It’s been fun surfing on monster waves in Hawaii in weather so beautiful it was post card perfect. Those two beach bunnies were a nice touch. Literally. Heh! heh! Everyone was real nice to me, and smoking pakalolo with those two Philippine fishermen was a cool experience, but I want to wake up now.
There must be rules.
Nothing is wrong with me. I’m healthy and happy. Just sleeping. So why can’t I get up? Shakespeare wrote,
“Are you sure
That we are awake?
It seems to me
That yet we sleep,
In The Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This quote haunts me because I’m sure I’m awake, yet somehow dreaming at the same time. It stirs instincts from other lives that were hidden from my consciousness and are now scampering about like free rabbits in the wild.
What am I doing wrong?
Is it possible to forget how to wake up? Is that little piece of information in code somewhere in my unconscious? Did it grow tired of waiting for me to open my eyes and shrivel up? Way too many questions here. I have to pull back and not panic. I appear to be stuck in a nightmare. As soon as I get the right neurons to move from my cerebellum to the cerebral cortex it will go away.
Maybe I’m having the mother of all daydreams. Daydreams. That’s it. I’m having the most intense daydream ever experienced by a human. I don’t know why I was singled out for this dubious honor, but I’m over it. Time to move on. I have a life to live. Is anyone out there listening?
Clint’s apartment offered a panoramic 10th story view of Portland which could be enhanced if one desired by looking through the telescope on the deck.
The telescope was a Gskyer 70 mm with lots of interesting attachments. He could watch ants climbing up a lime tree in someone’s backyard five miles away if he felt like it. His favorite attachment was a 5×24 Finderscope and mounting bracket with cross hair lines that helped locate objects and subjects. He spent many pleasant hours looking at the world unfold outside as he sipped 18 year-old James Buchanan’s Special Reserve Blended Scotch Whiskey.
He was single and a successful day trader who worked from home. He didn’t like being around other people. Crowds made him uneasy. He didn’t mind one-on-one conversations with friends or strangers however. He was well-educated and graduated top of the class at Webster University, a national top ten business college. His soft spoken voice could calm people in distress and hold people’s interest when he told a story.
His rugged good looks turned more than one female’s head in admiration. Yet Clint never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend. Never. His adopted parents never pressured him to date and often went out of their way to help him avoid large gatherings… like school. His adopted mother was a special education teacher who home schooled him when she came home from work. He absorbed knowledge like a sponge, but seldom showed emotion. Joy, or anger. Grief, or elation. Happiness, or sorrow. It was his poker face that made some people a little uneasy when around him. That, and his pale blue eyes, which seemed to sparkle with an unknown energy that suggested an icy presence lurking inside.
Money was no problem for Clint. He was very successful at investing his money in the market, and had over a million dollars in savings. His problem was entertaining himself. The television and the internet provided entertainment up to a point, but the day came when it wasn’t enough.
Clint adopted the persona of a deliveryman. He would bring surprise packages to houses, apartments, motel and hotel rooms, and businesses. He purchased numerous deliveryman outfits with different company names on the back and his front pocket. He wore fake glasses. The contents of the packages varied; some were bombs, some were piles of cash, some were just pranks using jack-in-the-boxes. He always felt calm about his deliveries regardless of their contents. It was a strange feeling for someone who experienced very little human traits.
One day while peering through his telescope, Clint watched a little drama going on a few miles away and near one of the many bridges below. One of his talents was lip reading. Despite turning their heads away from him at times, Clint pieced together what they were fighting about in minutes. It was enough to inspire him to deliver a special package to the house later that day.
He pulled up to the house in his General Delivery van and brought his package to the front porch of the house. It was where he saw them arguing. He calmly drove back to his apartment and went outside to his telescope. After lighting up a joint he inhaled deeply, savoring his favorite strain of cannabis, Grand Daddy Purp. Grinning in anticipation, he peered through the 400mm lens he had substituted for the 70mm and settled in for a long wait.
Two hours later the occupant of the house, a woman, stepped out onto the front porch. She peered around as if looking for someone, but the street was deserted in the growing dusk. Then she looked down and saw the package. It was the size of a shoebox and was wrapped in brown paper with a yellow ribbon and bow. There was no card. Her name wasn’t on it. She looked around again, straining her eyes against the withering light. Eyes back down. A step towards it. Clint imagined how hard her heart must be pounding as she neared the package. She hovered for a moment over it then bent down. Fear and curiosity crawled across her brow as she contemplated the package.
