A Dangerous Game
by Ajit Tripathi
The ship rolled on the placid waters of the Devils Strait. It was growing dark. The rosy, post glow of the sunset had long since disappeared. The ship guided by a mysterious light was steering cautiously. Then suddenly, there was a deafening sound, as if all hell broke lose. A rocky under water reef had ripped open the frigate that disappeared into the Davy’s Locker. Seething and hissing foam was all that remained behind. No one had survived except for a weather beaten, rugged faced sailor. He was aghast at what had occurred. His immediate worry was survival as he held on to some flotsam for dear life.
He tried to peer into the darkness but failed to find his bearings but on a hunch swam in the direction to his right. He didn’t know how long he had been in water but was washed ashore tired, almost in a state of delirium. When, dawn broke. Jason (the shipwrecked sailor) woke up rubbing his eyes. Slowly, he recalled the incident and looked in the direction of the vanished ship. He felt a small pack on his back. Opening it he saw a small bottle of water and some victuals. Almost famished he lost no time in gobbling up whatever there was and thereafter took to exploring what appeared to be a small island.
Apart from the incessant chattering of birds, scared looks of some scurrying rabbits and a passing mongoose there was very little wild life. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks. Right in a glade ahead, there stood a quaint little villa. He ventured in and was greeted by a liveried servitor who lost no time in taking him to his master.
The master: “So you have come!”
Jason: “Have you been expecting me?”
The Master: “As a matter of fact, yes. That eerie light you saw from the ship was simply to lure you chaps. I am sorry about that small liner or frigate as you call it. By the way I am Sir Drax.”
Jason: “You mean the famous big game hunter who disappeared from the scene a few years ago.”
The Master: “I am flattered that you recognized me. But I would have wished under happier circumstances.”
Jason: “Why is that?”
The Master: “Years ago I had realized that animal is no match for a man’s intelligence. I decided that I would rather hunt man and so I devised a game. I will give my quarry provisions for twelve hours and give him a start of two hours in which to hide in the island. I will start the hunt with my dogs. In case I fail to hunt him down within twelve hours he becomes the master of the island.”
Jason: “That is not fair. You have your dogs, the island is known to you.”
The Master: “But do you not see the prize that awaits you at the end of it should you win.”
Jason: “How many have won?”
The Master: ”None or else I wouldn’t be here. Now without wasting time I will ask you to start playing the hunted.” He nodded towards the servant who immediately brought the provisions.
Jason: “But I will need a few more things-a small knife, a bed sheet for making a comfortable bed and a bottle of whisky that serves me both as an antiseptic and refreshing drink.”
The Master thought for a moment and replied: “Take whatever you need, but the time for the hunt will not change” Jason was handed the things he wanted.
Jason was soon on his way and after having covered a hundred yards or so he completely undressed himself and improvised an overall from the bed sheet. His own clothes he threw across the trails in different directions. He collected wild lichens, bitter fruits and some chilly looking fruits. After grinding them he threw them further down the trail in different directions to throw the dogs off the scent. Then he made use of the knife by whittling down dry twigs and small branches to fashion out a Malay Trap of sorts.
The hunt was now on. Sir Drax started off with his dogs on leash and two double-barrelled rifles. With plenty of ammunition in his hunting jacket, that he had once worn, while hunting wild games in Africa. The dogs hit the false scent planted by Jason. One was snared partly by the Trap. The hunt wore on. Sir Drax was looking worried. His bravado and arrogance appeared to be ebbing.
Another dawn was unfolding. Jason was making a hearty breakfast of bananas, wild fruits and coconut. The hunt was over.
Jason had not slept in a more comfortable bed in the last fifteen days.
NOTE: OBVIOUSLY JASON HAD WON. BUT IT WOULD BE A GOOD PLOY TO LET THE AUDIENCE/LISTENER WORK OUT THE ANSWER.
Moral: even when the chips are down and situation is entirely hopeless one should have his wits about him like Jason did.
Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi
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