BUCK: DARKNESS FOLLOWS

PLOT: Stetson is a deer who may look like a towering, toned behemoth who could easily rival Rambo, but his personality is not that of a macho guy. In reality, he is typically laid back he spends his days moving from town to town, meeting new people and getting odd jobs, never causing trouble for anyone. By night, his priority is to get hunters and abusers to turn the other cheek and get rid of their life of crime and evil. The reason? He never really gets into it, but his past is also covered in violence and a lot of heartbreak.

In steps a human named James, a guy in his twenties who is the owner of a hotel. He has an adopted sister, a yellow lab named Scarlet who is the sunshine of his life. Sadly, darkness will strike James-and with Stetson in town, scores have a good chance of being settled, the buck will soon learn that life doesn’t seem to give him much of a break.

 

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BUCK: DARKNESS FOLLOWS

 

By: Aaron B.

Stetson Art by: Kim Mattia

 


NOTE: This story is a supplement to my feature length animated screenplay entitled “Buck”. Stetson’s sorted past is the feature film script-however I will drop little hints here and there in this short so I hope the reader isn’t too left in the dark.

Thanks and enjoy!

-Aaron

 



CHAPTER 1

 

Snow whipped violently through the air, the sound of heavy wind could easily be heard. The blizzard would not come and go quickly, the frigid weather was here to stay. The sky is a pinkish color, the sun just about to set to end another day.

A silver Ford truck pulls into a one-story home, located in the back woods. The headlights dimmed, a frumpy male with a beard and wearing an orange hunting vest and camouflage pants, stepped out of the driver’s side. He finished the bottle of beer he was drinking on the drive home and tossed it to the ground with a light belch.

The snowflakes so heavy, he couldn’t look straight ahead, his head faces the ground, the snow seeped into his boots as he walked closer to his house. He didn’t bother to take the carcass of a freshly shot anthro off the top of his truck, a five-foot-tall squirrel wearing a sweater and slacks, dripping with blood and a permanent gaze of terror.

Wind kicked up even harder, causing the human to shiver as his skin began to turn pink, he hurried into his warm home, the lock to his cabin door was oddly broken, but had been since this morning and he’d find time tomorrow to get it fixed.

His house completely dark, he flicks on the light to the living room, which held a fireplace, a small TV and a couch. Scattered on the floor were illegal hunting magazines for hunting furries he had purchased from various websites.

The hunter removed his jacket and vest, pulling out his wallet which had his name, Samuel imprinted upon the leather. Sam unlaces his boots and makes his way to the couch.

Before sitting down, he removed the pistol from his holster and put it in the locked safe by the front door. He sat in front of the TV with a macho grunt.  The glass on his windows creaked a bit as the blizzard now was in full force, he turned the television on to a news station.

Sam suddenly felt two pairs of hands grip his shoulders, he yelped and attempted to stand and swing at the attacker, but the pressure only got harder as he moved, he knew any more pressure would surly cause some damage if indeed the unknown threat was stronger, Sam’s breathing got heavy and his heart pounded in his chest as a voice spoke in his ear. “Stop moving and I’ll let go. I only want to talk. You don’t attack me, I won’t attack you. That’s a promise.” Sam yelled in frustration, as he cocked his head to one side, he saw who the muscular behemoth was, his shoulders broad, his arms the size of a bodybuilder, his height exactly 6’5, Sam sighed deeply, terror struck his brain and heart, never had he seen an anthro so tall, neither did he ever feel threatened by one either. His presence was a commanding one, the human could do nothing but nod.

The buck made his way around the couch, the sound of his hiking boots stomping on the ground a bit intimidating. He sat on the ottoman in front of the couch, even as he sat, Sam felt like he was being looked down upon by someone much bigger than he. From his unzipped green fishing vest, the mysterious deer pulled out his cellphone and showed Sam a photo of his own truck, with the carcass of the squirrel tied to the roof, a lump formed in the hunter’s throat as Stetson spoke again in his deep Southern accent. “Hunting anthros is illegal, but you knew that, correct?” Sam nods, looking him over. His muscles and six pack could be seen through his black t-shirt, around his faded jeans, a holster with a pistol which Stetson had his hand around, Sam swallowed hard. “Tell you what Sam, your hunting days are over, that’s a fact. The families you’ve ruined, the poor anthros, there kids and families torn apart by your actions. The fact you’ve done what you have for so long without a moment’s thought that maybe it’s wrong. It ends here. It ends now.”

He made his voice sound so evil that he himself could be passed as a deranged serial killer-maybe he was for all Sam knew. The hunter’s voice shivered. “Please, don’t kill me. I can change. Really!” Not moving his hand from the gun, he leaned forward, Stetson smirked. “I’m counting on that. Get a real job, clean up your act, become a productive member of society. No one will forgive you for what you’ve done, especially not me. You get one chance. You mess up? I’m coming back and won’t be so nice. Got it?”

He stood up and narrowed his eyes. “Yes sir! Yes! Don’t hurt me!” No matter who the perpetrator, Stetson almost always let them go if they indeed promised to never hurt anyone again. This was not the first time a wrongdoer had seen the likes of Stetson, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

The buff anthro exited the home throwing on his black leather jacket and brown winter gloves, the wind biting cold as it seemed to seep into his face. He walked to the left side of the house, where his green hummer was secretly parked. He had waited hours for Sam to come home, he hoped it had paid off and that maybe the hunting would be over.

The sound of crunching snow caused Stetson’s ear to twitch, turning around completely, he was met with Sam, wielding a small ax raised above his head and running full force into him. Stetson lost his footing on a sheet of ice as the enraged human smashed into him, he landed hard on his back with a grunt. It seemed the hunter had the upper hand. Sam swung the ax downward nearly missing his head, pinning the deer to the cold surface. Stetson gave a swift knee hit to Sam’s gut, slowing him down for a moment. Sam still could get a slice in and took the swing, the ax slices through the anthro’s arm, a bit of blood splatters onto the white snow below them. Luckily no bone showed, it seemed to be just a nasty cut. Stetson used his arms to wiggle out from Sam’s grasp and kick him straight in the face, shattering his nose and causing it to break.

