Author: David Monteyne
His hideout is a tidal cave, little more than a crawlspace gouged into a seaside cliff. He rarely leaves it. He starts brushwood fires to keep warm and forages by moonlight for the limpets and starfish and anemones that populate the tidal basin.
The part of me that is a hunter — a native of this remote frost-bound tundra — shines an industrial flashlight into the crevice where he huddles, pale and gaunt in the tatters of a once-fine suit.
Of course, the hunter being merely one individual within my omni-faceted self, I know who this man is. I am his wife and his father. I am his son. I am his colleagues at law, his drinking buddies, his jiu-jitsu instructor. I am the waitress with whom he had an affair.
His name is Aaron Byers.
It was a satellite that spotted him in the end. A mere handful of pixels, but the part of me that is a geoscientist knew what to look for. In an instant, his location was known to every agent of my being, every vertex of my ubiquity, every athlete and grocer and civil engineer. The hunter, who lives in self-imposed exile to forget the tragedy of his past, was merely the closest.
Three hours hence I stand before him. The cave drips and whispers. A thick frame and a bear-fur mantle insulate this body from the cold.
Aaron Byers, though, shivers. He raises grubby forearms as though to ward off the flashlight beam and croaks, “Am I the last?”
There is no quaver in his voice. I answer, “Yes.”
He lowers his arms. In resignation or acceptance, I do not know.
Brisk winds sing through the cave. I remove a fleece-lined glove, abruptly eager, and extend a weathered hand …
… and the part of me that is Aaron Byers relaxes into itself: rotates a bony wrist, tongues the furrows of a bite-bloodied cheek, and smiles.
Was this a good thing or a bad thing? Left nicely vague amongst the detail.
Brings mystery and artistry to “resistance is futile.” Very well done.
I thought this was fascinating. So layered and intricate, but also so perfectly short… I get something else different from it with every reread.
It was inevitable I suppose. Good on Aaron for holding out the longest.