The Stranger: Generation

In the fifth story about the Stranger, our hero is getting old. It is time to hand the herd off to younger and more capable deer. Only who is more capable? After a series of disasters and personal tragedies, the Stranger is left hurt both physically and mentally. He plans are left in ruins, and he finds he has to begin all over again. How he can adapt to these calamities will test the strength and resolve of the Stranger.

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7. DECISIONS

 

 

When he woke up this time he saw Claris sleeping near to him. She must have followed him after his meeting with his family. He let out a groan and tried to get to his feet. It was painful, but he managed to get up.

“Ahhhh,” he grunted as the pain flowed through him again. Besides hurt he felt famished and very thirsty. His insides also felt ready to burst. He looked up at his doe. “Excuse me, please,” he told her.

He walked off until he was far enough away and again his body released waste that smelled like death itself. The greater light was going down and there was no sign of Man in the forest. He walked to a nearby stream and drank and started to eat. He ate several mouths full of grass before his insides started to hurt again. He stopped and limped back to where he woke up. By now Bambi and Faline were there with Stabo and Gena with Young Bambi. All of them looked at him like he had just returned from the dead.

“I still hurt on the inside, but at least my legs move better. I cannot run, nor can I eat much When the Man cave caught fire, it knocked me down and damaged me on the inside. I do not know if I can heal or not, but I do know I can no longer lead. In any case we are now all forced to live here in the Man path forest. Our home is no longer there so we are going to have to live here or someplace for many seasons until our forest grows back. We will be living with the herd here and its leader Stabo.”

They all nodded, so they saw the situation like he did. He next turned to Young Bambi. “I want you to get, Koren, and Galin and his family. Do not bring any of others.

“That is good not to bring others” Young Bambi said. “After the meeting last night Balo, Stena, Delon, Stuben and Carie are still looking for your blood, my younger sister is with Stuben and Karlene is with Delon.”

He nuzzled Young Bambi on the side of the face. “If they want my blood, they can have it,” he told him. "That is their choice. We now have other things we must do. The first is to put the herds into order."

 Young Bambi looked at Stabo who nodded his approval and he went on his way.

Stabo and the others looked at him suspiciously. “Father what are you going to do?”

“I will explain when the others get here. I only want to say this once,” he told him. “I am starting to feel tired again. I am going to lie down. When the others get here, please wake me.”

He went over to a small grassy area near one of the many small clearings and lay down. He was asleep almost immediately.

Bambi woke him later and he went back to the others. By now it was dark and it was the normal time they feed. He saw they were all there and he walked in among them.

“With the permission of the herd leader I am going to call for a gathering of both herds. We must decide what we are going to do with the herd from the meadow forest. We cannot go back there for many seasons. Stabo, I am still concerned about food. Are you sure there enough for both herds to last through the winter?”

It was Young Bambi who spoke up. “Yes," he said with confidence. "But your herd will have to go deeper into the woods. I have walked for a full day into the woods and the forest goes on as far as I could see, and I have seen little sign of deer. The forest is just like here, lots of trees, many small clearings, and a few streams. There should be enough food and water for all. The question is Man. If we all live here in this forest, will not Man return here in greater numbers? I have already lost my father to them; I do not want to lose any of you.”

It was the voice of an intelligent deer speaking out. It was clear and to the point. He nodded. “Thank you, Bambi,” he said deliberately leaving out the word young.

“Do you want to keep this as one herd or two?” Stabo asked.

“That will be up to the herds,” he said. “If there is one herd, then you Stabo are herd leader. If they want to become two, then I will tell them they have to select a new leader.”

“I see two deer that could do it,” Galin pointed out looking at Bambi and him.

“No, Galin, my injuries will not allow me to be a herd leader, besides I am old and getting older. It is time a younger male do this, but thank you.”

“I already gave up being a herd leader,” his old friend Bambi said. “I do not need to do this again.”

Galin shrugged his huge shoulders. “Very well, but I must tell you there is talk among the other deer about Balo, Stena, Delon, Stuben and Carie. Many of the meadow herd dislikes what they heard with all their arguing, especially the herd males. They also heard you, Stranger, talk to your family last night. Few in either herd wants anything to do with them. Even with your injury and age, I do not think any deer in the herd would challenge you for herd leader, and if they do, they can fight me first.”

