The Hunt – Will MacMillan-Jones (2nd place)
Here we have the story that both judges placed second, and here’s what they had to say:
“…A definite contender. A decent punch at the end and well controlled prose style…”
“…I really liked this, and didn’t see the twist coming. The urgency was well maintained throughout…”
by Will MacMillan-Jones
Harsh light flooded the room. I looked up at the man who sat at the desk.
“At last. You’ve woken up.”
“Do you understand what is to happen to you?”
I looked around the bare cell.
“Do you understand?” he repeated.
“Tell me again.”
“You have twelve hours. Then you are theirs. If you still live, you go free. Meet your hunters. Mister Tom. Tabathea, and Miss Si.”
They came to stand behind me. Mister Tom was stocky with ginger hair and a friendly grin. Tabathea was dressed incongruously in a tweed twinset: but Miss Si was frightening to look upon. She was tall, with a cream complexion and dark hair.
She stroked my face, her manner elegant, sensual – and threateningly possessive. Again she caressed me and her nails sliced open my cheek. Blood ran down my face, and she caught it with a finger.
My captor placed upon the table my wristwatch. Only the hour hand remained.
“That will help you know,” my captor said.
Mister Tom and Tabathea kissed me and left. Miss Si followed them with terrifying grace.
“You leave by the other door,” she said softly.
I fought the ropes holding me until I was free. I looked at my watch. Two of my twelve hours had passed. My door opened onto a busy street and I fled into the city. Commuters were everywhere. Nothing had I in my pockets: but thief I was and so shortly I had a wallet and was in a café eating. Thinking: where to hide?
“Good coffee?” asked Mister Tom. “You can’t run without breakfast.” He grinned. “It’s no fun if you don’t run.”
I ran. The Department Store was nearby: I pushed into the crowd around the Sale bargains.
“Nothing I’d wear,” sniffed Miss Si. I ran with her smile before my eyes. Maybe my clothes were tainted! The railway arches! Through the alleyways I fled to the dregs of the city. I stripped a drunk: his clothes were rank but I took them anyway.
“Good idea,” agreed Tabathea, emerging from a heap of cardboard boxes.
Passengers thronged the railway ticket office. I pushed into the crowd, to blend in, to hide. Tabathea was selling the tickets. Unsafe! I left the station. Terrified by time I ran from the station. Outside were two working girls.
“Looking for some fun?” the first asked.
“But a hotel,” I stammered, hoping to hide.
She led me into a dingy building. Mister Tom came down the stairs and gave me a dirty wink. “Best be quick,” he sniggered.
“The back door!”
The girl took the stolen wallet. She pointed towards a door and I returned to the streets. Too long had passed. Resigned, I walked to the park and sat on an empty bench. A hand stroked my cheek in a caress and as the hand slipped from my chin in an elegant gesture, the long claws slid from Miss Si’s fingertips.
“Time’s up, little mouse,” she breathed into my ear.