by James Ellis
She pressed her face against the rifle until her cheek bulged. It was as long as she was tall. She squinted down the muzzle and the front sight fell off.
He was less than twenty feet away. She peered along the barrel and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. She leaned on the rifle and pulled back the bolt, freeing the misshapen cartridge, and pushed another into the empty chamber.
“Hey,” he shouted. “What are you doing?”
She took aim.
“Don’t,” he said. “Don’t do that.”
A bird began to sing nearby.
“Listen,” he said. “You hear that? That’s a rare bird. Very rare.”
She glanced to one side.
“It’s in the bush,” he said. “Don’t scare him. He might come out.”
She pushed the hair out of her eyes. The rifle was heavy.
“Do you want some chocolate?” he said.
She watched him take a bar of chocolate from his top pocket. He said, “Did you know there was a rare bird living around here?”
She shook her head.
“I hope it comes out,” he said. “That would be something, wouldn’t it? Seeing a rare bird? Might be worth some money.” He held out the chocolate wrapped in shiny silver paper. “No tricks, I promise.”
She shifted position and stumbled on the misshapen cartridge she’d left on the ground. A puff of smoke appeared from the end of the barrel and he fell over.
A crow scurried out from behind the bush, ran across the dust and snatched the chocolate from his hand and flew away. She watched it go.