Time passed. I waited. My arm did not tire. My aim did not waver. I would wait a hundred years- a thousand- if it gained me a shot at my prey. Morphine was intelligent- I knew it, and she knew it- but she was also incredibly cocky. She would overstep her bounds. It was merely a matter of waiting her out. I would be patient. I would have her. All in good time.
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These things I told myself.
The view swam before my eyes, there in the absolute darkness beneath the stage. The small slice of twilight seemed to dance and shift amidst its black background, taunting me. I brushed my hair out of my eyes and waited.
A sound; soft and almost inaudible, even in the complete silence of the theater. My ears, freed as they were by the lack of stimulus, honed in on the noise with animal acuity. I imagined that I could feel them rotate in my head. I listened.
thud. thud. thud.
Soft steps, coming closer. The stalker was taking pains to be silent, but the impact of their feet on the floor- a sound that I felt more than heard- could not go unnoticed. My prey was approaching.
thud. thud. Thud.
Closer, and I steadied myself with one arm, tensing my legs up beneath me. I had no elaborate plan, no foolproof idea. I was not a strategist. I was a hunter. My prey was close, so very close...I could see her in my mind's eye, slinking along the length of the stage, gun raised, so certain in her egomania that no one could possibly have the drop on her without her knowledge. I tensed even further. I raised the gun. She would be coming by very close to the stage- I placed the footpads at no more than three feet away. I would have to act quickly.
Thud. Thud. Th-
A leg sliced into my field of vision, and I uncoiled, swinging up and out from beneath the stage and jamming my gun point-blank into the face of my prey. My finger convulsed on the trigger- once! twice! thrice!- spraying luminescent water into the face of-
"Jesus Christ, Renton!"
My eyes widened.
Jeremiah armed moisture from his face and hair, spluttering and coughing in surprise. "You scared the crap out of me," he said. "Coming up from the stage like that. Shit...There goes ten years of my li- Hey, what's wrong? You okay, man?"
Instinct took over, and I broke left as a thick spray of water arced by- mere inches from my head- and hit Jeremiah square in the chest. I turned. Morphine stepped out from behind the curtain. Her Princess Pink automatic squirtgun was leveled at my chest.
"Hello again, Renton," she said, and flashed her fangs.
I leapt away, dodging a second spray, and hit the back of the first row of seats feet-first. I felt myself begin to fall and pushed off, moving forward and up on my own arc of descent. It was enough to make the second row, and I pushed off again, keeping the momentum going up to the third. I vaulted up from the third, hit the fourth running- I was getting a rythm down- and stepping-stoned my way up to the fifth, sixth, seventh...
On the eighth row, a gout of water struck the seat beneath me, and I slipped. I slid backwards instead of forwards, hit hard on my back, and rolled into the narrow crevice between rows.
Morphine was coming. I could hear the thunk-thunk-thunk as she followed in my footsteps across the seat-backs; headed toward me like grim death, come to take a final offering. I marvelled at how self-assured, how cocky she had to be to follow my exact path up the seats. How sure she must have been that she could defeat me.
I lay there, frozen, like a deer in the headlights, as her steps grew closer and closer. Of course she knew exactly where I was, where I had fallen. It would be child's play for her to find me, to pull the trigger, to eliminate me where I lay...
Wait. A flash of common sense struck me like a baseball bat to the head, and I acted accordingly. I stopped, listened...
The footsteps stopped, and a stream of water hit dead-center on the spot where I had landed. Another followed almost immediately, and I gave out a howl that I hoped sounded both miserable and defeated.
It worked. Morphine leapt over the seats and landed in the aisle, a triumphant smile plastered across her face. "Squeal, piggy, sq-"
"Fuck you," I said, and shot her from where I lay, some four feet to the left of where I had fallen. The blast struck her on the neck and splattered. In the dark, it seemed to hand there like a phosphorescent bloodstain, remnants of some sort of psychic throat-cutting.
She made no attempt to wipe it off. She made no motion at all, after the initial spray, but merely stood there, shaking with something that was not rage or sadness or anything I have ever found a name for in this world. Her eyes bulged in their sockets. Her hand spasmed on the gun, crushing the handle to mush. Glowing liquid spilled out over her hand and onto the floor. She took no notice.
"Morphine?" I said. "Are you-?"
I got no further. At that moment, Christy stood up from her hiding place and shot me.
"Ha ha ha!"
Cross came down the aisle, clapping and grinning madly. He stopped next to Christy- whose gun was still trained on me, as though she expected me to deny her the win- and clapped her on the back.
"Good work, my dear," he said. "Great work! Initiative, patience, ruthlessness and timing, all rolled into one. You should be very proud of yourself!"
"I hereby declare you winner and Champion of the Hunt," said Cross. "May your days be long, and your victories be many. Gather 'round, my friends! Gather 'round! Let us congratulate Christy, our supreme huntress!"
Jeremiah, his face still covered in glow-juice, ran up to his sister and swept her into a great bear-hug, lifting her high off her feet and pinwheeling her around.
"You did great, Chris," he said, and kissed her full on the lips.
I looked at Morphine and caught her looking back. She raised an eyebrow.
"Anyway," said Cross. "Let's not forget our resourceful runner-up, and 'runner-up'- pun definitely intended- dear Renton! You were ver-"
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.