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The Huntress

By Greg McManus All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Mystery

Prologue

Prologue

Sunrise brought a cold wind in the trees above the now almost deserted barn on the old ranch. She stirred in her sleep as the branches swayed above her. She was dreaming about the past few days of flurried activity. She had seen the FBI and police scour the floor of the woods below for days after the hunt had concluded. She remained safe in her blind, the tree house she had built for hunting here on the abandoned ranch.

In her dream she again saw the bullet rip through the girl who was helping the agents, the shock and fear on her face as she crumpled to the ground. She could see the blood start to stain the front of the white shirt under the open jacket the girl wore. She could almost smell the fear rising up the cliff.

The sunshine painting the clouds in the sky hit her full in the face and woke her up with a greeting that few experience. The touch of the breeze through the trees mixing with that beam of sunlight brought to her the hint of snow coming in the north woods. She sat up and stretched, getting the kinks out of her muscles. She sat quietly listening for any noises that were hints that she was not alone here.

Cautiously she looked over the edge of her blind wall. The trailer that had been there by the barnyard was now a smoking remnant of the home she shared with her two lovers for a while. She had quickly grown tired of the solitude and had moved back into the nearby town. She really missed Hank and Juan, the two men she had been babysitting for Annie.

It wasn’t until she moved in with them that she found out why Annie wanted her to watch the pair of them. In that barn was a storm cellar where Annie had ordered them to keep her cousin, Lynn Montgomery. It was almost as if Annie knew that the two would bumble around and mess up the cushy job they had.

She had met Annie just after her father had been killed. A girl who was about her age and seemed so in charge of everything. She just took everything Annie had told her to be the truth at the time. It was Annie who had taught her about her potential. She had spent two years in the Army learning how to kill, but Annie saw her as the hunter her father had trained her to be.

Annie had found an old high school flame, Johnny, to be her front man. Annie used her to blackmail him once with photos of them together when she was only fifteen. He did most of the dirty work and it was he who had found Hank and Juan. She was the one who had figured out how to capture the girl and the others. But it was Johnny who came up with the plan of putting the druggies down in the bunker with the girl.

She again thought of Hank, of how gentle he was. She missed him terribly but when he suggested they give the girl some clothes, she had to go on the hunt. She caught up with Hank on the edge of the river and shot him in the back. The body tumbled in the river and Hank was gone. She started to console Juan and quickly became his girlfriend after Hank disappeared.

As Annie must have known, Juan had made the fatal mistake of allowing the girl to escape. It was not much of a hunt, however. Juan had come to her lair and started packing their stuff. A quick bullet to the back of the head had ended the hunt in seconds, the fool. Afterwards, Annie had called on her to bring the body to the ranch and burn his car with him in it. Annie had followed her and gave her a ride back to town where she had to clean her room.

She hadn’t heard any more from any of them for weeks. She had settled down to a quiet life until just a few days ago when Annie showed up on her doorstep. She had come in and wanted her to go on the hunt again. This time for a girl who would not be missed for a while. The plan was to have a girl drugged and sitting on the lookout, where she would take the fall for what they were going to do.

She found just the girl, a homeless runaway who had been in town for months. She was always sleeping in the woods at the edge of town. She was such an easy prey, not even worth the hunt. She worked out perfectly propped up with the gun looking to all the world like the one who was shooting. The police who came up the hill saw her and immediately shots filled the air.

The waiting game started then. She saw all the activity from her vantage point and even saw when Annie was taken away in handcuffs. Still she waited. Until she was sure it was safe she would wait. Her treehouse hunting blind contained enough food and water for weeks in case of blizzards which could come up at any moment.

She looked up at the sky with the clouds crowding out the sun. The wind was getting colder. The snow which she sensed when she awoke was just starting to fall. She looked down at the barn in time to see the last of the police vehicles leave. They had been in a rush constantly looking up at the sky.

She waited until the snow was falling heavily and the wind was blowing before she climbed down. She cautiously looked around watching for movement that would make the huntress into the hunted. When she did not see anything to alarm her, she started out through the trees. With the snow blowing like a curtain she parted to pass through, she faded from sight.

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