Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Search Engine (10/06/11)
- TITLE: A Sad Search
By Tom Parsons
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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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