Author : Julian Miles, Featured Writer

Taffy leapt from the ridge, a howl of joy trailing behind him until he hit and rolled on the green grass below. He came smoothly to his feet and looked up at his launch point, a hundred metres above. A smile cut his grimy features as he imagined their faces. Didn’t say anything in the rules about gravtac boots.

He wondered where Sam and Ellie had gone. He’d warned them that trying to stay together was dumb. Then again, they’d only asked for money whereas he’d managed to strike the whole room silent when he asked for a platinum rated ID card.

Ellie levered herself up on her elbows and looked up at the elegantly dressed elderly gent, his stance reflecting a life of the very best in everything. He looked down at her with a cold regard.

On the other side of the clearing, Sam gasped as his attempts at shallow breathing sent waves of agony through him from where the impaling javelin pinned him to a tree. His vision dimmed as his blood formed fractal swirls in the little puddles that were scattered at his feet. Conversation sounded loud over his fading heartbeat.

“Oh, good kill, my Lord.”

“Thank you, Jenkins. A hundred metres with a torque-spear should net me the range trophy, I feel.”

“Indeed, my Lord.”

Ellie let her head hang so they wouldn’t see the tears. They had only wanted a life together, and Taffy’s idea of being Foxes seemed like such a good way to make their fortune in a few hours. She felt a hand grasp the hair her mother had loved brushing and pull her head back. Tears streaked the grime on her face as she stared into the dispassionate eyes of the elderly gent. His other arm did something below her vision and scarlet fountained up into her view just as the pain hit.

“Sweetly done, Messir. Clean to the spine in a single stroke.”

“I do think that they deserve a quick end. Pass me a towel, would you? It bled on me.”

Night was falling as Taffy strolled up to the gates of the mansion. He could almost taste his new life. The guards scanned the game tag on his wrist and let him in. The drive was long, and the clean gravel crunched under his boots as he quickened his pace to get past the trophy racks, staring fixedly ahead to avoid seeing anyone he knew. Ahead of him, the sounds of genteel partying rose into the tranquil summer evening.

Something hit his lower back. He tumbled forward as his legs went numb. By the time he heard approaching footsteps on the gravel, the numbness had taken his entire body away. A hand rolled him over, his eyes frantically flicking about before settling on the dapper young man next to the little girl in a ruffed summer dress. She stared down at him, her features pinched and eyes wide. She tore her gaze from him and looked up at the man;

“Are you sure they’re animals, Daddy? They look like us.”

“Would the Watch let us hunt them if they weren’t, Cynthia?”

“No Daddy, the Watch only let us do good things.”

“Precisely, darling. Now can you do it?”

“Yes Daddy.”

The sweet little girl pulled a filigree-chased antique Webley .22 automatic from her designer purse. His eyes widened as she knelt down by him and patted his matted hair, gentling him like a beloved pet in pain.

“There, there.”

He felt the cold tip of the tiny barrel against his clammy brow.

A click.


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