He howled in pain as the ax flew from hand, Stetson slowly stood up, his arm began to sting in horrible pain. He looked down at the bearded, overweight man whose face was smothered in red fluid and smashed teeth, groaning loudly. “Fuck you. You’re meant to be hunted! HUNTED! Hear me?! LEAVE ME or DIE!” With a swift movement, the deer yanked his pistol out and shot Sam in the head once, a mist of blood was the last thing he ever saw. The gunshot echoed through the night, the buck holstered it and took deep, tired breaths. Bending down slightly, he realized his jacket was partly ripped and spurts of blood continued to show themselves, he sniffled, his nose feeling stiff from the frigid weather and hopped into his hummer, turning it on and letting he heat envelop the inside.

The hospital was too far from where he was, he didn’t feel like traveling an hour as the pain grew and grew, driving in the miserable weather with a bleeding wound on his arm just put Stetson is an edgy mood. As the snow whipped through the air and the windshield wipers went back and forth making a squeaky sound against the windshield, his mind wondered a bit to his past, as it often did. No cars were on the road, so really, he could be with his own thoughts.

Two years ago, he had committed acts of violence due to an event in his life, and swore he would only do so once, but now he seemed to have branched off. In his eyes, why leave anyone else hurt or killed? Stetson suffered such a terrible fate, it’s sad to think others could suffer something similar, that fact alone is what made the deer push forward. To at least confront evil doers and see if he could set them on the right path to a new job, or at the very least make them stop what they were doing for good. It was dangerous, but worth it. That was his logic and it probably wouldn’t change.

Now, he wanted to relax and maybe get his arm fixed and perhaps find a place to stay being that he had slept in his vehicle for two days, he turned on the radio to get his mind off the pain a bit, the woman on the station communicated in a monotone. “As a human, I do wish the best for anthros, but I do think we should be separated. We’re just too different to be co-existing.” A male then responded. “I think you’re wrong, humans and anthros co-existing is the best thing to ever happen. Think about it, we help each other. Unwanted anthros live with human families, friendships are made. I can’t help but think it’s a racial thing with you.” Stetson turned the radio off, he had found his destination.

 

Sam’s body lied in front of his house, gathering snow. The carcass on his truck beginning to freeze over. A pair of headlights shined over the bloody mess, a silver jeep rolled its way to the scene of the crime.

Out steps a beagle, in his mid-thirties wearing overalls, slender but in good health. He gasped slightly as he saw his friend Sam, with half of his face blown off. He had heard tales of hunters turning up dead, and he would take no chances. With a sigh, the beagle reached into his back pocket, pulled out his cellphone and angrily dialed a number. “Hey, it’s Lance. You won’t believe it. Sam’s dead, shot in the face. I talked to him was yesterday and I knew he was going hunting on his own.” He paused, letting the person on the other end speak. “Don’t put this shit on me!” Lance briskly walked to his jeep and slammed the door. “I don’t know who did it, but whoever it is, is gonna get an ass whooping. I’m coming over there, you got the gang over?” With a huff he tossed his phone to the ground, reached into the back seat and pulled out a bottle scotch and chugged it, alcohol calmed him, it was his antidote for any given situation. In-between sips, all he did was look at Sam’s half frozen body, the spots of blood being slowly covered by snow. He leaned back in his chair, collecting his thoughts. He knew seeing his hunting friends would help. Lance had relied on them for all his life, even as a teenager. A plan would be formed and executed. Vengeance would be initiated.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

Soft music played at Stetson made his way to the hotel, anthros and humans of all shapes and sizes sat at various tables, calmly talking, laughing or making out in the bathroom.

After checking in at the front desk, the first thing Stetson did was approach the young man who seemed to run the restaurant in the lobby. He wore a white dress shirt, vest and slacks. Not bad looking for a human as far Stetson was concerned-and he had met a lot of them. The deer looked down to make eye contact with him, the human spoke with a smile, his brown hair quite short and his blue eyes very kind. “Just you tonight? Table for one?” Stetson nodded as the 21 year old waiter grabbed a menu and led him to a booth in the corner. “You gotta bathroom near by?” Stetson asked with kindness, but a sense of urgency. The waiter nodded.

The bathroom was empty, the deer removed his jacket and gloves and dusted any excess snow off. He looked at himself in the mirror, from his vest pocket he grabbed a sewing kit and turned on the sink. The water stung his wound as he cupped warm water in his palm and began dousing the wound, he took deep breaths and became quite tense as the blood flowed down the drain, making the fresh wound more visible. Stetson held his breath as he began work on sewing. He was good at keeping his wounds fixed, he had read enough medical books and had a steady hand.

With a REDD’s Apple Ale placed in front of him and a fresh bandage wrapped around his arm, Stetson watched the other patrons chat among themselves. He hadn’t touched a drink in a while, and rarely did consume alcohol, he liked all his mental facilities at 100% but he needed something to help him with his nerves and slightly rough night. REDD’s and Mike’s Hard Lemonade were the only kind of alcohol, he liked every flavor, from apple, to strawberry, but orange was his favorite. He’d try new things, but stuck to his favorites when he wasn’t feeling adventurous.

A female yellow lab approached him, dressed in a black tank top and grey jeans, a slender body and an energetic presence. “Can I get you anything to eat?” she spoke in a genuinely happy tone, to be fair-Stetson had never met a lab who didn’t have something happy or nice to say. Her name tag read Scarlet. With a smirk, he ordered veggie soup to try and warm up from the blizzard he had just gotten out of. James and Scarlet seemed to interact a lot, like they knew each other very well.

This hotel looked like it made good business for the simple fact it was not a popular name and it certainly was not a five-star fancy place, James and Scarlet were the only two running the place this night, it was a small building where anyone could go and get a good night’s rest, enjoy the bar / restaurant on the first floor and maybe go swimming in the decent sized pool outback.

Stetson tipped both James and Scarlett and got himself a room for a week, he fell asleep, not even looking at the room for a second, not even bothering to remove his clothing, he flopped on top of the covers and took a deep breath.

 

Lance the beagle entered his apartment building, once he opened the front door and gazed at the messy couch and unmade bed, three other figures spoke. These three were Lance’s friends, a pink pig named Hoss who was about 100 pounds overweight and mean as an abusive drunk if something struck him wrong. The other two pals were male humans, a little over five feet tall, with bushy beards and bad manners. When Lance was not around, Hoss was the boss-and no one dared argue that fact. Those who went up against Hoss ended up in a month-long coma-and those were the lucky ones.

