- Are you insane? You really think I'd sacrifice my wife and son to those things!? That I'd just take Maxine and hide?!
- -- Buddy Baker
Appearing in "The Hunt, Conclusion: Food Chain"
Synopsis for "The Hunt, Conclusion: Food Chain"
In the woods beyond her mother's farm, Ellen Baker struggles to prevent the third hunter of The Rot from devouring her son Cliff by blasting it with a shotgun. Unfortunately, the creature simply regenerates its limbs and closes its wounds, approaching her.
Meanwhile, Buddy Baker, his daughter Maxine, and their feline guide from The Red - Socks the cat - fly over the California coast, toward Mary Frazier's farm. That is the place that he and Ellen had agreed on meeting if anything ever went wrong. Socks, however, is wary of this choice. It ought to be Buddy's priority to protect Maxine, and as such, he should keep her as far from the third hunter as possible. The cat reminds that Buddy and his family are expendable, only Maxine is not. Buddy comments that if Maxine feels like dropping the cat at any time, he would not have a problem with it.
When they arrive on the farm, Mary warns of the danger that Buddy's wife and son are in, and leaving Maxine with her grandmother - against Socks' protests - he rushes off to their rescue. Meanwhile, the hunter is beginning to probe Ellen's facial orifices with it's tentacle like tongue, to her immense disgust. Fortunately, Cliff grabs a hold of the shotgun, and blasts its head away, freeing her. When the monster turns on the boy, Buddy appears, and slams its head into the ground. Realizing that the hunter is very strong, Buddy commands his wife and son to run back to the farm, leaving the monster to him.
The creature is more powerful than Buddy, though, and it grabs him up, forcing itself on him. It fills his skin with rot, giving him a vision of what the world will be like when his daughter becomes a totem for The Rot. In the vision, a spider-like Maxine traps him in a web, and begins peeling off his face with her monstrous teeth. The hunter releases him from the vision, and taunts him. Sadly, Buddy begs for them to leave his young daughter alone, promising to do anything. The creature is amused, but Maxine is so much more than human.
Back on the farm, Maxine is desperate to help her father. Ellen warns that it is not safe for her to go face the hunter, and demands that they stay where they are. Instead, Maxine gets down on the ground, and begins spreading an impulse among the lifeforms beneath the dirt.
Meanwhile, Buddy realizes that he is unable to access the lifeweb to use his powers just as the hunter decides it is done toying with him. Suddenly, though, all of the animals of the forest burst forth from the trees and attack the hunter, biting and clawing at it. Though Buddy is safe enough, the hunter mocks him, revealing that by allowing itself to be eaten by these creatures, the Rot spreads into them, and through them, it will spread across the world.
Terrified, Buddy runs back to the farm with the rotting animals hot on his heels. Maxine and Socks realize that she made a mistake; she was tricked by the Rot, and now it has found its way into the Red. Buddy appears from the woods and grabbing his family in his arms, he shoves them into Mary's RV, and they try to outrace the animals with the knowledge that this infection will spread until it covers the whole world.
Buddy tries to assure Maxine that it wasn't her fault, but Socks explains that they have past the point of no return. Only the Swamp Thing can save them now.
- This book was first published on January 4, 2012.
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