Dawn of the Deer

by Dr. T. D'Manne

Tags: Post Apocalypse,

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: A hunter who is the hunted. This story was a creative writing assignment written 5 years before my story The Coming Night. It also has some hints of what will come in the sequel. The main character's name while not mentioned in the story is TAB.

Black goes grey tinged with red. Beclouded vision. Lightning, white on black velvet. Soft. Soft yet harsh. Now grey again. Grey. Dawn. Dawn is grey...

Dawn is a pale hint in the eastern sky, fortelling of a day blanketted with clouds, and again devoid of the warmth of the sun. I sit waiting, as I have for the past three hours, with teeth clenched against the arctic-like winds that gnaw at my feet and hands and bite at my exposed cheeks. That I would be here at all, or atleast in this position, never entered my mind until that news flash last April...

The six of us had been planning that April Fool's jaunt since the beginning of January. We all knew that by then school would have worn us to a frazzle, and that a good way to combat the fatigue would be a camping trip into the Ozarks. We were setting up camp about forty miles south of Russellville, all three couples singing along with some old Beatles songs, when the Little Rock station that we had tuned in abruptly went silent and was almost instantly replaced by an insane screaming of static. It took more than two hours of sifting through the noise before we were able to get a signal that was clear enough to understand.

... "no telling how many blasts actually occurred or how many people have died as a result of these horrible explosions. It is becoming clear though that the targets included military bases, major population areas, ports, communication centers, and governmental transportation complexes. If our estimates are correct, somewhere between forty and sixty percent of the total population will have died within the next forty-eight hours..."

No one spoke for a long moment, for the words of the announcer had pronounced death on all of our dreams. No longer would our struggle to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers mean anything; and though each of us shunned those incredible reports, striving to believe that they were some kind of monstrous April Fool's joke, the words that followed scattered the ashes beyond any chance of redemption.

... "Earlier reports of landings in force, of an occupational army are even now being confirmed, and retired Army General H. R. Mendelson estimates that this country will be completely occupied by this time next week. In his words, ' The only viable elements of resistance left in this country are scattered units of the National Guard, without a prayer of surviving even limited engagements against the superior firepower that this group of Africans and South Americans will be able to put into the field.' "

Sobs wracked my body and tears filled my eyes at the realiza–tion of this tremendous loss. Tears of outrage and fear, but also tears of defiance and hate toward those who planned and carried out this rape of our lives...

The echoes of a shotgun blast jerk me back to my immediate surroundings, and prompt a curse at my inablity to maintain a constant vigil in my icy perch. My throne consists of a single board placed across two convenient limbs about twelve feet up in a denuded oak. My coat, though somewhat ragged now, is of heavy gray wool as are my leggings, which serve to soften the contrast of the snow against my black jeans, and prevent my legs from growing stiff with cold. My eyes, a chill green, peering out from a nest of woolen scarves, smoothly caress the landscape and search for signs of movement, or something out of place. With the coming of dawn they can follow the twin rails of an old road that winds slowly past the boles of oak and pine and ash to a spring-fed farm pond at which creatures often slake their thrists. A crumbling chimney stands as a sentinel atop the hill to my left; a jumble of soot-colored bricks keep it company and provide mute testimony to the lengths that the Af–rican and South American oppressors will go in their enslavement of Am–ericans.

The chimney had been part of the home that had belonged to Adam and Adele Rucker. He had been a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives and had been at home when the bombs destroyed Little Rock, He had, in fact, been attending the funeral of his eldest son when the incineration of 135 million Americans had begun. Rucker died two weeks later when a battalion of Libyan paratroopers finally overran the Atomic One power plant just northwest of Russellville. The Libyans had not taken any prisoners, but just the death of the defenders was not enough, for ten days after the battle a group of fifteen Roamers, Recon–struction Operations Armed Militia Members, surrounded the Rucker home and called for their surrender. The Ruckers had refused.

Synthia Johnson and I had been getting water at the spring when the shooting started. We knew almost at once where the shots were coming from, for our group had been staying there when the news of Adam's death had arrived. We were both armed at the time, I with a .22 caliber rifle and she with a 9mm automatic, which we had brought camping with us for practice, and for plinking. When the firing started we both dropped to the ground until we were certain that the shots were not directed at us. We then held a short whispered conference and moved across the slope to come up on the western side of the house. This side we knew had neither doors nor windows opening on it, and we had decided that it would be the least dangerous from which to approach. When we reached the edge of the clearing that embraced the buildings of the Rucker's farm, we stopped, for although there was no opening on this wing of the house at present, we could see that there soon would be. A group of three men had planted some sort of explosive against the red bricked base of the house and were running toward the protection of the family pickup parked some twenty yards from the tree line. Behind the truck stood a Libyan Army Lieutenant with an AK4.7 in firing position acBoss the hood of the truck such that he could cover either corner of the house. Synthia did not hesitate or speak; she simply stood, raised her pistol, and fired three shots into the back of the Libyan officer while I stood immobilized by this sudden unveiling of death. Syn whirled, still unspeaking, and fired into the running "civilians." My rifle turned as if possessed, and spoke its song of death as well. One of the three fell immediately. The other two stopped and raised their shotguns. That is when the wall went up sowing bricks and schrapnej like pollen on a gale. The man farthest to our left flew forward, the back of his head a mass of blood, the third screamed and stumbled toward us, then danced backward as the fire of Synthia and myself splattered into his chest like hailstones in wet cement.

The fighting ceased as abruptly as it had begun. Jeff Rucker appeared, as if from nowhere, took one look at the wall and ran to the flame garbed hole screaming for his mother and sisters, but they couldn't answer. They had been seeking shelter from the fusillade at what had become the center of a six foot crater. Jeff and Mitch, his younger brother, faced each other across the mangled remains of their family and wept, as Synthia held my head while waves of nausea meshed my latest meal with the grass of the lawn...

Thus we were introduced to the Roamers, locals that havebeen seduced by the power and authority that the Opps, the oppressors, have bestowed upon them. They are mostly Blacks and Chicanos that police the area around their homes; and are the powers of high and low justice to the free people, or Freeps, that have managed to escape the nets thrown out to quell the resistance of the true Americans. I am a Freep, and a hunter that is constantly aware, he is also the hunted.

A shadowy movement on the far side of the dual tracks re–captures my attention and slowly defines itself into a sleek-sided whitetailed buck. He is moving slowly, grazing head down in the general direction of the spring that feeds the pond. Judging from the path that he is taking he will soon be at his nearest, and that should be just to the right of a holly bush and about sixty yards from my stand. The gun-stock sends questing fingers of ice through the skin of my cheek as I settle its freshly oiled surface into position for the kill. The buck's head and rack pass into the sight and pause, then move past leaving his shoulder and upper back exposed in the flush of dawn. He pauses again and I fire. Once, twice, and twice again I see and hear the bullets striking home. Straight up he leaps, eight or ten feet into the air, then crashes to the forest floor, tongue hanging earthward from grass-speckled lips, eyes staring blankly toward the gray shrouded sky. though my rifle is silenced, even small sounds carry, so I stay where I am for the moment. Watch, and listen with bated breath and memories of a time when impatience cost a life...

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Story tagged with:
Post Apocalypse /