Falling… falling… falling…
I plummeted down millions of miles through clouds and ice. Dropping at the speed of light. Fighting for air. Gasping, my diaphragm crushed. Trillions of particles penetrated my flesh, like stings from the celestial scorpion I’ve fled from over millennia.
Falling… falling through space…
Four hundred and fifty light years. In seconds.
Falling to… Planet Earth… where I was born…
The atmosphere burned my skin. I screamed. I plunged down. The blue-green-brown paradise I was expelled from hurtled towards me.
With a force of a hundred tsunami, I hit water. A gigantic fountain erupted skyward as I plunged deep, deep. Drowning. Fighting. I surged to the surface with superhuman strength. I heaved into my vast, frozen lungs the wondrous warm air of Earth.
Hauling my weapons, I walked on the water. Well, waded through it, more like. Another supernatural ability gifted to me. Blood poured from the gaping scar where my head was pierced by the arrow of my beloved Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. Seemed like yesterday when I felt it shatter my brain as I swam frantically out to sea, escaping the gigantic scorpion she called down to sting me to death. When I said I would hunt down all the animals on Earth. And after I made love to her. She and many said, forced myself on her. Whatever version you have been told or believe, she killed me.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Orion, the great hunter. The handsomest man ever born. Or so my legend went down through the ages. You know me more as a constellation than as a man. From the perfect celestial geometry of the three stars on my belt. A landmark in the cosmos.
My afterlife was far better known and exulted than my tawdry life. What you saw of me was a vast stellar hunter etched in the heavens, captivating stargazers, sailors and astronomers through the generations since the time I lived, loved, and hunted in Ancient Greece.
How did I get there, you may ask? As punishment. By Zeus, kind of the gods. Don’t let anyone tell you it was a reward of immortality. It wasn’t. If I weren’t in Hades, I’d say it was sheer hell.
I struggled onto the shore. I was violently sick. Lying on the ground, convulsed in spasms – every fibre of my big, pain-wracked body rioted against my hideous odyssey and landing. I staggered up a mountainside. I breathed the air of a world I was banished from over two thousand, eight hundred and twenty years ago. My lungs pulled it in, my broad chest heaving with the shock of its frenzied intake.
When I died swimming out to sea, it wasn’t straight away, like it says in the stories. I floated back onto the shore, my head split in two by her arrow, awake in my agony, fighting to breathe, fighting to live, the warm waters of Crete washing me up on the shore, my brains spilling onto the sands… My last vision on Earth was of the virgin goddess, virgin no more due to my incursion, looking down on my dying body. Before everything went black.
That’s just one version of my demise. I’m the Schrödinger’s Cat of Greek mythology: my birth, life and death are in multiple states. And up in the stars, I was dead and alive at the same time.
Where am I? Back in my beloved Greece – where I was known across all the islands for bringing my fresh meat kills to hungry villagers? Have I crashed into a lake on the island of Chios? Where I hunted down all the marauding animals at the behest of the king, in return for the hand of his daughter, the beautiful, buxom Merope? Whom I never got to claim as my prize? He swindled me, the bastard. Got me drunk. Then I ravished his daughter, in her bed. He and his Satyr gang gouged my eyes out – with my own dagger.
I holstered and shouldered my beloved bronze club, shield, bow and arrow and my treasured possession, my sword – fashioned by Hephaestus, the great armaments maker for the Immortals. He gifted it to me when he took me in, helpless, bleeding, my eyes gaping craters, screaming in pain.
No, this land is too green to be Greece. But it is hot. Maybe I’m in… what’s it called… the New World? And why am I here? For revenge, of course. And to become a hunter once again, in whatever age and place I have crash-landed in.
Artemis wasn’t my first goddess. There were others. And dozens of mortal women, who were as hungry for my body as for the kill I brought them and their families. And Merope wasn’t the only one I ravished. There was Artemis’s ripe little handmaiden, I forget her name. Ah, Opis – that was it. Then Artemis: ah, the huntress. We hunted together. She kept me at arm’s length, but I thought she loved me. I loved her. One night after the camp-fire stories I was overcome with passion. That was my undoing: I could not control my urges. Got me killed. That’s the way I was. Am…
She made me immortal. They say, because she had regrets over killing me. Whatever; who cares? I was damned to float in eternal cryogenic suspension, floating, freezing – with only the passing comfort of a million women looking up at me at night, but too far away to touch. I lusted after The Pleiades, the Seven Sisters – on Earth, and up there. Zeus put them out of my reach, the bastard. He and his precious daughter thought they had consigned me to chaste oblivion in the skies. They were wrong. I was still able to lust and throb and come. Even up there: catasterated….
The rains were also my tears. I wasn’t all brute violence. I loved and lost, many times. I was consigned to a tortuous limbo, like in some endless waking dream. Immortality? Do me a favor!
I want to be flesh and blood again. To eat, drink, love and fuck. I want to hunt the mountains and forests of this land I’ve crash-landed on, to feed hungry people and feel the lust of beautiful, full-breasted women in my arms.
