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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Predator Prey - 7. Hunting

No special warnings for this chapter.

He finished his finals early. He always had. This time, he had to do it the hard way, writing his own papers. Last term, he had simply paid someone else to write them while he planned his next event. He could afford it. Then.

This term, he needed to keep on the move, stay in public places, stay away from anywhere Ted and his roommate might choose to appear. And he had to justify his presence in the library study area in the late hours. The laptop helped.

But eventually, he made the choice to face his fears. He had to go back. He got a real kick in the gut when, with his heart hammering in his chest, he made the midmorning journey back to the suite one day. He couldn't help it. He just had to brave whoever – and whatever – he would find there. He had one other set of clothes that he'd charged on his card, but he wanted some more of his stuff. Maybe everything would be cool by now. Maybe the faces and voices would leave him alone. Maybe he'd be able to move back in and recover. He hoped there would be something he could salvage of his life.

He would not crawl back to his parents' house on his knees. But he also shuddered at the thought of working eighteen hour days again. He did not want to start over.

In the hallway outside the room, he found two black plastic bags, ready for maintenance to take out, but the suite was otherwise silent when he listened at the door. He tried his key. The door opened.

The place was immaculate. No, the place wasn't just immaculate, it was empty.

"Hello?" he called out.

No answer.

He looked around. Nothing. The plain tile floors showed. No rugs. He slipped into the kitchen. The counters were bare. Checked the cabinets. Nothing of the old mismatched assortment of cookware or glassware or anything remained. A quick visit to the other rooms added to his anxiety. The beds were devoid of linens, and the bathroom was stripped. The place had been swept clean – completely, totally clean. His roommate had departed and Ted with him.

They were gone. The black bags outside the door were full of garbage, not private possessions. All his clothes, all his personal stuff, all vanished. There was absolutely nothing left. He had no idea where any of it had gone. He absorbed this, sitting on the worn furniture the university provided. It's one thing to have all one's things inaccessible, but still there – it's another for them to disappear without a trace.

He'd always managed to find a way to keep the building maintenance people sweet. A little something here, a couple of twenties there; it seemed to work. What the hell had happened? What had changed? In his absence, someone – maybe from Campus Housing? Security? - had just cleaned everything out and dumped it. And his roommate had done nothing to stop it. Did that mean he was gone, too?

He tried to rationalize something hopeful. Maybe Ted and the redhead were totally gone out of his life. Maybe he could stay here, in the suite. It would be the last place his roommate would look for him, right? Perhaps at least this could be a place he could crash that was warm and not the library or his car. Some way to start over, maybe.

He sat there, worrying about what would happen in a few days when campus closed. He knew he couldn't use the credit card for laundry and food forever. In fact, he knew he didn't have long at all, financially. If he planned on staying at the university, he'd need to arrange some student loans. In any case, he'd be bumping up against his credit limit soon enough, and he couldn't pay off anything by the due date. The one card he had left would be cancelled soon after the New Year, he reckoned, and debt collection would not be far off.

What was he going to do?

He was so lost in thought that he didn't hear the man in stained work pants and denim shirt enter the room. It wasn't any of the regular building maintenance people he could recognize.

"Hey, what are you doing here?"

"I was looking for someone," he managed to reply, startled.

"Well, they're gone now, kid," the man with the 'Ramon' inscribed on his shirt said firmly, "the people living here got evicted by Campus Housing three days ago. Left the place a fucking disaster zone. Fucking dopeheads," Ramon added, muttering.

"But…" he stopped.

If he admitted to being a resident of the room, there would be immediate questions. Campus Security would surely be notified. Police might make an appearance. And even though he might manage to blame Ted for a multitude of crimes, he'd be vulnerable to any kind of investigation, too. Very vulnerable. And, of course, he'd be left on the hook for all the damages. In fact, he probably already was. His name was on the housing contract. Surely, there had to have been damages. Ramon or his boss would have seen to that.

He was gone in a second.

He returned to the now-familiar library and camped out with his computer. He had no place to go, and his mind seemed numbed by the constant nagging question: what now? The hours went by. Darkness fell.

Perhaps a day or two later, toward the end of exams, he was surfing the net idly long after day slid into evening. It was hard to tell the hours in the library, which seemed to have its own ecosystem. He looked up, gazing through the big plate glass partition separating the study section from the main Library lobby. In that moment, he spotted them. They were unmistakable. Marc and his new boy. Marc looked healthy. The brooding, broken look he'd worn just before disappearing was gone. The boyfriend's long black locks trailed down to the shoulder, onto a sky blue knit sweater. The two of them looked almost happy together.

The sight of them speared his heart.