* * *

Lance said not a word as he sat on the hole filled recliner across from the trio. Sam was a member of their hunting gang, he talked the most, he had the most knowledge on anthros. He would be missed.

Hoss lit a cigar and puffed at it a few times, then crossed his arms. “Lance, you can’t just sit there and say nothing. We need a direction.” Hoss’ only friends were the hunting buddies, Sam’s death would never be forgotten by the pig. Lance glanced at his friends with saddened eyes and soft tone. “We wait until cops go over everything, surly whoever did this must have left some evidence.” Hoss coughed. “We wait? Sounds like you have no plan.” His blunt observations never ceased to have a crude tone, but he was respected and the most amazing fighter and the craziest (but best) driver. The beagle crossed his legs. “You guys ever hear of Stetson?” He glanced to the three.

All of them nodded, Hoss smiled a bit and spoke out of the side of his mouth, letting the cigar kill his lungs. “Yeah, that deer who slaughtered hunters a year or two ago? Think he’s behind this?” One of the humans, Jerry spoke-he always wore a camo baseball cap. “Could be, we’d have to figure out where he was-but I wouldn’t be shocked. I bet if he did it, he’ll come after us too.” Lance’s ears perked. “Maybe he’ll come to us? I mean, whether he killed Sam or not wouldn’t really matter, would it? If we could kill that buck-we’d be heroes. Hunters, human and anthro fear that son of a bitch.” The pig took a long puff, then tossed his cigar out. “I never feared that jackass. I could break his neck and shove those antlers up his ass.” Mike, the other bushy bearded hunter chuckled. “Hoss, I think you could kill anyone-he’d be a goner if you got a hold of him.”

He looked down at the two humans, at a little under 7 feet and arms the size of sledgehammers and a gravely deep voice that would make the most diehard horror fan crap their pants, not much could intimidate him. Even though they sort of knew Hoss wouldn’t kill them, just the mere size and scale of him was enough to send each of them into a slight shiver frenzy. The pig’s ears perked as he grabbed the keys to his white van parked right by Lance’s truck, he gestured Mike and Jerry over, they obeyed like two frightened kids who just got into trouble. “Tell you what Lance, I’ll do some digging and you get some rest. This little piggie is pissed off.”

* * *

James and Scarlett slept in separate rooms in a single-story home right next to the hotel they worked at, the two had quite a busy night-but James did not sleep so easily, even after he was in his pajamas and lying in the covers of his large bed. The time was 5AM. He often had trouble sleeping, his brain never really stopped.

Stetson hung his clothing up in the closet-he only brought one outfit with him, the clothes he wore on his back. He washed them nightly. If the outfit got ripped or tattered (that had happened once to him when a fight got way out of hand) he’d buy identical clothing (or as close as he could get) Never changing anything for something different. He found that this outfit was the most comfortable and durable, he had his hiking boots for years as well. His jacket was very heavy and worked well when the winter storms kicked up.

Of course, he would rent a suit if he needed to, but he probably only wore a suit twice in his life, if that. The deer liked to keep things as simple as possible, and bringing loads of stuff with him while traveling was just inconvenient. Everything from his outfit, to his guns all fit in one huge suit case. He left the suit case in the back of his hummer, less to carry, plus a shotgun was not easy to hide in a place full of security cameras. He carried a gun license, but even if he could bring his shotgun in-he wouldn’t. Someone could get a hold of it and go on a killing spree. The only weapon he carried with him in any public area, was his hunting knife, concealed in his boot. He put a fresh bandage on his arm, admiring the stich work he had done.

The hotel room was a bit bigger than he needed it to be, complete with a large TV, an outdoor patio, looking over the balcony and into the city below. A small fridge in one corner as well. He usually stayed in cabins or slept in his own vehicle, so this was an awesome change. He placed his knife in the drawer by his bed and decided to watch TV for a bit-his favorite sport was on. Golf. As he stared at the screen, his mind went to the fact that maybe his life was going to settle down.

A year ago, he was on death’s door a few times, and while he still dished out his words to various people who needed them, maybe his life would settle. No. It wouldn’t. He just killed a man, granted in self-defense, but any cop who looked over Sam’s death would know the deer had broken into his house. Did he regret doing what he was doing? Maybe after the incident which left his heart broken, he should have left things alone instead of going after the hunters who ruined his life? Did going after hunters really make him feel better? Perhaps not, but in his head, in the long run it did a lot of good. It’s no secret that furries are suppressed by humans and even members of their own species going after them for money or just pure enjoyment. He began to doze off, not knowing of the dark times ahead.

* * *

Still in his boxers after sleeping, Hoss did some searching on his old laptop and made a few phone calls to various locations, asking about a white-tailed deer, there weren’t many in the town.

The large warehouse where he sat was home base, where weapons for his hunting hobby were kept neatly in wooden boxes. Bright lights hang from the ceiling, a separate bedroom is in one corner, in the bedroom are snacks and other life needs. The floor is a smooth concrete and on some of the walls, the bodies of those he had shot. The pig had a lot of human carcasses chained up proudly, he wiped them down weekly so the stench did not get too overbearing, plus it stroked his evil ego a bit to look into the pale faces of those he had out witted.

After hours of searching Stetson’s name in news articles and social media all night, he did come up with some interesting facts.

He phoned Lance. “I called a hotel not too far from here, they’re open. Front desk guy, James was reluctant to say much, so that made everything hard. Cops said whoever committed the murder of Sam fled the scene not too long ago after finding fresh tire marks in the snow. Looking on a few maps, Stetson’s house is miles and miles back in another direction, and I looked through phone books, his name is not anywhere. Newspapers said he travels from town-to-town, but I’d say we should look at the hotel, would make sense for him to make a pitstop there-the next town over is a long drive as well. He’s probably planning on moving again, maybe he checked in under a fake name? We don’t want to leave anything up to chance. I also want to get him before the K9 units do. I’ll get the van and gather Jerry and Mike. We can be there in an hour if we hurry. If he’s not there, I’m sure James would make a fun victim-I need to hunt again anyway.”

