The Great Hunter
Roland Allnach, 2010
A soft rain fell from a featureless gray sky. It was one of those days, aimless and shapeless, that washed 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 murky mess outside the classroom window, while his teacher droned on about something for which he had no care. He hated this, these 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? he wondered. I want to live. What about right now? There’s got to be something more interesting. I know I can think of something more interesting. There’s always something more interesting to think of…
He blinked and glanced at the doodles he had made 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. Have to get away from this, he decided. If I could go, just 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. It had been running all morning, annoying him intensely. The humidity always seemed to set the molds hiding in every corner of the building into an overdrive 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. And 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, some of it would congeal, making thick strands that would flutter around against the hairs in his nose only to 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 eyes darted about as one eyebrow rose with the mischief brewing in his head. Have to be careful, have to be quick, he told himself. Have 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 yet, he told himself. The 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…but…
But what? The slime beast? The green man-eater? The African giant slug monster?
He pursed his lips. 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 yet dared to snare! It is none other than the claw-toothed slime crusted tunnel worm…the infamous Green Goober!
But the Hunter is here, and he is brave, and cunning, and will not turn away. No, he stalks his prey, stalks it among the dew laden tunnel grasses that are the Green Goober’s natural habitat. It prefers dark slimy places, slithering along its slimy 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. And even though it is not cunning, it is stubborn, and with its slime entwines itself in the tunnel grasses, so that none can easily 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 could not be done! He will 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.
Success! The Hunter has won! See the beast die beneath the light of the sun! The Hunter has saved us again! All praise-
“Excuse me!” the teacher shouted.
He froze. Instinctively, he 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 are doing?”
He frowned. His eyes fell to his doodles. No one would ever understand.
Defeated, there was only one option for him. He cleared his throat. “Uh…uh, nothing,” he said, his head sinking down between his shoulders.
The teacher shook her head and turned to the blackboard, resuming her droning. The laughter around him died out. His eyes lingered on her back, though, his brow slowly sinking.
…and with the Green Goober slain, the Hunter turns to his next prey…
To read more of Roland Allnach's fiction, visit www.rolandallnach.com