Some instinct, some inner signal, sent him scrambling after them. He was galvanized into action. In a few hasty motions, he packed up his meager belongings and hustled through the plate glass doors, trailing the unsuspecting pair out of the building. Marc and the boy were some distance ahead; he detected them in the darkness under the glow of the security lights shining overhead.

He followed.

Marc and his boyfriend headed out past the main university quad, out beyond the next ring of buildings. Clearly, they were pointed in the direction of student parking, where his own car stood. Keeping his distance, he watched the couple as they walked into the lot. After a few minutes, Marc stopped at an elderly Corolla, unlocking the doors manually.

He searched around the rows of vehicles, and found that his own car was parked nearby. He was behind the wheel in no time. He raced toward the exit to find Marc turning out of the lot. They proceeded around the ring road skirting the campus, and out beyond into a commercial area. He stuck to them, watching their taillights.

Marc veered onto a four lane highway briefly, got off two exits later. He copied Marc's right turn, then turned left behind them down a residential street. They slowed, then turned into a driveway. A house, probably a rental.

He passed on, slowly, then parked a few houses down, out of the glare of the streetlight. He sat in the driver's seat. What the hell did he think he was doing? He was going to the one person who might acknowledge him in the sea of anonymity he swam in at the university. Oh, he knew lots of people and had business relationships with a bunch more. Plenty of sex partners he'd used, of course.

He'd never had any real friends, not even his roommate, apparently.

But he and Marc shared the closest thing to a friendship he'd known since high school, if he could call it that. Maybe he'd let him crash at his place, if only for a few days while he got his head together. Maybe he'd figure out a new start. Unlikely, but possible.

He took a deep breath and got out of the car. The air felt chilly. It never got very cold in this climate, but still, he was glad of his hoodie.

He walked up to the front door, heart beating loudly. This could turn out very badly, he reflected, just before his knuckles rapped on the blond wood surface.

Footsteps approached the door audibly from the other side. A chain rattled, and the door opened, spilling light out into the darkness. Marc stood there, clad in grey sweatpants and a bright red graphic tee.

He pushed back his hood and shook out his bright blond curls.

Marc's eyes widened in recognition, and his face clouded in anger. "What the fuck are you doing here?" he spat.

Many thanks to Craftingmom for her kind encouragement and continued patience in her editing. I am deeply in her debt.

Please leave a review, if you feel so inclined. Any comment is welcome.

Copyright © 2017 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

On 11/11/2016 01:49 AM, droughtquake said:

He burned all his bridges and so now he's forced to try the one that's the least damaged?

Or a bridge he hopes still has a few planks left in it, yes. If nothing else, it shows how desperate a predator can get....thanks for reading and for commenting!

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Desperation indeed. And one of your cliffhangers again...
Somehow your story seems to grow more intense, although that makes no sense after the terrible abuse in the first chapters.
The predator has to hit rock bottom in every respect before there is even a slight chance of hope.
You have called this 'hunting' - what a bewildering title. I know job hunting, but life hunting? House hunting? Hunting your former "friend"? Or is he again trying to hunt somebody down? Lot's to speculate about - until your next chapter.
Thanks for your story

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On 11/11/2016 07:19 AM, mayday said:

Desperation indeed. And one of your cliffhangers again...

Somehow your story seems to grow more intense, although that makes no sense after the terrible abuse in the first chapters.

The predator has to hit rock bottom in every respect before there is even a slight chance of hope.

You have called this 'hunting' - what a bewildering title. I know job hunting, but life hunting? House hunting? Hunting your former "friend"? Or is he again trying to hunt somebody down? Lot's to speculate about - until your next chapter.

Thanks for your story

Hunting, in so many guises, and you have hit upon several. Hunting for a new existence, for home, and for an old acquaintance...he cannot really call Marc a friend. The desperation, or urgency, if you like, grows. The mere possibility of returning to his parents must lend some added weight . Thank you for reading, and for lending your support.

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I read Mayday's review and went hmm.. My initial reaction was that the Predator was being hunted.. Like Ted was playing with him, unnerving him giving and thereby causing this wave of desperation. After all you're desperate, you make mistakes. Mistakes get you caught. The way my mind works, it could be that the predator is in the exact circumstance Ted wants him to be in. However, I can see how he is hunting now too.

 

What will Marc do? He's in a unique position to help or hurt..

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On 11/11/2016 01:52 PM, Defiance19 said:

I read Mayday's review and went hmm.. My initial reaction was that the Predator was being hunted.. Like Ted was playing with him, unnerving him giving and thereby causing this wave of desperation. After all you're desperate, you make mistakes. Mistakes get you caught. The way my mind works, it could be that the predator is in the exact circumstance Ted wants him to be in. However, I can see how he is hunting now too.

 

What will Marc do? He's in a unique position to help or hurt..

