The Hunter slowed his Fed Ex van and looked for just the right kid. The dashboard clock read 06:45, so Suzie P. should have come through this neighborhood already. She always took a different route to the house on Price Street. This was his third pass.
His breathing quickened in frustration. Suzie P. looked like she was twelve or thirteen with light brown hair that hung down over the top of her backpack that had pictures of horses on it. Two days ago he had been close enough to hear her singing “Skip to My Lou,” whatever that meant. He knew she didn’t know what it meant either. He imagined he could smell her bubble gum shampoo. He nearly seized up with nervous energy to be so close, but still not be able to take her.
He couldn’t wait at the house on Price Street or take her while she slept. She had a dog. There were dogs at most of the nearby houses too, and dogs seemed to have something personal against the Hunter. Maybe they didn’t like his smell. At least he didn’t have to worry about adults—Suzie P. was alone, living in a cold, vacant house. Some of his past Suzies had been well protected by idiot adults. The first time he tried to take Suzie K., a bald headed guy had nearly brained him with a golf club. He hated killing the guy. Killing adults saddened him—such a waste. But killing the bald guy made killing Suzie K. that much more satisfying. He appreciated the things he had to work for.
He was working hard for Suzie P., so this would be good. He should have seen her by now. She must have slipped past him. He was at his limit. He would have to drive back to the old power plant and sleep. He scanned for dogs and pulled over to the curb. He put his trembling fingers over his face.
But as he lowered his hands, there she was. She walked on this side of the street wearing a beautiful Suzie smile. He would take that smile. Her backpack bounced as she pranced along the sidewalk toward the van. This was too good.
She might see him at the wheel. He ducked. He carefully crept to the side door of the van. He pulled the shocker from his holster. It would knock her out quickly, so he could do his work slow and right. If only she didn’t cross the street. If only a dog didn’t traipse by.
The Hunter peeked up so he could see how close she was to the van. Good. She was just where she was supposed to be. He had to open the door and sweep her through in one motion, then shock her with one hand while the other slammed the door behind. His hands shook as the adrenaline built. She was even with the side mirror. Now.
Door opens. Hand snakes through. Grabs her arm. Sweeps her in. Applies the shocker. Static bursts and light flares. Door slams.
He breathes out a sigh of relief and breathes in bubble gum shampoo and ozone. She twitches as he drops the shocker and turns her over. Good.
Her delicate hands lock on his lapels.
She is awake. He must have applied the shocker to her backpack and now she is fighting him. He gropes for the shocker. Squealing, she pulls her face up to his and bites through his eyeball. Pain erupts. He grabs her hair to yank her away.
Her symbiote slithers through his socket and into his skull cavity. That is the last sensation he feels.
In the host brain, he waits for death. The Suzies cannot yet inhabit adult humans, but in this kind of combat, they cannot lose. The Suzie is encasing and digesting him and will then return to the little girl. He has killed fifteen Suzies. He has done well. Some hunters die without killing one.
As the Hunter feels life seeping away, he hopes that others of his race will be able to stop them on this planet. Because that way his death will mean something more than a feast for another Suzie.