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Volume 13 • Number 1 • Spring-Summer 2021

Matthew McGuirk

She Ran

She ran after the first shot. She ran through that winter snow and I followed with blood on my mind, my hair standing on edge and my extremities pulsing with a primal nature. The kaleidoscope of spinning snow throwing off her trail, which ran over fallen hemlocks, through snow drifts three feet deep, across glazed creeks and up and down embankments. A deafening crack broke early morning air as I fired again and connected; a euphoria swept over me. I should have felt that sting of guilt, but I carried on with urgency. I could smell the musty powder, but the smell of blood was so potent I could taste it; I could sense her fear and why she ran. The snow intensified, pricking my bare hands and face as she continued. I pressed through large drifts in my knee-high boots. I followed distinguishable dragging feet in the snow and trickling red across white. Still she ran and I yearned after her, needing to finish the job I started before the sun streaked morning darkness with color. She hadn’t done anything but be herself, this was just part of me, something innate. I chased for the pleasure of it, she ran for her life and I would kill because I could, no other reason but because I could.

The trail continued and the trees were silent spectators who wouldn’t stop my pursuit. The trail twisted past towering oaks and white pines, brambles grabbed at my clothes threatening to thwart my pursuit, but I pressed forward with a keen excitement. The trail of red thickened on the white snow and I knew she was reaching her end, soon her run would be a trudging walk, finally a collapse face first into the snow and nothing to do but crawl and when the crawling ceased there was nothing but to give in to me. All of me relished the opportunity, imagined how it would end and my heart beat for the chase, the game, the pleasure of it all. She wasn’t my first, but she was proving a good competitor as many in the past were, but I knew how this would end.

The smell of blood thickened and the trail threw red blood across white snow; I followed it to the far side of a large pine and found where she gave up. I readied the stone sharpened knife, a smile crossed my face and I ran it along her throat in a ragged manner finishing the job, quick and dirty at the end. The pure white speckled with red turned to red that soaked any white. I could taste blood in the air and see the body glistening in that streaking sun. I ran my hand across her body and felt the excitement wash over me. I wish this girl was a male and I could run my hands across a wide rack of antlers before I put them on the wall.

Matt McGuirk teaches high school English and laughs at his own puns by day and scribbles stories at night. He lives with his wife and daughter in New Hampshire. Find his upcoming stories in Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Sleet Magazine, The Dribble Drabble Review and Versification. Follow him on Twitter @McguirkMatthew and Instagram @mcguirk_matthew.