Short Story- THE HUNT

This is a story I wrote awhile back, before Donald Trump and his Interior Department head, Ryan Zinke, filled Wildlife Protection Board with animal murderers, the only possible description of people who kill animals for enjoyment and trophies.

The Hunt

It was a small clearing in a not very large valley in a medium-sized forest. A trifling stream ran through it on one side, not quite in the middle. The setting sun calmed some of the sounds of the forest, awakened others. The residents began to settle in for the night. A bird trilled from the branch of an oak, saying goodnight perhaps. Another answered. The waters of the modest stream flowed quietly, gently bubbling around a large rock here and there without disturbing the fish that swam lazily just beneath the surface. The peaceful clearing in the forest preserve could have inspired a Disney film.

Hunting was illegal, forbidden within this place. The life here had no need to fear man. But there were always humans who did not concern themselves with such things as laws and rules, those who considered hunting a God given right and the laws an “…unfair infringement” on their fondness of hunting and killing.

At this twilight, the hunters blended into their surroundings on the small hill, watching. They wore camouflage fatigues, moved slowly and quietly, all but impossible to see or hear in the deepening twilight. The taller one lay nearly motionless, watching the small clearing a hundred meters away. The shorter one crouched easily, a meter to his right.

The night vision scopes on their rifles didn’t quite turn the deepening darkness into daylight, but brightened the sleeping forest enough for the two to see easily. The newest generation of scopes showed the scene in color instead of monochromatic shades of green and black.

“Got something.” the tall one whispered. into his throat mic. “Three o’clock. one buck, one doe. Wait one, got a third one, fawn following the mom. ”

“Copy,” the shorter one replied. “I have them too.”

The hunters watched as the three deer paused just inside the clearing, stood very still and looked around, the buck in the lead. Through his scope the hunters lying prone watched them listen and sniff the air. The adults exchanged a look. Then, satisfied there was no threat, the family moved forward, toward the stream. The two adults kept the fawn between them. Smart, thought the tall hunter. But the animals’ caution would prove defenseless against the killing technology the hunters possessed.

“Our two friends are stirring,” the shorter hunter whispered. ”

The tall one lifted the barrel of his rifle minutely to reacquire the area on the opposite hill. His scope showed him the other two hunters clearly. He and his partner had watched them arrive, prepare their position, and settle in to watch. The small, peaceful, supposedly safe clearing had since been under the observation of all four predators. The others also wore camouflage, and made little movement. They were practiced, experienced. Now they were carefully, quietly changing their positions slightly, excited at the arrival of the prey but disciplined.

“They’re anxious,” the tall one whispered. “They’re going to take their shots when Bambi and his folks are drinking.”

“We’ll beat them to it. Early bird gets the worms.”

The family of deer moved to the stream, unaware of the human killers on either side of them. Though the deer were accustomed to the safety within this forest, the male might have sensed something. He paused again, raised his head to listen and sniff the air. Whatever had made him cautious was insufficient to create flight. He bent to drink from the cool, flowing water. The female and fawn followed suit.

Now all three of the animals were drinking. The muted music of the stream and the act of drinking kept them unaware of the minor movements of the hunters. The four predators took a breath and let it out slowly, adjusting their rifles to settle the crosshairs of their powerful scopes on their targets. The buck and doe would die first, then the fawn.

The male and female deer looked up suddenly at the sound of two sharp coughs on the hillside above them. They examined the forest, listening intently. For a long moment they stood like that, then looked at each other, before turning back to the stream. The fawn had raised his head only briefly.

Just as the deer examined their surroundings, so did the hunters. They kept their scopes centered on their targets longer than the deer had taken to examine the slopes. They knew they didn’t have to look at the bodies on the far hillside that long. Both shots had been clean, precision shots through the exposed foreheads. But the Guardians were professionals. They left nothing to chance. They watched through their scopes for a full sixty seconds before turning to look at each other for the first time in over an hour. The taller one sat up carefully so as not to spook the deer. His shorter partner sat beside him.

“You’d think they would learn,” the man said quietly. The woman shook her head.

“I doubt it. I don’t think we’ll ever run out of people who get their thrills from killing animals that can’t fight back. Makes them feel like they’re some kind of big stuff, important somehow. That’s why we have the program. Fines and jail time do no good. Someone always thinks they won’t get caught.”

The man nodded.

“Well, nobody can say they weren’t warned. Signs all over the place. Media announcements. No hunting, no warnings, deadly force, the whole nine yards.”

The two of them sat quietly with their thoughts for several moments. The family of deer turned and left the clearing the same way they had entered. The hunters watched them go.

” Did those shots sound a little on the loud side to you?” the man asked.

“Yeah, they did,” the woman said. We need to ask for a couple of the newer silencers.”

“Good idea,” the man said. He picked up his radio to report the kills..

# # #

 

The Shortest 38 Chapter Murder Mystery in History

For those who like a good hard-boiled noir mystery but like their crime succinct.

Chapter 1: This was where it started. I knew the dame was trouble as soon as she walked in the door.

Chapter 2: The guy was dead alright. He was an ugly sight. Death can do that to you.

Chapter 3: I smoked some cigarettes, drank some beer, talked to some people.

Chapter 4: Two goons showed up at my office and told me to lay off. We talked wise for awhile. I was wiser.

Chapter 5: I called the dame. I told her we needed to talk. She told me to come on over. I did.

Chapter 6: I drove to her apartment. She was dead. I called the cops. They weren’t happy.

Chapter 7: Bad cop said I must’ve done it. Good cop said he knew me. We talked wise for awhile. My wise was still better.

Chapter 8: I jumped in my jalopy. I talked to the guy’s friends and enemies. I didn’t get much. I met dame number two. She was sultry.

Chapter 9: I drank some beer, smoked some cigarettes. Nobody wanted to talk to me.

Chapter 10: The goons came back. We talked wise again. One took a punch. My punch was faster.

Chapter 11: I rolled up more miles on the jalopy. I managed to trace the guy’s recent actions. They didn’t seem like much.

Chapter 12: The cops called me in to talk. Bad cop still thought I did it. I told him his wife dressed him lousy.

Chapter 13: Dame number two called me and wanted to talk. I hoped she’d stay alive long enough.

Chapter 14: She was alive, all right. We talked awhile. Then we didn’t talk at all. I was smoking when I left.

Chapter 15: I sat in my office overlooking the city while I thought. I smoked some more. I was out of beer. Being a private detective is hell sometimes.

Chapter 16: The FBI came calling. They told me to lay off. I talked wise. They talked FBI.

Chapter 17: I followed up on what dame number two had told me.  I remembered to buy some beer.

Chapter 18: I found a clue. It was a big one and it made me mad. Took me eighteen damn chapters.

Chapter 19: I was smoking and drinking beer when the goons busted in with guns. Their mistake.

Chapter 20: The cops took the bodies away. Bad cop didn’t like it. We stared hard at each other.

Chapter 21: The FBI dropped in. They gave me another warning. The female agent watched me. I watched her back.

Chapter 22: I looked at something I’d already looked at. This time I looked at it from a different angle. Son of a gun. I stubbed out the cigarette and jumped in the jalopy.

Chapter 23: I retraced the guy’s tracks again and found it. It was the evidence that broke the case. I drove back to dame number two’s place. It was empty.

Chapter 24: The phone rang. A nasty voice said they had dame number two. They said they’d trade the dame for the evidence. I asked to hear her voice. They made her scream.

Chapter 25: I phoned my buddy the good cop. I laid out the details for the meet. He said they’d be there. I made another call.

Chapter 26: I knew it would be a trap, so I got to the meet early. Hours early. I hid and waited. It was cold and damp before it got warm and dry.

Chapter 27: I watched them set the trap. Then I walked right into it. The cops didn’t show. The good cop was part of the whole thing. 

Chapter 28: My friend the crooked cop was surprised that I knew, but said it wouldn’t really matter. They had me dead to rights. Soon I’d just be dead.

Chapter 29: They took my gun. It looked bad, but that was before the FBI sprang the trap on the trap.

Chapter 30: But the baddies hadn’t brought dame number two. Now I was short on time to find her before she joined dame number one. I was in a sweat. 

Chapter 31: I was pretty sure where she’d be. I raced through the city’s maze of streets. The FBI was right behind me.

Chapter 32: It was morning rush hour. Traffic was hell. Time was running out. I was pounding the steering wheel and cursing. 

Chapter 33: I found the right street. I made a screeching left turn against a red light and got t-boned. I jumped out and ran. There was a lot of cursing behind me.

Chapter 34: The police Captain was locking his front door. He didn’t know I was coming until I rammed him into it from behind. He went down with my hands on his throat.

Chapter 35: He reached for his gun but mine was out first. The Feebs arrived before I pulled the trigger. I ran into the house.

Chapter 36: The house was empty. I got the crooked Captain’s keys and opened the trunk of his car. Dame number two was there. She was alive.

Chapter 37: It took a couple of hours and a full chapter for me to explain all the details to the FBI.

Chapter 38: It was raining the day after. The doorbell rang. It was the female FBI agent. She was alone. She was carrying a saucy smile and asix pack. I already had cigarettes.

The End.