Many times when we play video games we wonder what else we aren’t being told about the characters.
That’s exactly how I feel about Anna (The Huntress) from the Dead by Daylight. Players get only a brief introduction to each character, but sometimes you just want more.
The following is a brief story about Anna where I’ve written non-canon events inspired by Anna’s backstory that players can find in-game.
When Anna stood in the forest, still and quiet, she could hear everything breathing – from the small squirrels that skittered up the soaked tree trunks to the leaves shifting ever so slightly in the winter breeze. The air was so brisk and chilled that everything, even the bugs that burrow under her feet, could feel it closing in. Anna felt it in her bones, across her cheeks, between her toes – everywhere. But it wouldn’t be long before the rain melted away the last of the snow and the cold – and on that first day of warmth, Anna sensed she’d find new prey.
On that day, she felt the family before she saw them. She could hear the branches cracking under their feet as they hiked a mile away, maybe two. She took in a breath and she could smell them. Two adults and a child who smelled like candy. The little girls always smelled of candy. It would be an easy hunt. The first one always was.
“Hunting is always work, mоya devushka,” she could hear her mother say. “Nothing is easy.”
For years, Anna had heard her mother’s voice in her head, guiding her, reminding her of the real huntress that she was. Strong and bold. Confident but cautious. But after her mother’s death, she had to decide on her own how she wanted to live. Her mother had given her the foundations for survival, but had never told her what it meant to be truly alone and how to fend off that loneliness. That was an entirely different beast.
Equipped with her newly-sharpened axes and wearing the clay rabbit mask that her mother had made for her when she was just a child, Anna sulked into the forest to hunt.
Shortly after her mother was killed, Anna hunted small game. Rabbits, squirrels or even rats that ventured into her home trying to find warmth. But eventually, she’d grown tired of these “easy” hunts. Gnawing on the rough skin of a chipmunk didn’t satiate her in the way it once did; she craved something bulkier; something meatier. After months of the same small game over and over, she moved on to more dangerous prey.
Eventually, she was strong enough to take down a bear. That had definitely not been an easy hunt. Bears fought back – she had the scars and blood-stained clothes to prove it. It had been clever, which she hadn’t expected, but not clever enough in the end.
People, though, they were usually much more difficult to hunt than any animal. People were unpredictable and erratic. They begged and screamed and cried. The first few times, this had affected Anna in a way she hadn’t expected. She would hear the cries when she lay her head down on the cold ground to sleep at night. After a while – after the fifth, sixth, seventh hunt – it became a comfort. The sound that reminded her of a successful hunt.
She wasn’t worried about today’s prey. In fact, she was confident.
“Confidence is a weakness, Anna.” Her mother’s stern Russian voice whispered. “It makes you vulnerable. Don’t be confident, be smart.”
It was much easier to ignore her mother now that she wasn’t there, lecturing Anna every moment of every day and yet, her lessons still pushed their way through Anna’s thoughts with every step she took. As she walked through the forest, moving silently, she began to hum – the song that her mother had hummed to her as she lay dying so that Anna wouldn’t hear the horrific screams of the elk that she had stabbed. She didn’t tell her mother that she could still hear them – the sound so loud that it echoed all around.
As she got closer to the hikers, her unsuspecting prey, she continued to hum. It was a friendly tune – a lullaby meant to soothe. The brush in the forest did well to hide her and keep her from being spotted as she approached.
“Hello? Who is that?” She heard one of the hikers yell, a man with a deep voice. Anna could see him stretching his neck around a set of trees, looking for the source of the humming.
“Is it the wind?” A woman asked.
“Don’t be stupid, Alena. Do you feel a breeze at all?”
“Well, what else could it be?”
The man ignored her, “Come out now, whoever you are!”
Anna didn’t move. She hummed soothingly, waiting for the right moment.
“I have a gun.” He yelled. Then to the woman he whispered, “Stay here with Nadia.”