And I am hell bent on revenge. This is why I have returned to Earth. Some god, or a demon, or some great force has torn me from the skies for me to wreak havoc.
I am now an alien visitor. If anyone saw me crash down, I’ll be a romantic space invader: A star man. The Huntsman Who Fell to Earth. So, I must seek sanctuary.
“I’m just passing through.”
I staggered back to the lake where I had crash-landed from the constellation in outer space that bears my name.
In the dead of night, I hauled my beloved club, shield, sword and dagger and found a place in the surrounding forest to sleep. I looked up at the star-studded sky and saw myself: most peculiar, I can tell you. I had made sure I left my stellar imprint, so as not to get all the world’s agencies all worked up about missing star systems.
I’m not just a stupid big hunter. I have skills other than hunting. Over the millennia I absorbed a barrage of TV signals belching out from your – my – planet. Up there, in purgatory, I learned what’s been going down these several centuries since I was consigned to a life sentence of immortality.
I drank the lake water, then swam in it. It refreshed my big, aching body. I had to find somewhere to stay, to hunt, to live. A lone wanderer now, as before. I needed money. Not the first minted coins of old Chios, but U.S. dollars – the world’s currency. I strode into a desert village. One street, a general store, a church, and what looked like a shop selling artefacts. I walked in, weapons clanking.
“How can I help, sir?” asked the wizened man behind the counter. “You been to a fancy-dress party?”
I removed the precious bronze amulet from my tanned, muscled arm. A gift from Eos, Goddess of the Dawn, who kept me as a sex slave – rode me to a pulp for months on end in her fabulous palace. Broke my heart to part with it.
I set it on the counter. “How much for this?”
“Good Lord, this is a fine piece, sir. It looks… very old. And very valuable. It should be in the British Museum.” He stopped short of telling me I should be as well, along with the Elgin Marbles.
He took the piece to the back to examine it. He knew it was worth a fortune, and I knew he would short-change me. He handed over a wad of thousand-dollar bills – enough for me to stay somewhere luxurious for a long time.
First, I had to buy modern clothing. I found a store selling what you call army surplus. And as I was in America, in my tall size: tactical pants, hunting vest, desert boots, and a backpack for my weapons. They felt odd to wear after being naked for millennia save for my skimpy warrior tunic, glorious gold-studded three-star belt and gladiator sandals.
I found a hotel at the end of the street. Out of the desert heat the air was freezing. I walked up to a man behind a desk.
“ID, sir? You here for the hunting weekend?”
Something told me to reach into a vest pocket and bring out a little book. A passport. “Yes, sir. I am… a citizen of the European Union. I want your best room, please.”
He glanced at my face on the page: classic Greek-god features, olive skin, fair hair curling onto my thick neck. He handed me a room card. “Top floor, penthouse suite. Enjoy your stay, sir.”
I turned to look for a staircase. “Elevator just behind you, sir.” Some sort of vehicle that would transport me up. Not back to the stars, hopefully.
I stepped inside it. It zoomed to the top floor. The doors opened. I collapsed into the corridor. The elevator pressure had reopened the scar on my head, wrought by Artemis’s arrow. After I ravished her in the forest centuries ago. Seemed like yesterday.
I felt someone dragging me along the corridor carpet, then taking the room card from my big hand. A door opened and a woman heaved my six-foot-six form up onto the bed. I opened my eyes, blood streaming down my face. She removed my backpack and dropped it to the floor.
“Please wake up, sir! We need to get you to the hospital!”
I looked up at her. A fulsome woman. My blood had spilled onto her short skirt. Somehow, she had dragged me into my room. I read the namecard on her dress: Dawn, Hotel Manager. Was I dreaming? Was I back on the island of Chios, being carried off again by Eos? No, this was real. Centuries on, I was in America, and bleeding from my death wound onto a beautiful woman.
I sat up. She went into the bathroom to fetch a soaked paper towel and gently wiped my head. Her touch was wondrous; the first from a woman in a very long time. I tried to still my arousal.
“Thank you, kind Lady. I’m… OK. It’s just an old war wound.”
“When did you check in?”
I crashed to Earth only yesterday… “Just now. Thank you for rescuing me.”
“What’s your name?”
“Ori-… Er, Hunter.”
“Well, Mr Hunter, that’s a real cool name for our special weekend we’re putting on, out in the wild! You gonna be fit for that? Well, I guess so – you are a veteran after all. You’re fit all right,” she said, looking me up and down.
“You are too,” I gave her my brilliant smile. I assumed ‘fit’ meant ready for action, not ready for sex. Which I always am.
“I mean, you must be fit to have dragged me in here. That took some strength. I’m a big man.” I like my women strong, powerful. That’s what did for me: a strong, powerful goddess.
“I work out every day. I’ve lifted heavier than you. How long are you staying?” she asked.
“I’m just passing through,” I answered.
