Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Hunter

by Sarah Begg.

There was something different about this place.
On the surface, it was a regular bar – a swathe of well dressed young adults gathering for cocktails after work on a Friday evening. The good looking ones eyed each other off while the lesser attractive downed their drinks and talked loudly to compensate for their not-so-fortunate looks.
But there was a presence here – Clara could feel it the moment she walked through the smokey door and headed casually for the bar. The Nagi left a feeling in the air, a feeling that Clara was accustomed to sensing.
She closed her eyes and held her breath, the sounds of the bar dulling slightly as she let her sixth sense reach out.
Three Nagi had been here only hours before, their presence still lingering within the closed-in walls of the underground establishment.
Opening her eyes, Clara saw that one of the bartenders was staring at her with eyes narrowed.
Did he guess she was a hunter? Smiling euphorically as if she had simply been relishing the smell of this sweaty cesspit, Clara approached the bar and greeted the bartender.
“This is such a lovely bar!” she babbled cheerfully. “A friend told me about it last week and I just had to come and check it out. I hear you have a specialty whiskey cocktail that I must try?”
The bartender gave her the once over with his eyes but then she saw his expression clear as he decided she was just a regular newcomer.
“The best whiskey cocktail in town coming up,” he said in a slow drawl before turning away to begin preparing it.
Not a hard guess, Clara thought to herself, her eyes drifting across the rows upon rows of specialized whiskey lining the wall behind the counter.
While her miscellaneous drink was being prepared Clara looked carefully around the bar. A few men nearby were eyeing her – they always did when she wore her skin-tight leggings and combat boots. She had long given up trying to dress not to attract attention – this was the best outfit to wear when you might need to run, jump and chase someone at the drop of a pin.
Her eyes roamed to the wooden floor – Nagi always left telltale signs of their passing on the floor. Sure enough, she detected traces of saltwater that had seeped into the wood, mixed in with the myriad of typical spilled liquids one would expect in this night-spot. No matter how hard they tried to dry themselves, the Nagi always left traces of saltwater. It oozed out of their pores and their well-concealed gills to trickle on the ground as they passed.
“Here you go, that's thirty-eight love,” the bartender drew her attention. Clara cringed, both by the use of the word 'love' and also by the hefty price for a drink she didn't want and wasn't planning on drinking.
She paid her money, smiled sweetly again, and then began making her way through the crowded bar, following the lingering trail of the Nagi as it led her towards the table at the back.
The table was occupied by four co-workers enjoying themselves so Clara leant on the wall next to it, pretending to sip her drink. She closed her eyes and let the visions come.
Three of the Nagi sat at the table, talking quietly among themselves and drinking beers. Though they resembled normal humans to most people, Clara could instantly identify them from the strange aura that surrounded them.
The bartender walked over, the same bartender that had just served Clara, and the Nagi beckoned him over.
Thank you again for helping us, Gregory. Your help to our people will be remembered in the coming years.”
Clara opened her eyes and glanced over towards the bartender. He was serving others now and not looking at her, but she made a mental note of his face. Any who aided the Nagi were to be brought in and interrogated – she would report him when she got back tonight.
“You're a hunter, aren't you?” said a quiet voice next to her.
Clara turned sharply, her free hand flying to the knife at her belt.
A scrawny youth, probably not more than 19 years, was looking at her excitedly, nerdy glasses and curly, tousled hair slightly concealing his face.
“Why would you think that?” Clara asked calmly, her hand slowly loosening her knife as she lounged casually against the wall.
“I knew the second you walked in. You're after the Nagi that were here earlier, aren't you?” he said even more quietly.
Clara felt alarm bells instantly. Most people did not know much about the Nagi, that strange race of people who had walked out of the ocean ten years ago, and simply melted into society. People knew even less about the rumoured hunters that now tracked them down one by one. So how did this nerdy looking boy know what she was?
“I don't know what you think you know boy,” she began, but he cut her off.
“Listen, you can ignore me just as everyone at NT7 has been doing, or you can let me help you. I was here earlier when that Nagi and his friends were here, and I overheard where they were planning to go. If you want my help I can help you.” he finished determinedly.
Clara raised an eyebrow. Not bad, she thought, although he only identified one of them as being Nagi instead of all three.
Clara relaxed her hand on her knife and smiled.
“Why do you think I am interested and why is it that you seem to know so much?”
“Don't patronise me,” the boy narrowed his eyes, his voice raising an octave. “I know things, lots of things, but those bastards at NT7 won't even give me the time of day to listen. I know what is coming, what is going to happen. And I want to help.”
Clara eyed the boy again. Could it be possible that he possessed a sixth sense? He obviously didn't have the hunter sense, yet there was something else about him and her instincts told her that she should take him with her.
“Very well then, you can join me for now.” Clara said as she began making her way out of the bar. The boy's face lit up as if he had just been handed a pile of money, and he followed her eagerly out of the bar.

It seems you've got yourself a new companion, Clara thought to herself sardonically as they entered the dark street. Let's hope this one will be more useful than the last.

1 comment:

  1. great post Sarah,very interesting read. Wish there was a part two to this story...


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