I swallow nervously. Yeah, nervously. I’ll admit it. I’ve seen what shotguns like the hunter’s have done to the duck, and I don’t intend on ever having the same experience if I can help it. “Come on, man,” I tell him. “It’s all in good fun, right? You show up at my doorstep with a gun, I do something wacky, you get hurt, rinse and repeat. It’s fun, yeah?”
“It’s not fun, Mr. Cat-Bear. It’s very frustrating.”
“Well, maybe try and reinvent yourself, huh? You don’t like being the schlemiel and the schlemazel all at once, do something about it. Maybe lose some weight. Take some night classes. Learn self-defense instead of toting around that cannon everywhere you go.”
The hunter laughs, and it’s not that goofy laugh of his, sharp and repetitive like a woodpecker smashing its face against a tree. It’s slow and deep, like a growl. I’ve never in my life heard him laugh like that. “Reinvent the hunter character, huh? Change the rules? I am, Mr. Cat-Bear. I am.”
Slowly I turn and look over my shoulder. I almost don’t notice that, sure enough, he’s wearing the scuba mask and the floaties because I’m staring down the barrel of an assault rifle. An assault rifle, not the old antique shotgun. It’s thin and black and plastic and deadly, so much more deadly than the rusted up piece of shit the hunter’s used for as long as I can remember. My eyes move up the barrel, past the fancy looking sight on top of the thing, and into his eyes. They’re different, wrong. They’re cruel. They’re dark. They’re wide open and watching me.
He’s wearing white gloves.
I’m thinking, “I am going to die. I’m actually going to die.”
“Who are you?” I whisper. “Who are you?”
He doesn’t say nothing. He just grins and jams the tip of the barrel against my forehead. His finger tightens on the trigger.
I take a step back. He grins wider, knowing it won’t save me.
I gasp, and quick as lightning, I jam my finger into the barrel of the rifle. He pulls the trigger, and the thing swells up like an overstuffed sausage, like a balloon. We both stand there, eyes wide, disbelief on his face, and then it blows up and the world goes black.