The first short story of the new year that I read was The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. Sheepishly, I spent a good hour or so playing around on line searching top ten lists of shorts. I didn't know where to begin. Having no idea what this was about, but know that I could read it free on line, I clicked. And, overall, I'm pretty pleased I did.
The story opens with Rainsford and Whitney, both experienced and devoted hunters, leaving the states and traveling via yacht to the Amazon for a hunting safari. Whilst on the boat they chat up about the islands around them, specifically Ship-Trap Island, legend to be an eerie and isolated place that leads sailors to their impending doom. Shrugging it off, like any other good American, the decide it's time to go to bed. Well, Whitney does. Rainsford must have one more smoke. It's unfortunate that he make this decision because he ends up falling overboard, swimming to the closest shoreline, exhausted and hungry.
Luckily he is not alone. He meets General Zaroff who invites him inside his home. General Zaroff is pleased that Rainsford actually had such misfortune, for he, also, is an avid hunter and a big fan of Rainsford's work, commenting that he has read all of his books.
But Zaroff admit's he has a concern. Hunting is no longer an event for him. He has hunted everything that exists and all have let him down. The chase is too easy, the catch has no thrill. Except, now. Zaroff tells Rainsford that he will hunt him. Three days and three nights in the jungle. If Zaroff wins, well, we can only imagine what will happen to Rainsford. But if Rainsford wins, he will set free.
I have to admit that the story won me over about half way through. Within the first few paragraphs I could guess that Rainsford would find himself in a position of empathizing with the prey (there was a brief exchange between him and Whitney on the yacht that made this apparent). Immediately my mind shouted: "You see! This is why I stay away from short stories; they're SO predictable". Ah yes, and so is my judgmental self. *sigh* Of course the story was about the hunt and the hunter, but the execution was surprising, which is where I began to eat my words. *nom, nom, nom*
I'm not someone who appreciates a lot of fight scenes in fiction. Mainly because I know nothing about the art of fighting, and when words begin to describe a fight, my mind wanders. I just can't visualize it. Obviously, I was a wee bit concerned then about the hunt scenes. I shouldn't have been. They were neither overly graphic or grossly detailed that I couldn't follow what maneuvers were being managed.
Also, this story was immediately familiar to me and I couldn't understand why. After doing a bit of browsing, I realized I had seen this movie that was loosely based off of the story.
(Read The Most Dangerous Game online; approx. 14 pages.)