“Thank you Galin,” he said with a bow of his head. “No, all we would do is post pone the decision until I pass on, which may happen soon anyway. My injuries are serious and they do not appear to be healing well. A new leader must be chosen.”

“Then you can expect Stuben and Delon to have a fight soon afterwards,” Galin said. I have seen this before with my father. There is so much hatred built up now between them, it may be a fight to the death.”

“My old friend Bambi and I will try and stop that,” he said shaking his head. “I am afraid that in the end there is little we can do. If they want to kill each other, I can hardly stop them. We do have other deer that can help," he said looking at Koren.”

“I am afraid not, Stranger," Koren said. “Both Garla and I will go with Galin, Charlene, and Garten and when they go back to their old forest. Galin will need help and all of us can provide that help. Besides I do not think I am saying anything secret when I tell you that Charlene and Galin are going to be a pair as are Garla and I.”

He, Claris, older Bambi and Faline were surprised at the announcement.

“Is this true?” he asked them. “Is this what you all want?”

The four of them nodded together. There were going to be lots of new pairs this Season.

“I will not be going back,” Garlene said. “I am staying with Bambi here.”

He watched Young Bambi walk over and kissed her. “Yes, we have decided to become a pair also,” he told them.

This was the best news he had received in a while. “I am happy for all of you” he said with a smile. “I am just sorry that most of you have to leave, but I understand. Your herd comes first.”

“Yes, Young Bambi will likely take over here after I step down,” Stabo told him. “He is almost ready now. When he gets to be fully grown, I will gladly step aside for him. I never wanted this in the first place. He will have children and teach them and Gena and I have other children to teach. Garlene will make a find herd leader's mate. She is smart, strong, and has learned unlike some of the others. We should all be fine here. It is the meadow herd I fear for.”

“Then could I ask Stabo and Bambi to call the herds together. With my injuries I can no longer call out strongly.”

He watched Stabo, both Bambis, and Koren go away and then start to call out loudly, “Here, Here, All of you come here,” they bellowed several times. They waited and slowly, in twos and threes they came toward them.  The lesser light was well overhead before they all got there. The clearing was much too small to hold them so they assembled in the trees. He only hoped he could speak loudly enough so they all could hear.

He stood in the middle with Claris on one side of him, older Bambi and Faline next to him, and Stabo and Gena with Koren and Garla on the other side. The younger Bambi, Galin, and  Garten and Charlene stood next to Faline. As Balo, Stena, Delon and Karlene came he put them on one side. Then he saw Carie, Stuben, and Young Faline come in and motion for them to stay on the other side.

He looked at Carie. “Have you seen Stelar?”

She barely nodded no all the while looking at him as if he was the vilest creature on Earth. She did not seem too upset by her missing daughter which bothered him greatly.

He noticed Stuben was eyeing him carefully.  Not only that, he could still see Stena and Carie glaring each other. The other deer looked bewildered, and lost due to the recent fire in their forest and the arguments within his own family. Since Stabo was herd leader here he nodded to him to speak first.

“You all know, Stranger, my Father,” Stabo told the group. “He has asked me to call the deer together from both this and the meadow forest to discuss what we will do now that fire has destroyed the meadow forest. It might be many seasons before we can use the meadow forest again. I ask you all to please listen to my Father.”

He waiting until here was silence and he started to speak as loudly as he could. “I am sorry, but this is as loud as I can speak due to my injuries. With the burning of the meadow and our old forest we are forced to stay here in the Man path forest. We may be here for many seasons. I am told that if we go deeper in the forest, we will find enough food and water to keep us all well fed through the winter.”

That took care of their immediately concerns. He then went on after the mumbling died down. “You must now make a decision. In this forest, Stabo is herd leader. Those of you who wish to remain with Stabo’s herd are welcomed. Those of you that want to stay with the old herd can travel deeper into the woods and have your own herd and herd leader.” Then he stopped and let the murmuring settle down again. “If you want to stay with the old herd, you will have to select a new herd leader. Due to my age and my injuries, I can no longer be your leader as I told you before. You will need to select a new herd leader now.”