I beheld Dawn’s beauty. She had soft, wavy brown hair to her shoulders, tall, with a captivating, heart-shaped face, full lips, a broad, lusty smile and ample breasts. Her blouse was partly unzipped to show inviting cleavage. Just in case you didn’t know, I wasn’t just the greatest hunter in Greece; I was the horniest. Still am.
“I’ll leave you to rest,” she said. “I’ll check in on you later.” She sashayed out of my grand room, her hips swinging, leaving me hard as all hell.
I beheld the television embedded in the wall. There were no switches on it, only a small black stick, which I guessed was a trigger to operate it. I watched news on the planet I was banished from, now in real time – not after a delay of many years. War raged in what was now called the Middle East. I saw on a map that my homeland had shrunk. Just part of a big Union of Europe. Then the American news, and my blood leapt in my veins. Not from my usual amorous state. Something about animals on the loose in the desert states.
“We’ve been hearing reports from farms and residents about these strange wild animals. What can you tell us?”
A farmer appeared on the screen. “They critters are somethin’ else, sir. They done mauled and killed several dozen head of my cattle, in one night. Found them eviscerated. Saw somethin’ run off. Like nothin’ you ever saw, sir. Like some bull, or a boar, but bigger than a goddam truck.”
More farmers complained about multiple attacks by the strange, huge creatures on their cattle, sheep, and horses. The reporter said, “We’ve got the usual rumor mill going full blast about alien mutilations. But a leading scientist has another theory: that the sustained nuclear tests in these areas decades ago have produced dangerous mutations in some of our larger animals.”
The report finished with a police chief asking for more witness reports and an appeal for calm and – my heart almost jumped out of my broad chest – a request for help.
A knock came at the door. I opened it, to find Dawn carrying a bottle containing a honey-colored drink, and a tray of food. Some kind of crushed meat inside lumps of bread, and what looked like very small cooked legs of another animal. Chicken. Nothing like the whole fresh kills of wild boar, deer and bear I had hunted and dragged out of the forests and mountains to the hungry villagers of Ancient Greece.
She smiled widely, her head cocked, the bottle raised. Her hair was brushed and soft round her face. She was wearing the dress without her uniform jacket, unzipped even further. Her sweet fragrance was intoxicating.
“How are you doing, Mr Hunter? You’re looking much better. May I join you?”
I opened the door to let her in. She set the food tray down on the table in my spacious lounge area and opened the bottle. I saw the gentle sway of her full breasts as she bent to pour the liquid into small, squat glasses. It smelt strong. Whiskey. I had drunk only wine back in my time: oceans of it. This was far stronger. Pungent.
She chatted about the hunting weekend, which guns I should hire to go shooting, how long she had worked here, and so on. I stated my preference for crossbow and arrows.
“A real hunter! Bow and arrow, wow that’s cool! Real traditional,” she cooed. I listened to her chatting while I ate voraciously and gulped down her whiskey. Along with unadulterated desire, what lingered in my mind was the news report I had just heard.
I enjoyed my first night in luxurious comfort on Earth, pleasantly drunk in the arms of a luscious, lustful woman. It wasn’t long before we were locked together on my king-size hotel bed, her full lips devouring my mouth. I gently unzipped her dress and caressed and kissed and sucked her breasts, and every other part of her, making her shriek for joy. Then I lay back and she rode me relentlessly until we reached our umpteenth zenith.
“Do you make love to all your guests?” I said, sprawled out, her arm circling my neck.
“No, sir!” she jumped up. “Only you. Minute I saw you, I said, Jeez, is this guy hot. Once I got you cleaned up.”
I watched her get dressed. My arousal returned. She looked over at me. “And you’re the first man I’ve met who can keep up with me!” She zipped off her dress and we resumed where we left off, only this time she lay back while I ravished her. We fell asleep wrapped in each other’s arms.
As dawn broke, she got up. “I guess I won’t see you again,” she said.
“I have business to attend to,” I said. “I may be staying for some time.”
“It gets mighty dull round here,” she said.
“I would love to see you again. I am most happy to pleasure you, my Lady.”
“You talk kinda funny!” she said. “Like, old-fashioned. Where are you from?”
“Originally, the beautiful land of Greece,” I replied.
“A Greek god!” she cried. “Well you’re certainly built like one.”
“Not a god,” I said. “Just a mere mortal.”
After she left, I picked up the amazing instrument the army clothing store had sold me. A mobile telephone. I had scribbled down the number to call the Police Department about the killing and mutilation of livestock, and sightings of the strange marauding beasts.
“Is it about the animal raids? Who shall I say is calling, sir?”
“My name is Hunter,” I replied. “Yes, about the animal raids. I most certainly can help you.”
In another room, Dawn also picked up a mobile and made a call on a secure line to the agency she worked for.
“It’s done,” she said. “Plan A accomplished.”
Unbeknownst to me, Dawn had inserted a tracking device in the skin of my neck as she dug her red-varnished nails into it, while I made ecstatic love to her on my hotel bed.