stage. She offered her hand and I noticed a lack of claws. A good start.

I introduced myself and offered to get her a drink. She accepted, of course.

We talked for a bit. She wasn’t much of a talker, which in my experience meant she only wanted one thing. I asked her back to my hotel room.

I’m a great judge of character. Scars aside, I’ve been at this occupation a long time and haven’t been killed yet.

I’m a little surprised to find her in my bed this morning as I write up last night’s events. The hangover isn’t a surprise and makes it a little hard to remember everything. But I do feel happy. Something I haven’t been feeling in a long time on the road. My head itches a bit. Mosquito probably got in last night and feasted on me. Damn parasites. She’s waking up now.

I offered her breakfast, but she said she had to go. I wasn’t feeling hungry either, I admitted. But she couldn’t even stay for coffee. I supposed I had better follow up on some leads, try and find the missing persons’ next of kins. No luck. They were all loners.

As I sit in this diner, I can’t stop smiling as I think of her. Even while I went around asking questions of the townsfolk, I had to stifle myself. My mind isn’t on food or the missing guys anymore. It’s just her.

I should go back to the bar. It isn’t just a coincidence that most of the folk had been drunks, hung out at the bar most of the time. But maybe I’d see her again. I sure hoped so.

Signs seem to point to the bartender. Quiet, serving up drinks. Wondering if he maybe spiked my drink, why I’m feeling so good, why I’m wanting to go back… Or is it the girl?

The bartender still didn’t say much when I started to pry. Just that some regulars haven’t been seen in weeks. No real problem, except for their drink tabs. If it weren’t for me trying to stay incognito, I’d think about taking him outside and getting him to talk. She’d be impressed. But I can’t draw any attention. She’s up on stage singing again. Instead I offer to pay off the drunks’ tabs. That lightens his mood, and my wallet considerably.

“Did you notice anyone unusual hanging around them before they left?”

“No, not really.”

“Did they know each other?”

“Outside of the bar? No, I don’t think so.”

“Any weird behavior?”

“Apart from their normal drunk rants, one of them started acting especially crazy the day I last saw him. He was convinced that I was poisoning him. I let him go for a while, he wasn’t hurting anyone, but then he started going after Layla. Said she was the enemy or something. I kicked him out after that and I haven’t seen him since. That was maybe two weeks ago. He was a regular before that, but I’m not offended if he found another sucker to listen to his problems. Especially with how he left.”

Layla was finished with her set, as I finished up with the bartender. There was something about her, something my gut was telling me to look closer into.

“Last night was fun.” Or maybe it was just my dumb old heart pulling me toward her.

“Yeah, you seemed to have a good time,” she cooed back at me.

“Did you want to do it again sometime? Maybe, oh I don’t know, 20 minutes?” I needed to have her again. It was a thirst I couldn’t control.

She laughed. “You come on strong, don’t you?”

“You should know.” I laughed.

She seemed reserved, then suddenly she reversed. “Ya know what, why not?”

It actually took me by surprise. I had a string of questions for her as we walked back to my hotel, but she danced around all of them like she did on stage.

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. Layla and I have been seeing more and more of each other. Except tonight. She said she had something else to do, but that was fine by me. It’s supposed to be a full moon tonight, a time when the supernatural is more active, so I wouldn’t want her to be out anyways, even if she was protected by me I wouldn’t want to be responsible for another one.

I decided to take the night off, from Layla, and focus back on the case, if there even is a case. Since I’ve been in town, there haven’t been any more attacks reported. Perhaps the creature took one look at me and fled for the next town. I wouldn’t blame him.

I patrol the town anyways. It’s awfully quiet and awfully dark, pitch black except for the moonlight in some places. I keep looking over my shoulder. I naturally find my way to the bar, even though Layla isn’t performing tonight, I promised her I would stay away, so I keep walking by.

I can’t keep my promise to leave her alone like she asked. Especially when it’s a full moon night. The shadows seem alive tonight. I call her, but she doesn’t pick up. I would go over to her place if I knew where she lived, but we always ended up in my hotel room. I tried calling a few more times. I’ve left a couple of messages, and a dozen texts. I need to see her.

I was finally able to get ahold of her. She told me she had a friend in town last night, which is why she wanted her privacy. Who is this friend? More important than me?

I love her.

She keeps giving me the brush off. Brushing me off? I’m tired. Feeling tired more and more. It must be this sleepy little town. Nothing’s been going on for weeks. But there’s something here. I know it. I should move on but I can’t. I asked Layla to leave with me. She says she can’t.

Another Layla-less night. I’m at the bar despite her…her…whatever. She’s not here.

In the alleyway next to the bar I heard a trash can get knocked over. In the dark I could see a drunkard, no two drunkards, stumbling. I decided not to get involved and continue down the road.

And then I heard a scream. And Layla’s voice? By the time I was back in the alley, the drunks were gone. I couldn’t shake the feeling I heard Layla in the alley, but maybe I heard her voice coming from inside the bar?

Layla’s banging on the door. My hotel door. I saw her in the alley with another man, but she was attacking him. Through the door she’s saying it was self-defense. That he was getting handsy with her after her performance.

But I was in the bar. She wasn’t there. He was screaming. Why was he screaming?

She’s a monster. Why didn’t I see this coming? The paranoia, psychotic episodes, the headaches. I always fall for them.

If this is my last journal entry, then so be it. At least I’ll go out swinging.

 

 

 

MICKEY: Mickey writes words, sometimes wrong words but he tries to get it write.

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