by Travis Perry -
One advantage to getting older is patience comes easier. The thought seemed to come from nowhere, interrupting Elsa’s rambling talk with God. “Now where were we, Lord…” but she fell silent when her eyes caught movement.
Beyond the pile of black volcanic rock that served as her hunting blind, she saw the movement in the lure she’d been waiting for. Back toward the cave. The mammothbug was about to come out.
Elsa glanced down at the wick of her bronze cannon. Its white tuft stood straight up, still in place, still dry.
Months ago her family had run out of the money required for the ammunition for their modern weapons. But she still knew how to mix black powder, keeping the cannon handed down through her grandfather’s line the only viable hunting weapon the family had.
The bug pushed its massive hairy head out of the cave, its bulbous red compound eyes glimmering in light of the setting sun. It had pulled back its “trunk,” the hairy bug-like lure it had laid out in front of its cave, which it would wiggle seductively to draw in lesser bugs, as preparation for its once-in-five-to-eight day walk outside to regurgitate the exoskeletons of its prey.
The head hesitated a moment at the entrance, as if it knew Elsa were there. She held her breath and waited, unmoving. Finally, after what seemed to be endless minutes of motionlessness, the creature the size of a small house pulled itself over volcanic rubble, rumbling out of its lair.
She gently lifted the heavy butt of the cannon, lining up the shot. The bug’s death would bring food and clothing to her little ones. But with the cannon, she had only one chance.
At just the right moment, she flicked the lighter and touched it to the wick. Thunder roared in the narrow valley as the cannon threw Elsa back.