After losing many people in the attempts to catch or kill, the city officials had given up, and merely fenced it from the rest of the park.
Still, there were incidents.
It was common, after all, to momentarily mislay a child. Perhaps she ran off to play. Maybe he and a friend wandered to the sandbox. Sometimes they were climbing a tree, chasing the ice cream truck, or just temporarily lost in the crowd.
That was when it hunted.
All it took was one moment of panic. That’s how it always started, with that one fatal mistake. Though everyone knew the advice “stay put”, it was hard to follow when visions of horror were brought up in the imagination. That’s when they run around. That’s when, sometimes, they look at the fence and think “No, my child couldn’t climb that …” but then the doubt sets in and the question arises “… right?”
That question is always the beginning of the end. That is when they think: “Maybe the fence is really not that high” … “maybe there’s a gap” … “maybe a hole underneath.” Some take longer than others, but eventually, every victim thinks the same thing.
“I should check.”
And then it’s over. It’s always the same. A gasp of recognition. A pause as they disbelieve their eyes. A rush of movement as they race to verify. Then, always, a loud SNAP, heard throughout the park.
And, while their child plays, runs, slides, or swings on the other side of the fence, the angler bench resets its lure and awaits the next parent.