Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the SUSPENSE and/or THRILLER Genre (10/23/14)
TITLE: The Hunter and the Hunted
By Myrna Noyes
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He stood motionless a brief moment, a beastly, primitive hunger manifesting itself in narrowed eyes. The only question now was—How would he do the job? Would he deftly slit her throat with one sharp slice? Would he squeeze unmercifully until she had no more breath? Would he just snap her neck and be done with it?
Horror, like a burning bile, rose in her throat but all that came out was a constricted squeal of despair, unheard by anyone else. Her dark eyes, fixed on him, held terror in their depths and seemed to plead that the end would come quickly. Breathing in short gasps, she felt her heart about to pound itself right out of her exhausted body. Was there no way of escape, no hope of help?
He salivated involuntarily, running his tongue over his lips. The anticipation was part of the pleasure. He was in no hurry and would make no mistakes in achieving his intended goal. He’d done this before and was enjoying the game—Hunter and Hunted, Predator and Prey. Yes, toying with her a while was part of the plan, but then he’d sate his desire swiftly and certainly. How he looked forward to it!
She should’ve known better than to go out for a breath of fresh air, but the small, rundown brick house was so stuffy and hot this August evening, and the stale, stagnant air in her attic room was saturated with unbearable humidity. What a fool she’d been not to fear for her safety on the squalid, city streets of their not-so-nice-neighborhood!
Her pursuer was legend in her family as one to fear and steer clear of. Why, just last week her brother had a run-in with him and narrowly got away. She’d seen him many times before, a brutish, unkempt bully who acted like he owned his surroundings and dared anyone to cross him or challenge his authority. Afternoons, he was often found lounging around the corner shops, not missing a thing that went on, despite his affected nonchalance. He definitely had a reputation in the area—and it was all bad!
He had noticed her only a few minutes after she’d come outside, and he eyed her with a contemptuous but fascinated leer. Yes, she was a little beauty all right, and he eagerly acknowledged his primal longing to have her. Of course, he knew it wouldn't be easy, but that was also part of the thrill. He wouldn't mind the chase if he got the prize at the end. Steady now. He’d wait until she reached the opening to that dark alleyway before he made his initial move. Steady.
Out of the corner of her eye, she’d seen him lunge at her, as she was helplessly knocked into the black void between two tall buildings. She tore down the narrow pathway, frantically searching for a way of escape or a place of concealment. It was a given that he would kill her if he caught her, and the end result would be her bloody and motionless form lying on the rough pavement, stiff and forever breath-less. Her entire body shook with fright.
Her terrified cries, heard by him but otherwise drowned out by traffic in the street behind, only spurred him on. Shape-shifting shadows, a product of the moonlit sky, did not distract him from his target. A variety of night-time noises did nothing to dissuade him either. His steely gaze was focused, his intent set and determined. He was closing in.
As she fled, she noticed the rusty hulk of a dumpster sitting under a streetlamp’s dim glow at the alley’s fenced end. It wasn't much protection, but upon reaching it, she darted behind, completely out of breath and crouching on trembling legs.
He had her cornered. He knew it. She knew it. His cold, compassionless eyes rested upon her hiding place as he calculated his final moves. He would methodically stalk her to a very satisfying end.
However, at the precise moment he sprang, reaching out to grasp hold, his rank breath hot upon her neck, she spotted a small hole in the fence, scooting through to blessed safety.
His scruffy tail twitched in frustration, but there was nothing he could do now. Oh, well. There were plenty of fish in the sea—or more accurately, mice in the nest. With a resigned meow, he conceded defeat in this particular game of cat-and-mouse.
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