Hunters

Tim Houlihan





     They lay on top of a boulder just off the edge of the path and Max caught a glimpse of it as it scampered through the brush down in the canyon.
     There! Did you see it? Amos said.
     Dammit, Amos. Don't shoot it.
    What the hell is it?
     I don't know. Just leave it alone and come on, Max said and slid off the boulder.
     Amos sighted in on it through his scope. Aw, man. It looks like it's limping.
     Leave it be, Amos. Max started up the rocky path that led back to the road. The sound of the shot made him jump.
     Yee-ha! Amos yelled. I got it!
     I told you not to shoot it!
     Amos jumped off the boulder and slid down through the scree toward the canyon floor. C'mon. Let's go get it.
     Max sighed. He hoped Amos had missed because he was tired and hungry, and just wanted to go back to the cabin. He was curious, though, so he followed him down.
     It didn't take long for them to find the blood trail. It streaked through the coarse sand, thick and red. They tracked it into some twisted yellow scrub brush and froze in their tracks. There, laying in the sand, was a creature neither of them had seen before. It was twisted into a weird shape, and a large chunk of it was shredded off where Amos hit it. Its shiny, white skin was smeared with blood. They crouched down low and crept up to it.
     Man. That's an ugly sumbitch, Amos whispered. He nudged it with his foot and they jumped back. Amos crept towards it again.
     Careful, Max said. He could barely force the words out.
     Amos nudged it again. The creature didn't move, and it didn't make a sound. It's dead, Amos said and gave it a kick.
     Max exhaled the breath of air he had been holding and stood up. They looked down at it, shaking their heads.
     Looks like something out of one of those sci-fi magazines, Amos said.
     I told you not to shoot it.
     Amos curled his lips up in a sneer. It stinks, too.
     Max clicked his lips together. Well, we gotta turn it in to somebody.
     Amos snorted. Who? The game warden?
     No. I don t know. Maybe
     I say we just leave it, Amos said.
     We can't just leave it.
     Why not? Anyway, if we turn it in they'll probably fine us for shooting it.
      We can't just leave it.
     Well who are we gonna give it to? Amos said.
     I don't know! Just pick it up and come on! The suns are going down, Max said, and scampered back up the slope.
     Thanks for the help, Amos said.
     I told you not to shoot it, Max called back.
     Amos gave the creature a disgusted look. Nasty, he muttered. He dropped down onto his front legs and wrapped the tentacles that dangled from his back around the creature, and followed Max back up the slope with it.
 

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