The Last Poacher: a short story by: GF Willmetts.

October 2, 2016 | By | Reply More

I is David N’borro and this is our final hunt. Word came through in the night that poachers was seen crossing into the reserve so the hunt was on.

Decades ago, the American hunters gloated to their camera over killing our wildlife. We needed the money and let it happen. Then it dawned on us. If they wanted a better game animal that might fight back, then we should let them shoot poachers. We shoot them anyway. They also fight back. No choice when they gunfight. Let these hunters shoot the poachers and both purposes served and no risk if either side died. Except, this was the last hunt. The last poachers. Even they slowly realised their lives for ivory was never enough anymore with so few buying it. They were attacked from all quarters. No one was buying they wares or at least not at a price worth their lives. We was even considering putting those who did buy in the reserve to end their miserable existence but authorities still prefer to destroy their collections at big enough price. I sure the animal lovers would love to shoot them but can’t have everything. Some of them vegans are quietly murderous.

That not to say these hunters can’t use trackers. Without those cellphones, they get lost pretty quick. We also know the bush and all short-cuts. The number of hunters is nearly gone, too. Even with human prey, they’re own country constabulary view it as murder, with very few exceptions. That why we made sure it was gunfights than outright murder. We tell them, if they shooting at you, it legal to shoot back. After the two I take out this time, the book is empty. People moved onto different things. I might retire myself.

Only two this time. A South African who’d kill me even if he say my skin is no problem. Him I keep a lot closer. The American is just as brash in other ways. Both with big egos. They both know this is last of the poachers and paid well to be here. They is also betting between themselves as to who kill the most. They be lucky to get five or six these days.

I keep the route in my head. Always been a time when these hunters think to cut overheads on the way out. Lose me and they never get home. Even so, we still jeep several miles from the pick-off point. I goes in roundabout ways just to mislead directions. I not stupid even if missed some school. We is also going in as dusk falls. Poachers think they can hide in the dark. Use light enhancers or other such shit. These two thought same way ‘til suggested I throw flares that blind them. They smile like they understand. They get their shots in and don’t get any back. They really here for the kill not be killed.

I warns them when we gets out to walk to keep quiet. The Moon is out enough to see our path until we reach the watering hole. It cloud over soon enough. Forecast say rain soon. Better for hunters. Destroys any evidence for home. All hunters are sick bastards willing to kill anything that moves. These two been out on safaris like this before only not here or I would know them. It also meant there would be no need for flares. Fair fight ‘til the end.

They stop when I do and listen. There was a plan to get there first and ambush ‘til I reminded them that poachers are savvy enough to be random. Better in the act than not. We still needed evidence they poachers not stupid tourists wanting midnight picnic. That happened a few times in the past. Not with me. I careful.

We quietly approached from downwind just in case they had tracker among them. They had trapped an elephant. An old tusker wit’ large tusks but still alive. That was enough for me. I looked at the two of them.

‘Don’t kill elephant,’ I whisper.

They nod even if I don’t entirely believe them if it got in way. They say it was an accident but then they know I leave them out here. They don’t know I changed a couple of their magazines for blanks just in case I need to get away. These two pro-hits. Wouldn’t use guns on automatic. They like to prove how good a shot they are. As the last hunt, they might want me as last tracker.

I point out two vantage points so poachers in crossfire and they don’t shoot each other by mistake. There’s seven poachers. Four on look-out. They expect trouble. Might even expect to win a fire fight. I move back behind a rock but not too far to watch and put out a couple levi-cameras to record poachers guilt on show.

Once they started firing, I doubt if I stood up, they would notice me. Crouching, I watched the fire fight. These were hunters. They took out three look-outs before the fourth shot back but the hunters were hidden enough and he went down wit’ second shot. The final three used the tusker as a shield but the hunters waited. Shooting the tusker would serve no purpose.

One rose and fired. Machine gun spread. They didn’t know where their targets were but would use it as cover to flee low. It didn’t matter. The hunters had used the delay to better their positions and shoot them down.

I rose and followed them in, kicking guns away and checking the dead around the tusker while they checked the those on either side. One groaned and got a bullet for his trouble. All dead. I reached down to release the tusker. They had just netted him. Stunned. Maybe taser. A gunshot would have alerted us.

‘I thinking, man,’ said the South African, ‘maybe we could also be the last poachers, too.’

‘In what way?’ I asked, knowing the answer.

‘Take this boy’s tusks.’

‘Then you no better than these scum.’

‘It would be the final souvenir, dude,’ the American said. ‘One each. We pay you something to turn a blind eye.’

‘Or nothing at all, man. It would be cheaper.’

I was between them. There was nowhere to go. If I tried running, I would be shot in the back. How would they explain that? They each held a poacher’s gun. They were planning this all along. Just another victim. The last victim.

‘You gonna run, boy?’ the South African asked, wetting his lips.

‘A joint kill, dude.’

They aimed and fired as I dropped to the ground.

BANG!

BANG!

They missed. Me anyway. Think I would stand there?

I got up slowly. They were good shots but didn’t realise they were in each other’s crosshairs. Aim true but both dead. I kicked their guns away to be safe. No need for second shot.

The levi-cameras had caught the evidence and would broadcast in five minutes. The biggest mistake they made was letting me think they were hunters not poachers and they were the last. No one would want to come this way again. They were now, what was the word? Sym something. They would be identified as one and the same. Any hunter would be seen as a poacher. That never be lived down as long as the feed was on-line.

I slowly untied the tusker, urging it to get up and return to the savannah. We would both have peace now.

end

 

(c) GF Willmetts 2016

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Category: Scifi, Short fiction

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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