“Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Since the dawn of recorded history there have been those lone souls charged with the impossible task of ridding the world of its monsters. The ultimate soldiers in the fight of good vs evil. We call these warriors, Monster Hunters and without them, the world would be a vile place indeed.
From Appolonius of Tyana, the Greek magician who banished evil sprits, Hercules and his defeat of Hydra, the snake-headed beast, and the legendary Beowulf and Grendel. From the Victorian era classics such as Van Helsing to the mod squad hunters like Buffy, the Frog Brothers, Hellboy, Blade, the Watchmen, and of course Sam and Dean Winchester.
And one can’t forget the original video game ghosthunter, PAC Man.
There is one unifying aspect to monster hunters which contributes to their success. Each has a dark past or inner darkness that often helps them identify with the creatures they hunt. It is this underlying struggle that makes them killer at their thankless, mostly anonymous jobs. Monster hunters go beyond knights in shining armor, these hunters are gritty, raw and that’s why we can’t help but love them.
Even the Most-Wanted Monsters crew, four young monster hunters in training, is in danger of falling prey to their inner demons. Take Hope, for instance, her survivor’s guilt might just push her to the dark side:
OLD QUEBEC CITY. PRESENT DAY.
But here, amid the street performers with their elaborate costumes and awkward acrobatic tricks, she felt almost normal.
The candlelit lanes teemed with frenzied adults enacting a medieval fantasy. Their urbane suits, peacock dresses, and sunshine blonde wigs stood out against the gothic Old Quebec architecture. The city’s historic district at the edge of the Saint Laurence River, with buildings dating back to the 1500s, was a mélange of stone and spire, winding streets, cafes and boutiques. The perfect backdrop for the fall Festival.
Where thousands of souls gathered -- the living and the dead.
Festival kicked off with a Danse Macabre—a grandiose parade to launch the annual celebration where for thirteen nights the old city square was blocked off from cars and other modern conveyances. Thirteen nights to invoke the spirits.
Hope drew in a slow breath. She’d known as soon as she left the modern part of the city and travelled the cobblestone streets of Lower Town that she’d be entering the heart of the beast. Spirits abounded in this region, Festival or not; however, this night attracted more than the usual monsters.
So where were all the zombies?
Hope scoured the night for the flesh-eating ghouls she’d tracked here. With every red flash of undead eyes, her skin prickled in unease. Hundreds of them lay in wait – in the shadows of dark alleys, or behind the massive trunks of elm trees.
How could she confront them alone?
How could she not?
She pulled her hood over her head to deflect the curious stares of the drunk and disorderly, and those oblivious to the creatures amongst them, the dangers lurking in every corner. Being on the outside, walking on the fringe, this was how she lived her life. As a child she’d questioned and tested her parents. Why couldn’t she take dance lessons? Learn to play the piano? Why must she train for hours in gyms and dojos? Her dances were ones of death, the repetitive patterns of the kata where she visualized enemy attacks.
She wielded words, crossbows, even shot guns, if necessary.
But she was untried. She’d never made a kill -- had never really believed she’d have to. Yet here she was, seeking out monsters, attempting the impossible. She’d made a promise she intended to keep. The fate of her mother’s soul depended on it.
If you liked this excerpt of Hope’s story, you’ll want to keep your eye out for information on our first Most-Wanted Monsters fiction tale: Killer’s Instinct.