The hunter is here. His soapy scent lingers in the air, cutting through the earthy aromas I’ve become so used to. I scurry across the ruins, keeping to the shadows, refusing to look behind me. His smell tells me he’s getting close. I don’t have much time.

I don’t know why they came here. Maybe they were driven from their homeland. Maybe they were driven to explore. Or maybe they just wanted more. Whatever brought them to our shores, we would have been happy to share. The sea is generous and abundant. The land is rich in resources. There was plenty to go around.

But they weren’t like us. They despised us from the moment they stepped from their ships, their eyes burning with hatred and revulsion, their children screaming at the sight of us. All our attempts to befriend them were met with brutal violence. Within their first week here, they had slaughtered hundreds of my people.

So we learned to hide. Harrowed and demoralized, we became the hunted. Forced from our homes, some fled to the ancient forests, others to the treacherous rocks by the sea. My family went underground, hiding in basements and long-forgotten tunnels beneath the ruins of the old city. But it didn’t matter where we hid. The newcomers were relentless in their pursuit. They trained teams of hunters, and sent them out in waves to track us down and destroy us.

There were very few of us left now. And the very best of their hunters had been tasked with completing our annihilation.

This particular hunter had already killed my mother and my two older brothers. He’d intercepted them the night before, as they tried to bring food to our hiding place. My father had managed to escape, but he was wounded. That left only my younger brother and me.

Until now, I had obeyed my father, staying hidden, resisting the urge to fight. As his only daughter, I was the key to our family’s survival. But I was also a seasoned warrior, and a hunter in my own right. The time for hiding was over. If we didn’t fight, these invaders would wipe every trace of us from this planet. We should have fought from the very beginning, protecting ourselves and earning the screams of their children.

The hunter is nearly upon me now. Up ahead, I see my target. To reach it, I will have to move into the light. I pray that everything is in place and launch myself into view. I hear the hunter’s breath quicken behind me and his smell catches on the roof of my mouth.

“Now!” I yell.

My brother cuts the rope. I turn to watch as the tree trunk strikes the hunter’s chest, toppling him backwards. His weapon flies from his hands, landing far beyond his reach. For the first time in a long time, I smile. Our timing couldn’t have been better.

Carefully, I make my way to where the hunter lies, disarmed and injured. He has been a worthy opponent, and a part of me admires his strength and cunning. I can see why we wanted to befriend them. It’s a shame they chose such a violent path.

As I watch the hunter struggling to breathe, I feel a stirring deep within. My people believe that where we come from is the key to who we become, so, as perhaps the last fertile female of my kind, I knew I had to find a strong and robust host for my eggs. With this hunter’s help, my army of children will be unstoppable.

Still smiling, I slide a tentacle toward the hunter.

Finally! My tentacled muse is back. I wrote this in response to the prompts for the Grammar Ghoul Press writing challenge #3, which opens officially on Friday.

In the meantime, if you’re feeling inspired to write a little flash fiction or poetry, you should pop over to the kickoff post and check out the prompts.

Image credit: Spex84 @ deviantART

26 thoughts on “Unwelcome

  1. For most of the story, I couldn’t help but think of how this paralleled European settlers coming to North America… and then I get to the last lines with the tentacles and the host for her eggs… whoa! I didn’t expect that!

  2. You have a wonderful way of leaving little “hooks” and hints through the story that get me wanting more and reading faster. I had many possible scenarios for the ending running through my head. This ending was so cool, and also terrifying. I guess the Hunter will become like a male seahorse, unwillingly? Silky smooth writing as always, Suzanne. I’ve missed your prose. 🙂

    1. Thanks Eric! I’m sorry it took so long for me to respond – I’ve been fighting off the plague (or something similar).

      And yes, kind of like a male seahorse. Only more terrifying.

  3. I loved reading this. I went back and forth in my mind between a Christopher Columbus setting, to a Supernatural setting, with the Winchester boys, of course. lol. The ending shocked me, but I love that she is already planning her children and army. I also enjoyed the flow of words!

  4. I always enjoy reading your stories, Suzanne, and this one was especially fun. I too went down the Christopher Columbus route until the ending slapped me upside the head with a tentacle! Very well told with a dynamite hook. Bravo.

  5. Finally I have a chance to comment on this! Your descriptions are so rich, Suzanne, from the adjectives at the beginning that you use to set the scene, to the smile at the end. I kept thinking about all the endangered species, especially this week’s news story about one of the last six African rhinos being killed. We might be one of those endangered one day!

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