The Stranger: Visitations

In the fourth story in this series, Stranger seems to be finally getting his life on track. Then he is visited by friends and enemies from his past that will cause him much happiness and much pain. New tragedies will test even his great strength. Add to this the fact that old age is finally catching up with him. All of these problems will force Stranger to turn to new and old sources for help to cope with a world seemingly spinning out of control.

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8. Tragedy



The Season spent it urges on them and again passed on. They had felt those urges and once more had satisfied themselves until they had passed. Lying there together with Carie, he felt more spent than in the past. He was once again pleased he had lived to make another fawn. A fawn he hoped would also follow him like most of his past children. After Razor, he had made himself a promise he would never make another fawn and then have nothing to do with their upbringing. Carie seemed pleased and slept soundly next to him. Her scent and the scent of a bred deer coming from him were the only smells that filled his nose. He only hoped that his other children and children of Bambi felt the same way as he did.

"CLANG!" he heard loudly coming from the meadow. He knew what it was immediately.

It started again exactly like before. “Clang!” he heard again from the meadow. It was loud enough to wake every deer in the forest. This was followed by more Man shouting and more banging filling the forest with the announcement that Man was back in the forest to kill.

“Stranger?” Carie asked eyes filling with dread.

“Yes, Man is back for us,” he said. “After dark I will go to the viewing place to watch and see if we can understand what Man will do this time. In the meantime stay here and stay still.”

The noise got much louder as if coming from in front of them. The shouting also seemed louder as if more Men were on the meadow. The noises were closer and they did not sound the same as before and the difference bothered him.

“The fawns,” Carie said almost as an afterthought.

Claris is wise; she will keep them in the clearing until night. We must not walk around in the forest during the day. Man can be anywhere. For now we stay still and stay hidden.

They spent the rest of the day in their glade trying to rest among the increasing clamor of Man’s building in the meadow. Every time he almost fell asleep, some new sound would force him wide awake. As usual, as the greater light set, the noise stopped. He waiting until it was completely dark before he got up.

“We will go first to the clearing and get Stuben. Then I want you to take him and Claris and go up to the place we hid from Man last season. I will send the others up soon. I will join you there. I need to see what Man is doing and I do not want many deer around me.”

“I understand,” she said. She looked relieved he hadn’t asked her to go with him.

They went to the clearing, already most of the fawns had gone back to their mothers. Stuben was there and went immediately to his mother. Delon was gone.

“Where did Stena go?” he asked Claris.

“She was going with Balo to see what all the new noise was about,” she said.

That was exactly what he did not want to happen. There was something different this time and until he knew what it was, the fewer deer nearby the better.

“Tell all the deer that come here I told you to tell them to go to the place we hid last year,” he told her. Claris. "You go there now. I will see you when the greater light comes.”

He did not wait for any more comments and hurried quickly away. He took the long way around avoiding the stream that ran down the hill. He walked carefully and noiselessly through the dark woods. The wind was again blowing across the meadow where he could not smell anything from the Man cave. He called out in a low voice several times when he smelled other deer. He told them all to go up to top of hill and wait.  As the lesser light started to rise, he got to his viewing place. As he expected, Balo, Stena and Delon were already there.

“It is different this time,” Balo said out loud as he approached.

He stood next to Balo and looked at the meadow. As before the Man cave was lit with bright light. There were small Man caves along the ground nearby. The small Man caves that they usually put up across the end of the meadow so they could look along its full length had been moved. They were now standing along the long side of the meadow. They were in a row along the edge of the forest on his side of the meadow. That was different than he had ever seen it before.

"There are also dogs this time," Balo said. "I saw some running around  behind the Man cave. Big dogs."

That had not happened before, now he was sure Man had changed his plans, but to what? “Man is going to do something different this time,” he said, “But I do not know what it is.”

He thought about it for a while. “We will hide in the same place as last year. It is still hard for Man to climb it from the meadow. Stena you should take Delon and go there now. I am going to call the herd. Balo I think you should go with her and watch the others.”

“Yes, Father,” his daughter said and she left with Delon. Balo stayed back looking concerned.

“I will be fine,” he said.

“Balo took off. He came around the forest toward the small stream that led to the clearing. He called out loudly several times and then went to the clearing. Immediately he heard dogs barking loudly, but they did not sound as if they were running toward him.

