Predator And Prey

Predator And Prey

A Story by Trekkie


Jimmy looks up. “Hey.” he replies, after setting the tray down.

“You know what the date is?” I ask quietly, trying not to make any sudden movements, don't want to scare him off. Truth is, I'm just aching for company, and I don't care who it is, 'long as they don't stare at my scars. Like they can judge me by them.

“It's the fifteenth,” he says quietly back. He doesn't say what we're both thinking. I've only got five days to live. Five days to breathe. Five days until it ends. A hundred years ago they tried to hang a guy but he wouldn't die, so they released him and made him a saint instead. But he was only a thief. I'm a murderer. There's no hope for me. And they made this cell bare enough that I couldn't choose to die on my own terms, only on theirs. It's always on their terms.

Jimmy startles me with a question. “Did you hunt – when you were my age?”

I was never your age, Jimmy Austin, I was always the age I am now, I never had a childhood, just a plain gray cell. Right. It's November. November is the start of hunting season. They say if you kill at an early age you'll grow up killing the rest of your life. Five days. It's forever. “I wasn't very good, but, yeah.” When I saw the blood, I threw up, even though my dad had shot it. When I saw it dead, some of me died. When I tried to kill a deer myself, I missed. I could never kill when I was your age, Jimmy Austin. Then – well, after that, I grew up.

“My dad says that I'm not good enough, either.” He sniffles a little, as though at a memory. God, he can't be more than twelve or so. “So that's why I'm still here, instead of out hunting with him.

I perch unsteadily on the edge of my bed. “Yeah?” I ask, and then I startle myself with an answer to my own question. “Hey, Jimmy, will you do me a favor?”

He looks up, meets my eyes again, hesitatingly. His innocence breaks my heart. “Sure.”

“Remember me. In six days, I mean.” That's when his father will come back from his hunting trip, and i won't have to see how his eldest son flinches every time his father raises his arms. I won't have to se how the second eldest jumps at loud noises. I won't have to see Jimmy's look of adoration for his father, won't have to see the haunted look on Jimmy's brother's faces.

“I will.” But I don't know your name,” he says, slightly sad.

“You mean, besides 'prisoner 428'?' I ask quietly. He nods.

I laugh, a little bitterly, a little softly. “That's okay. I don't have one. Not anymore.”

He blinks a little, baffled. “Then what do I call you? In my memories.”

I think of the little girl I silenced, only a few years younger than Jimmy. Her name was Alice. I think of the man I stabbed in the heart, in memory of his lover, who paid me to kill him. His name was Dave. I think of the dark nights when I knew I was leaving too much evidence, knew I would get caught, didn't care anymore. These had all been named Loneliness.

“Call me Michael.” Name of an archangel. It works. There is no guilt here.

He nods picks himself up off the floor, and leaves, but not before he says quietly “I promise I'll remember you. On the sixth day.” The next word kill me on my own terms. “Michael.”

I smile softly, look out the barred window at the cold, midmorning air. I think of Jimmy Austin and I hope he never learns to kill. I think of the five days left. They could be forever.

© 2009 Trekkie

Author's Note

I really like this. I like it so much I want it to end up in a language arts textbook and laugh as the teacher tries to figure out the deeper meaning in it.

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Added on February 2, 2009



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