Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)
TITLE: Man Hunt
By T. F. Chezum
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Fingers of somber clouds reached across the night from the north, soon the entire sky would be in their spiteful clutch. I ran from the shore hoping to find shelter amongst the foliage, the flickering light from a fire cast long shadows leaping across my path. I needed to find refuge, but hiding wouldn’t help for long.
What should I do?
My heart raced with desperation, my mind awash with confusion. The urge to flee was intense but there was nowhere to run.
Lord, please help me.
I headed a covert band of bounty hunters, we could ferret out a renegade when others couldn’t, or wouldn’t. This time the stakes were higher, maybe too high. We came to the island to track down one of our own, a rogue agent who annihilated a village suspected of harboring a fugitive.
“Smitty, Nichols, Dub you copy? The landing craft has been compromised,” I glanced back at the blazing boat. “He knows we’re here. Fall back.”
“I don’t think Schmidt can answer,” a familiar, cold voice crackled from the radio. “You never should’ve followed me here, Rosales. This’ll be child’s play. ”
I dashed further into the woods, fear for my group’s safety engrossed my ravaged mind.
Get to the evac, guys.
“Two down, two to go.” Johnson’s baneful laugh hissed from my two way.
“Dub!” Nichols gasped, “He got dub.”
A streak of lightning etched across the canopy. I zigzagged amongst the trees, the percussion from the thunder jarred my faculties.
My team was in shambles, taunted and decimated by the man we sought to apprehend. My focus turned to escape, simple survival.
“He’s after me.” Panic spilled over Nichols’ transmission
“Nichols, clear the frequency.” I tried to catch my breath.
“I don’t know where he is,” the timber of his voice continued to rise.
“Maintain radio silence! Get to beta site ASAP.”
Another blast resounded through the forest.
That wasn’t thunder …
“Save your breath,” my nemesis interrupted, “It’s just you ‘n me, Rosales.”
My heart throbbed in my ears. I had to keep moving but my legs refused to cooperate. Beads of sweat formed on my brow.
“You’re not making this much of a challenge slouching against that tree.”
He can see me … Where is he? Lord, please.
I scanned the dense vegetation but to no avail. Drops of rain began trickling down my face. I threw my radio in frustration. “It doesn’t have to end like this,” I hollered.
“I’m not leavin’ here alive,” his voice seemed to boom from all around me.
“They’ll send others.” My voice cracked, etched with anxiety.
“And I’ll do what I have to do.”
“You brought this on yourself. You shouldn’t have killed those villagers.” I walked toward a thick cluster of trees.
“They’re lives didn’t matter. It’s all about the capture.”
I heard a rustling in the nearby shrubs, panic gripped my senses. I tripped and staggered through the underbrush pausing at the edge of a small clearing. “It’s not up to you to decide who deserves to live.”
“Life’s a joke. It ain’t worth nothing.”
A silhouette emerged amongst the bushes, stealth almost imperceptible. My heart galloped out of control, perspiration and rain rolled from my head.
“Look at you.” His voice drew near, “You’ve worked your whole life, and for what? When you’re dead nothing will change. Another sucker will take your place and the game continues. Our lives mean nothing.”
“You’re wrong Johnson, life is precious.” I moved away from the unsettling figure. “We have so much to live for, the embrace of a loved one, a child’s innocent laughter, the beauty of a star filled night … we share such a wondrous world, don’t throw it all away.”
A brilliant strobe ripped through the darkness, a sinister smile flashed in my peripheral vision.
I darted into the glade, stumbling as my feet bogged down on the soggy ground. I lurched forward losing my balance, falling to my knees. The cold steel of a gun barrel pressed against my neck.
“You should’ve let me go,” his words dripped with hatred.
I began to pray,
I heard the hammer click. “Are you praying? Begging for your life?”
“I pray for you.”
A deafening bang from behind me, my vision dimmed to black.
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