 

CHAPTER 3

 

Getting his clothes out of the dryer, Stetson contently went down to the breakfast bar, which was in the front lobby. This time, James and Scarlet were not working. Sitting at tables covered in white cloth, were the same groups from the bar last night. the large tables in corners were set up-they had cereal, orange juice, oatmeal and just about every type of coffee, donut and muffin imaginable.

With his breakfast, the deer sat at a lone table, his coffee steaming as he put some cream and a sugar supplement inside. Females looked at Stetson’s large arms, antlers and incredible height, they thought they were being sneaky-the deer knew what they thought and was flattered, but ultimately relationships were extremely low on his list.

James sat across from the new guest. “Mind if I sit here?” “Go ahead, kid.” James had a bowl of cereal and orange juice by him, he still wore his pajamas and looked like he had just crawled out of bed, he sniffled and his voice a bit low and soft since he had just woken up. “I felt bad you were by yourself, sir.” Sipping his coffee and looking at the small crowds, Stetson spoke. “No need to call me ‘sir’. Stetson is just fine. I guess I can be a bit shy.” The human took a bite of his food. “Shy? You don’t seem, well like the type. Hope I don’t offend.” As Stetson spoke, he began eating a few fruits from his assorted bowl he had made up. “Nah, I know what you mean. Big muscular guy, shy? It does seem odd. I guess my past caught up with me and I sometimes have trouble fitting in. Can’t ever judge a book by its cover. You and Scarlet working tonight?” “Yeah, we get mornings off typically.” Stetson smirked. He liked that someone his age was so engaged with face-to-face conversation and his face wasn’t plastered into his cellphone.

Scarlet snuck up behind James and scared him with a slight ‘boo!’ The lab sat next to James. “Why do you scare me, sis?” “Awe! I’m sorry!” she said in a sarcastic tone, of course the love beneath this teasing was undeniable. She licked the human’s cheek, then turned to Stetson. “Morning Stetson!” He waved and sipped his coffee. Stetson was good at making small talk, and he did. Making little jokes and such, he seemed to be extremely laid back.

Quiet chatter filled the lobby, the deer’s ears perked as he paid attention to every little sound. Scarlet is dressed in a black tank top, ripped black jeans and black punk rock boots-a typical outfit she felt comfortable in, but also felt matched her calm and cool personality.

Stetson noticed that James’ sister was quite protective of him, the two obviously had quite a history. Just the way she would look at him and her tone of voice read that she had a very nurturing attitude. Once she was done speaking, she left to go sit a few feet from the breakfast area and put in some headphones. “So, Stetson, why do you have that scar? When you came in last night, I wanted to ask about it, but wasn’t sure how you’d react.” Stetson poured another cup of coffee as he spoke. “Met someone who didn’t appreciate what I was telling him. I run into jerks now and again.” The young man eyed the buck. “Was it that bad? A simple disagreement?” “You could say that-but I guess simple isn’t the word I’d use. Look, uh-if you wanna have lunch later or something, we totally can. If you’re not busy. I got nothing going on really.” The human nodded happily. Scarlet was listening to the deer from afar, she loved his deep southern accent, it sounded sexy and stuck out like a sore thumb compared to everyone else. As a dog, she could narrow in one sound and concentrate on it, and she was glad to have him calm voice in her ear as she turned her loud rock music down.

Parked next to Stetson’s hummer-a white Ford truck. Two bearded humans stepped out, wearing black bullet proof vests under flannel shirts. Hoss and his men had done their research, and by talking to another desk person on the phone, Stetson was surly there. Revenge was not far, it was right on the tips of their fingers and they were proud of it. Each of them held machine guns in large guitar cases. Hunting for a deer would be easy and a nice thrill for the two. Maybe they could even kill more anthros in the lobby and get some extra ego points.

The sun shined over the hotel, the sky blue and very little snow was on the ground. The large parking lot filled with cars of all shapes and sizes. Neither of the two humans, Jerry or Mike said a word as they approached the doors to the hotel, looked over the crowd and both entered the bathroom to prepare.

Urinals and stalls surrounded them, the floor tiled, the two were as quiet, but quick as possible. Not a single person was in there.   They quickly took their weapons out, their hearts thudding in their chests. Never had they done something so big. The men loaded their weapons-after they busted down the door, time seemed to move in slow motion, bullets flew.

The screams deafening, the gun shots even louder. The deer swiftly stands and shoved James to the ground, bullets nearly missing him. The entire breakfast bar and windows behind the set up broke and crashed. James hid under a table, dead anthros covered the lobby, covered in dark red blood and mangled fur. The walls were covered in red fluid and bullet holes, crying could be heard throughout the room.

Stetson slowed his breathing down, James cowered. From his boot, Stetson grabbed his hunting knife and threw it in the air, it spun swiftly, hitting Mike in the chest unexpectedly, he gasped for air and flops backwards. Jerry meanwhile hid behind a desk loading his machine gun, which stood to the left side of the lobby. He knew Stetson wasn’t far from him.

Peeking his upper body over the desk, he began to fire rounds, like a soldier in war, Stetson went down on his stomach and crawled towards Mike’s weapon, the bullets whizzed by his head, like short bursts of wind. Staying low, he pulled the shotgun from Mike’s dead hand and shot near Jerry. He ducked under the desk. The deer stood up and loaded the weapon, aiming it precisely at the front desk. He held his breath and peeked over the desk, no human.

A shiver went through his body as he walked around the destroyed lobby. He looked to James who was shaking under the table. “Don’t move. I’m not leaving you.” The young man blocked his ears and nodded. The room went eerily silent, Stetson stepped over shattered glass and broken plates. His ear twitched, he felt Jerry behind him, he swiftly turned and shot once into his face, causing a stream of blood to fly as he fell to the side. The deer knelt by the body and picked up his driver’s license to get some information. On the back of the license, an address was handwritten-where was this address and what did it have to do with the shooting? James ran to Scarlet, who was not moving.

 

THREE DAYS LATER

 

She was dead. The dog who entered his family and had been with him for years as his sister, now gone by two random gun men. It seemed like a terrible nightmare, so very sudden. Stetson was now his life line. Not that he didn’t have friends, but there was something about the deer that pulled him like a magnet. Was it his personality? Maybe, he was never rude and wasn’t as noisy as most of the hotel guests, but also was great in conversation when the appropriate time came.

