The Hunter by Sebnem E. Sanders

The Hunter

Blanche stood before the cheval mirror and adjusted her fur hat. Tucking wayward curls inside the headpiece, she buttoned her fitted long coat, and picked up her gloves.

Fat snowflakes dancing like butterflies greeted her as she stepped into the street lined with terraced houses. She pulled up her collar, and glided over the soft mounds on the pavement. Warm lights pouring from windows and lamp posts illuminated the blanket of snow which muffled the sounds of traffic and footsteps. A postcard scene, as though time had stopped. Turning left at the bottom of the road, Blanche continued towards the High Street.

Loaded with bags, Christmas shoppers headed in all directions. Passengers stepped onto or off red, double-decker buses along the main street decorated with colourful lights. Children fascinated by displays, stuck their faces on the windows of the Toy Shop as their parents pulled them away while hailing cabs. Echoes of festive songs spilling from the stores brought an inconsolable pain to Blanche’s heart.

“Ho, ho! Story time!” The words brought her back to the moment.  The Santa in front of Dickson’s rang his bell and invited children inside. Blanche took a close look at him and froze. He hadn’t listened, had he? She had warned him several times, after catching him in front of school yards and following youngsters to the park. That summer, she had seen him peeping at a bunch of blooming teenagers splayed out on the lawn in their shorts and strappy tops.

How could a reputable establishment like Dickson’s employ him? Did his big belly and alcohol induced red cheeks not require further references?  Sly and insidious, perhaps, he had no offence record. Yet, Blanche knew a paedophile when she saw one.  He was on her longlist.

She stood and watched him settle on a red armchair at the children’s bookstore by the toy department. Taking an illustrated copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, he glanced at his young audience sitting on the floor. Then, pointing to a pretty blonde girl, he patted his leg. Once the girl hopped on his lap, he began to read Little Red Riding Hood.

“Ironic,” Blanche hissed, as the girl put her head on his chest and listened. Blanche could see beads of perspiration on his puffy face. He licked his lips as words came out of his foul mouth. Moving his legs and feet at intervals, he cleared his throat and turned the pages.

He summoned two more children, a boy and another girl to his lap as he read the second and third stories. Confident in her next course of action, Blanche waited patiently until his shift ended. She followed him to the staff rooms where he changed into plain clothes and slipped out of the back exit into a dark alley. Whispering ,“Ho, Ho, Ho!” he reached for his pocket, and brought a flask to his lips.

“Disgusting pervert, I will kill you!”

Startled, he looked around, but couldn’t see anyone. Another mouthful consumed, he lit a cigarette and inhaled.

Blanche watched him mellow. Then, grabbing the cigarette from his hand, she extinguished it on his skin.

“Aww!” he mumbled and sucked his hand. Blanche thrust him against the wall, and clutching his neck with both hands, she squeezed it with all her might.

“This is not a heart-attack, you pervert. You’re being strangled. I warned you many times before, but you didn’t listen. You deserve to die.”

Hands like steel around his throat, she pressed until his heart stopped beating and his face morphed to blue from red.

She dropped him on the snow covered pavement, next to the black garbage bags. Smoothing her gloves, she walked to the High Street.

In stark contrast with the wardrobes of the last century, the outfits of the passers-by lacked elegance and style. Stepping inside the main hall of the Toy Shop, she peeked behind parents and their children, viewing the vast array of enticing merchandise. On the way to the first floor, she paused by the hall of mirrors Edward had loved. She could see everyone’s reflection except her own. At the model train department, she  listened to the whistle and choo-choo of the steam engines as children cheered, until tears blurred her vision.

Toys were different, fashions had changed, but not the laughter of children.

The hubbub of the High Street faded behind her as she turned to a side street and headed home.

In the attic, she crossed out the pervert’s name from the list and placed it back inside her pocket. Pain and vengeance had given her more powers than spirits were thought capable of exercising. Yet, she needed to rest to replenish her strength. Exhausted, Blanche lay next to a chest of toys and wept.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t protect you from the monsters, Edward, but I promise I’ll do everything within my power to save other young ones.”

(816 words)

 This story was first published at Yellow Mama Webzine.

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive, and The Cabinet of Heed, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond , was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

Ripples on the Pond