John despised the Neanderthal clones for their close-knit families and feral lifestyle. The final straw came when he slipped on a Neander chip in front of his building during his first Christmas Eve alone. It's time, John told himself. The new law prohibiting Neander hunting would kick in on New Year's. Besides, a trophy Neander head would help fill the empty space in his new studio apartment.
Too anxious to eat dinner, John cleaned and loaded his .44 Magnum and waited for darkness to come. After parking under the overpass separating the Neander camping grounds from the human neighborhoods, he jogged towards the dancing glow of a bonfire and dropped down on his hands to crawl the final fifty feet.
Two Neanders, an adult and a little girl, both barefoot and wrapped in dirty human coats, sat on the curb by on open bonfire roasting rat-size chunks of meat on long metallic rods. The Neanders watched their meat burn. Ribbons of yellow, orange and shadow danced off their faces. The scene reminded John of a happier time, when he watched TV with his own six-year old Sarah.
A gust of wind blew smoke into John's face. He retched and jumped up, crouching in a police-shooting stance. He aimed the Magnum at the adult's chest with both hands. "I don't want to hurt your little girl," he shouted. "She must leave. Now!"
"Magup?" The adult did not seem to understand. He shoved a rod with a chunk of meat towards John, who let it fall to the concrete. The little girl reached over and clutched the adult's arm.
John pulled the trigger three times. The Neander flopped onto his back. He grabbed his chest, then his throat and flapped both bare feet into the air. The girl let go of his arm and screamed. Less than a minute later, the adult stopped kicking and lay motionless.
John sprinted back to his car and returned with a hunting knife and a plastic grocery bag. He found the girl slapping at the carcass's left arm trying to wake it up.
"Par," she cried, "Parpar."
John barked in his huskiest voice. "Scram! Beat it!"
"Aiaaaaaaah! Aiaaaaaah!" The girl clasped Parpar's left arm with both hands and waved it up and down, causing the hand to flap against the carcass's chest.
As he watched the scene, John felt deja vu. A week before the fire, his Sarah had run to his bedside and flapped his arm up and down to wake him following one of her nightmares. He wondered if this little girl believed she could wake Parpar. John knelt beside her and put his hand behind her head. She buried her wet cheek into his shoulder. She smelled metallic, not the way he remembered Sarah, but for a few seconds he felt as if he had gone back in time, in time to pull his little girl out of that fire.
BIO: Ken participates in the San Francisco Writers Workshop and assorted flash fiction and poetry groups. His body resides in San Francisco as a financial analyst and aspiring scoundrel. http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenton.