The hunt began at dawn, like most hunts. Mother’s first warning was a shotgun blast over the water. The enemy were coming. They came in droves. She whirled gathering her children, feet muddy from the moment of peace by the water where she had brought them for their daily chores. They ran together, the youngest in her arms. Her oldest pulled the middle child, firmly determined that they would not face the sorrow, the useless sacrifice again. This family had suffered too much in earlier hunts.
There was a platform standing on the top of the hill. It filled slowly, giving the prey time to lose their way, to blunder.
It was time for older prey to gather as many of the young they could find and shepherd them to places of safety dug into the ground, tunnels thirty and forty feet long. These tunnels were destroyed by rangers when found, but new ones replaced old, and here was kept the center of their society. Here oral histories were passed down. Here grandmothers prevailed still, preaching love, and understanding. Preaching hopes needing to be fulfilled. They couldn’t believe how many years they’d been hiding. According to their mothers, it had been 200 or more.
“Sometime these others must come to their senses. We pray for it to happen, to end this senseless butchery. They promised us sanctuary.”
The men of the clan scoffed, and left the mothers and young. They felt themselves too valuable to be killed in a run. They were small in number, after all. If they died, the hiders would die out.”
Homo sapiens sapiens, of the greatest God-fearing country on Earth, rushed to the platforms. It was Winter Hunt Time, time which shouldn’t be lost. They arrived laughing: armed with their picnic baskets, bottles of beer, soda, water and milk bottles for the babies. They brought cameras, cell phones, electronic tablets and recording devices. Adults, their parents and preachers turned out for this mid-winter hunt. Family time.
They brought drums to be beaten, trumpets to shout, and the fine town’s leaders all hung in finery warm. They were waiting for the first victims to run, for then they would cheer. They brought out their shotguns, their rifles, their bows, with ammo designed for one purpose below. Something would die today. More than one would die. They would celebrate that night with presents and dinner with toasts. The excitement grew, and so did the boasts.
Laughing with joy at a kill shot, they took turns turning the soil to red. They were a powerful people, opening their arms to refugees worldwide, giving homes to some while others disappeared, or were labeled terrorists so they would not be missed. Glorious leaders of this strong nation kept it all in check, using mass rallies of their glory, and corrupt political policies, too. Their godlike speeches belied their intentions.
During the growing time of Summer, the prey were joined by runaway natives who tried to learn languages, record stories and take them back where they were labeled fiction and unprintable. The journalists, teachers, advocates and writers were vanquished to the kill zones. The government thought that a rat trap was a good place to hide all of the rats.
Mother ran, her heart beating so loudly she was afraid it would be heard. Her eldest murmured words of encouragement, taking the lead away from her mother and trying to turn them all deeper into the woods. That’s when the closest gunshot became loud and real.
The baby exploded in Mother’s arms. She had time to gasp “no” as the bullet continued through the child and into the mother’s heart.
Eldest child threw her brother into the underbrush with a whisper.
“It’s under the rock. Find it,” she whispered. She had a plan.
He wiggled and dug in the earth pulling an old plastic bag from beneath him. She snatched it from his fingers and whispered again.
“Stay here, in the ground, until they have gone home to celebrate. I have something to do.”
Aged six, her brother understood the action that was needed. He wiggled under the leaves, into the mud, out of sight and mindful of the killers as Eldest bolted away toward the platform. As the trees thinned, she stood tall. She opened the bag. The gun in her hand had been dropped from the platform as an insult when the killers had killed her grandmother and her father. She had taken it.
She moved through the bush and gathered her cold sense of honor. Her actions gathered the attention she sought.
“Look, a small one begs for more attention from you, Hunter. It’s only fair you should end her. She won’t survive without her breeding mother and is almost old enough to start breeding herself. Just an animal.” They laughed the hunter back to a spot on the wall.
The hunter was smartly dressed for this celebration day. She lifted her rifle, focusing her sights on the child, and then abruptly brought the gun down.
The crowd jeered her as she succumbed to the first thought in her life involving compassion. It didn’t last.
She raised her rifle again. Two shots rang out in unison. One shot from above, and one from below. The bullet struck the hunter in the forehead spreading brains, blood and skin bits everywhere. The platform emptied screaming.
Eldest child staggered to her brother and dropped the gun. “Hide it,” she murmured.
Middle child tried to stop the blood. He was too small to treat such an injury.
Eldest child’s name was called in the moonlight by a search party of old women. They found her brother shivering and in shock. They found the bodies. They heard the child’s story. Life changed that night. They learned a lesson.
They could fight back.
(I wrote this after watching the news about the fears we should have in giving shelter to those in need. I thought about what might be the outcome if the Tea Party took over the government and watched the ideas being flown as flags about what Americans are and who we are. This is a last possible case senerio, aside from war. “Bring me your tired, your hungry, your oppressed…” and thinking of what use the immigrants would be to such a government. Things like this have happened in history before, hunts based on religion, cruelty, mocking the ideals of “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Do I believe us on a one way course? No, that’s why even with a corrupt government I had people trying to help these prey, even at the cost of their own freedom and life. I’m hoping for a good hopeful topic to be selected by my flash fiction group. I don’t like this place in the shadows.) Placed 5th in Linked In Writer’s Hangout Flash Fiction Contest.