The elephant in the room
Glen and Mikaela were hunters. There was nothing they liked better than shooting big animals. They had a collection of guns that could have serviced a small army. Killing was their passion.
Money was no obstacle. Mikaela ran a big company and Glen was an attorney. They had no children and so poured all their energies into their sport. They would enjoy pawing over maps, thumbing through brochures and planning their next trip. The focus was always a rare exotic beast that they could add to their collection.
Their trophy room was an enormous extension they had added to the back of their mansion. The walls were lined with heads, glass cabinets displayed tusks, horns, antlers, tails and paws while the floors was covered in skins. Pride of place were the stuffed animals.
Glen and Mikaela impressed their friends with a fearsome grizzly bear, a snarling panther and a roaring bull elephant. All arranged in lifelike poses to cause a stir with newcomers!
Not for them the rigours of a hunt. Having decided on location and prey they booked into a luxury hotel, organised a local hide, sat inside at dusk on their soft cushions and shot anything that took their fancy. If the animals were lucky it was a clean shot. If not neither Glen nor Mikaela could be asked to track the wounded beasts down to finish them off.
If they wanted a specimen for their collection they always avoided a head shot that might spoil the display.
Jack was also a hunter. Raised in the bush he was old school. He loved the wildlife and respected the animals. For him hunting was a game of skill and courage, requiring knowledge and expertise – to track, to know the habits of your prey and have the courage to stand your ground in the face of a charging beast.
Jack had hunted this particular prey for over a year and now he sensed that the time was near. Dusk had settled. He knew the habits well. The animals would be returning from the water hole. He settled in the bush, upwind and waited.
Slowly raising his rifle he sighted carefully, expertly squeezing the trigger with a smooth motion. His first shot ripped through the guts, mangling the liver. His second was aimed precisely at the subclavian artery. He knew his biology well.
Loading another bullet he cautiously approached, watching carefully. There was nothing more dangerous than a wounded beast.
He stood over them, kicked their rifles out of reach and stared down. The bullets had done their job. He could see that they would both bleed out.
‘I could have gone for a head shot,’ Jack drawled. ‘Like you could have done with that bull elephant you shot last year. But I wanted you to have the full experience of a hunt.’
He looked from one to the other, noting the agony and terror, then, shouldering his weapon he slipped back into the undergrowth.
500 words – 24.1.2022