Fate. Sometimes you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens every day in life. You decide to take the later train and it jumps the rails and the next thing, you’re wife gets asked to come down to the morgue to identify your body.
Or you pop out late at night, just down to the 7-Eleven to pick up a six-pack and the guy who just got fired from his job is in there too, only he’s in there with a .38 and an attitude. You hold your hands up just like he says, but he’s not having any witnesses left to put him away. So he pulls the trigger and gets lucky with a head shot after taking down the cashier.
Fate can step out of the bushes and ruin the rest of your life with a flash of steel, or it can play around with the brakes on the tractor-trailer sitting behind you on the Thruway just as the traffic starts to back up.
Liam O’Neil didn’t believe in fate.
Things happened to people because he made them happen. Pure and simple.
* * *
Eve Lennon had two hours and twenty-eight minutes left to live. She had entered the crossroads in her life two weeks ago, and fate had dealt a hand for her. If she had left her office five minutes earlier, she would have been further along the line in Starbucks. Instead, it took her that little bit longer to get served. Five minutes was all it took. She was looking at her watch when she walked out the door and bumped into Liam O’Neil.
It wasn’t fate that led him there that day. He was hunting. And he found his quarry. She apologized. He smiled.
Eve was going to die tonight because of attention to detail, meticulous planning and Liam’s ability to do the job with the minimum of fuss. Nothing to do with fate. She was dead whether she had chosen to drive the Lexus to work or had hopped on the Metro-North Railroad.
* * *
He lived in an abandoned house in the woods. It was more of a cabin really, but the track leading to it was overgrown. Nobody had been there in years.
He didn’t bring them in here. He would let them go, then shoot them in the woods. Then hang them up on the frame he used to cut up the deer, then he’d open them up and let what blood was left, drain out. Then he’d place them to be found in the city.
He wanted to get some more practice in before going to abduct Eve.
He put on his camouflage outfit and went into the woods to practice his hunting skills.
* * *
The shot rang out, loud in the quiet of the woods. The bullet found it’s mark. The stamp of running feet on the forest floor. Hands swiping branches out of the way.
This was what it was all about. The hunt. The kill. The feeling of victory.
‘Holy shit,’ Ray said, stopping dead in his tracks.
‘Mother of God,’ Jack said, stopping beside Ray. He took his cell phone out.
Ray put a hand on his arm. ‘This isn’t hunting season, friend: we call this in, we go to jail.’
‘What do we do now?’
‘Let’s take him further into the woods. He won’t be found for a long time. By then, we’ll be long gone.’
They each grabbed an end of Liam O’Neil and lifted him further into the density of the trees. The shot had been a good one, right in the head, and if it had been a deer like he thought, Ray would have been proud.
Liam O’Neil didn’t believe in fate. He would have thought that two hunters out shooting at exactly the same time he was honing his skills was mere coincidence.
Eve Lennon locked the back door to her office and opened the door to her Lexus. Looked at her watch. She had thirty-two years left to live.
Alan is Scottish but lives in New York State. He’s currently working on a crime novel. He has a story coming out in the Summer edition of Demolition magazine