James’ home seemed so quiet, the sound of a ticking clock was the only ambience, besides maybe a passing car or two. Usually his sister would be talking his ear off, or they’d be going to the mall. The emptiness in his soul, was nearly deafening.

A knock on the door interrupted his depressed silence, James let Stetson in, he was a bit surprised to the buck standing in the door frame, his ears down and his overall mood seemed quite affected by Scarlet’s death. “Holding up okay, James?” The young man nodded and gestured him in. His house was one floor, two bed rooms, all the usual items and rooms were there to make a modest home.

Stetson crossed his huge arms and looked to James sorrowfully. “If you need anything, please let me know.” “I want the people responsible dead, Stetson.” With a perk of his ears, Stetson leaned against the nearest wall. He knew this type of anger all too well. He had gone through it a few years ago. “James, this is bigger than I thought. I did some research and, it looks like a guy named Hoss set it up. I’ve heard of him, he’s a mean, nasty anthro who tortures humans for food and pleasure. I can’t rightfully let you go through with digging deeper.”

The two went into the kitchen, James and Stetson each held cups of coffee after a few moments of silence. “I want to see him die. You don’t know how much my sister meant to me, you know how sweet she was. Please. Stetson. If I don’t do this, I’ll never sleep, I’ll never feel satisfied.” Stetson sipped his drink and cleared his throat, James looked at him with pleading eyes.

If Stetson was being truthful, he felt bad. He felt maybe this human should get some closure. Typically, he never let anyone on his dark escapades killing those who he felt deserved it, but losing a family member was something he knew all too well about. If he took James with him, what if something were to happen? Talk about guilt-this human was innocent and probably his first violent scene was the shootout, which left him petrified for hours. Interrupting his train of thought, James approached the deer. “Please Stetson. Let me come with you. I know you’ll look into this deeper. I saw that scar on your arm, you don’t let things slide, do you?” The deer was a lot of things, but not a liar. “No. I don’t let things go easily. Which is why I can’t have you with me. I do things, things that only I should know about.” James took a deep breath. “I’m coming with you. This is destroying me, Stetson. Please. I’m begging you.” Unblinking, James turns his head up to look the buck directly in the face. Stetson nodded. This was the point of no return. He reacted to his gut instinct. Maybe James was right.

Hoss and Lance walk about a large warehouse. The large door locked behind them. Some humans are caged, some are out and used as slaves, carrying heavy cardboard boxes to huge rooms. Some cry and shake in terror and some simply do their work without complaining, they range from ages 20 to 40. As well as weak humans, anthros in camo and holding weapons, since these operations with harvesting humans was of course illegal and any police who entered needed to be dealt with. Select humans were also used as soldiers if they were deemed strong enough.

The beagle crossed his arms, looking at Hoss with a proud glare. “Hoss, you never told me you had this. This is amazing.” The pig smirks and leads him around the various rooms within this dark establishment. “What’s with the boxes?” “Weapons and crap, I’ll let you have a good amount of it. Good stuff for if Stetson decides to come marching in.”

Lance paused for a bit, leading Hoss to a corner. “Stetson? Isn’t he dead?” Hoss shrugged. “If my men succeeded, yes-but I’m not taking any chances. Would you? This guy is a killer, and he needs a taste of his own medicine. You’re with me, huh?” The beagle nodded slowly and adjusted his black t-shirt. “Always man. Just wait until we get a bigger place and start taking over more? Humans will be our workers and maybe we can take over.” The pig chuckled. “Now you’re talking. I should give my men a call, they should be heading back by now-damn it’s like watching toddlers.”

 

CHAPTER 4

 

The early morning sun rose, Stetson showered and hopped into the hummer once James was ready. The human wore a brown t-shirt and black faded jeans, he held a small suitcase. Taking a note from Stetson, he wore one single outfit and brought no more clothes. He yawned and rubbed his eyes a few times, but in reality his brain was going at full speed. Of course, the well of emptiness he felt for his sister wasn’t going to ever end. Scarlet was everything, she was the badass sister that kept James’ energy up and going, she’s the reason why he was probably able to gain the confidence to ask for a job at the hotel.

The vehicle rocked back and forth as the sound of the engine took up part of the ride, the roads became more abandoned as a few hours passed, Stetson did talk to James a bit, what to do if certain dangerous situations arise. The deer had a lot to think of as well, James was a good kid-but this was going to be new and dangerous territory.

 

DUSK

 

As he approached the destination, a bit of sand kicked up as he walked towards the RV. Why was there an address to a random address to a random RV in this guy’s wallet? Showing no fear, the deer approached the front door and tugged, but it was locked. Maybe something was in there, some evidence as to why that huge, but random shooting took place? A gun cocked behind him, the deer slowly turned. Thank goodness James was in the hummer if the owner of the RV decided to shoot him up. The hummer was parked about a half hour from the destination.

A female human stood a few feet from him, aiming a black shotgun at him. Her hair curly blonde, she looked about 40 and a tad bit out of shape, but she knew how to handle the gun. The wind blew, nothing was around but a few empty dirt roads and lots of sand. She spoke in a slightly gruff tone, not letting her guard down. “Who are you?” He put his hands up. “Stetson. I need to ask you some questions.” The air blew a bit, she lowered her shotgun. He didn’t seem to want to attack her, but still found his size a bit intimidating. She slowly nodded and invited him into her home.

