Winners: Catherine Howarth - Hunter

We always love seeing a genre driven piece of fiction amongst so many literary ones, and this was a real breath of fresh air. Our competition writeup asked for something to do with 'collision', whether it was between two cars, two people, or two worlds - and here's a piece that took that last suggestion to heart! It always amazes us how much can be done with so little, and this cleverly put together piece of sci fi did just that.


Flash Fiction 500 - 3rd Place

Hunter

Catherine Howarth


With assured movements she makes her way silently through the charred remains of the once vast gardens of splendour. Apparently safe in the knowledge that her other half is looking out for her.


I watch, hidden, virtually invisible as I lie here, waiting.


They hunt here each morning, food is scarce in this land that was once theirs. Each morsel had to be fought for, earned.


I watch as she dives to the ground; moments later, her quarry is bagged. She thrusts it into the air in a triumphant message to her mate.


I hunt just as they do.


I have seen many of them cut down by an arrow such as mine, but I feel nothing.


My blades are sharper than anything on this Earth, the metal is stronger. They don’t know it yet, but they will die today, I will do that for them, release them from this existence. I can’t feel their pain, their desperate need for food, but I can understand it.


To my right the tower looms, a dark shadow over the burnt fields, their refuge, a sanctuary from the likes of me. The survivors gathered there, they work together to survive, impressive to observe, but it’s just a game that they can’t win.


He turns his back, as soon as he is out of sight, I will strike. He will make his way back to the tower, just as he did yesterday and the day before. She’s the hardest target, small and agile, I’ve missed my chance several times.


She stops still, suddenly crouching low. Perhaps she senses my presence. Without a sound, I pull an arrow from my back. Moving so slowly that even the dry grass beneath my chest is undisturbed, I set the arrow and pull back. I can remain this way for as long as it takes, her head is out of shot, she is slithering along the ground now.


I can wait. The remaining few survivors of the war - they have no chance. My mission is the annihilation of their kind.


We are superior in every way, fighting machines, stronger, faster. I feel no pain. Fear is a concept I don’t understand, compassion is just a word.


"Where is your compassion?” They would plead, helpless in our sights. It does not exist.

A sudden impact to my head which hits the stone concealing me. No pain.

“It’s hit.” He kicks my seemingly lifeless body.


So, he’s still hunting. His partner moves as bait to lure in the victim; so he can emerge unseen from the shadows. I’m impressed by their skill. They never hunt alone.


She flings her arms around his neck.


“The last one!” Her cheers echo across the grounds, bringing their companions streaming from the tower to watch my demise.


His spear hovers over my face. My eyes meet his and he lowers it. He glances at her.


Compassion.


It is their downfall.


The survivors are slain one by one.


I too, never hunt alone."

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