He ran quickly toward the small clearing and waited. In twos and threes most deer came. He explained quickly what he wanted done and where they should go. Fortunately there were no arguments. He did note that Duro and Sinno did not appear along with the three and four year old males and females that went with him. All the five year old males came to him for instructions, It was just as the greater light first appeared that they all managed to get to the top of the hill and bed down. He found Claris, Carie and Stuben bedded down behind some rocks. Balo, Stena and Delon he was told was at the far end of the group. He lay down with his family and waited. It was not for very long.

First came the smell of fire and dead meat burning, but it was not deer. Then he heard the noise of several Man Machines that seemed to be moving away from them. He then waited for the shouting he knew would come as Man tried to get behind them and chase them onto the meadow only this time that did not happen. A little while later he heard faint shouting, but it was coming from far away toward the Man path forest.  He also heard dogs barking and chasing something. As they rested the shouting and the barking got louder. Then he heard it.

“PHAMM, PHAMM,” went the killing sticks only these were close. In fact they sounded like they came from the edge of the meadow near them. There were other sounds of killing sticks, but these were farther away in the Man path forest. It was then he realized what was happening.

“Man is not hunting here,” he told Claris and Carie. “Man is hunting in the Man path forest. He is trying to get behind Veron and his herd and push them out on this side of the Man path forest. It is not far from there to our meadow. As they run into our meadow the Men in the small Man caves will kill them.”

He listen to the noise go on until the greater light had almost set. Then it stopped. After dark he could hear the shouting from the Man cave. Again there was the smell of burning deer in the wind. He almost vomited because the smell was so strong. Some deer did throw up some of their cud. Man was burning several deer.

After it was fully dark he found Balo and talked it over with him.

“They went after Veron’s herd today,” Balo said. “Veron was afraid if too many deer join his herd it would bring Man. It looks like he was right.”

All he could do was nod his head in agreement. “I am afraid he was. I heard several sounds from the killing sticks inside our meadow and the Man path forest.”

“I hope Veron and Stabo are alright,” Balo went on.

“They both are wise, they will be alright,” he answered. Then he looked around the forest near them. “Have you seen Duro and the other deer?”

“No, not a sign of them,” Balo said anxiously. “They did not come up here.”

“Well I am not going to go looking for them,” he said. “Right now we need to get the herd fed and have them drink. We will do that now before the greater light rises.”

Balo nodded and went away. He got the herd to eat the grass in the large open area between his forest and the forest he had chased Geno to. After they ate, he led them down to the stream that flowed into the small pond and clearing near where he lived. As soon as everyone had eaten and drank their fill, he got them all back hidden well before the greater light rose and it started again.

 Man hunted in the Man path forest that day also. Only this time Man used more dogs. He could pick up traces of barking dogs on the wind. What he heard plainly were more sounds of the killing sticks. None of the killing stick sounds came from his meadow. Instead they came from the Man path forest. He heard several during the day. In his meadow he heard more clanging noises from where the smaller Man caves had been. Between the dogs, killing sticks, and clanging noises, no one got any sleep that day.

That night he let Balo take the herd to feed, while he went back to his viewing place by himself. As he looked again he could see the brightly lit man caves, and the fire, and the Men smoking and drinking, but the smaller Man caves had been moved back to where they usually were. That told him they hunt in his forest tomorrow. He turned and left his viewing place. Immediately he picked up the scents of four deer near him. There was Duro, Sinno, and two others he did not know.

“I know you are there,” he said out loud.

“A moment later four male deer came out of the forest near him lead by Duro. The others stayed behind him.

“How are things going here?” he asked.

“Thing are all well here,” Duro said sounding like he himself was a herd leader.” Man is getting too clever in finding us. We need to go someplace else.”

“Suit yourselves,” he said. “It is your lives.”

“We do not think you are right,” Sinno stammered.

“That is nice,” he said now talking firmly like he would to a misbehaving fawn.

“We also think you have been herd leader too long,” Duro added. “We need new deer, with newer plans.”

“Like who, you Duro?” he spat out.

“You could do worse,” Duro said.

He took a deep breath and seemed to relax before leaping ahead quickly until he was only a short distance from Duro. It caught Duro and the others off guard. He looked long and deep into Duro’s eyes.

“Anytime any of you want to challenge me, please come on,” he said tersely. “I would wait until Man left the forest, but I certainly do it while you still have your rack. You know where to find me. Anytime you are ready, Duro. Now are there any other questions.”

