By Hafsah Shehzad
The world spun around her, tilting at crazy angles, threatening to turn upside down. Splashes of colour appeared at the corners of her vision; shapes and objects distorted weirdly. She whimpered in pain as the wound on her chest throbbed. Blood pulsated out of the gash with every contraction of her heart. Her knees trembled underneath her as she crouched behind the stack of cardboard boxes. A small snivel made her look back instinctively. Her child lay huddled against the wall, bleeding from the two holes that punctured his neck. A crack sounded in the dark. Her body tensed the hair on her neck rose in fear. Dread rose in her; there was no mistaking that sound, footsteps. Boots crunching the dead leaves; coming directly towards her. Slowly she staggered to her feet. She winced as she tried to put her weight on her injured foot. She was dyeing; she could feel the life ebbing out of her. She closed her eyes, the chase and the hunt all flooding back.
It had started out as any normal night. She’d cleaned up her little home, made sure her son was asleep before leaving the house. She worked at night, hunting, killing, stealing to bring feed herself and her child. Tonight had been no different. She’d snuck out her back door, her orange covering almost black in the inky darkness. There was no moon; clouds rolled across the sky, blotting out the stars. She crept stealthily towards the building, the house which was to be her target today. The house was dark; no sound apart from the soft clucking of sleeping chickens coming from the backyard. Chickens…that were what she was after. She didn’t need jewels or money. All she wanted was food. She veered towards the coop, moving as softly as a ghost through the leaves. She pushed at the door, believing it was locked as always. To her surprise the door swung open with a crash. Startled, she hung back for a moment. The poultry squawked indignantly around her; reminding her of her purpose. Her teeth and lunged just as the world around her erupted in a shower of bullets.
A sharp yelp tore out of her as a single bullet tore through her ankle. Groaning, she pulled herself to her feet as she hobbled downhill towards her home. She had to get her son before they got to him. She could hear them pursue her; an occasional crack announcing the fire of another bullet. She lurched downhill, stopping dead at the sight of her home. The doors had been kicked in, the walls reduced to piles of rubble. Fear gripped her heart as she spotted the tiny bundle that lay at what used to be her door, her son. She limped towards him, taking in the wounds on his body. She could see he was dying. Moaning in grief, she nuzzled him against herself. An explosion in front of her broke through her grief. She picked him and ran as fast as she could towards the old warehouse where she now hid. She grunted; the throbbing wounds draining the life out of her. One look at the still form behind her told her what she already knew, he was dead. Flashlights now penetrated the darkness; she could hear the hunters’ laboured breaths. They knew where she hid and they were going to find her soon enough. They screamed for her blood, just because she had to steal from them to feed her kid. Her knees trembled beneath her as she struggled to stay on her feet. She growled in defiance and anger; she would die proud. Just as the rifle muzzle came into view, the she lunged at the hunter. A single shot echoed through the room. Fur matted with blood, the fox lay dead.