As Mayday quite rightly said, there are many possible hunts going on here. We know Ted and the roommate are looking for our predator; that's jarring enough. Ted may be toying with his prey, or he may be distracted. But the predator is seeking, too. Will any of these searches be successful? Thank you for your thoughtful commentary, and for your support.

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I was in the midst of reading anthology stories and realized I'd neglected getting to this chapter. I was excited to see where we went next... but, I'm no surer than our predator as to where we are :( . It scares me a little that he's hunted down Marc. Not that I think he'll will revert (yet), but only that Marc isn't all that healed... sneaky you said 'almost happy' and that spoke volumes to me. It could be that Marc, under the anger, still cares deeply for our predator... or it could be that he is still broken. I KNOW you had a reason for that 'almost.' Anyway, I understand, with so few options(zero), seeing Marc spurred some hope that our predator is clutching at. I will be patient. He has lost everything, so rock bottom is a fairly accurate description for where he's ended up. We'll see, I guess. Another great chapter, Parker... cheers... Gary....

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On 11/11/2016 02:25 PM, Headstall said:

I was in the midst of reading anthology stories and realized I'd neglected getting to this chapter. I was excited to see where we went next... but, I'm no surer than our predator as to where we are :( . It scares me a little that he's hunted down Marc. Not that I think he'll will revert (yet), but only that Marc isn't all that healed... sneaky you said 'almost happy' and that spoke volumes to me. It could be that Marc, under the anger, still cares deeply for our predator... or it could be that he is still broken. I KNOW you had a reason for that 'almost.' Anyway, I understand, with so few options(zero), seeing Marc spurred some hope that our predator is clutching at. I will be patient. He has lost everything, so rock bottom is a fairly accurate description for where he's ended up. We'll see, I guess. Another great chapter, Parker... cheers... Gary....

Marc will always bear some of the scars from what he did with our predator. On the other hand, he is clearly in a far stronger position and more secure place than the predator. Marc has no use for the man at all, and that must hurt all the more. He knows he is friendless and deserves that condition, all delivered neatly in the final line of the chapter. I appreciate how closely you read this chapter. You inspire writers to be better. Thank you for your supportive and perceptive comments.

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It's fine to feel somewhat rootless, skimming on the surface of life, partying and so on, when you know you have a multitude of anchors to fall back on. Our anti-hero has had pretty much every anchor removed. He's drifting, abandoned, with only one punctured lifejacket which may or may not help him reach dry land.

 

The way this story is written greatly adds to the sense of menace - as bare and bleak as his existence now is. Great stuff!

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On 11/12/2016 03:17 AM, northie said:

It's fine to feel somewhat rootless, skimming on the surface of life, partying and so on, when you know you have a multitude of anchors to fall back on. Our anti-hero has had pretty much every anchor removed. He's drifting, abandoned, with only one punctured lifejacket which may or may not help him reach dry land.

 

The way this story is written greatly adds to the sense of menace - as bare and bleak as his existence now is. Great stuff!

The lost man at sea metaphor you suggest in your review is quite apt. Our predator is indeed at the mercy of the currents of life, and at the mercy of monsters which lurk in the deep. Neither have been merciful - not that he deserves mercy. I am glad you continue to sense a degree of menace in this chapter - that part came out all right, then. Thank you so very much for your generous and insightful review!

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Interesting that you've turned it over to Marc to have the power to make a difference in the predator's life.

 

And now we'll discover two things. First, how much he has damaged Marc and second, how forgiving a man Marc can be.
Those two things will determine our predator's immediate future. As far as his long-range future, I can't even guess. That has to be carefully buttoned up inside our author's head. :o

 

Very, very interesting chapter, Parker!

  • Love 1
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On 11/13/2016 04:17 AM, skinnydragon said:

Interesting that you've turned it over to Marc to have the power to make a difference in the predator's life.

 

And now we'll discover two things. First, how much he has damaged Marc and second, how forgiving a man Marc can be.

Those two things will determine our predator's immediate future. As far as his long-range future, I can't even guess. That has to be carefully buttoned up inside our author's head. :o

 

Very, very interesting chapter, Parker!

You're right that Marc has a power over our predator that he never thought no to experience. But Marc doesn't know that, yet. He only sees our predator on his doorstep, and his greeting is certainly not auspicious. You're also right that what may happen is completely in the unknown...and out of the predator's control. This must be a situation with which our predator is deeply, deeply uncomfortable. Many thanks for your perceptive and thoughtful commentary!

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I love how you've created a character full of drive, determination, and self-reliance. He might have taken the wrong fork on the road, but if he can find his way, those attributes will serve him well.

 

The complexity you've woven into him makes him very three dimensional instead of a cardboard cutout. You've done good, my friend.

