Author : Jacinta A. Meyers
He had a reputation from the time he brought in his first kill from the lush planet. Walked through the warden’s office lugging the thing in a sack over his shoulder. Everyone involuntarily gasped when they felt the floor shudder, heard the thunder of his steps and looked up.
Before he was a hunter, he had been a builder. You could tell by the enormous honed muscles, his foul speech, his burly way of leaning. He dropped the sack to the floor and leaned over the counter, making it creak with his weight. “Got one,” he said.
“Right,” I said, pulling out a form. “What kind of an entry?”
Ah. “Weighing some brains today?” My fingers twittered over the keyboard, entering the order. To my right a little door in the wall hissed open, allowing a tray to ease forth with a prepared canister full of preserving fluids. “Why don’t you bring it around.”
He hefted the sack up over the counter. Well, that was one way to do it. I undid the tie. And gasped.
It was the biggest cranium I had ever seen.
My tools were ready. I brought down the hose to suck up the noxious fumes of death while I worked. My hands were deft; sever the head from the body, incision here, incision here, and the skin pulled away clean. Insert the chisel here, between the two primary skull plates. Quick bump and open. Use the tubes to suck up excess fluids, pry away veins and capillaries…
At last, my gloved hands slipped the prize from its nest. I carried the gooey mass to the scales and set it down.
“Bastard. You don’t got the stem!”
“It’s the rules, mister. Stems don’t count toward the final measurement.” I focused hard on the numbers as they slowly stopped moving up.
1,672.12 grams. “A new record,” I breathed. Picking the brain back up, I carefully moved it to the canister and set it down into its new home. I shook my head. “That’ll make some trophy.”
The hunter was still leaning against the counter, picking at his pointy teeth with one large claw. He straightened a little when he saw me take my place again behind the keyboard. “Well?”
“I have confirmed the record. Congratulations,” I said. “Now we just have to finish the forms. Can I see your system license?”
He belched before passing a chip across the counter to me.
“Great.” I cringed and flicked it into the computer drive. “Sentient-intelligent. Specimen, brain. Species, homo sapien. Oh…” I looked up. “Where on Earth did you say you bagged this one, again?”