Thursday, September 5, 2013

End of the Hunt

Isham stood in the shadow of the trees and studied the house. It was neat little A-frame, tucked up against the side of a hill; a nice house with a nice view, and no nearby neighbors. Shielding his eyes against the light, he looked for the little details: the shape of the woodpile, the bit of stained glass just visible in the leftmost window, the bird feeder that hung at the corner of the porch.

This was the place. Samina was here, kept by some Natural, and Isham meant to get her out. Satisfied, he retreated back into the trees to wait.

It was dark when he emerged. He approached the house cautiously, wondering if they were expecting him; but nobody emerged to challenge him. A pair of clippers took care of the power line, and the place went dark. Isham was already moving towards the back door. The Naturals should be blind, while he could see better now that his eyes no longer needed to strain against the light.

He had almost reached the door when it swung open and a man stepped out. Isham lunged, knowing he had lost the element of surprise, but hoping he could win it back if he dispatched the Natural quickly and silently. His blade was sharp, and in the darkness he was quick and strong.

The man turned and brought his arms up, sweeping the knife aside and capturing Isham's arm in one fluid movement. A moment later an elbow rammed into Isham's ribs, and a moment after that he found himself face down on the pavement with his arm twisted painfully up behind him. He struggled, trying to free his arm, but the Natural just twisted it further, hurting him, nearing the point where his arm would break. He felt his own steel touch the back of his neck, and went still: defeated and shamed.

Then a child's voice said, "Isham?" and everything he'd thought about this place - his fears, his plans, his expectations - shattered into dust.

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