Have you ever read the story ‘The Most Dangerous Game,’ by Richard Connell? What did you think of it?
I found the ending to be quite abrupt and unsatisfying. Imagination continued the story. I hope that you enjoy a version of what happened after Rainsford decided that someone had never slept in a better bed.
Island of the Animal Spirits
‘I have never slept in a better bed,’ Rainsford decided groggily. Something was shifting beyond his eyelids, and there was a cool breeze fluttering against his face. He saw a cave opening ahead and looked dazedly out at the blue sky—bluer than normal—and fluffy clouds. There were blue shadows dancing on the dark walls of the cool cave, of shapes he could not make out.
He suddenly noticed that his bed was peculiar. He was sort of propped up on something warm and soft and quietly purring in pulses.
He jumped up and was halfway between the cave entrance and the tiger before he could blink.
The tiger continued to purr and slow-blinked at him—bright green eyes watching him, not watching him, and watching him again. It was that moment of not watching him which made Rainsford feel something: a sense of trust. The giant orange-striped male tiger did not tense his great muscles and pounce, but slow-blinked again, this time for five seconds.
Rainsford did not expect the tiger to answer him, but he said, “Where am I?”
‘You are in the Animal Spirit World, which Bad Man has created’ said a soft roar in his head. ‘The predator-man murdered you as he did us. Your blood is on his hands.’
He stared in astonishment at the tiger’s face.
‘In this place, no one preys, no one dies. We have the best peace that we can have… But there will be many more of us to come. My request which you can freely deny is that you help us cross over to give justice to that Bad Man. As you are a murderer who has Learned, you may help us pass to the other side.’
He thought about this, and decided that he felt sorry for the animals…to put such large beautiful things to death… it made his eyes begin to water. “My name is Rainsford. I will give myself to helping you,” he said, finally.
“Your name is not Rainsford: it is Man, as you call me Tiger,” said Tiger, and slow-blinked.
Man followed Tiger out of the cave, and paused as Tiger leapt down a rock. ‘This is the island,’ thought Man; but it felt more beautiful somehow, as if all of the death had been erased.
He followed Tiger from rock to rock, until they reached a clearing below, within a ring of tall dark trees. The place seemed to be abounding in growth to Man, but he could not focus on one single thing. All that he could see were hints of dancing colors—some he had never known before.
There were all of the animals which General Zaroff had described to Man when he told him about the animals which he had hunted, playing with each other. ‘I am really not alive any more…’ Man thought with calm realization.
The animals seemed to be waiting for a chance to watch a glinting window-like thing in the center of the clearing. ‘It is a window which shows whatever we desire,’ Tiger said in Man’s mind. ‘It is rather a thing of entertainment for us. Try to make it show the predator-man by concentrating on him.’
Man went behind the two foxes which were watching squirrels climbing up a tree. They turned, looked at Man in the thoughtful way that foxes do by tilting their heads, and trotted away. The image of what they had been watching on the window faded. Man sat, crossed his legs, and looked at the window himself. After a few minutes, he began to look beyond the window, and into General Zaroff’s room. Man was surprised at how easy it was: he continued to look at all of the details in his room, and General Zaroff’s dark and still sleeping figure. Nudging his hand with his nose, Tiger told him to try to put it through.
Man looked back at the animals and smiled. “Come along!” he said cheerily, half of himself in General Zaroff’s room.
The animals followed Man into General Zaroff’s orderly majestic room. Man thought that they seemed solemn and hopeful of peace at the same time. And there was General Zaroff, sleeping in his wide red bed under a wide red canopy.
Man slowly crept over to him and leant over his peaceful face. Man stared into his face until he stirred. He made a horrible scowl; his eyes fluttered open and met Man’s. “You!” he whispered fiercely into Man’s face. “How many times must I win the game?” General Zaroff demanded. He quickly rolled over with surprising speed and intentionally fell off the other end of the bed. He leapt up and stared, his mouth slightly opened in a silent scream, at the animals calmly sitting in his large room, taking up all of the spare floor. Man looked, too, but with pleasure.
All of the people which he had murdered lined the pale moon-lit walls in grey hazy shadows; slightly see-through sparrows, foxes, deer, bears, turkeys, tigers, elephants, moose, lions, a Cape Buffalo; crocodiles, rhinoceroses, and many, many more animals looked at their Bad Man with bright watching eyes.
Man could see fear in General Zaroff’s dark eyes: the fear of an animal being hunted. Man said, “If you are the hunter, you enter into the food-chain, and will eventually become the hunted, one way or another. Now go.”
The Bad Man ran.
The Animals and the People ran after the Bad Man, whispering, ‘Evil one!’ They ran through the trees while the Bad Man dodged them; they ran on and on, and drove him off of the island. As he jumped off of the cliff he had a heart-attack caused by fear. No one heard the sound of his body breaking the water’s edge. He sank to the bottom of the sea and was never seen again. Man and his animals dwelt on the island in peace forevermore.
The Island became haunted, and it is still widely revered by men. The island’s name was changed from ‘Ship-Trap Island,’ to ‘Island of the Animal Spirits.’ When the ships of men draw too close to the rocks, a shimmering half see-through animal trots across the water to tell them to stay away.