Finally she reached out and pulled the ribbon…
This was the part Clint enjoyed. Life, or death? What would it be? He knew she was risking everything. If the package killed her she’d never come up with the ransom money for her only child, a daughter. Still, in her desperation she hoped the package contained good news.
Clint watched, squinting in the growing gray sky, as she opened the top and pulled out the wads of money. Twenty-five thousand dollars in cash! Enough to get her daughter back.
When the man came for the ransom she had it. A moment later her daughter was freed from a car parked nearby. The man left without a word. As he got into the passenger seat of the car Clint took several photos with his wireless camera attachment to his Gskyer telescope. It would help him find the man so he could send him a package too. One without money in it.
The hunt was on. Like a moon circling a planet, Djara kept a safe distance from the beast while patiently stalking and observing it’s every move for days.
In the course of her young life Djara had become a renown hunter. She was a superstar in the Milky Way Galaxy where hunters from different world’s gathered to share stories and techniques. Her reputation for bagging exotic game was well-earned. She had yet to find a quarry that eluded her and didn’t end up in her vast collection.
It was a harsh planet filled with strange creatures and endless jagged mountains surrounded by forests so thick sunlight couldn’t penetrate their canopies. Unbothered by the rugged land Djara made her way through the dense forest using her night vision glasses. All the stories she ever heard were true. The beast was eight-feet tall and had four powerful arms that sprouted from a massive hairy torso.
Hunters seldom returned after stalking the creature. There were some hunters who saw it firsthand and ran for their lives, only to be broken with fear and unable to ever hunt again when they returned. And there were those who died gruesome deaths for their efforts.
Flen’s grizzled features tried to crack a smile, but the effect looked more like a grinning death’s head than an attempt to be jovial. He was in a good mood. Someone was hunting him and they didn’t know that he knew. It was always like this. A game of life and death. Flen was exiled to the nameless planet eons ago for crimes long forgotten. Back in his world, before he ran afoul of the law, he was a bounty hunter. Some said he was the best one on the planet Druin.
Killing was a hobby for Djara. The only one she had. Because she was raised and spoiled by wealthy parents, she always got what she wanted. The best weapons instructors, and the latest high tech weapons were hers from an early age. She was sixteen when she went out on her first big game hunt. Since then she had become a skilled tracker and a crack shot.
The day finally came when she saw her chance. It was a clear shot. The beast was standing on a ridge line totally exposed 200 yards away. An easy shot. Instead of going for center mass she decided on a quick kill head shot. The laser rifle’s blue beam streamed in the same second as the quarry suddenly dropped out of sight! She wasn’t sure if it was a hit, or not. A cold feeling came over her and she involuntarily shuddered. This had never happened before.
She climbed up to the ridge line where the beast was a moment ago and looked down the other side hoping to see a body. Nothing. It dawned on her that she was in trouble. This quarry was turning the tables on her.
She would have been amazed to see how fast he moved when he plunged all the way down and into the forest below minutes before. He was already flanking her as she weighed her options.
By the time she decided to go down into the forest the sun was sitting and Flen was following her like a big cat closing in on its prey. Like a great cat, he played with his prey. He sensed she was better than most and decided not to underestimate her. It was this kind of caution that assured Flen of success since he stalked the first hunter who came seeking him for their trophy collection. He had no illusions. The hunters would keep coming until one day he died of old age, or carelessness. He was a universal target for so many years he lost track of time.
It was Djara’s hunter’s sixth sense that alerted her that she was in danger. She stopped walking and held her ray rifle closely. The beast was near. She saw a fleeting movement. The narrow space between each tree barely afforded a brief glance. But she knew the moment of truth was near.
Flen had no weapons. He always got by with his sheer brute strength and size. His speed is what made him the most dangerous. His ability to be on his prey in a blink of an eye was terrifying to his victims.
A dreadful recognition slowly dawned on Djara. The “beast” was a hunter just like her. She wasn’t facing a dumb creature who had been lucky thus far. It was a skilled hunter operating in his own terrain.
Her fate was sealed. Holding the ray rifle with one hand, she unclipped her last resort weapon – a grenade – and pulled the pin out just as Flen’s four arms wrapped around her!