Light and Shadows
Legendary Hunter, The Man in Black
Most people fall into the life of a hunter. Sebastian was born into it.
As a boy he grew up in a seemingly normal home with his father and mother. His father would work during the day to provide for the family and spend his nights putting vile monsters to death. Sebastian’s father was a talented hunter – very talented. Success, however, has often been the breeder of carelessness.
One night, Sebastian’s father was followed home by one of the monsters he hunted – a vampire. This creature had been keeping an eye on the unaware family and decided that he had enough of the arrogant hunter’s ways. The vampire broke into Sebastian’s home and murdered his father in front of him. He tortured his mother as tittering laughter danced out from behind is all-too-white teeth. He soon turned to Sebastian, and invited the boy join in the brutality, promising him he could keep his life if he complied. To his everlasting shame, Sebastian did as he was told. After, creature fed ravenously on his mother until she was drained of all life. He left a wide scar on Sebastian’s face that remains to this day – a reminder, the creature had said. As if the boy could ever forget what had transpired that night. Sebastian was ten years old.
The boy made his way through the foster care system and orphanages. He was unable to put his trust in anyone, haunted by the death of his parents and the things he had done. He learned early on that having people you cared about only meant losing them.
When he reached the age of eighteen he began living out on the streets. He worked shitty jobs and lived in shittier apartments. This lifestyle did not suit him, and it was not long before Sebastian turned to pick pocketing oblivious commuters. From there he started running short con-jobs and credit card scams. The money that he had earned usually ended up keeping him saturated in whiskey – preventing him from reliving his childhood nightmare.
Sebastian, if left to his own devices, would have probably lived the rest of his life a bitter and lonely drunk. He would have been content to drink himself to a staggering mess, peeing and puking on himself only to wake the next day and do it all over again. He would have, that is, if his nightmare hadn’t returned to prove that he was all too real.
While on his way home after one of his many drinking binges Sebastian was confronted by his childhood terror. The man he had thought – or rather convinced himself – was only a figment of his imagination seemed to have leaped from his very consciousness and presented himself before him in all of his psychotic glory. The creature tittered laughter behind his all-too-white teeth, and drew a sickly yellow-nailed finger down the side of his face where Sebastian’s scar laid. Sebastian was utterly stunned, unable to make a sound. He turned to run, but his tormentor was fast – too fast, he blocked Sebastian’s path with eerie speed. He had learned how to defend himself on the city streets and tried to land a punch. It connected with nothing but air as the man tittered more laughter. Bitter tears rose in Sebastian’s eyes as this apparition from his childhood toyed with him – bringing all of the pain and unbearable agony bubbling back into his heart. Suddenly the creature shrieked in surprise and pain as an arrow pierced his shoulder. Sebastian turned to see an armed group of five lead by an older man. They descended mercilessly on the monster. Sebastian did the only thing he could think of – he fled.
When he got to his apartment he quickly locked the door behind him and ransacked the place for any booze he could find. Soon there was a knock at the door. Colt found a baseball bat and clutched it tightly; he waited quietly for the man with the all-too-white teeth to break through the door, tittering laughter. The door burst off its hinges, but it was not the monster in the alley that stood before him. It was the aged man who led the group who had saved his life. “Put the weapon away, son. You won’t be needing it.”
The man’s name was Albert Wald, and he was a hunter. He taught Sebastian about the unnatural things that had transpired in his life and assured him that he had not – or rather, was not – losing his mind. There were things in the darkness, and it was up to men like him to put those creatures to death. In many ways, Albert was the first man Colt had trusted since his father. Albert had taught Sebastian every trick he knew about hunting monsters, and Sebastian was both an eager and a fast learner. He was often the point-man for many hunts and was not afraid to stick his neck out. Soon he was known as ‘The Man in Black’ – coined by a hunter named Rob Parker, a country music fan – for the knee-length black coat that he wore on hunts.
We’re doing mighty fine I do suppose
In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there ought to be a man in black.
Colt’s talents grew and so did Albert’s confidence in him. Years had past since he’d found the young man drinking and cowering in his hole-in-the-wall apartment. Albert became pressed with personal business that he refused to discuss, even with Sebastian. He put Sebastian in charge of the hunter cell’s affairs; no one could conceive of anyone better to replace Albert. Albert had written his friends for as long as he could, but his long-time mentor’s departure was a bitter prelude to the end of Sebastian’s hunter cell.
The group continued to fight the darkness that encroached on humanity’s well-being, but the days that would come have grown dim in Sebastian’s mind. The late eighties to mid-nineties remain foggy and unclear, as if he was trying to view and hear these times underwater. Few things are known for certain: Albert’s letters had stopped coming. He had lost his friends; all of his friends. The remaining three hunters had disappeared or died, he can no longer remember why or how. The number of scars he carries has grown. A cut on his chest here, a stab wound there – there is even a quarter-sized region on the top of his skull that is knotted with scar tissue. Sometimes he wonders if his missing years had been slurped out through that hole by some chittering insectile creature.
The hunt gave Sebastian’s life purpose, and without his allies and his memories he found himself returning to old vices. He spends his days drinking, reminiscing, and watching. To hunt alone was suicide. Albert had taught him that. His father’s carelessness had taught him that as well. If you dared to face the howling darkness that was the hunt without others you’d be swallowed whole and forgotten. So Sebastian waits, and he watches. Maybe he wants to find someone else to teach and to train as Albert had taught him all those years ago. Or maybe he’s looking for the final hunt, and to face the one last nightmare to put him out of his misery.
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.