Author Thursdays: The First 1000 Words of a Story by Rachel Barnard

A young boy stood silhouetted, perched like an animalistic predator awaiting a sign of its dinner. He pulled out a thinned and long instrument from a sling around his neck and blew into one end of it. A low drone undercut the wind in the air, whipping around the hill, wavering slightly in tone but never in pitch. The boy carefully stuffed the vuvuzela back in its place and turned to glance behind him. He was soon joined by three other boys, each carrying a different weapon that glinted fiercely in the dying light. One weapon was a simple instrument, only one piece of wood, easily grasped within one of the boy’s hands with a sharp metal piece attached to one end. The second boy carried his weapon with the awkwardness that usually accompanies unfamiliarity. His weapon was also quite lengthy but it tapered at both ends and was connected by a string. He carried a sling of small pointed arrows on his back. The third boy held in his hand a wickedly curved knife with a crudely cut but elaborately worked wooden handle.

The first boy tensed, peering deep into the distance. He was met by trees and bushes. His face lit up and he gestured to his buddies. They stopped shoving each other and bragging about their bravado back in the heart of the silver zone. They looked where the first boy pointed. Ten seconds passed and they were all still staring straight ahead, down the hill. A brushy bush between the bottom of the hill and the trees beyond shook itself, like it was shedding a layer of leaves. Two disheveled and dirty adolescents fell out of the bush running, trailing bits of twigs behind them. The four boys on the hilltop let out war cries. The first boy whooped and started running down the hill, leaving his mates behind. They didn’t wait a moment before racing after him, catching up steadily. Adrenaline pumped as they gathered speed down the hill. The two adolescents picked up their pace ahead of the other boys, sprinting as if their lives depended on it.

The four predators gained foothold on level ground and pounded after the two boys ahead of them. The trees became taller and taller as the chase took itself to the forest’s edge. The distance between the two parties waned, disappearing at a rapid pace. The four boys were long-legged and sure-footed, hampered only by the menacing weapons they brandished in their hands. The two ahead of them ran with a different speed, one fed by the fear of an untimely and early death at the hands of Los Ricos. The distance grew tighter and the first hunter hefted his spear, moving its glinty point from the sky to a horizontal point, aiming at the terror-stricken two in front. The boy knew that if he waited until they were all within the confines of the forest, his weapon would be less than useful. He straightened out his stride, gliding forward and readied his arm to throw. He released his spear at the same time that the two adolescents were about to vanish within the tangle of the trees. The taller adolescent let out a cry and grasped at his right arm with his left, still moving forward, but at a wounded pace. A growing rorschach
of red appeared on his dirt-crusted sleeve, mixing in with sweat and dust. His friend cried out as well but kept going, leaving his friend in his wake. The two melted into the forest. The four boys converged at the edge of the trees. The boy with the other long weapon hefted it up. The bow was fitted with one of the arrows in his quiver at his back and he walked forward. He was swallowed by the forest, followed by the rest of the clique. They were not cheetahs chasing their prey anymore, now they stalked like true hunters.

“That was a crap shot, Jorge,” the first boy, Carlos, said as he pulled out his primitive slingshot and a couple of spiked stone-sized objects from the same sack that housed the vuvuzela. He was careful not to prick his own finger; the spikes were filled with poison that dispersed when contact was made. He definitely had to handle his ammunition gingerly.

“He moved at the last second. It was a perfect shot,” Jorge whined, unsheathing a machete from around his waist, leaving the gps trackable spear lying on the ground behind him. Word was the Gypaetus would not pick up or use their weapons. What pussies Jorge thought to himself.

“Shut up! They can hear you,” whispered the archer, Luís.

“So?” waid Jorge, slightly louder than his normal voice. “Ouch. Stop it Esteban!” Jorge said even louder.

Esteban, the fourth boy was poking Jorge with the tip of one of his throwing knives.

“Come on. They’re getting away. Let’s go already,” said Luís.

“You want to use the heat sensor or the locator or go blind hunting?” asked Carlos, his slingshot at the ready, even though the two adolescents had run far beyond his shooting range.

“No blind hunting, stupid. We need to get points. Can’t fall further behind,” Esteban answered.

“Last kills for the day, then,” Jorge commented.

“Or night,” Carlos added.

“It shouldn’t take that long. These ones don’t seem too smart. Running out into the open. Tsk.” Esteban shook his head sadly and then grinned. “You may have gotten the first hit Jorge, but I’m going to take the kill.”

“There’s two of them. We can share you know,” Jorge answered Esteban’s boast.

“Not if I get there first!” shouted Carlos as he whooped again and took off into the jungle.

The other boys set off as well, spreading out to cover more distance.

2 thoughts on “Author Thursdays: The First 1000 Words of a Story by Rachel Barnard

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