South Florida heat didn't stop at dusk. But that's when he went to work. Poaching isn't an 8-5 career.
The water in the glades was black, but the outline of the gator was a shade darker. 6 foot easy, would have been a good haul. But that's not the one he wants. Today's job was for a certain monster. The one he kept hearing about. The one that was snatching up pets, and other animals. And now it had graduated to people.
That one had to be a lot bigger than six feet. So he kept his eyes peeled as he steered his boat to check the bait he had set out the day before.
Two more gators cocked their heads and moved to the water as he trolled past.
It wasn't them either. 8 footers. Deadly creatures, but these weren't the people killers he was hunting.
He knew in his gut that he would know it when he saw it.
And he wasn't going to stop searching until he bagged it.
The glades were getting thick, and visibility was low, and as his other senses heightened, he began to smell it.
There. On the bank. He saw a silhouette
“Gotcha, ya bastard”, he whispered. With one hand he ignited his searchlight, with the other he brought his rifle up to his cheek.
The smell was so strong now he hesitated for half a heart beat . Something was off.
He could see the gators tail. It was big. Bigger than the ones he saw earlier. He moved the light beam slowly, tracing the outline of the creature
As he brought the beam up to the torso he froze.
A second silhouette moved. Hovering over the body of the gator on the bank.
What kills a gator in the wild? The poacher felt the icy pain of fear for the first time in his life.
His shaky hand raised the beam of light to meet the second creature.
Two wild human eyes glimmered in the light.
The face smiled back into the search beam with red teeth.
And then bent over the dead alligator, and took a bite.