Copyright 2012, Lazette Gifford
Gangs had fought their useless battle in the alley, losers dragging their dead and injured away as the winners jeered. Then the conquerors passed so close to Alishin he could almost taste the blood on their clothing. Rank emotion filled the air like the scent of flowers in spring.
They never saw Alishin; humans rarely did. If the strutting victors had noticed the tall, dark-shrouded figure in the shadows, they would have known their true place as prey and not victor. Humans, though, never willingly looked upward to see what stood above them in the evolutionary ladder.
The triumphant gang left the battlefield, their crass jokes and harsh laughter fading in the night. Soon...
Alishin would have one of those tasty morsels tonight. He knew the patterns of his particular prey. He waited, patient for his reward in the hunt.
As he knew he would, the prey -- reeking of blood and sex -- returned after midnight, sniffing around the killing grounds, looking for another battle and the addictive taste of conquest. Alishin had laid the trap in a simple game of chance . . . as all hunts are games of chance, in one way or another.
The prey found the open door and swaggered inside, unafraid, his hand on the knife in his belt. A table, draped in black cloth, stood beneath a flickering bulb. Chance lay in the dice on the shadowed surface, and the boy picked them up, laughing. Even though he didn't understand, the prey's heart beat harder. Taking chances and gambling were part of his life.
Alishin closed his eyes, savoring the scent of adrenaline surging through the human and flavoring the blood and meat. Oh yes, far sweeter than a dull kill in the shadows with no feel for the hunt. The boy threw and his heartbeat soared as the dice rolled.
"Never throw the dice before you know the game," Alishin said as he stepped forward, the wisdom wasted on this one, of course. The dice stopped on double skulls.
They always did.
The boy's heart pounded, the pulse beating in the neck as the prey started to back away. Alishin smiled and grabbed an arm, strength stilling any hope of escape. His fingers caught and twisted the head, exposing the neck where the blood pumped, the scent of adrenaline intoxicating. He bent close, his lips near the boy's ear.
"The game is called evolution, human," he said softly. "The higher species is always the better hunter."
But as Alishin bit into the pliant neck he wondered if he would ever dare to look up. . . .
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