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Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter

Gavin gazed up at the starless sky, silently fingering the trigger belonging to the old handgun at his waist. The old look was a disguise. Nothing about the man’s weapon was rusty in any way, but no one alive could argue about that. Whoever could was buried deep beneath the soil, and not the usual six feet that was customary. Gavin’s targets were a bit too dangerous for that. The stronger the foe, the deeper the hole, that was his usual saying, and no man had ever walked away unharmed after pointing out the cheesiness of that line.

Unusual would be the best way to describe Gavin’s line of work. In the books he was a private detective, in reality a hunter. In the books he tracked down untrustworthy husbands, in reality people who misused their ‘gifts’. The world was filled with these people, but most abilities were too minor to notice, too minor to abuse. Most people didn’t even realize they had them. Some of the major abilities could end the world, though, and that was where Gavin came in. His career had so far ended, amongst many others, the one of a clown who could make people laugh themselves to death, a maniac who spoke to the waves and had almost made them destroy New York and a self-proclaimed prophet who could literally strike down with thunder anyone who insulted his beliefs, which according to him was everyone. Gavin’s career had been unusual and exceptionally dangerous, but his latest challenge made any other pale in comparison.

The sky wasn’t starless without a reason. For the past month, the little sparkling dots decorating the night had been disappearing, a phenomenon unexplainable by even the best astronomers out there. People had taken it for the ending of the universe, the destruction of all stars in the galaxy. Gavin had discovered something different. The stars were not being destroyed. They were being stolen. Someone on the planet was doing it, and that someone had to be stopped. Any star that disappeared could turn out to be the Sun, and with that one gone, so would planet Earth’s life be. Gavin’s search had been long and desperate, but in the end it had lead to a dark trailer park just outside of a little town called Dazzle. The hunter had spread himself on the long sofa, patiently awaiting the arrival of the gorgeous woman who inhabited the worn-down pink cabin he had deftly broken into. Word had that lately she had taken to wearing extra dark sunglasses wherever she went, and Gavin had a clue why. He looked around him, noticing the thick curtains that had been tightly drawn shut across all the windows. It only confirmed what he already suspected.

His gun sprang into his hand as the front door was unlocked, and a moment later the woman walked in, wearing a pair of sunglasses that made the upper part of her face take on the appearance of a massive fly. She closed the door behind her, placed her purse on the table and reached for the glasses, stunned by the sudden rough voice that spoke up from the darkness. “I’d leave these on for now, if I were you.” Gavin slowly got up, gun pointed where it would inflict the most damage. A thin smile curved his lips. “Hello Tracy. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.” He had been looking forward to it. Most of his jobs involved men, many of them hideous creatures who had been driven into their actions by the way people had treated them. The being in front of him was gorgeous, her wavy long blond hair falling across a face that showed full, slightly parted lips. Parted in surprise. “You know,” she whispered, astonished. “Who are you?” At that, Gavin leaped over the couch, slowly approaching as a lion would its prey. “I could be your best friend, or your worst enemy. It’s up to you.” Tracy staggered back, shaded eyes fixed on the gun. A thousand thoughts flashed through her mind. Her fingers slowly flexed, calculating the time it would take to remove her glasses versus the time it would take to pull a rusty trigger. Gavin noticed, and fired a warning shot into the wooden boarding behind her. “Not worth it, babe,” he growled. Tracy only glared back. “You’re asking me to give up a lot,” she growled back, ricocheted immediately by the man in front of her. “You’re getting more than most others would give you. Will you take it?”

The two stood for what seemed like minutes, staring at each other, when all of a sudden a loud bang from the kitchen area made Gavin whirl around. Confirming that it was the run-down fridge took no longer than a second, but it was enough time for Tracy. Without a moment’s hesitation she threw off her glasses, her exposed eyes radiating the light and power of a million stars. Gavin could barely throw himself out of the brunt of the force, behind the sofa, before it fully consumed him. In front of his eyes danced countless shades of wonderful colors, containing a beauty as deadly as had ever been. Gavin felt bruised all over, his body drained and damaged by the force that surrounded him. He felt like his eyesight might never return again, but his hearing functioned perfectly well. Tracy’s laughter, a wicked sound that hardly suited her appearance, became his beacon. In a desperate, and feeling like a last possible attempt at victory, Gavin jumped up, eyes firmly closed, and emptied the contents of his magazine as the force threw him hard into the television screen. The laughter ceased. The light disappeared, and Gavin could hear a body hit the ground. “What a waste.” he softly grunted to himself as he drifted out of consciousness.

His final thoughts before passing out were of a pick-up line he had just come up with. Something about a set of eyes that looked like it stole all the stars from the night sky.

“Yeah,” he muttered. “that would work.”

About Martin Hooijmans

Martin Hooijmans is a writer, a traveler and the founding editor of Story Shack. He has a profound love for storytelling and a mind overflowing with ideas. Currently, he's based in Munich and working as a SEO and front-end developer. Also check out his new project: relgrowth

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