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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)

TITLE: Maneater Farms
By Lisa McMillion


The rumors greeted Adam first, as they did all new inmates. Manchester was a flake with flaky ideas. Manchester’s own mother was assaulted when he was a boy. Manchester had a private hunting preserve with more women patrons than men and greater than the usual lot of incarcerated ended up transferred -- never to be heard from again.

As he sat upon his cot in cell B-20, Adam heard Warden Manchester himself approaching. He put down his magazine (he had asked for American Hunter and received Parenting) and wiped one corner of his mouth with his prison shirt. An article about mothers lactating uncontrollably to the cries of other babies and what to do about it folded shut. “You, boy.” The bars clanked open as patrollers slid to either side out of view except for the butts of their rifles. Adam was being recruited.

Hours later, in the darkened cellblock, he contemplated with incredulity what the warden himself told him. The “hunters” were women assaulted in some way by other men, for whom neither the judicial system nor traditional therapies worked, who had paid handsomely to hunt at his preserve. Unfulfilled women. He would be the only game stocked, and if he survived, would find a birth certificate with a new name on it. He would quite literally be born again. They would get dogs, four-wheelers, and, of course, weapons -- he, a one-hour start across a twenty-mile field. There was a ramshackle barn at about twelve miles, a few trees and shrubs, but not much else in the way of ground cover.

Adam remembered track in high school. Although his stride was more Irish than Kenyan, his turnaround was better than anyone else’s. It hadn’t been so long ago that he’d even won a few races. The pressure to achieve, to cross a line for adoration, caused something in him to rebel against it. Looking into the stands during a 10,000 meter race, he once saw a woman with a wide-brimmed, Kentucky Derby-style yellow hat. He felt like a horse then. Like the beast of a senseless burden. Adam slowed enough to keep it from maiming him and tripped enough to make it look real. Cheers became gasps then sighs as his body hit the track. No one had applauded him since.

On hunting day, Adam reached the barn at twelve miles cross-country in little over an hour, asphalt time. His situation felt so surreal that he wondered if it wasn’t just a scare tactic from the start until he heard them closing in behind. He entered the shack and took off his outer button-down shirt, soaked with perspiration and his scent, stuffing it with long-rotten straw. Through a bulging center part, Adam carved a hollow with his hand, nesting a smuggled recorder. As he pushed play, the sound of a newborn baby crying began. It was his brother Jim’s – his nephew he had never seen. Jim told Adam it durn near drove him crazy, but there was at least forty-five minutes of the stuff on side A.

Adam began his final race -- a little over a 10K -- as pursuers crested the hill and began their downward descent to the barn. As planned, the dogs would stop inside, catching the shirt’s scent. Three figures in bodysuits and helmets halted with them, turning off their engines. They would approach the wailing bundle instinctively, removing the alienating helmets like crowns to admire it and become, for a moment, the sane rescuers they once were. Mothers, sisters. By the time they recapped their heads and the pain that had driven them there, half the fight was out of them. Adam was almost free.

“Posted: Property of Manchester Farms,” a metal square read at the end of his sprint. Atop the surname, in blood or red marker, the ‘ch’ was blotted out and the ‘s’ turned into ‘a.’ Maneater Farms. As he crossed the wire fence, Adam could hear the drone of engines and chorus of hounds singing disappointedly behind. From the sign’s back, he peeled a Ziploc of documents authenticating his new life. Adam remembered the words of his mother, a God-fearing woman, who once told him that goodness and mercy were like pet dogs at his heels, and that they should ever pursue him down the right path. He spotted a clearing in the woods beyond and a stream with a path before it, trailing off toward the houses of what appeared to be a friendly little town.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 04/13/06
Interesting story. I liked the bit about the tape-recorder, and playing on a woman's in-born maternal insticts.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/13/06
Okay, to be perfectly honest, this is a really wierd story. True, it's very creative. It would have given even more of a punch if we could have really gotten a taste of the fear the MC presumably had. I too, like the part about the baby crying.
Karri Compton04/13/06
This confused me. I didn't really get the point. I also felt like you told the whole thing, and the reader wasn't drawn into it. It read almost like a newspaper article. That said, it was a very unique idea. (Perhaps I should re-read it.)
God bless.
Sharon Singley04/13/06
I was also a bit confused. But it was an interesting tale, no doubt.
Helen Paynter04/14/06
I understand it better on second reading, and it deserved a second reading (the 4th paragraph still gives me some trouble though). Powerful writing.
Suzanne R04/15/06
I think there is a huge amount of symbolism in this, woven throughout the piece ... although I can't say that I truly 'get it' all. Like, what did Adam do to get sent there in the first place? How did he come to have the tape player and everything, and know the barn and all? Anyhow, the message of 'fulfilment' comes through loud and clear. It is masterfully written. Well done.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/15/06
Strange, "different", off the wall, unusual, foreign, odd...just some of the adjectives I thought of as I read this tale of...woe? I sure didn't find any "Fulfillment" here. The Author did not research prisons - as there are no weapons allowed within the walls of a prison. ("men with the butts of their rifles stood aside") but all kidding aside...this is probably a neat story for those who understand it. Good Luck.
Jan Ackerson 04/17/06
I applaud your creativity! This reminds me a bit of Richard Condon's story "The Most Dangerous Game," only with a far more satisfying ending.
Debbie OConnor04/18/06
This was very unique. I think it told too much and showed too little. I didn't understand all the symbolism. The MC went from prisoner, to hunted, to a new man. I am guessing it is a parallel for salvation. Good, but I think it needs development so that we care more about the character and feel his emotions.