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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Search Engine (10/06/11)

TITLE: A Sad Search
By Tom Parsons


A cold rain fell steadily, sliding from the leaves now dulled by autumn and the dark of night. Hunter and hunted searched warily beneath the trees, every muscle tense and every nerve taut, trying desperately to avoid the rustling and crackling as they stepped over the leaf litter on the ground.

He had orders to shoot to kill. His heart told him not to pull the trigger; there must be some other way. But his head knew that the order was the right one. On his ability as a shooter depended the lives of hundreds of men and women and children. Not to mention his own.

He listened carefully, his ears seeking every rustle, every pop, every crackle and trying to quickly and accurately catalog it to assess its possible source. He knew his prey was not guilty of anything; his prey was as much a victim as were the people he had been sent to protect if he failed.

His hands gripped the assault rifle as if its steel had melded with his flesh. Every step advanced him closer to the moment of confrontation, the moment when he had but one opportunity. If he hesitated, even for a second, he would most likely die a violent, cruel and bloody death.

A sudden stirring of the leaf litter caused him to whirl around just in time to see the targeted victim standing in the glow of the lights from the nearby farm. Without hesitation he aimed, squeezed the trigger and his victim fell dead a few yards from him.

The rain continued to drop steadily, glistening on the body of the fallen one, and dripping from the wide-brimmed hat of the one who was forced to trade this one life for the lives of many. And he and his colleagues would have to repeat this tragic search and destroy mission fifty times on this one night.

As he stared down at the now dead, but still incredibly beautiful tiger laying at his feet, he did not feel victory. He did not feel joy. He felt only sadness, sadness that a man would be allowed to keep four dozen or so exotic animals in cages and pens on his farm, and then open all the gates and let them go free to their certain deaths just before he took his own life. The stupidity of it. The ugliness of it.

In the morning as the grey and wet dawn arrived, the bodies of nearly fifty tigers, lions, bears, wolves and monkeys would litter the farm that had been their home, all brought down by armed deputies who obeyed the order from the sheriff to shoot to kill. There was satisfaction that they had saved many people living in the area southwest of Zanesville, Ohio from being mauled by a confused but powerful animal. But there was sadness, too, at the carnage wreaked at their own hands.

However, the toughest part of the deputy’s day was yet to come. He had to go home and explain to his children why he shot and killed so many animals on this one horrible night. Would they understand that he did it to protect them and others? Or would they only see in their minds the violent death of an animal that had done nothing wrong, that was the victim of one man’s desire to possess his own private zoo to please no one but himself.

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This article has been read 435 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 10/20/11
Fantastic! A real Up-to-Date true story that broke my heart when I read about it. But your unique way of telling the story made my tears come down like a giant Niagara Falls! Very well done! Kept me on the edge of my Comp Chair until the very end when I turned into a human "Niagara Falls!" I repeat...FANTASTIC! Excellent job! Brilliantly done! Yes, a very "Sad Search." Loved it!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/21/11
This was well-written and obviously inspired by the recent events in Ohio. You gave me chills with your descriptions.Following is my scores I would give based on the Ratings Worksheet.
Topic: 1.9- although you talked about a search the topic was specifically about search engines on computers and there was no tie to that.

Creativity: 3.0 I liked how the deputy wrestle with killing the animals and explaining his actions to his kids. Since this story made national headlines, it was talked about everywhere.

Crafted: 3.6 This is well-written and I didn't see many mistakes. It was a bit predictable as I knew where you were going in the first paragraph.

Beginning: 4.2 You drew me right in and made me want to keep reading.

Conclusion: 4.0 I liked how you left me with the picture of explaining the atrocity to his kids.

Communication 4.5 You clearly expressed your points.

Flow 4.5 It flowed very smoothly. I felt no hiccoughs or spots I needed to reread.

Publishable: 4.5 I could easily see myself drawn to this in a magazine. If the author truly is a deputy involved in that incident, I think that would increase it's likelihood of being published.

Overall, other than missing the topic, I think you did an outstanding job.
Theresa Santy 10/21/11
I have to admit, I'm having trouble tying in the topic when the writer has used it as a metaphore. They were so adamant on the boards that they were really looking for a computer search engine.

However, I believed this one. A hunter is indeed a type of search engine, especially the one described here.

Your writing flowed beautifully; you have such a knack for putting the right blend of words together. I could not predict the end, since at first I thought you were describing a soldier of war. Talk about search engine, turning your emotions off completely to seek out your target!

I hoped the hunter would change his mind and not shoot his target. But how could he? (I read a story once where a soldier of war did let his target go, only to be shot dead by that very target minutes later.)

Nice application of this very sad and true tale.
Patricia Protzman10/22/11
Well-written, full of suspense, and emotion. Even though the topic "search engine" is not the central focus and the end is predictable, the story flowed well and made me want to read from start to finish. Well done!
Linda Goergen10/22/11
Yes, it must have truly been hard for the ones out there only following orders to kill those animals and your story helped me see that. Though it is still hard for me to have adequate sympathy, even though your writing gave a touching, convincing and emotional argument on behalf of those ordered to kill.

Your story was very well written, but I have a hard time seeing the topic in this unless you were portraying the men hunting down those poor animals as “search engines” .

I admit, it was hard for me to even comment on this story because it is so obviously based on the recent real life event and I am still upset over the situation! Surly could have been other ways! They could have tried to lure them back to their cages for one and I still cannot understand why animal specialists were not called in and the animals tranquilized and sent to zoos instead of slaughtered!

So sad that one man and his wrong decisions caused all that!
Edmond Ng 10/27/11
Nicely crafted, vividly describing the scenes to create the ambiance and mood through the use of rain to have your readers picture in their minds the surroundings as well as the flow of the victims' blood. A very well written piece.
Leola Ogle 11/02/11
Such a well written, compelling story even if it wasn't spot on the computer search engine topic. Good job! God bless!