Cares of the Day

They’ve been hunting the Vogel for three days and it’s finally gone to ground in the long grasses beyond the woods. After the press of the forest the fields are too big, too empty.

“Feels like the end of the world,” says Morgan. “Like that hill’s where it stops.”

Her brother says, then what? What’s past the end of the world?

“Dunno,” says Morgan. “Nothing, maybe. Space. A big waterfall.”

Her brother puts out his hand to keep her quiet. Morgan suddenly notices the Vogel’s ears waving over the top of the hill. She slides the bolt back on her rifle and kneels down next to her brother.

“Think he knows we’re here?” Her brother shrugs. They haven’t left the shadow of the trees yet, and the wind’s blowing towards them, but the Vogel’s clever and full of tricks. Her brother taps his ear, then his nose, then his right shoulder; Morgan nods and starts worming her way through the grass downwind of the Vogel. When she pauses to look around, she can’t see her brother or the Vogel, just grass and sky and the thick smudge of the forest. She feels like everyone else is gone, like she’s the only one left in the world, and it’s like drowning. Just as her head breaks water for the last time, the Vogel and her brother’s gun roar in unison.

A flock of birds burst out of the forest. Morgan stands in grass up to her neck and watches them pass overhead.