The first time I saw the girl in the woods, I thought she was alone. She had dropped from a tree, swift and graceful, like a cat. She wore a backpack that was blue and green and always tightly strapped high up on her back. I watched her dart through the woods, she was fast. She ran low through the woods, pausing, not to catch her breath but, to look around. She was careful. Initially I followed her out of sheer curiosity and fascination; I follow lots of people. But this girl was different. I’ve never seen someone move with such precision and elegance. The fact that she was beautiful with sleek black hair and long legs, was just an added bonus. The little boy’s appearance was noticeably different. He had curly brown hair tied in a ponytail and his skin reminded me of pennies from the old world. He couldn’t possibly be older than five.
Today is the third day of trailing them. I found the cabin a few weeks ago, the three men who occupy it look like they could be brothers. They spend most of their time drinking whiskey and playing card games. I studied the men in the cabin for about a week but not nearly as intently as I studied the girl. The way she moved and the way she cared for the boy was intriguing to all my senses. The woods surrounding the cabin were extremely thick and with the amount of fog covering this day, I understand how the girl failed to notice it before the men noticed her.
She sent the boy scurrying up a tree then darted through the woods towards the far side of the house. Instantly I knew she made a bad decision. These men were not the type to welcome a little colored boy and Asian woman with kindness.
Swiftly, silently, I slipped my arm into the loose strap of my backpack and snapped the front clip; I won’t risk lose my precious cargo. I made my way closer not sure what I would do to help, just knowing I had to do something. The heaviest of the men shirtless in overalls is the one who caught her. He jumped out in front of her, grabbed her and the two of them fell landing with a thud that I’m sure took both of their breaths away. The girl fought back aggressively kicking her legs and if it hadn’t been for the other guys catching up, she probably would have gotten away.
The men taunted her and laughed at her as they held her captive. As the men began crowding around her, instinct moved my hands to reach for my bow and without having to look I laced the string. I prefer to fight hand to hand in effort to preserve life, but this situation had just become dire. The threats must be neutralized. Deep breath, I took aim, calm, steady.
The men had taken the girls backpack and tossed it aside, now their hands ripped her shirt and groped her breast.
“No! No! Please No! No!” The pleas of the girl were smirked and laughed at. Calm. Steady. I stilled my bow arm while visualizing my arrow hitting the potbelly man who was undoing his pants. Everything else seemingly dissolved from my view except the potbelly man’s neck which was my target. Calm. Steady. I exhaled and my arrow flew piercing straight through the man’s neck. A perfect shot. There was a moment of confusion as the men and the girl tried to process the potbelly man falling down dead in front of them. I reloaded and rapidly fired the next few arrows as I had been trained. Within sixty seconds all three men had been neutralized. Every arrow I released found its target perfectly, as usual.
The five-star general who is my father began combat training me and teaching me the art of hunting at the ripe young age of three, so even though I’m just twenty-two, my arrows rarely miss. I put my bow away and fixed my eyes on the girl who was ducking behind the largest of the dead men. She looks frantic, but also calculating. Her head darted side to side as she searched the woods. She probably doesn’t know where I am. I held position and waited to judge her reaction.
She darted to her left, grabbed her backpack from the ground, and took off running in the opposite direction of not only me but the tree where she sent the boy. She’s smart and handled this horrid situation incredibly well. I certainly won’t lose her now. I bet she doesn’t know I know about the boy and I’m absolutely positive she won’t leave him. She is probably waiting for me to leave before going back to get him. I think it will be easiest to talk to her if I simply out-wait her. I walked over to the tree where the boy was hiding and sat down. I broke a tree branch and peeled off the leaves. Then, I took out my boot knife, got comfortable, and began sharpening it into an arrow. I’m not sure how long it would take the girl to come back, I just know she will.