The living space was quite small, a single bed, a few chairs, a dirty floor and a few windows with dead bugs stuck to the glass. Stetson sat down, he told her everything from what he did, to how he found her place. She sat silently and listened open mindedly. The deer looked into her eyes and spoke in the politest way he could. “Please Gloria, I just need to know why they were attacking us. If you’re friends with who you say you are, then I do need to know. We’re talking about lives here.” She nodded. “You ever hear of Hoss?” Stetson’s ears perked a bit as he sat up straighter and crossed his legs comfortably “Yeah. I mean, I’ve heard the name when I go to bars. Does he have something to do with the attack? I assumed he did, being that I did some research. Do you have specifics?” She nodded as she offered him a water. “Probably, he was my ex-husband. I know how his mind works. I knew some of his men very well, Lance was a beagle I knew quite well. Just as much of an asshole as Hoss was. I pretended to be friends with all his hunting buddies, only so that Hoss didn’t beat me for not treating his comrades with respect.” Stetson sipped his as his ears dropped. “I’m so sorry. Did he talk about killing humans or anything like that?” “All the time” she said sadly. “Really I was just a toy to him. Constant threatening and stuff.” He nods. She continued. “I also know something about a warehouse he had. Nothing more than that though.” He slipped her his cell number. “Call me anytime. Okay?” With a feeling of sorrow for her, he briskly walked off…

“What did you find out in there?” James asked as Stetson started the hummer and drove into the pink sky, the headlights on, the road long. “I’m going to get some info. You wait in the car. If I make a stop.” The human glanced to the deer a bit. “I want to come with you.” Stetson cleared his throat and looked ahead. “I don’t know kid.” James stared at him. “Stetson, please. You don’t know how much it pains me. I think about what happened every single day. It’s painful. I want to help you.” Stetson nodded. “I know. I can’t let you go to dangerous places yet. Do you even know how to shoot a gun?”

The human shook his head. The two were silent for a little while as the music from the radio filled the car. A certain comfort washed over the human as he looked at Stetson behind the wheel. He had the look of fearlessness, but also comfort. Almost fatherly. The deer jolted forward as a giant vehicle tailgated them. Stetson’s heart sank, he knew someone was after him.

A rush of adrenaline hits him as he reached over a very confused James and grabbed his pistol, driving with one hand. “Stay down James!” He cocked his head out the driver’s side window and saw the military vehicle, ramming into the hummer again. With a grunt, Stetson leaned out and fired a few bullets into the vehicle. Driving behind the wheel was a frumpy male with a bushy brown beard and hunting clothes.

He jerks the hummer to the right with a loud screech and drives on the sand beside the main road. The human kept his head low, his heart pounded in his chest as he heard the incredibly threatening noises right beside him. The ride soon became bumpy, the military jeep still followed. Sand kicked up everywhere. Stetson slowed his breathing, making sure his brain didn’t go into full panic mode, panicking would mean death for James. James was who he needed to keep safe. Stetson slammed on the gas, the engine became loud. His voice became a bit loud, he reached in the back and grabbed his double barrel shotgun. “James! Take the wheel and keep the hummer steady!” He removed his green vest and tossed it in the back of the hummer.

Without a second thought, he slipped into the driver’s side as Stetson hoists himself up on top of the roof of the speeding vehicle-thankfully James wasn’t a bad driver. James had Stetson’s life in his hands. He took rabid deep breaths.

Balancing on top of the hummer, the wind pushing his shirt up slightly, the deer aimed his shotgun at one of the tires of the jeep and fired. He missed. Sweat pours down his neck as he tries to steady his firing, a few bullets wiz right by him from the pistol the driver held. Stetson held his breath and fired the gun, with a loud blast and a giant pop sound followed, the jeep swerved out of control, going left and right in a zigzag pattern. James stopped the vehicle and the buck jumped off the roof, landing on his feet. He sighed heavily and wiped the dust off his clothing.

Stetson aimed the gun at the distressed driver. “Get out. Now.” His tone ice cold. The driver fired a few shots out his window, Stetson ducked swiftly and fired towards him, shattering the windshield. “Come on out!” Stetson angrily shouted.

The driver managed to sneak out of the driver’s side door and hide behind the broken jeep, Stetson went on his stomach and fired a hole through his foot. With a scream, the human fell to the ground, blood spewed from his foot, he knew death was upon him. Stetson turned to face him once he faced the angry driver. “What’s your name?” Through tears of pain, he uttered. “Ramsey! I’m gonna kill you!” Stetson knelt in front of him, he smiled a tiny bit. “I think the shoe is on the other foot.” His antlers also covered in specks of blood and dirt from the past few days of excitement. “Tell me everything you know about Lance and Hoss. You know them?” Ramsey nodded. “Yeah. All hunters know them, AND everyone knows you! You’re BIG money!” Stetson took Ramsey’s gun and tossed it to the side. The wind caused the sand to kick up, cars could be heard in the distance.

James watched from a distance as he hopped out of the hummer, but didn’t say a word. Stetson got directions to an old warehouse, where Hoss and Lance hang out. Ramsey shook with fear. Stetson looked to him in the face, holding his cheeks roughly. “You gonna hunt again?” The human shakes his head. “You gonna get a respectable job and quit hurting others?” He nods. “Good. Hope I don’t have to see you again Ramsey. Good luck.” Ramsey cried in terror as Stetson walked off.

The sun began to set as the two drove off yet again.

 

    NIGHT

 

Cuddling into a blanket in the back seat, James yawned and fell into a light sleep. The happiness he got from being with Stetson was odd. Someone he had only met a few days ago brought him so much comfort. He would guess that he always liked someone in control, someone with a good head on their shoulders. He liked the tough guys, the fighters.

The deer sat in the driver’s seat, he chewed on a toothpick as he leaned his chair back, he listened to James’ calm breathing. It was so weird to watch over someone again. Not just someone he rescued, but someone who connected with him. James woke up and went to the passenger side. “Hey Stetson. You okay?” Rarely did anyone ask this, the deer nodded. “Yup. You?” He nods as he gets a snack to munch on. “You have any family waiting for you?” Stetson sighed. “No. My wife divorced me and my daughter is no longer around.” Stetson sighed and rubbed his neck. James looked to him. “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me, if it makes you uncomfortable.” Stetson looked forward. He moved his position slightly. “My daughter was killed by a hunter when she was eight.” A long pause filled the hummer. Stetson never told anyone the entirety of events that took place a year ago and changed his life. “Hunter shot her. Long story short, I went into a deep fit of rage. I did some illegal things, rescued a human ironically enough and rest is history.”

