Author's Notes:

Another trick or treat offering for you-- just like Mr. Sandburg's Wild Ride. I advise you not to think too deeply about these little morsels. :-)

Hope you enjoy!



D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 10-31-00)

The Hunter watched his prey with a practiced eye. He'd spotted them immediately upon his arrival on this distant planet. Long-range scanners had assured him that the atmosphere of this area of heavy population was compatible with his body. It was cool and moist, not like some of the drier or hotter areas of the highly variable planet. That was very convenient; it meant it would be easy to keep his prey fresh once he got it home.

His prey consisted of two specimens. One was tall and smooth. The other was several hdsze shorter and had hair over most of its visible body. As they approached beam-out distance, he tapped his ear to listen in on their conversation. Just how intelligent were these creatures?

"Surely you can see the necessity of the rule, Chief."

"Jim, it was one ant. One teeny, weeny, cute-as-a-button ant."

"Who probably had a million cousins waiting to join him. Just rinse out the glass and put it in the sink after use. It's not that difficult."

"But that requires me to walk all the way out to the kitchen, and after yesterday I was just too tired, man."

"Get over yourself, Sandburg. Yesterday wasn't that out of the ordinary."

"Sure, you can say that. You weren't the one who chased a suspect through a water treatment plant, up the St. John's Street hill, across the freeway, and finally through a patch of wild cacti--Wait a minute. That was you. Well, you weren't the one chasing your crazy partner all over town trying to make sure he didn't kill himself."

"You chased me in the truck."

"And it was darn hard trying to look cool in that--"

"Talk about my truck and you die."

"It was one ant, man."

The Hunter reached down to activate the transfer beam. But at that moment, two men jumped out of the shadows and attacked his prey. The taller being whipped out something that looked to be a weapon, but maybe not, because he promptly dropped it on the ground. The hairier one picked up a long piece of some material and whacked his attacker on the head.

Seeing this, the taller one's attacker decided to flee. The taller decided to run after him. The Hunter, leery of losing his prey, followed. Three modes of transportation later--one by land, one by sea, and one by air--the taller caught his attacker and put something metal around his wrists. The hairier one showed up with his attacker bound in the back of some kind of vehicle. A bgrin later, other vehicles arrived and carried the attackers away.

His prey headed for the hairier one's vehicle, and the Hunter knew he had to make his move. He approached cautiously, his translator still activated.

"About that glass, Chief."

"Jim. If the ant bothered you so much, why didn't you just stomp it? Instead, you coaxed it onto a sheet of paper and carried it outside."

"Why should he suffer for your crime?"

"Man, you are so anal."

The hairier got into the vehicle and slammed the door. The taller climbed in, and soon they were out of transport distance.

The Hunter stared at them in astonishment. Such single-mindedness could be dangerous and detrimental to his brand-new, fully-equipped, automatic five-dimensional steering with one-button access, not-so-much-as-a-dent spacecoupe-- but, of course, that was the least of his worries. No, determined prey, especially when Hunting alone, was something to be feared. The first rule of Hunting was that it was best to let the prey go than to possibly perish. Besides, he probably couldn't stand their fubbing yicking for three bleeks, much less the three billion bleeks it would take to get home

And worse, they probably tasted like chicken anyway.

The Hunter transported back to his spacecoupe, at peace with his decision. Sitting back in his deluxe myarrh-skinned captain's chair, he programmed in the course to his planet. Jerking when he saw movement in his cockpit, he leaned forward and eyed the tiny creature warily.

The ant disappeared into a gap in the paneling. Two bgrins later, the spacecoupe shuddered to a halt, rattled once, and exploded. The Hunter stared at the pieces of his beloved vehicle as they floated by the window of the escape pod, and shook with fear. His prey had known of his watching. Why else would they have sent their little accomplice to destroy him? This planet was far more dangerous than it appeared.

As the escape pod eventually broke Earth's atmosphere, the Hunter sent out a message to all Hunters in the area: Avoid this planet at all costs.

The ant, his debt paid, landed gently on the ground and continued on his way.


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