Author's Note

This short story forms the introductory chapter to a novel which is currently under construction. However, it is easily read as a story unto itself. The story is an experiment in action-oriented narration: the writing is sharp, concise, and vivid, sentences are generally short like bullet points, and the action moves quickly. The novel itself will not be quite as concise. Enjoy!

From Prey to Predator

Flames ripped through the blanket of early morning mist that covered the desolate wastes of abandoned Route 67. Dodging shards of metal and glass, Kondor dashed across the jagged asphalt. He glanced over his shoulder to see the fireball as a silver hood ornament in the shape of a jaguar skidded to a halt at his feet. I will miss that car, he thought. Suddenly, a wail of sirens pierced the air and flashing lights glowed through the grayness. Now the hunted man resumed his flight like a black-leather bullet with only one intention – escape.

Dark woods gradually came into sight as Kondor leapt the guardrail and raced across the dead land. He knew the cops had the advantage in open terrain, but once in the forest–

“Stop, or we’ll shoot!” a megaphone voice ordered.

Not a second too late Kondor gained the dark woods. Two shots cracked through the mist and whacked into a nearby tree, shooting daggers of wood as he ducked and rolled away. Now he might have a chance. Whirling around, he spied a swarthy, overhanging oak and shinnied up it like a mountain cat. Like an eagle stalking mice, his trained eyes focused on the three white uniforms running towards the woods. One by one, he thought.

Ten seconds later the cops entered the forest. They split up – one to the right, one to the left, and one straight ahead. As they hunted, one of them noticed the swarthy, overhanging oak tree – but no more. Kondor dropped the branch, and his target lay prostrate twenty feet below. Noiselessly, Kondor crept down the tree. He first ripped off the downed man’s badge and holster and then removed his wallet identification, blowing away the white heroin dust that encrusted it. Securing the cop with his own handcuffs, Kondor then streaked away into the darkness.

Warily, the second officer tiptoed along, pointing his .45 pistol at every shadow. In a split second Kondor had zoned in. One unnoticed bush, one stealthy grab, one twirling belt – and the second victim lay unconscious. Kondor unwrapped the belt from the man’s neck and repeated the process – badge, weapon, wallet, handcuffs. Now only one cop remained.

In a deeper part of the woods the third cop hunted. As the minutes ticked away like years, he scanned the green blackness, now and then brushing aside the grasping branches that tore at his white vest. He clutched at his weapon.

“Victor? Ed? You guys with me?” his megaphone rang out. But only the whispering trees answered him as he cautiously walked deeper, deeper, and deeper into the forest.

Gradually, the yellow ball of fire burned through the mist overhead. Now the man in the cop’s uniform could see clearly – clearly enough to see his hands in front of him, his pistol at his side, and his feet below. But he heard nothing at all when a steel-tipped boot shot through the air, followed by an airborne black-leather bullet of a powerful figure. Kondor’s flying sidekick connected, sending both men rolling in a heap upon the ground.

Springing to his feet, Kondor composed himself as the downed man rose.

“So you thought you could take down our operation by yourself, Mr. Jones? Or should I say, Kondor?” the man in white menaced.

Kondor winced internally at the mocking mention of his once-secret code name, but he responded firmly.

“If you have something to do, Grantz, do it. You won’t eliminate me by talking.”

Grinning crookedly, Grantz began to circle. Kondor’s eagle eyes narrowed once more. In a flash the strike came, and in an equal flash came the counterstrike. Grantz buckled to the force of the uppercut and then crumpled to a devastating spinning crescent kick. Badge, weapon, wallet – once more Kondor repeated the ritual. He shackled Grantz and grabbed the man’s phone, dusting off drug powder as he punched the keypad.

“This is Kondor to Eagle 1…The dust bunnies have been swept. Requiring a dust bin for clean-up. Over.”

Within several minutes the sound of screeching tires pierced the forest. Kondor dashed out into the now-fogless mid-morning brightness and leapt back over the guardrail to greet the force of incoming armored vehicles.

“Agent Kondor! Good to see you alive!” shouted a grey-haired man in sunglasses from a black truck.

“Likewise, Agent Bradford,” replied Kondor.

As squads of operatives left the other vehicles and swarmed the forest, Kondor climbed into the truck.

“The CIA is proud of your operation. Grantz and his men will never sell another ounce of drugs,” beamed Bradford. “Take this hawk to his nest,” he ordered the driver, grinning sideways at Kondor.

Sinking back into his seat, the prey that had become predator grinned wearily as the black truck roared away down Route 67.


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