Hunter and Prey
‘We’ll never do it!’ moaned Gobkin. He threw his spear down into the quagmire of dirt, hair and congealed fat surrounding his feet, where it landed with a dull splot sound. ‘It’s hopeless.’
Gafferty Sprout counted down from five in her head. She looked at her little brother, his scared face criss- crossed with shadows cast by the grille that covered the extractor pipe in which they were hidden. Warm, greasy light oozed through the metal lattice and dribbled gleaming spots on to the lenses of Gobkin’s goggles. Or was that the glistening of his frightened tears?
Be patient with him, Dad had said to her before the two of them had set out on the expedition. He’s young, but he must learn our ways. Gafferty was learning more about Gobkin’s ways, so far. Annoying little snivel-scrap! He’d moaned and whined all the way through the tunnel. He’d griped and groaned as they scaled the wall to get to the pipe. He’d grumbled and groused as they squeezed through the conveniently sized hole cut in its side. He’d carped and bellyached as they passed the now useless fan that Dad had carefully detached on a previous visit. It was Gobkin’s first time properly out in the Big World and he was acting like it was bath night!
Dad had taken Gafferty out on her first hunt. She’d been brave. The oldest child had to be brave. If something happened to Mum or Dad, then she would be the one in charge. Gobkin was different. He was three years younger than Gafferty, and Mum and Dad had spoilt him, protected him. But that had all changed six months ago, when their little brother, Grub, had been born. A creature of snot and bad temper, he now took up all their parents’ time. Gobkin was no longer the youngest. Gobkin needed to grow up.