“I don’t think that’s a good—”
Now it was time. Anna stopped humming and pushed her body against the trunk of the tree, her clothes blending in perfectly. The man approached, a powerful-looking rifle held in his shaky hands. He feigned confidence, trying to steady himself, looking left and right among the trees. He didn’t say a word knowing that, even if he tried, he wouldn’t get a response from whatever it was he was pursuing. Anna tightened her grip on her axe and, delicately, just as he approached her tree, she swung it down, shoving the axe deeply into the man’s neck. He hardly had time to think, let alone get a shot from his rifle off. Anna snatched the gun from his grip, the blood from his neck wound soaking the carved wood, and he fell to the ground in one loud thump.
A moment passed as Anna sulked back into the trees, collecting herself so that she could approach the other two people. When she started humming the tune again, the older woman grew hysterical.
“Dimitri?” She whispered at first before getting louder, more hysterical. “Oh god, Dimitri? Come back! Are you alright? Dimitri!”
Anna peeked her head head out from behind one of the trees to see where the woman was. She was about two dozen feet ahead, in a clearing. In spite of herself, Anna smirked. It would be an easy shot. She backed away from the tree she was hiding behind while the woman looked around, desperately. As she moved, Anna could see a small girl hiding behind her gripping the woman’s pant leg. Anna took a step back, aiming the axe perfectly. She let go, sending it flying into the clearing.
Without looking, Anna knew that she had hit her target. She knew because the little girl was screaming. Anna moved quickly to the girl’s side to try and stop the screams. As she approached, the girl didn’t run or hide. She just froze in place, staring down at the corpse of her mother, still bleeding from where Anna’s axe had struck her in the throat.
Without hesitating, Anna began her humming again and scooped the girl up into her arms. She weighed nothing compared to the bodies of the bears and wolves she hunted regularly. The entire way back to Anna’s home, the girl sobbed and called for her mother and father. Anna would need to remember to dispose of the bodies so that animals – or worse, other hikers – would not come across them.
This was not the first little girl that Anna had taken care of. There was something in their eyes, the way they shone with hope, that kept Anna from killing them the same way she killed the adults or the little boys. She longed to be a mother, wise and strong, the way that her mother had been. She wanted to teach little girls the way of the forest, teach them to be smart and resourceful. But, unlike Anna, these little girls were not prepared for the challenges that the forest brought.
When Anna left a few hours after she had killed the girl’s parents, she tied the girl to the wall of her home with a rope so that she wouldn’t leave. She pulled toys out from a small toy chest, items that she’d taken from children in the past, and put them around the girl who still whimpered for her parents. Anna attempted to communicate that the girl wasn’t to leave. She was to stay and play, but it had been many many years since Anna had spoken aloud and she found it difficult to form any coherent words. But when she returned from disposing of the bodies, the girl was still there, tied just as Anna had left her.
Anna cooked a large squirrel for the girl that night, but she wouldn’t touch it in spite of Anna’s insistence. Instead, bringing a joy to Anna that she never thought she would ever feel, the girl played with the toys that had been offered. Anna felt a warmth swell in her chest. As she lay down beside the sleeping child that evening, the feeling kept her warm through the night.
The next morning the girl ate what Anna offered her – a hefty woodpecker that Anna had snatched off a tree nearby. The animals rarely sensed her coming these days. As the girl ate, Anna noticed that she was shivering.
“If you spend enough time in the cold, you won’t feel it anymore. Take off that jacket.” Her mother had been strict, but if she hadn’t been, Anna would have never survived this long. She let the girl go on shivering. As she shook, gnawing at the roughly cooked woodpecker, Anna watched and thought that she might love this one more than any of the others. Not that she hadn’t loved them all. She mourned and cried for days when the others had frozen or starved, but this one was different. Anna was sure this one would make it. She smiled weakly at Anna when she offered food. None of the others ever smiled.
When the girl finished her portion of the bird, Anna looked down at the morsels still left on her plate and pushed them towards her. The girl smiled, mumbled a thank you, and ate what was left on the plate.
