by Jesse Orr
The day of the egg hunt dawned cool, mostly clear, and breezy. The parents were relieved; they would not have to supervise in the rain, as had been forecast. The egg hunters were relieved, the fiercely competitive hunt would not be made any easier by wet underfoot.
Almost a thousand children, ages old enough to walk to twelve, milled around the stadium
parking lot, clamoring to be allowed inside. The local team had no game on Easter, and the team’s owner (who was running for mayor) had invited the public to bring their young. So they can restlessly search for the ten thousand hollow plastic eggs which had been hidden throughout the stadium’s bleachers and playing field. A prize would be given to the children with the most eggs, second most, third, and honorable mentions as Egg-Hunter Extraordinaire for all the rest.
As promised, on the stroke of noon, the doors opened and ticket takers appeared in the kiosks, marshaling people inside and down the stairs to the field. They were relieved, the event was a free one, without the headaches of fake tickets and sports-crazed fans that so often plagued their working hours. The news reporters found talking to them later to be an absolute waste of time. Since being outside they didn’t see anything that happened.
When finally the parking lot had streamed into the field as directed, a deafening voice filled the stadium.
“ALL HUNTERS TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD!”
The children squealed and dashed forward in a tidal wave of glee, buckets, baskets and bags eager to hold the bright plastic booty. In no time a sizable knot clustered in the middle of the grass, positively quivering with anticipation. The parents spread to the edges of the field closest to their children, glowing with benevolence and raising cameras to document the precious moment. Mad rumors had been flying about the nature of the prizes, the most popular belief being that a local chocolate factory had donated several hundred pounds of their best rabbits for the purpose.
“ALL RIGHT CHILDREN!” the voice yelled, sounding beside itself with excitement. “ON
YOUR MARKS, GET SET, GO!!!”
But this was only heard in its entirety by Charles Bucket, Sr., the owner of the team, the
stadium, the voice, and one young lad by the name of Charles Bucket Jr., who coincidentally was the reason for this selective hearing. Junior (to which he was naturally referred) stood before the knot of children, both hands clasped around daddy’s gun, his five year old fingers struggling to work the stiff action of the trigger. It was the first explosion which had blocked the last of Charles Senior’s message to the crowd.
Junior had thrown a fit when Charles explained that his son could absolutely not participate in the egg hunt contest, for it would reek of favoritism and not benefit his coming election. He was neither cheered when Charles attempted to console him by saying that all the eggs surely wouldn’t be found, and after the hunt was over Junior could have a go at them. It was only when Charles suggested Junior might just rather stay at home in his room with the babysitter watching TV that the fit ceased. They had
left an hour later and Junior had been a little quieter than usual, but perfectly well behaved.
At least until now.
Bullets ripped through hunters and parents alike, some passing through the former to strike the latter who were rushing forward to save their hunters. One bullet exited one girl’s eye to slam into the kneecap of her mother, shattering it and causing her to yowl in agony and limp for the rest of her life. Junior turned, his sore fingers continuing their squeezing sending out the next shot, and the next, and the next, knocking a pair of twins to the ground with sucking chest wounds and piercing a small boy’s hand with a neatly placed bullet in the middle of the palm. By now everyone was too far away for him
to aim well, and the trigger produced nothing but a clicking sound. He tossed it aside and looked around.
It had been far louder than he expected, and the silence was comforting. Except for the screams. But it had worked. The field was deserted except for those who could not walk. Some were still moving, but that was OK, they probably wouldn’t feel like egg hunting anymore anyway. Some weren’t moving at all, and that was OK too. One of the immobile was Janie Somers, and that was great.
Janie was the one who had taken the first shot through the head for laughing at him for not being allowed to hunt. Janie was always being so mean to him. He’d show her now. He’d show his daddy too. He grabbed Janie’s basket and started toward the first egg he could see in the bleachers, taking care to step on Janie’s head. He could almost taste the chocolate already.