Protected Species

Protected Species was originally published in 2016 as a 25 episode serial. Ahead of the release of a new (and very different) version in book form, here is the original ‘work-in-progress’ draft pulled kicking and screaming from the archives…

Part One. Bear.

The bear stank. It stank of sweat, muscle, wet fur, blood and shit. It stank worse than Jack and 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 a bear was behind him. It took a yawning growl from the animal for him to stop and slowly turn around. The bear was ten metres away. It was a big one. Two hundred pounds of killer.

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. There was a drunken slur to his boss’ words. He imagined them quaffing single malt from silver engraved hip flasks all morning. He hoped they could still shoot straight.

Jack did as he was told and took a step forward. That was his job. The bear stayed put, watching the curious human. Jack wondered how fast the beast could move. He wondered how fast his own knackered legs would turn when needed.

“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, not be spat on by pitchfork-waving activists. It wasn’t socially acceptable to kill a bear for fun, but you could kill a predator to protect a human life.

So 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 dangerous animal so Leo and his pals could take potshots. Pay a loser so desperate for the money.

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 drunken 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.

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