Skeet tiptoed across the moist terrain, trying hard not to make a noise. He could see the target; it was only a few feet away. He motioned to his son who had been following him on the other side of the path by waving his arm in the air. Once he had Ty’s attention he pointed in the direction of their prey. Ty nodded nervously. He blew on his hands to warm them and then holding his weapon, stealthily aiming it at the creature that stood unknowingly directly in its hunters view.
Ty’s hands began to shake. This was his first hunt. The event that would make him a man. And such a prized specimen they were after. The creature had been rarely seen, always eluding capture over the years. Ty’s older brother almost caught one a few years ago. Almost.
“This is my chance.” Ty said under his breath.
Yes, this was an important capture; one that would be put in the history books.
Skeet watched as his son took aim.
“Look at that form.” Skeet whispered proudly.
Ty was holding the weapon just as he had taught him. Skeet looked over at the large prey. It was distracted by something, its eyes on the ground.
“Now’s the time boy, now’s the time.”
Ty had the creature within eye shot, but he couldn’t shoot right away. The boy stood still for a moment, observing it. No one had been this close in years. His brother would be so jealous.
Ty’s thoughts wandered for a moment. He nearly forgot why he was in the damp, dark woods.
He planted his foot more securely on the ground, inadvertently stepping on a stick beneath him.
The sound caused the creature to look up, its eyes darting nervously, its mouth opened wide.
“No, no!” Skeet whispered, through clinched teeth.
The creature was now on high alert. It looked around slowly, only its head moving, while its large body remained perfectly still.
“Shoot, shoot!” Skeet wanted to shout, but couldn’t.
He didn’t want to spook the beast any more than it already was.
Ty’s sweaty hand was now on the trigger of his new weapon.
The one his father proudly gave him just one year ago.
He had practiced nearly every day for this moment.
Now, the time was at hand and for an instant he thought he had blown it.
Then, it took one step, then two, in Ty’s direction.
It had figured out where the sound had come from.
Now, each had the other in its sights; the hunter and the hunted. They stared at one another for a few seconds; surprised and afraid at once. Skeet gritted his teeth so hard his jaw began to hurt. Ty’s trigger finger was shaking. Then the creature took a step back, its eyes widening. It released a loud, blood curdling sound from its mouth. The scream was cut short by Ty’s new weapon and the beast went down fast and hard.
No one moved at first. The smell of burning flesh began to fill the air. Then Ty, cautiously walked out from behind the thick underbrush and over to his prey. His father ran out from the other side; both standing over it, observing it as the creature struggled for air. Its body thrashing about, eyes bulging, staring at them.
“It’s in pain.” Ty said. His words were not out of sympathy, just a fact.
“It’ll be over soon.” Skeet said.
The creature took a few more quick breaths, and then it was over. It stopped moving suddenly.
Kneeling down, Ty wanted to touch the creature.
“Don’t do that, not yet. These things are usually contaminated. We have to call it in and let the handlers take him first.” Skeet said.
“How do you know it’s a male?” Ty asked looking his prey up and down.
“The shape of its head, its size, the males are usually larger than the females. The Institute will need to confirm it, of course.” Skeet smiled at his son.
“You did it son. You have made history. I’m proud of you, so proud of you.”
Ty nodded. It was hard to contain his grin. He was proud of himself.
“Well, let’s call this in, so we can have it tagged with your name on it, son.”
“Wow, my name on it. What do you think the tag will say?”
Skeet patted his son on the shoulder and then stood, looking down at the creature.
“Oh, I suppose it will say something like, on this date, Ty Nuz hunted and captured species of the Blue Planet… Human.”