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On 11/13/2016 09:00 AM, Carlos Hazday said:

I love how you've created a character full of drive, determination, and self-reliance. He might have taken the wrong fork on the road, but if he can find his way, those attributes will serve him well.

 

The complexity you've woven into him makes him very three dimensional instead of a cardboard cutout. You've done good, my friend.

He is certainly self-reliant. And you are surely right that the road he chose was terribly wrong. How good of you to at least identify facets of his character that might have led him into something better, and which might yet do so. And it is so nice of you to say our predator is complex - very hard to like - but perhaps human enough to change course. Many thanks for your support and review!

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Marc has the power here. Marc still has a hold of his humanity and maybe by a tenuous thread so does the predator. He knows that Marc has the power and what? The predator is lost, stuck, his life turned upside down by one, Ted, who is actually worse than the predator was.
So what will Marc do? He's within in rights to slam the door, but can he?

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On 11/18/2016 06:02 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Marc has the power here. Marc still has a hold of his humanity and maybe by a tenuous thread so does the predator. He knows that Marc has the power and what? The predator is lost, stuck, his life turned upside down by one, Ted, who is actually worse than the predator was.

So what will Marc do? He's within in rights to slam the door, but can he?

You ask all the right questions. And Marc has every right to slam the door. This chapter tries to illustrate just how much power has slipped from the predator's hands. He can still follow, still hunt, but he has no power to seduce, to break another man. Not now. Thanks for reading this chapter and for all your support!

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I was thinking about this story yesterday, and the parallels between it and the story you just proofread for me--like we were discussing--and it struck me how you haven't let us know the predator's name yet. I know I'm a bit slow on the uptake in that regard... lol but the lack of name is dehumanizing and makes it easier to look on him with disgust, his actions notwithstanding. I'm willing to bet he has a name before the end of the story...if he grows enough to deserve one. Anyway...his roommate and Ted have completely eviscerated the predator. Interesting that he feels he can go to Marc. I'm not surprised by the other's reaction to him, though. On to the next chapter...

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On 11/18/2016 12:03 PM, Valkyrie said:

I was thinking about this story yesterday, and the parallels between it and the story you just proofread for me--like we were discussing--and it struck me how you haven't let us know the predator's name yet. I know I'm a bit slow on the uptake in that regard... lol but the lack of name is dehumanizing and makes it easier to look on him with disgust, his actions notwithstanding. I'm willing to bet he has a name before the end of the story...if he grows enough to deserve one. Anyway...his roommate and Ted have completely eviscerated the predator. Interesting that he feels he can go to Marc. I'm not surprised by the other's reaction to him, though. On to the next chapter...

The lack of a name simply began the story, and. It seemed impossible to name the predator thereafter. For you are right in that his actions were unspeakable, and it is hard to humanize him even in the smallest way. And yet he must have had a name...and a heart...once. Thank you for speaking about this. I am very glad you continue to read this story and I thank you for your review.

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Well, from Marc's reaction, the predator was mistaken to go there. What will he do now? What could he possibly say to Marc to garner any sympathy? As all your readers said: Marc has all the power now. How does it feel being helpless, Predator?

 

I want to say I'm surprised campus housing kicked out redhead and whomever else was living in the suite. Ted maybe?

 

Another great chapter, Parker!

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On 11/18/2016 02:23 PM, Lisa said:

Well, from Marc's reaction, the predator was mistaken to go there. What will he do now? What could he possibly say to Marc to garner any sympathy? As all your readers said: Marc has all the power now. How does it feel being helpless, Predator?

 

I want to say I'm surprised campus housing kicked out redhead and whomever else was living in the suite. Ted maybe?

 

Another great chapter, Parker!

Marc is definitely displeased to see the predator. But he knew it could go badly. The predator knows he is helpless and vulnerable. He is desperate, and probably does not think clearly about how Marc will react. Given the condition of the suite, campus housing could have kicked out the tenants. They must have been shocked, shocked, that parties were being thrown there...

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Too early to tell. Marc's reaction is on point. Doesn't mean much - yet. I don't know what kind of person Marc is. Some people have more compassion than sense at times. So...I have to go and see.
You really should bottle this stuff and sell it.

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On 01/30/2017 09:36 AM, Geron Kees said:

Too early to tell. Marc's reaction is on point. Doesn't mean much - yet. I don't know what kind of person Marc is. Some people have more compassion than sense at times. So...I have to go and see.

You really should bottle this stuff and sell it.

Truly, your comments made me smile and I appreciate your kindness. Marc surely wants nothing to do with the predator. His life, at least, is very different now.

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17 minutes ago, BlueWindBoy said:

I was half expecting Ted or Red to answer the door.

Instead, the Predator goes back to his past. It’s all he has left. 

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