Roland Allnach

multi-award winning author of the strange and surreal
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The Great Hunter
Roland Allnach, 2010
Published in Foliate Oak Literary Journal, September 2010

Enjoy this short fiction and much more in Prism!

                                                                                                                                                                                       

            It was a delightful morning in May, when Nature seemed ready to burst in full from winter’s hibernation.  Clouds were clearing to reveal a blue sky, and the air was warm and fresh.  It was a day that begged to have its open space filled with adventure, rather than have its precious time wasted indoors.  For all the possibilities of such a day, it left any time of confinement aimless and shapeless, washing away any interest in the world beyond one’s eyes.

            Maybe it was a bit of a grandiose thought, a pompous thought, but it rang true in the mind of the boy who toyed with the thought.  He was slumped at his desk, eyes lost in the depths of the blue sky outside the classroom window, while his teacher droned on about something for which he had no care.  He hated such moments.  They were like little tortures, little reminders that there was a whole big world out there, a world where interesting things were happening, and there he was, stuck in the rut of school, learning dead things done by dead people in times dead and gone.

Who cares?  I want to live.  There’s got to be something more interesting.  I know I can think of something more interesting.

            He blinked and glanced at the doodles in his notebook where his notes should have been.  There were monsters, little tanks and army men, medieval warriors, and, of course, fanciful spaceships locked in spectacular exchanges of fearsome weaponry.  Rather than serving as his usual refuge, they drew a frown upon his face, only serving to remind him of his current situation.  He had to get away, he knew.

Right.  So, if I could go, where would I go?

            It was enough of an invitation to set his imagination loose.  He pondered some of the things in his drawings, but nothing caught his fancy in that moment.  Maybe, he decided, it was due to the itch in his nose.  His sinuses had been running all morning, annoying him without end.  As much as he loved the prospect of Spring, the season always seemed to set loose the molds hiding in every corner of the building.  They released a storm of spores that spurred his allergies into a meltdown of mucous.  It was disgusting and tiring, leaving him wheezing from one nostril, then the other, as if his sinuses were taking turns, like two lazy men in a rowboat arguing over who should take the oars.  Besides the wheezing, whistling, and wet pops as he tried to sniff it all up into his head, there was the constant tickle in his nose.  It was, perhaps, the worst.  All that goop that came down his head into his nose would congeal, making thick strands that would flutter against the hairs in his nostrils and send him into sneezing fits. 

            It was there again, that menacing tickle, like some elusive beast in the wild.  If only he could stop it, beat it to the pass—he rubbed his knuckles against the side of his nose, but it was to no avail.  In fact, it seemed to make it worse.  It had to go.  He had to do something—he had to do the unthinkable.  His gaze darted about as he raised an eyebrow in mischief.

Have to be careful, have to be quickHave to be like the hunter, ever so careful in pursuit of his prey. 

            His finger poked inside the rim of his nostril.  No, not just yetThe hunter—that’s it, the hunter, the Great Hunter, he has come for his prey!  And what is this foul beast that he pursues?  Is it the lion, the boar, the crocodile and its vicious rows of teeth?  No!  It is none other but—

            He frowned. 

            But what?  The slime beast?  The green man-eater?  The giant African slug monster?

            I can do better than that.  The Great Hunter has to have a worthy opponent.

            His fingertip ran along the rim of his nostril.  When he felt it, he knew at once.

            Part of it’s starting to dry.

            Yes—yes, the Great Hunter has come to save us, to face the lurking beast that none has dared to snare!  It’s none other than the claw-toothed, slime crusted, tunnel worm—the infamous Green Goober!

            But the Hunter was there, and he was brave, and he wouldn’t turn away.  No, he stalked his prey, stalked it among the dew laden tunnel grasses that are the Green Goober’s natural habitat.  It prefers dark, slimy places, slithering along its slick belly between the grasses, sticking to them until it grows large enough to let its jaws dry to a claw-toothed end, hovering among the grasses to snare its prey.  Even though it isn’t smart, it’s stubborn, and with its slime entwines itself in the tunnel grasses, so that none can dislodge it from its den to destroy it.

None but the Great Hunter!

            See him stalk the beast, circling around to come down upon it unsuspecting, to ensnare it with his hook.

            Grimacing against the stretch of his nostril, he pulled back with his fingernail, snagging the mess in his nose. 

            The Hunter has it!  He has done what couldn’t be done.  He’ll be celebrated the world over!

            Waves of elation flowed through him.  Now, to remove the disgusting beast from its lair.

            He pulled back with his finger.

            Aha, success—the Hunter has won.  See the beast die beneath the light of the sun.  The Hunter has saved us again, so all praise—

            The teacher’s shout hit him like a peal of thunder.  “Excuse me!”

            He froze.  Instinct folded his finger into the depth of his palm, but it was too late.  The other boys and girls were already laughing at him.  He glared at the teacher with hidden rage, but the game was over.  He wanted to be a million miles away, but that wish had already landed him in his current mess.  His face turned twenty shades of red humiliation.

            The teacher stared at him in disbelief.  “And just what, just what—what is it that you think you’re doing?”

            He frowned.  His eyes fell to his doodles.  No one would understand.

            Defeated, there was only one option for him.  He cleared his throat.  “Oh, uh, nothing,” he said, his chin sinking to his chest.

            The teacher shook her head and turned to the blackboard to resume her lesson with a droning monotone.  The laughter around him died away.  His eyes lingered on her back, though, his eyebrows settling low over his gaze.

            And, with the Green Goober slain, the Hunter turns to his next prey. . .

     

(END)

 

 
     
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