That day Anna decided she would put off her morning hunt until the afternoon. She wanted to play. Anna searched the rooms in her house, pulling out all of the toys that she could find that she had pilfered from families and children that had wandered into the forest in the past. Even if Anna couldn’t speak to the girl, she could laugh. And she laughed a lot that morning. Her and the girl ran around the house, chasing each other. The girl would hide and Anna would pretend that she didn’t know where she was.
It was possibly the first time that Anna had ever truly had fun.
Anna had hardly noticed that the girl was sick until a week or two later when she didn’t get up from her spot on the floor where she slept. Anna panicked, covering her with dried animal hides to try and warm her. She forced the girl awake to feed her and didn’t even bother tying her to the wall as she normally did when she left to bring home water.
What had she done wrong? She thought that this one would be different. She gathered up water in a makeshift bucket, returning home only a few minutes after she left. The girl’s breathing was ragged and she could barely move.
Anna gave the girl water and gathered her up into her arms to try and keep her warm. She hummed her mother’s song, hoping beyond hope that music would give the girl the strength she needed to pull through.
Her skin felt cold like ice.
Hours passed by as Anna rocked and hummed and cried, begging her mother to give this girl the strength that she had given Anna to survive. Every day since Anna’s mother had died, her voice was there in Anna’s head guiding her, but today she was silent. The only sound in the cabin was Anna’s humming.
Halfway through the night, the girl stopped breathing.
It was the same every time that Anna brought home a little girl. She would take care of them as best she could, try to prepare them for the harshness of the forest, but when they inevitably passed, Anna took it hard. And this one had been different; special. Anna felt the pain from this loss deep in her heart, pulling her into a dark pit. She screamed and cried all day long for a week, scaring away any animals in the area. On the eighth day, she burned the body of the girl, along with all the toys that she had liked the most. As Anna watched the flames erupt she contemplated jumping in herself and letting her final moments be with the child she loved.
Instead, she went inside, sharpened her axes and headed into the forest.
There were villagers nearby, still miles away from her home, that she hoped would have children. That day, she found out that she was right. She slaughtered every adult in the village that came into her path while she looked for a new little girl to take home with her. Eventually, she came across a very small one. Skinny, but beautiful. She wore a dirty white dress that reminded Anna of her own dresses she used to wear as a child. This would be the one, Anna thought, this would be the survivor.
But she wasn’t. And neither was the next child, or the next. As Anna slaughtered her way through village after village, losing child after child she went mad with rage and despair. Screaming at the heavens for ripping motherhood away from her over and over. Why didn’t she deserve it? This thing that so many others were allowed? This role that would give her purpose and that would finally end the loneliness that constantly threatened to swallow her whole.
“Motherhood isn’t a prize to be won,” her mother whispered in Anna’s ear. “It is a job just like any other. And it takes work.”
Inside her home, the cold finding its way through the makeshift windows, Anna hummed to try and drown out her mother’s lectures.
“Life is a chore, Anna. You have to work at it every day.”
She pushed aside a wooden table and chair knocking it too closely to the fire she’d built in the fireplace to try and combat the chill. One leg of the chair lit quickly.
“Don’t cry, moya devushka. Save the crying for the men.”
The chair acted as a fast kindling, lighting the table as well as many of the other items in the room on fire. Anna, screaming and frantic, did nothing to try and stop the fire from spreading. It wasn’t long before it moved to all rooms of the house and she was forced outside. Staring at the flames she watched as her home was taken over. She briefly considered running back inside to try and stop it, but she knew that it was well beyond saving.
She gripped an axe that she had pinned onto her belt and heaved a long, great sigh before leaving her home behind and disappearing into the forest.
Many rumours have spread in the area surrounding the Red Forest. Villagers that had somehow lived through The Huntress’ massacres told tales of the woman in a rabbit mask who lives in a house in the forest capturing little girls to eat. Anyone that ventures in the forest finds nothing but a burnt-down husk of a home that looks as if it had not been lived in for decades.
She became a myth. People started to go missing in the forest less and less, but there was still the occasional person who wandered too far in and was never seen from again. And for those that stayed longer than they should, but kept their distance from The Huntress’ old cottage, they would return home telling tales of the humming that they could hear echoing throughout the trees.