The Last Hunt

Chapter Six

“How do you do?  How did you manage to arrive here all in one piece? How did you survive our friendly vortex? And who are you?”

“My name is Summer Leigh. I am the only survivor of the good ship, the Gypsy Maiden, on a voyage to Chile. I survived through sheer chance. By profession I am a photographer.”

Something made me hesitate telling the man the reason for our trip. He came down the stairs quite slowly as if, and here I smiled inwardly, as if he were making a grand entrance.

“You look like you could use some fresh clothes. Unfortunately, I have no female clothing, but I am sure my manservant can arrange something for you. Please freshen up, take a rest and then join me for dinner.”

A native appeared out of nowhere and ushered me into a private apartment where he procured slacks and shirt for my use. I sank into a tub of warm water that washed away my sense of depression and feelings of trepidation. I then walked to a comfortable bed where I slept for a long time. It was dark when I awoke. I dressed quickly and went downstairs. My strange host waited for me, a cocktail in hand as if he were posing for a Scotch whiskey commercial. He was dressed superbly for the occasion. We walked into a large dining room, and he sat me close to him, on his left.

“It is not often that I have guests, especially beautiful ladies who drop in out of nowhere.”

His English was perfect, but I detected some foreign accent. It was frustrating, the knowledge that I knew the man, but I could not quite place him.

The conversation finally came around to the subject that I felt was his favorite: hunting.

“I have hunted all types of game: lions, elephants, jaguar and rhino.”

I studied his face as it came alive. I looked at the trophies gracing the walls. Then his identity hit me, made me feel weak, made me fear for my life in a way that the sea had not done. I blurted out his name.

“Marko Radzic, the Butcher of Sarajevo!!”

He stopped talking. A deadly mask obscured his true feelings. I pushed on, recklessly.

“There is a price tag on your life. You are believed dead. I remember seeing you when I covered the Bosnia war. No one feared you most than your own people. You were responsible for the deadly rocket attack on the marketplace. But you were executed by your army. I do not understand how you got away.”

He smiled in a grim way.

“You have an excellent memory. I congratulate you. I will not answer your foolish question about my escape. Here I am; here you are. What do you suggest I do with you?”

I had no answer. My female wiles were completely useless with this man. I waited for his answer to his own question.

“Have you ever hunted, Miss Leigh?”

“Yes, I have.”

“With a weapon?”

“No, with a camera.”

 I remained quite still. My blood turned icy. My stomach tightened in a hard knot. My breath froze in my throat. My knees began to twitch.

“That is a tragedy—on your part, of course. I cannot allow you to leave this island. I cannot do away with you through violent means, either. What can I possibly do about this dilemma? Do you have any ideas?”

 I held my breath. I could not speak. He remained quiet for some time, then a smile illuminated his dark features.

“I am in favor of making you a sporting proposition. We are both experienced hunters though in different ways. Therefore, I propose a hunt—the last hunt for one of us.”

The glass that I held in my hands suddenly shattered. I glanced at my host. A fiendish, maniacal look transfixed his face into one of intense, absorbed evilness. I realized at that terrible moment that he was indeed serious about his proposition. I could not answer.

“Come, come dear lady. Why should you be surprised at my solution to the dilemma that I face? I must protect myself from the outside world. You must understand that. I have no intention of returning. I have everything here that I need: satellite television, fine food and wines, a full library.”

“How can you stand there and talk about your baronial life in this wilderness after the devastation you caused in your native land?”

“You fail to understand that it was war. It is not exactly a civilized undertaking, or a game played to prescribed rules. It is savage, cruel, brutal. I did not start it. Perhaps you should keep some of your criticism for your own country that continues to fuel revolutions and insurrections the world over in order to keep the armament factories of the big corporations alive and well.”

“You might have an excuse if you said that you took orders from a tyrant who was only interested in his personal political ambitions. However, did you have to do your job with such precision and malice? I spent time in Bosnia, and I saw your handiwork.”

 “Enough talk. It’s beginning to bore me. Here is what I propose. In the morning after a good breakfast, I will set you free and give you a one-hour head start. Then I will be in pursuit.”

“You are a great sportsman, giving a lone woman a head start while not giving her a weapon.”

He smiled again, a smile which I had learned to fear and despise.

“I have no intention of sending you out unarmed. That would certainly not be sporting of me. You will see in the morning. In the meantime, get a good night’s sleep. Do not think of escaping. There is no place to go. Goodnight.”

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