The bear stank. It stank of sweat, muscle, wet fur, blood and shit. It stank worse than Jack, even after they hadn’t let Jack wash or change his clothes for three days. Three days of wandering the Alaskan plains, while they watched and waited for a beast to catch his scent.
And finally one had. They hadn’t warned Jack one was behind him. It took a yawning growl from the animal for him to stop, and slowly turn around. The grizzly was ten metres away. A big one. Maybe seven feet and seven hundred pounds of killer. Black eyes that defied Disney anthromorphism. One casual swipe of it’s paw would open Jack up.
His earpiece finally crackled into life. It was Leo. “Okay, about time, we got one on the hook. Now walk towards it.” There was laughter in the background.
Jack looked up at the hill, where Leo and his lads were parked up. He sounded drunk. He imagined they had been quaffing single malt from their silver engraved hip flasks all morning. He hoped they could still shoot straight.
Jack took a step forward, just like he was told. That was what he was paid for. The bear didn’t move. It just watched him. Jack wondered how fast the beast could move, if it’s gargantuan bulk would slow it down or speed it up. He wondered how fast his own knackered legs would move if they needed to.
“Keep going Jackie,” said Leo. “We’ve got to save you, remember.”
That was the deal. You couldn’t just walk out and shoot a bear whenever you liked, not if you didn’t want to become the latest social media pariah. Men like Leo had all the money in the world, but still craved the love of the masses, fearing being spat on by pitchfork activists. It wasn’t socially acceptable to kill a bear for fun, but you could kill a predator to protect a human life.
That was Leo’s little plan. Hire a baitman, save his life, kill the beast, be a hero. Pay a loser like Jack just enough to stand in front of a monster that Leo and his pals could take potshots at. Pay a loser so desperate for money he’d risk his life for a pittance.
Jack took another step. This time the bear moved forward as well. Seven metres. It’s smell thickened the air and Jack wanted to gag and leak from every orifice. It shook it’s head and bared it’s teeth.
A clump of grass exploded in the space between them. Leo had fired, but the sodden Faunterloy fool missed. The bullet was enough to start both Jack and the bear. Shock, fear, anger. The bear roared and lurched forward.
Jack turned and ran. His life wasn’t in Leo’s shaky hands, it was in his own legs.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
THIS IS THE FIRST CHAPTER OF ORIGINAL ADVENTURE SERIAL PROTECTED SPECIES. A NEW CHAPTER WILL BE POSTED EVERY SECOND DAY.