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Winter, 2012
24-Hour Short Story Contest
2nd Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:

Blue ice stretched to the horizon, fading into the blinding rays of another waning winter sun. She shivered violently as the shifting mass groaned under her feet. She instinctively glanced down, looking for cracks under the transparent sheen. Suddenly, she tensed and dropped to her knees. Desperately clawing at the ice, she screamed...

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.


The Hunted
by Gregg Herning, Windermere, FL

As the sound of the rifle shot pierced the Arctic silence, she knew instinctively that the corresponding burn into her upper thigh was meant to end her life. The ripping pain that surged through her meaty torso hardly registered as the new mother's thoughts were only about her two cubs. As if to declare war on these miserable intruders of her world, she raised up on her two hind legs, and bellowed a cry of repulsion and anger, sending a fair warning that victory today will be hers.

Suddenly, she tensed and dropped to her four legs. Feeling the familiar ice below her, she sensed a confidence in knowing that this kingdom has belonged to her kind for generations and, despite the advanced weaponry and mobility of this enemy, the survival skills and knowledge of this most hostile environment have been etched into her DNA for eons.

The small band of hunters traveled over four thousand miles, including five hundred clicks of blue ice against the blinding rays of the waning winter sun from Fairy Josef Land to the North Pole, with a singular intent: to add the great Northern Polar Bear to their trophy room. Perhaps an equal motivation was to add yet another chapter of exaggerated yarns of conquest and supremacy to their killing resume. Somehow, their morbid quest was regarded as noble and no expense excessive.

Fueled by adrenalin and the spirit of her forefathers, the wounded mother ushered her cubs to one of many defensive shelters previously discovered. These dens, carved from nature's wind and constantly shifting ice masses, would provide security for her young as the hunted became the hunter. With a meaningful snort and decisive nudge from their mother, the cubs knew that they were to remain hidden within the confines of this shelter until her return. Confident she had communicated her instructions, the great beast went in pursuit of her prey.

Not aware that the shot had found its mark, the hunters had regrouped and proceeded to lock the location of the bear into their GPS units. The hunt team was equipped with a supply helicopter carrying fuel and food supplies to the group. As it made a landing on the frozen tundra, temporary tents were erected, gas stoves lit and a needed rest would ensue as the team plotted their next move. Snowmobiles had replaced once upon a time dog sleds and wind kites harnessed the power of the ever present Arctic winds to propel the team's supply sledges forward. As the Arctic sun lowered in the horizon, the winds increased at the same rate that the temperature plummeted. Spirits were high as the hunters settled into their make shift camp for the night. As they filled their bellies and warmed their bones, little did they realize that they had greatly underestimated their target.

The overnight camp was pitched near a picturesque area called Eva Island. During the thaw season, this area was always the first to reveal the Arctic Ocean as the ice melts would occur at a faster than normal rate. All except one monumental glacial mass named Olympus, which remained frozen and rose majestically from the sea, thus the name Eva Island. Consequently, the ice masses in this region were always loose and shifting constantly. As the hunters slept to the haunting groans of the shifting sheets of ice, the great beast arrived to camp.

The darkened skies concealed the bear's sleek white coat now stained with a significant streak of red, dried blood, coagulated by the frigid air. The bear, quite familiar with this spot, located one of a dozen water entry areas and slipped her massive body into the icy water to begin her survey of the jagged ice formations underneath. Working tirelessly throughout the night, the bear meticulously clawed at the foundations of these submerged precipices, creating separation that would result in an eventual collapsing. With the precision of a surgeon, she used weight and counterweights to her advantage.

As the sun peeked over the horizon to begin another day, the trap had been set. The hunt camp had been compromised and with the removal of one main ice sheet, a series of collisions and small avalanches among the columns of ice would trigger an implosion of the camp. Without hesitation or remorse, the great beast pushed her strong and engorged frame into the pivotal ice block, then watched as her plan unfolded.

There was simply no time for the members of the hunt camp to react. In an instant of horrific thundering crashes, the hunting team along with their virtual ton of equipment and supplies were swallowed into their icy grave.

The great beast was exhausted. Her sense that the predators were gone was as acute as knowing when they were present. Her final survey of the battle field revealed the lifeless body of one member of the hunt team as it surfaced from the eddy. As she grasped the body into her mighty jaws, she began her trek back to her waiting cubs. There would be peace and sustenance on this day.


What Gregg won:

$250 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

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