Big Game Hunting – Tim Frank

Samantha was struggling to focus on her biology PhD— her grandpa had just died from a long battle with an obscure form of cancer, and then there was the shambolic crash of the death metal band raging in the opposite building, disturbing her dreams.
        As the noise rattled her skull, Samantha recalled her grandpa’s luminous eyes and ruthless nature — he was a big game hunter and he’d travelled the world killing rhinos and elephants, helping push rare species to the brink of extinction. Samantha had mounted his rifle on her wall in his honour, and although she had never fired a weapon before, in her darker moments she’d always wondered what it would feel like to kill.
        One night after a vivid dream of her grandpa hunting bears in a virgin forest, she woke and found herself aiming his gun out  the window at the heavy metal drummer opposite, as he crushed his drums with psychotic vigour. She’d just had enough, and felt ready to score her first big kill.
        Samantha took out the drummer with two clinical gunshots — pow pow! — and the music ceased immediately. Hours passed with no sign of the police, or anyone else interfering –finally, there was peace on campus.
        Suddenly, however, the band blasted back into action — the singer gave bursts of explosive growls and the guitarist buzzed like a chainsaw. The band didn’t miss their drummer at all.
        Days and nights passed and the group continued to create code red destruction.
        Early one morning in a fitful slumber, Samantha had a nightmare in which the drummer beat her head repeatedly with a walking stick, and when she woke, she decided she had to kill again. She targeted the guitarist this time. He was particularly wretched — soaked in sweat, moshing his greasy hair in concentric circles.
        She fired and the guitarist hit the floor — blood splattering the far wall. And yet the singer continued with his deathly ruckus, crying into the void.
        Samantha couldn’t believe it — just DIE! she screamed. She took a deep breath, and without a flinch put a bullet in the vocalist’s forehead too. There was a groan, a slap and a heavy clunk as the singer’s head cracked onto the floor.
        A child’s voice echoed from a distant block and a few autumn leaves drifted along the street, rolling like dice. At last — calm again. 
        Samantha returned to her studies. She listened to whale songs on Spotify, and slept comfortably in her Mickey Mouse onesie. She polished her rifle and remounted it on the wall, whispering, Goodbye, grandpa.
        But it wasn’t long before the nightmares returned. At first, ominous flurries of wind ruffled her curtains. Then there was the sound of smashing cars, and when Samantha opened her eyes, she saw the death metal band balanced on her bed, rocking like they’d sold out Madison Square Garden.
        The drummer was seated behind his drum kit next to Samantha’s head, the guitarist was strumming away at the foot of the bed, and the singer was howling into his microphone, feet trampling on the duvet. They were all wearing animal skins draped across their shoulders, looking like tribal chieftains.
        It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream, Samantha said with her face jammed into her pillow.
        The band played one grinding song after another, but soon enough they began to tire, until finally they collapsed on the bed and snuggled up beside Samantha.
        The lead singer muttered in her ear, Take my mane and sing, don’t worry, you know all the words.
        Without knowing quite why, Samantha wanted to go buck wild. So, she climbed out of bed, stood on the mattress and grabbed the microphone. She slipped a lion’s mane over her head and let out a guttural roar — purging her hate, purging her grief – and for once in a long while she felt truly cleansed. She was a bona fide big game hunter.