“Best do up your jacket, little one,” said Hunter.
She struggled to align the zipper. Snarling with her little needle fangs bared she persevered. Hunter adored her as she struggled, taking in her pale grey fur and the deep brown eyes she shared with her mother. Flattening her ears, she growled in frustration.
Hunter slung his rifle and pushed back the ample sleeves of his grey camouflage poncho, exposing the dark-brown shaggy fur of his forearms. He set a black nailed hand to Kareema’s zipper tab.
She pulled away.
“I can do it myself,” she said, vehemently.
Hunter waited patiently, proud of his daughter’s sense of independence. After a few more tries, she zipped up her parka, releasing her musk of triumph. Lowering his snout to her head, he sniffed fondly, then paused as another odour carried on the breeze.
“What do you smell, little one?” he said in barely audible whisper.
Kareema’s nostrils flared. “Maffid.”
Her musk of elation wafted to Hunter’s senses.
“Man,” she whispered hoarsely.
Hunter nodded proudly and headed in the direction of the human’s scent. He pulled the hood over his broad German shepherd like skull and lowered himself to all fours. His did daughter did likewise beside him; their shaggy tails curled up at the end of their clothing. The scent became strong around the next corner, causing Hunter to stop and unsling his rifle.
He gestured for Kareema to hide behind a nearby car body as he slinked along the road. A metallic chink averted his gaze down the end of the street. Resting his elbows on the curb, he looked through the scope and waited. Humans had become foragers. They always picked among the shops of the old world for food kept in tins. It made them predictable, going to outlets such as… supermarkets, he read on the sign.
He opened a tin of meat once with a knife. If lacking food, it could sustain him, but he much preferred fresh meat.
A human head peered from the shop entrance, then a body followed, holding an arm load of tins. For all of the animal’s caution, it hadn’t the slightest idea that Hunter framed it in his scope. He fired. The human twisted to the ground, spreading its load of tins.
“You got it!” Kareema yelled excitedly.
Hunter walked toward his kill. Injured humans sometimes lashed out from desperation. Kareema all but danced beside him as he ventured forth.
“Stay behind me,” he warned.
He kept the barrel ahead of himself as he drew near, finding the creature on its back. The man bled from a wound near the base of its neck. Fear etched itself on his face even though it listlessly moved its limbs.
“It’s a big one, Daddy.”
“It’s a male,” said Hunter.
Kareema moved closer, about to extend her hand.
“Don’t touch it!” blurted Hunter. “It might bite you.”
He lowered his muzzle at the beast’s head.
“No!” Kareema screamed.
“I have to shoot it, little one. It’s going to suffer. Go over there,” he said indicating the other side of the street.