MURDERING PRAYING MANTISES
His name was Jason Brody, he remembered as he licked his knife clean of blood. He was a nice kid; friends would call him nice anyway. In retrospect, a bit naïve at times, but he had always made it through. He took pleasure in such compliments back then; it would always put a smile on his face. But alas, he wasn’t nice anymore. That was a pleasure from a long time ago. But still, it was nice thinking about it from time to time.
The natives had given him plenty of names since he had abandoned Jason a long time ago.
Long-Neck was one of their favorites. It was often a testament of his skill at long range. He hated that name. He only sniped a few people in his life, unworthy of such a title and he found little pleasure in killing from long range. It wasn’t personal, you know, intimate like a kill should be. But, his arms had a few of the tattoos from the Heron. Though, they were hardly recognizable through the clutter of black tattoos on his arm. The other two animals had easily taken refuge on his arms, neck, and back in much more large quantities.
The Shark was one of those animals. He had thoroughly enjoyed the healing power of the aquatic predator’s blessing. The blood would ooze down his body like a broken water fountain and he wouldn’t feel a thing. They had called him Blood-Tooth for that reason. Covered in blood, he could take down enemies, unaware of his presence. It was like the entire world was underwater and they were mindless schools of fish to just eat up on whim. But truly, he felt unworthy of such a title. Sharks were large, hulking creatures that could smell blood and attack impatiently. He wasn’t like that. No. He was patient, he waited. He loved it.
That is why he was the Wandering Spider, wasn’t it?
A spider suited him the most. They were small, insignificant. But, they instilled fear. It was amusing really. The smallest thing can be one of the most deadly amongst circumstances. Yes, they had their predators. But, if they used their skills they would never be seen, only felt. Of course, that was his favorite…favorite thing about killing. To never be seen, for the enemy to never know they were ever in danger. Until they looked down or up—whatever afterlife they believed in—and realized they were dead. The looks on some of the men’s faces were priceless. As the Wanderer, he enjoyed that the most, relished it even.
Yet right now, his hunt was over.
The Wanderer sighed, reclining back on the stone stairs, recollecting on those facts. He had been up here for months. 8 to 9 months to be exact. He counted each tropical day. They blended together almost seamlessly under the blazing sun, crashing waves, and sweet smells of the trees. But, he remembered each day with a tally in his cave. This place had become his home, and he loved it here. Occasionally, he would think back to his friends; but, not as much as he thought.
For months, he would cry and cuddle up near a poorly made fire. He would think about Grant, Daisy, Riley… but most of all Liza. Oh how he had lamented that he killed Liza at first. He had to watch her beg and plea. It was miserable. It was slow as tears dripping down her face. She even choked on her words, barely saying that name, Jason, over and over again. He didn’t stop hearing it until she started gurgling blood. He didn’t know what had taken hold of him. Oh, yeah. Yeah, he did. But, he did it anyway. He did for her, he did for Citra.
And then the bitch betrayed him, moments after they had gotten their closest.
He should have died. Citra had left him for dead. She should have known better. The Wanderer looked over his shoulder. Yes, she should have known better. She knew that he could heal quickly. She knew that he had survived explosions, bullets, knives just like that one to various places of his body. Yet, he still lived. He drew heavily from the Shark during those times, but the thoughts of the Spider kept him company. He remembered waking up, thinking he was dead. He touched his chest, felt the unevenness of skin. He remembered thinking about her, thinking about what she carried in her belly.
He hated that thought, but loved the one soon after.
After he got away, crawling to the cave he called home until this day, all he could do is heal and think. Those months started with the regrets of his decisions. He pleaded to the spirits of his friends and family, begging their forgiveness. They scorned him. They had every right to. He couldn’t bring them back. No one could. So he stopped crying, and started vengeance.
He grew better and better during this times. He still possessed the Tatau, and they grew with him. His pale body was nothing more than a canvas now. The black ink was alive. He would kill animals and harvest materials for survival every day until it was muscle memory. No animal alive could defy him on the island. The Wanderer was the shadow king of the island. Nature itself feared him when he walked. But, he wasn’t done; he had to wait roughly eight or so months for his revenge.
And now, he has it.
Wanderer stood up and walked to the stone alter, blood splashing underneath his bare feet. He stared at the corpse underneath his legs. Her hands and feet were pinned down by arrows. He remembered her face when she saw him; her men all dead before she had even realized that he was here. He smiled. Girls always liked a good smile from what he could remember about civil life. But, she didn’t smile back, only stared with those big blue eyes. Citra didn’t expect her warrior to be back. He supposed to have died a hero’s death. But he didn’t want that. She knew what he wanted.
If she didn’t, she knew when he brandished his knife.
He took his time opening her belly. Schooling had taught him a lot about anatomy. He knew where to cut…in theory. He made it painful; yet, he didn’t want her to die too quickly. The cuts were slow. He had slowly peeled away flesh like he was selling her skin. Then the muscles, he moved them aside as she screamed and moaned for life. Oh, he was going to keep her alive. He wanted her to hear at least. Seeing would have been more pleasurable. She had made a statement to let him die slowly before his ‘death’. But, he wasn’t going for a perfect victory. Any old victory would do. He knew though at the first cry of that little baby boy, she heard him and maybe even saw.
And that was the best, the best feeling that he had ever felt. Even now, his body tingled with excitement.
Kneeling down to her now lifeless corpse, Wanderer moved her black hair from her face. Her baby, no his baby now, was sleeping quietly beside her, cleaned up and washed with the best healing herbs. He couldn’t have had a better victory than this. They both knew that this was the best revenge he could have conceived. If she had only tried to let him live, only tried to keep him alive. Then life would have gone on. They could have ruled the island together.
Now, this baby only had his father. The Wandering Spider, formerly Jason Brody, cuddle the small squishy baby in one arm. “I’m going to make a great dad,” he whispered. “You are going to be big and strong, and you will take over protecting this island like Daddy did.” He laughed, looking to Citra. “You should have known better. I’ve killed lizards, crocodile, tigers, sharks…”he cocked his head to the side, “Why would a praying mantis be any different?”
He left the temple with smile on his heavily bearded face. Life was good if you made it to be.