No one said a word. He nodded. “Very well, Man will be here tomorrow. He will try and get behind you and chase you into the meadow where you will die. Where you hide and what you do is up to you? I am waiting with the rest of the herd on the top of the hill. I hope to see you later. That is if you all still alive.”

He turned and walked away silently, all the time listening just in case one of them wanted to charge him from the rear. None of them moved a muscle.

He ate near the edge of the forest and drank from the stream before empting himself out. He was thinking while he walked. Could Duro be right? Things had not gone as expected this year. This was two seasons in a row he had to fight and kill deer. He never did that in the past. Was he losing his abilities? Was he getting too old? He certainly felt older. He knew he could not be herd leader too much longer. Maybe it was time to ask the herd to accept Balo.

He then climbed his hill and found Balo and told him what happened. He did not include his doubts, as least for now.

“You don’t think they would try something like Razor?” Balo asked.

“I do not think they have the courage,” he answered with distain. “Still keep a watchful eye on them. In the mean time Man will hunt here tomorrow. We need to get ready.

“I have been telling the others about not running into the meadow,” Balo said. “I also reminded them not to allow Man to get behind them.”

“Good,” I want to discuss something with you, Stena, Claris and Carie when this is over.” With that he left and went back to his family.

He found them standing just outside the forest looking at the other forest off in the distance.

“I have often wondered how the deer there live,” Claris said.

“Most likely much like us,” he answered. “We can think about that later. Right now Man will hunt here tomorrow. We must be ready.”

He spent the rest of the time before the greater sun rose going through his herd, telling them what would happen. All found good hiding places. Then all they could do was wait.

Man did hunt in his forest the next day. Many Men did come up their side of the meadow almost to the top of the hill they had hid before, then starting to yell again and banging things. They went down the hill, but he did not hear any killing stick sounds. That means they were not driving any deer downward. After the greater light was overhead, he heard man going up the hill in the far end of his forest near where Duro and Sinno lived. Again there was shouting and this time he heard dogs running loose. Soon he heard the dogs barking loudly as if chasing something. The noise moved from the end of his meadow across the far side near to where the bear lived. He heard one dog yell out and then another as if in pain. A little while later there were Man noises near where the bear lived and this was followed by many noises from the killing sticks. All he could think about was the bear. He knew bear might be there, or he could be over the hill. He just did not know. He could not do anything about it now. All he could do was save the others in his herd. As the greater light went down, again the Men went back to the Man caves and started shouting once again. He walked alone to the edge of the meadow and looked. It was too far away to see plainly, but there was meat burning and some of the scents smelled like it came from a bear. He swallowed hard.

He went back up the hill quickly. He was thinking of moving the herd, but it was too close to the rising of the greater light. Instead they stayed where they were. The next day there were no sounds of killing sticks or barking of dogs in the forests. All passed in quiet. At that point he decided he go see the bear. As soon as the greater light set he found Balo standing next to Stena and explained what he wanted.

"I need you to take over the herd tonight," he told him." I need to go find the bear."

"I heard the hunting sounds over there also, Stranger," Balo said. "You want me to get the herd fed and watered and be back here by the rise of the greater light."

He was learning. Soon he would be ready. He leaned over and nuzzled Balo on the nose. "You will make a good herd leader," he told him. "And you will make a good herd leader's mate," he told Stena.

They both smiled at him and Stena licked the side of his face like a fawn would. "You and Bambi have taught us well," she told him. "You want me to go with you?"

"No," he told her. "Your place now is with Balo and the herd. I will do this. He is my friend and I will do this alone."

Stena looked disappointed but nodded her pretty head. "I understand," she said. "The herd comes first."

"Now I must go," he told them and went on down the hill.

He stopped quickly at his viewing place. Although the Man caves were still there, there were no fires, no barking, and no Men. The herd was safe for now.

He circled around the far side of the meadow being as quiet as possible. The wind was blowing from the Man caves so he knew the dogs would not smell him. He waited until he got below the bear’s den and started to climb cautiously upwards. There was  more than one bear scent. A female was with him. As he approached the den he called out while still at a distance, but there was no reply. He heard no sound of a bear going through the woods. As he got closer he picked up the one odor he hated to smell, the earth like smell of blood. It was deer blood. He also smelled other blood. This smelled like a bear. He stopped and cautiously approached the den.