James’ heart went into his throat. Turned out there was more to Stetson than he once thought. The deer continued. “I was going to stop after I did all the illegal stuff, but in this cruel world a lot of humans and anthros need help. I got the skills, so I figured why not help others? I know I’m not the only one who’s family has been ruined. It’s either find a purpose, or curl up in a ball and be depressed about everything.”  The human placed a hand on Stetson’s shoulder. “I bet your daughter is proud of you.” The deer sighed and smiled a bit. “Maybe. Get some sleep.” James sighed and hugged Stetson tightly. The two fell asleep as the sun rises and the grass turned wet with dew.

 

MORNING

 

With a groggy stretch, Stetson looked to his side to the sleeping human, wrapped like a cocoon in his blanket. As he drove towards the warehouse, he got to thinking what James’ life would be like. Would he have a wife and kids? Would he be single and lament the days without his sister? If only he could predict the future, but sadly he could only help him so much. Being a friend was okay, but he knew deep down that darkness would follow on this day.

The warehouse wasn’t far away. He wasn’t doing this for himself, he did it for James and the love he had for his sister. Revenge was Stetson’s first thought when he lost his daughter, but knowing what he did may have saved others’ lives made him feel a bit warm. All Stetson wanted to do was to show James that the evil would be over, that he wouldn’t have to think about the nasty pig who killed his sister. Perhaps his efforts wouldn’t go unpunished.

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

The warehouse loomed over the hummer. James looked up at it almost in a dark awe. Winter air was beginning to form. The sand beneath them a dull grey color, like snow had fallen there the night before.

Stetson put on his leather jacket, brown gloves and loaded his shotgun. James sighed, clearly scared for his friend’s safety. “Stetson? Please let me go with you.” “No James. You stay here, I’ll leave the hummer running. If I’m not back in thirty minutes, you drive. You drive outta here and don’t look back for a second.” Upon saying those last words, the driver’s side window crashes with a loud bang. The chilly wind from outside pushed through the hummer, Stetson leapt onto the young man. He hands James a pistol and orders him to get out. The two ran at full speed, getting away from the hummer. The bullets from a sniper could be heard. The deer aims his shot gun forward as he shoots down a few guards outside, blood flies from their legs and they shout in pain. The human nearly becomes sick looking at the gunman lying in pools of their own blood and bone.

The back door to the warehouse is large and metal. Stetson sighs as he loads his shotgun. He pulls James back to the hummer, he starts the vehicle earnestly. “Stetson! What are you doing?” The deer drives a complete circle, ignoring James’ comment. At full speed, he slams into the backdoor of the huge building, the metal door splits in two as debris and smoke cover the inside of the building, the windshield cracked and the engine begins to sputter.

Before anyone has time to react, Stetson yanks James off his seat and runs him to a safe area.

Wooden crates cover the building, a tall ceiling with florescent lights hang. The sound of Stetson’s boots on the ground echo. Crouching behind one of the large crates, Stetson hears sounds of henchmen. James sweats with terror, his hands shake and his breathing becoming irregular. He kneels with his hero, goosebumps form on his skin. The thought of Hoss being here however, makes him want to stay and fight, Stetson’s breath is seen the weather only turns more bitter, the broken back door makes winter cold much more intense. “Stetson? Will we survive?” Footsteps become closer. “I think so kid. Stay down and only shoot if you have too.”

Coming out completely from cover, he eyes a lot of henchmen, all anthros and tall. Bullets fly and the loud bangs echo from across the walls.

A circle of about thirteen of them form around the deer as he fires bullets and aims his gun precisely, getting nicked a few times in the process, but shrugging off the pain. The shotgun fires, hitting some in the chest, causing them to fly backwards into the large crates with cringe worthy thuds. Another one shot in the face, which renders an unrecognizable bloody and muscle filled mess as Stetson’s shot gun bullet hits it. One wolf attempts to come up behind the deer with a knife, but he is hit in the stomach with the butt of the gun, a second later the barrel is aimed at his forehead and with a shot, his head explodes, splitting in two, causing blood to hit Stetson’s face. The deer removed his leather jacket, tossing it to the ground, beginning to sweat.

A few others are shot as they run out of hiding firing back and forth. With a deep breath, Stetson loads his gun, a puff of smoke covers the room, his arms ache, bodies litter the floor of the warehouse. Most are dead, some groan and vomit blood as they try to stand.

James runs to the deer, pale and shaking. “Are you okay?” He nods as he walks about the place, getting a better feel for it. His ears twitch as he hears sounds of crying and screaming, not from the gunman but from somewhere else. What other secrets was this place harboring? Past the crates, stands a red metal door, Stetson heads right for it, maneuvering his large body so he can cut through the narrow spaces between the crates

. Hoss comes out of the mysterious room at the end of the large building. Larger than life and smiling a bit. He smokes a cigar and crosses his arms. His height nearly matched Stetson, but much more overweight. The pig spoke as Stetson raised his shotgun, the red door directly behind him, piles of crates surround them. James stands behind the deer, Stetson glances to him. “Go. Now.” Hoss laughed a bit. “Stetson! You son of a bitch. It’s weird to even be talking to you. Your name has been plastered on newspapers and posters. Gosh, when I planned that whole hotel bit, I had no idea I’d land myself HERE. With you!”

He walked in a circle, James immediately hops behind a crate. Stetson turns, his barrel on him always. “You’re quite the killer-hunters fear you, all because your precious daughter got shot and you went on a little tirade. Well, I’m not scared.” Stetson placed the barrel of the gun to his chest, stopping him in his tracks. “You scared now?”
With lightning quick reflexes, the pig snatched the shotgun from his hands and snapped it with both arms, tearing at opposite ends. James gasped a bit as the pig lunged at the deer, knocking him to the ground. Stetson grunted as he felt a giant fist smash into his face and felt warm blood which seeped into his mouth. The buck jammed both of his thumbs into each eye socket of the pig, he yelled in pain. Another punch landed on Stetson’s face, nearly making him black out. Stetson slammed his foot into the pig’s crotch, he then threw a few right and left hooks. Hoss’ blood flew, his nose bubbled with snot and dark blood. Hoss slams Stetson’s head into the concrete ground, he yelped. Stetson has his hands around the pig’s throat like a vice. Squeezing. Hoss slams his head into Stetson’s, causing the deer’s ears to ring and stinging pain enter his cranium. Equally as fast as the pig, the deer gribs the hunting knife from his boot and slashes the pig once in the arm, a stream of blood flows and Stetson stands up, holding the knife in a fighting position. The pig yells.

