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The Hunter
by  Michael A. Lewis - Copyright 2001

It was a dark and moonless night, as nights tend to be, lit only by the
stars hanging in their positions of record in the night sky. A slight breeze
blew from the mountains to the west, barely visible by starlight, outlining
a deeper darkness below the jewel-studded fabric of space.

The hunter crept silently from beneath piņon pines to the barely
discernable bunch grass and opuntia between. His moccasined feet made no
sound on the sandy soil; his dark, soft clothing absorbed light and sound,
making him a black silent hole in the deep gray background. If he were to
look up, which he never did, only the whites of his eyes would betray the
presence of a human being disturbing this satiny night.

His prey stood on the near horizon, invisible for now, its exact
position known to the hunter through long stalking and planning. The ground
between hunter and prey was bare of vegetation, making it easier to avoid
detection and alarm.

He stooped forward and began to crawl, holding in his left hand a
complicated arrangement of strings and fiberglass, pulleys and cams, with a
large hoop attached thereunto. Keeping the tool from scraping across the
ground was a challenge, but he had had hours of practice at maneuvering the
awkward thing, practice that paid off now in a silent approach.

Sounds began to penetrate the silence, sounds the hunter knew came from
beyond his prey, hissing and rumbling sounds as of large objects moving
swiftly across hard packed surfaces, sounds occasionally accompanied by a
broad sweep of lights across distant mesas. So much the better to mask the
tiny whispers of his inevitable approach.

Soon he came to the base of a slight rise on which his prey waited. He
looked up briefly and could see the dark outline obscuring occasional stars
beyond. He was in place. It was time to act.

In a practiced effort, he removed a long iron spike from the folds of
his clothing and pressed its pointed end into the yielding, sandy soil. It
penetrated a good six inches and then stopped as expected. He removed
another bulkier, cloth-wrapped object and with several well-placed muffled
blows, drove the stake deep into the bosom of the soil, making firm and
loving contact with the moistness held therein.

Rising to his knees he quickly fitted a slender shaft to the string of
the complicated device in his left hand, an aluminum shaft with imitation
turkey feathers at one end and a gleaming, sharpened point at the other,
catching the distant glint of approving stars. He rose fully to his feet,
raised eyes, hand and shaft to the heavens and drew back the string to its
knock point at the corner of his moustached mouth.

For moments he stood like a statue of an ancient god casting prayers to
the heavens, indistinguishable from the constellations above, at one with
the Earth, content at the task at hand, focused, relaxed and alert.

Then the smooth, practiced release of string and shaft. The coiled
forces in the bow threw themselves through excited limbs, curving cams and
rolling pulleys, the shaft sprang forward with an almost audible cry of joy,
leaping for the night sky and freedom. Or nearly. For as the shaft rose into
the cold desert air, a slender but strong thread followed its path,
uncoiling from the reel on the face of the bow, tracing a hissing curve of
the arrows trajectory, up into the sky, over the top of the towering prey,
to the peak of its path, the apex of its ambition, the denouement of its
escape from the bounds of material being.

Suddenly the thread drew taught, anchored as it was to the iron stake
firmly imbedded in terra firma, at the archeršs feet. The arrow stopped
abruptly and fell toward Earth, captivated once again by immutable gravity,
its stellar ambitions thwarted, redirected to a nobler cause. As the arrow
fell, the thread followed after, downward toward the prey, the tower, the
bristling antennae, the circling girders, the electricity pulsing through
wire and cable, the radiation broadcast outward in scintillating concentric
waves.

The archer leaped back just as the slender line contacted the tower.
Sparks flew out into the night, lightening flared in a clear sky,
electricity, freed from the confines of aluminum and steel and insulated
cable, suddenly found an open path to itšs unrequited love, the ground, the
Earth, the ultimate destination of coursing electrons, deep into the bowels
of the earth. The tower shook with instantly released power, quivered,
vibrated and was quiet.

On the highway below, a sleek, dark automobile purred smoothly along the
Interstate highway, its lone occupant holding a small plastic device to his
ear.
"Damn," he said to the empty interior, "my cell phonešs gone dead."
 

Copyright 2001, Michael A. Lewis