Near the den he smelled a large pool of blood. He took in the scent through his noise. It did not come from his friend the bear but from another. The smell of deer blood was nearby. He followed the odor and found it led to a deer laying dead on the side of the hill several lengths from the den. He got closer and he could see it was Sinno, but he was not killed by Man. He had huge claw makes on his neck and side, and his insides were spilled out onto the ground. Sinno had been killed and partly eaten by a bear.

“This idiot and the others lead Man right to my den,” he heard from in front of him.

The scent of the bear he knew filled his nostrils.  The bear was down wind of him so he could not smell him. “What happened?” he asked

“The dogs came. My mate knocked two of them away, but Man came with his killing stick and killed her.”

“I saw it and smelled it on the way over here,” he said. “I am sorry she is dead. You killed Sinno?”

“Yes, that idiot and his two friend brought Man here and now my mate is dead. I wanted revenge so I took it. I will finish eating him later. Where the other two are I do not know, but I got their scents. I know they are part of your herd, and if I smell them again, I will kill them.”

“They are not part of my herd,” he explained, and told the bear what had happened.

“So if they would have listened to you, everyone would still be alive,” the bear growled “The fools,” he repeated.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“Yes, the dogs never found me. They smelled Ura and went for her,” the bear went on.

 “Can I approach you?” he asked.

“You did not cause this, I will not harm you,” the bear said and came into the open.

He walked up and smelled the bear. He smelled fine. “The deer you want is named Duro. He approached me and told me he should be herd leader. I told him he could challenge me at any time. Then he left.”

“If I find him, he is dead and will not challenge anyone,” the bear growled. “Ura was the only female in my territory. I am getting too old to go out and fight for a new one.”

“I know, we are all getting old,” he said.

It was then he caught another scent. It was a deer and it was approaching up the hill. The smell was familiar and he realized it was Stabo. What was Stabo doing outside the Man path forest?

“You son is coming,“ the bear said with equal astonishment. “What is he doing here?”

“I do not know, but something must have happened. Can I call him here?”

“Yes, again he did not cause my pain, I will not harm him.” the bear answered.

He bleated once loud enough to be heard close by, but not loud enough to be heard in the meadow. Stabo bleated back and came up the hill. He stopped at the den and he could see and took in the odor of the blood. Stabo walk up to them and saw Sinno’s body on the ground and looked at him and the bear.

“I am sorry to disturb you,” he said in a low tone. He could tell there was something else. Something had upset him greatly and it was not this. He dropped his head. It could only be one thing.

“Who was it this time, Stabo?” he asked.

“Father, Veron is gone,” he said choking up. “He was killed by Man two days ago. I told mother and Balo and they told me you had come this way. I knew this is where you be.”

“What happened,” he demanded to know.

“You know after his injury he could not run as fast. He was getting better, but he had not fully recovered. Man brought dogs and they managed to get behind us. We were fleeing away from the end of our forest that is near the Man cave. We knew Man would be there. Man had dogs, the big dogs and they started to chase us. Veron could not keep up. He stopped and two of the dogs attacked him. He told Alana and his son and daughter to keep running. He managed to fight them off, but before he could run away Man came up. Veron tried to get away, but he could not run fast enough. Man used his killing stick on him. He died quickly.”

“Did you see this?” he asked.

Stabo shook his head, “No, Alana did and she told me. There were others that got chased into your meadow and died. Most of those who were killed came from the other forest. It was not a good day. Between Man and the dogs, several of us are gone.”

He dropped his head and almost started to weep. Veron had been right. The many deer in the Man path forest had brought Man.

Stabo looked around and saw the dead Sinno and then looked at the bear. "I smelled the bear blood on the way up. I did not think it was you, but I was not sure."

The bear quickly explained what had happened. Then he explained what had passed between Duro and him. He could see Stabo get angry.

"Duro and Sinno again," he grunted in anger. "If I find Duro, I will kill him myself and then you can have what is left," he said to the bear.

"That goes for me too," he said. "Duro knew better than to lead Men to others. Duro is one deer I will gladly let you have. That is if you can stomach eating him."

"Thank you both," the bear said. "I am truly sorry about Veron. I know he was a good deer like you two and Bambi."

"And I am very sorry about Ura," he repeated. "It has been a bad day for all. Forgive me, but I must go with Stabo. We need to make plans."

"I understand," the bear said. "I will see you later."

Both Stabo and him left the bear's den and hurried back down the hill. Veron's death would be bad on the Man path forest herd. He need a plan to at least try and correct matters the best he could.

Now all he had to do was think of something.

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