Suddenly, a pistol is pressed against Hoss’ head. Stetson gasps a bit. He looks James in the eye.

“James. Don’t do this.” The human trembled, his eyes watered, his body sweat. The pig let go of his stinging arm which gushed loads of blood, not looking like he was going to hit the human, but glared. “YOU. You’re the reason my sister is dead. You sicko!” Hoss smiled. “You humans. So frail and emotional. Big tough Stetson helping you out? This isn’t the first revenge path he’s taken. You’re well on your way to becoming worse than he is human.” The deer wiped blood from his face and slapped the pig upside the head. “You touch him. You’re dead.” Hoss shoved Stetson, nearly making him fall backwards.

In a fit of panic, James shot Hoss’ kneecap, he screams in agony and falls to the ground, his knee spurts blood. James’ heart raced as he watched the pig writhe in pain. Stetson reached his arm around the human, standing to his side. “James. You go to the hummer. You’ve seen him. Your job is done.”

The teen aimed the gun at the deer in a fit of terror. “Stetson! I came here to FINISH this.” The buck raised his voice. “Don’t you fucking point that at me!” A long pause filled the warehouse. What happened to James? Was he going crazy? With those words and the deer looking at him with pleading eyes, James sighed deeply. He stood still for a moment. This was a dark path not going down. Stetson momentarily saw a darkness cover James’ face-a darkness he hoped to never see again.

James tossed the pistol outside with a large throw, his body tenses. Stetson looked to Hoss. “What else do you have going on here?” Hoss speaks between tears. “You’d love to know, wouldn’t you?” Stetson sighed deeply and flipped his knife once to show off. He pressed the blade against Hoss’ throat. “You tell me now and I’ll make your death painless. You don’t tell me, I’ll make your time here torturous. Who else are you hurting?” Now faced with death, Hoss became less confident and more weak and frail.

The large pig sniffled. “Humans. Tied up and used as our slaves. Go in. Look at the beautiful work Lance and I have done. Maybe you’ll wanna join us? Maybe you’ll realize what a majestic world it would be, if humans were merely our servants. No more racism. No more hate. Everyone had their place. When I get out of the hospital, YOU and JAMES are so dead. SO fucking dead.” He chuckled.

The deer sighed, kneeling to match Hoss’ position. “For Gloria.” He jams the blade into Hoss’ neck, slowly dragging it across his throat from left to right. The metal completely inserted into the smooth pink skin. He falls to the ground, gurgling heaps of vital fluid. Stetson watched him for a few moments, struggle to breathe, he held the open wound down with his hands. Perhaps trying to close it in a state of shock. His entire upper body a puddle of red fluid, nearly drowning him, with a wheeze, he lies motionless staring up at a deer who didn’t quite fit the profile of the hunted or the prey as most did.

 

CHAPTER 6

 

Humans of all ages and sizes, now were free to roam to find their homes. The locks and chains broken, hundreds of innocents now were outside the warehouse.

Stetson held his nearly broken nose with a damp paper towel as it had begun to bleed moments after freeing the humans, he looked to James and sat, leaning against his now broken hummer, still sticking out of the large door, the rear end clearly visible from the outside. He tossed James a water bottle and drank one himself. He took a deep and tired breath. He let go of the cloth, the bleeding had stopped. James sat right by his side. The two did nothing but look into the distance for a long while. The deer looked to his friend. “You okay?” James nods. “I’ll get you home, okay? Don’t worry.” He pet James’ back and gave him a quick hug. His ears perked at the sound of a motorcycle approaching.

 

AFTERNOON

 

The black cruiser motorcycle came to halt, the sand settled behind the back wheel and a beagle hopped off. Removing his helmet, he wore biker clothes and his jaw was a bit down.

Stetson stood to greet him, his jeans and t-shirt covered in dry blood, smudged dirt and little holes, Lance had never seen a deer this huge. The canine took deep rapid breaths. His work undone. His dream of humans becoming nothing but play things, done.

From his back pocket, Stetson aimed his pistol at Lance, who slowly put his hands up. “What the hell have you done? TRASHED all our work?” Stetson approached, chilly wind began to cover the area, the only sound that could be heard other than the murmurs of safe humans and Stetson’s large footsteps as he moved closer to the beagle. “Your keys. Give them to me.”

As the talking stopped, the sound of winds became more prominent. The dog looked to his feet, then looked up at the towering anthro. James ran to Stetson, but stayed behind him. The deer cocked the gun. “My idea is to take this human home, if you’re going to be in my way I’ll hurt you, as you can tell I made a mess of your guards and one dog won’t be an issue for me. Frankly, I don’t want to. Enough bloodshed has happened. I’d like to just relax. If you please. Make a choice. Either promise me you won’t hurt anyone ever again and you’ll never see me again, and leave all this shit behind, or fight me. Quick. Make up your mind.” Lance coughed and tossed him the keys without a second thought. Death was something Lance wasn’t ready for. The buck yawned and grabbed a holster from the back of his destroyed hummer and placed the gun by his side. Lance watched in anger as Stetson straddled the bike and helped James onto the motorcycle, revved the engine once and zoomed off. Leaving carnage in his wake.

The smell of gas hit James’ nose quickly, the motorcycle was a bit loud for his taste, but he felt so comfortable with the deer that it hardly mattered. The ride is bumpy, but Stetson controlled the bike with ease. James wrapped his arms around the deer’s waist and rests his head on his back. Tiredly watching scenery pass as they made it to the main roads. Finally. He felt fully relaxed. The images of blood and gore wouldn’t ever go away, but right now-he was able to just be in the moment with his hero. Being with a badass riding a motorcycle is in the end not what he thought would ever happen, but he accepted it with glee.

With a frail human wrapped around him, Stetson smiled a tad bit. It was odd at first, but perhaps it was good. Perhaps it gave the deer a sense of fatherliness that he never thought he’d get again. Maybe he’d never get it again. With a relaxed breath, he accelerated up a few hills, the wind blowing fast, the air cold as the sun tried to make its way through the looming clouds overhead, which it did. The deer got the break he was waiting for, but James being there made his time even better than he ever could have hoped for.

 

END

 

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