Short: Hunter

“I never wanted this,” I hear my own voice, like a dying gasp, escape me. Tears were welling in my eyes. “I’m not—” the words wouldn’t come. Chocking back a sob, I try again, “I—I—” I stutter. Holding up my hands, I lift them into the flashlight’s beam. Covered in crimson, bloody drops roll down my arms. “Why,” I ask, my body convulsing.

“It’s okay,” I hear his voice. The body’s below me, still, perfectly still. The inspector’s light shifts as he folds it under his arm and draws his gun. “It’s okay,” he says as he turns the wheel of his revolver. Cupping his hand, he collects the bullets into his palm one by one. “It’s okay,” he says, putting them away into his pants.

My head suddenly hurts as he pulls something from his breast pocket. Another bullet, but I hear it singing to me in an unrelenting, shrill tone. He loads his revolver.

“It’s going to be okay,” he tells me, and fires.

No one was quite sure why the inspector was retiring. He’d a good career going. He wasn’t young, that’s true, but he could have been chief if he had fought for it. No one knew much about his decision.

“Started acting queer,” his partner answered, “buying weird books, talking ‘bout witches and alchemy and stuff.”

When asked, the inspector demurred, mostly. “I’ll be fine,” he’d assure his friends, “Just retiring. Think I’ll take up hunting.”

And he did.

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