Cyberpunk Challenge: Nightfish Part 4

(This is story part 1, overall post 4.)

Story Part 1

His name was Sohl, and he raced like the wind to stop death. Standing at five-nine, he had the lean, athletic legs of a sprinter, and the rare ability to spring forward or leap sideways, to shift speeds in a split second. These gifts Sohl used now as the stupid sheep bleated in panic and by instinct crowded together, nearly guaranteeing that one of them would succumb. They became a fluid obstacle course for the dark-haired, dark eyed sixteen year-old, a moving maze full of half steps and quick spurts of motion as he dodged their incoming rush. One of the sheep would fall, would surely die, if he didn’t act quickly.

The wolf had come in from the edge of the trees, where the grass was still yellow but grew higher than where Sohl kept the flock. The animal was all teeth and snarls, seeing his approach. It had knocked down a lamb with a swipe of its furry paws, sending the creature tumbling just out of reach. The wolf was ready to pounce, to bite and drag the lamb into the forest. It would have done this already, had Sohl not come bounding out after it, over the frightened backs of the still retreating flock.

He held a weapon in his hands, but not his trusty plastic bow. This time he carried what his rival Rory called a bug zapper, but Sohl liked the name electric lance better. A traditional shepherd wielded a staff, but this staff measured five feet long and had an outer shell of strong, dark gray PVC pipe. The inside of the pipe held wiring and a power converter capable of sending out 400,000 volts of bowel-loosening electricity. The end of the pipe, the lance, showed a PVC cap with two long screws drilled through backwards, sharp ends sticking out. Those were the contact points. The fingers of Sohl’s right hand tensed around the trigger, cut into the lance, with ridges his hand could settle into. The handle once belonged to some kind of power sprayer, a device long since broken and recycled.

Sohl built the lance himself, fashioned after an old cattle prod. The end of the weapon stretched out towards the wolf, that now adding sharp barks to its arsenal of noise.

“You think I’m scared of you?” He called out. “I’m not!”

The lamb hobbled into the flock, obviously hurt. That was okay, Sohl understood. Small injuries, scrapes; they could be fixed. He saw no blood trail, nothing broken.

A tense moment passed between man and beast. Sohl’s clothes were colored in olive green. They were made of micro-fibers that did their best to keep him cool on warm days: a shirt with removable sleeves and trousers with removable legs, turning them into shorts. A sunny day such as this one meant Sohl could tan his arms and legs. Good sandals with heel straps fitted his feet, gladiator sandals. The woven, wide-brimmed hat he wore, it had distracted him for a good fifteen minutes. His negligence in trying to tighten it allowed the wolf to stalk closer than if he’d paid attention. His sister Septima could have fixed it, except he’d forgotten to ask her the night before.

Sohl took a big risk by holding the lance too far out. If the wolf lunged at it, it could very well knock the thing apart and the shock mechanism wouldn’t work. At the same time, Sohl wanted to test the weapon, and he couldn’t test it unless he set both contact points right on the wolf’s hairy hide. Preferably a meaty spot.

“Turn to the side.” He said. “You’ll get a nice surprise of you do.”

Behind him, the sheep sounded like a really bad, and really terrified, chorus.

Sohl relented. He squeezed the grip on the lance. It emitted a high-pitched hum, a design feature built into it from its former life as an old cattle prod. The wolf stopped complaining at him. It still bared teeth, and it snarled in a low rumble, but it feared the noise and the end of the staff so close to its snout.

If Sohl shoved the lance at its face, and it opened its mouth and clamped onto the two contact screws… Yeah, the wolf wouldn’t be too happy about it. Sohl carried a knife. Its blade a good six inches long, it was sheathed to his side. If the lance didn’t do the job, the knife would come out, but it would put that fearsome beast a lot closer than Sohl cared to have it.

Unconsciously, he glanced down at his hands. His tanned, peach skin had several stripes on it, from a time when a bobcat jumped on a little girl. The kids played out on the edge of the village sometimes, where it was usually safe until something bad happened and then it wasn’t. The hungry bobcat jumped on her and scratched her up. The first person on the scene who could do something about it was Sohl, and what he did was grab the bobcat with his bare hands as it shredded away at her hair. For his trouble, he’d gotten lacerations on the backs of both hands. To repair them, his mother used collagen strips and a protein mix, but they didn’t have the right pigmentation and so his hands ended up with pale streaks on them. He could live with that. The little girl’s injuries were a lot worse than his.

“Come on!” He challenged. “You want to fight? Let’s fight! I’ll make myself… I’ll make a jacket out of you! See if I don’t!”

A movie would show the hero taking on the wolf. In real life, the wolf calculated its chances. It eyed the humming lance one last time, before backing up and loping back into the trees.

“We need to get moving!” Sohl called out to the sheep. “I can scare off one wolf, but I’m not going to fight away an entire pack!”

He ended up having to carry the hurt lamb; its injuries were worse than he thought.

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