The Last Name On The List

He smelt them before he saw them

That sweet sickly smell that accompanied them wherever they were feeding on the scraps left by the Harvester. They were the scavengers, the vultures, the cleaners of their kind. They tidied up after the kill had been made. They swarmed in packs whenever their master had taken what he wanted and their purpose was to leave no evidence behind

He knew they would have posted a sentinel to warn the rest of them of intruders so gripped the piece of wood tighter as he moved in. As the sentry leap at him he swatted it around the head causing it to scurry off whimpering. The rest of the pack snarled and snapped at him but they had done what they had been sent to do and nothing was left of the latest victim

Another rushed forward only to meet the same outcome as the previous one. It howled as it crawled away holding its shattered jaw in its hands. The pack started to back away towards the river and dropped over into the incoming tide and he walked closer. The last one left, who was covering their escape, growled as he circled around it, cutting off its exit. It arched its back and spat at him, slowly moving itself around to follow him as he walked

‘You’re the last one left on the list Harvester. Everyone else has been tracked down and destroyed’

He held the notebook in front of the creatures face knowing that the one he was seeking would be able to see his name written in it

‘You’re getting careless and it’s getting easier to follow you. You’re making mistakes and you’re getting noticed by the Gathering which is never a good thing’

The creature sat watching his every move as he walked around it

‘You know they’re going to punish you for what you’ve done and what you’ve failed to do to make it right’

He opened his coat, pulled out the sawn off shotgun and blew the creature’s head off before it could react. He kicked its lifeless body into the river knowing that its own kind would feast on it before it sank to the bottom. He took the empty shells out, reloaded and placed the gun back inside his coat

‘So now it’s just you and me Harvester in exactly the same spot that it began. Now’s your chance to rectify the mistake you made when I first met you’

The Harvester stepped out into the dull glow of the street lamp still in its guise of an old street drinker. It shook itself rapidly and assumed its own form

‘And what mistake have I been judged to have made? ’

He opened the shoulder bag he was carrying and pulled out a wooden stake

‘You let me live’

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