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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)

TITLE: Man Hunt
By T. F. Chezum
06/22/06


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It was a hot, stagnant night, the stench of death hung heavy in the air. The moon hovered low on the horizon wanting to hide once again beyond the sea.

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. ”

Johnson!

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.

Lord, please.

“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.

Johnson!

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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This article has been read 940 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/22/06
Whooo, that one kept my attention! Good job.
Suzanne R06/23/06
Wow!

I love your opening paragraphs about the moon and the sea and stuff.

There are some very familiar names here ... looking forward to seeing who wrote it ... and I want to know who Johnson is!

Too bad about the ending ... guess that's life, huh??? Or ... um ... death, actually!
Sherry Wendling06/23/06
Gripping suspense, chilling mood, heart-stopping ending. "I pray for you"--yes! The triumph of his awakened spirit contrasted with the satanic rage of the renegade--great work!
Phyllis Inniss 06/24/06
Very vivid and exciting. Like watching a movie.
Lori Othouse 06/24/06
Yes, this one definitely kept my attention throughout! Powerful ending, although a somber one. The point about the value of life was well-made.
Jan Ackerson 06/25/06
Oooh, this is a pulse-pounder! Very visual--I can almost see it unfolding on the big screen.

I spotted several spots where semicolons or periods would work better than commas--a minor fix.

Excellent work!
Carla Feagans06/25/06
Wow. Chilling.

Great action, descriptions, all around great writing.

Really, really good. Definitely deserves to be in Master's.

The "brilliant strobe" confused me at first - I thought it was gunfire or something, but rereading, I think it was lightning...? May just be that it's late and I'm tired. :)
George Parler 06/25/06
WOW! Top notch my brother. I thought I knew where the ending was headed, I didn't. This was excellent adrenaline to the end. Good job.
Rita Garcia06/25/06
Masters all the way!
Compelling, strong, strong message!
Maxx .06/25/06
I read this on day one ... sincec it's so near to mine ... and thought WOW! This could be a winner .. .if nothing else, you'll score quite well. The action was right on, the tension high, the timing was perfect. My only nit pick (and this is a preference thing) you seem to have killed off your first person narrator. I just hate that! Whose left to tell the story? lol! Ok, you didn't say he was dead ... but it seemed that he was. Again, a preference thing. Otherwise, this is one of your strongest pieces to date. (so, why'd those professionals split up like that to begin with?) (just had to ask) ;-)
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/26/06
Wow. This was chilling all the way through. Wonderful tension and suspense that never ends. Great job.
Trina Courtenay06/26/06
Powerful & Chilling. Awesome job!
Trina<><
Pat Guy 06/26/06
You made me read a man-thing because I like your work and I have to admit, I ALMOST enjoyed it! :)

Great action. Great pace. I would have liked for Johnson to have had some kind of reaction that indicated a thought of awareness after he pulled the trigger.

I need closure Tim!
Jessica Schmit06/26/06
Finally!!! My comment thingy broke for a while, but it's fixed now!

great job Tim! Very fastmoving, excellent written story and my last name was in there!!!! I would have to agree with Maxx, this is one of your best written pieces. You actually have some similarities in your writing to his stories. You're not related by any chance?!LOL. Anyway, great work!
Venice Kichura06/26/06
Great job! Full of action & suspense. Also loved your dialogue
Shari Armstrong 06/26/06
This would be an awesome movie. I could see it all. Very well done!
Jen Davis06/26/06
"Whooo" was my initial response as well. Very descriptive with strong word choices. Powerful ending. Excellent writing.
Jan Ross06/26/06
Agreed with those who said it was like watching a movie. I could see the whole thing vividly. Awesome! :)
Garnet Miller 06/27/06
Wow! Is there more to this story, 'cause I'd be interested in reading more:) What suspense! What spine-tingling drama! (can you tell I liked it?) Keep up the good work.
Sherry Wendling06/29/06
Congratulations, Tim! I knew this one would grab the judges! Can hardly wait for your novel.
Jan Ross06/29/06
A well-deserved CONGRATULATIONS! :)
Linda Watson Owen06/29/06
Tim, this is great! I was ont the edge of my seat all the way through! Loved it!!
Brenda Craig06/30/06
Fast moving and even though it's dubbed a "man thing"; I liked it as well as any war movie my loving wife heart has been kind enough to endure. Great action that kept me interested to the end. Congratulations.