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.
YOU COULD KILL A PREDATOR TO PROTECT A HUMAN LIFE
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.