There was still a chorus of ‘no’, and ‘do not go’ he heard from those around him. It did make him feel good that he was liked by so many. He heard a lot of talking and that was good. He let it go for a while and then Marco, one of the large four-year old males from his herd came up. “If I may speak,” he said.

“Marco may speak,” He said as loud as he could.

Marco nodded his head and then spoke loudly. “Stranger, if we do keep the old herd, who would you suggest as the new leader?”

“I can still make no recommendation,” he said as loud as he could. "On that my mind has not changed since out last meeting.”

Marco nodded his head as if expecting his answer. “I would agree with Stranger that we do not have anyone to lead our herd. Lately we have seen how Balo and his family have argued loudly over the leadership. This has also caused me to question Balo’s ability to lead the herd. I also question whether Balo’s son, Delon, and his mate Stena  can lead. This is also because of their arguments. I have also heard the words of concern Stranger has said to his family. I question even more your mate Carie and your son Stuben for starting the arguments. I do not think they have the needs of the herd as their main interest. For these reasons I think we should stay as one herd under the leadership of Stabo. He is wise, he has been trained by Stranger and Bambi, and he has proved he has the needs of the herd as his first concern. Veron’s son Bambi has also shown the ability to lead. I would follow both of them.”

He saw Balo’s jaw drop to the ground in surprise. Both Delon and Stuben looked ready to charge out and kill Marco. Stabo, him, and the two Bambis stepped out near the senior male. He was disgusted. How could his family be surprised after what all of them had said? They should have known the herd would not follow them.

“All here have the right to speak,” Stabo shouted.

Relnor, a four-year old deer from this forest then walked out into the open. He had been one of the first to flee from Razor and had never gone back to his old forest. “I hear Marco and I agree. Stabo and Veron’s son Bambi are best to lead. I also did not like hearing the arguments among the other deer about being herd leader. One thing Stranger and the older Bambi has taught me is that the herd must come first and that is not the case with them. I say we live as one herd with Stabo as our leader.”

“I agree,” came a shout from the herd followed by other similar calls.

After the shouting died out he stepped up again into the middle. “Is it then the wish of the herds that you now become one herd with Stabo as your herd leader?”

There was a general chorus of yes, from both herds. Although the amount of support surprised him, the decision to become one herd did not. Poor Balo, Stena and Delon looked like they had all just been beaten by a bear. They had been rejected by their own herd. He knew what that meant. They were all told no one wanted them. There was nothing more to be done, they had made this mess themselves and they would have to correct it.

“Very well,” he said loudly. “Then as of now I step aside and let Stabo be leader for both herds. I want to thank all of you for allowing me to be your leader. It has been my pleasure to do so. I just wish it would have turned out better.”

Marco then walked up to him. “Thank you for being our leader, we can clearly see the price you have paid for it,” Marco said and rubbed his forehead. “We thank you for it.  Many of us are alive because of you two. To many of us, you and Bambi will always be our leaders.” Marco then looked directly at Stabo, “No offence is made to Stabo by saying this.”

“And no offence is taken,” Stabo said. “They will always be leaders to me also and I hope will continue to give me advice when I need it.”

“As long as we are able,” he told his son.

“I have something to say,” Balo shouted out.

He thought Balo cannot be that stupid, but Balo walked out into the middle with the rest of them. All of them in the center looked tense and ready for a fight.

“I do not accept being one herd and I will never accept Stabo as my leader,” he said spitefully. “I will not challenge Stabo for the leadership of this herd, but I will say that if there are any who also do not accept this, I will leave tomorrow night for the deep forest where we will set up our own herd. All who wish to come with us are welcomed.”

There was dead silence among all the deer. That should have told Balo, Stena, and Delon all they needed to know. Most of both herds wanted nothing to do with any of them.

“All who wish to go with Balo, are free to do,” Stabo said loudly. “The rest will stay here.”

“Any more questions?” he asked the herd.

Again there was dead silent. He turned to Stabo. “Thank you herd leader for calling this gathering. I wish you well as herd leader.”

“One more thing to take care of,” Stabo said. “Bambi,” he called to Veron’s son. “Come with me.” Stabo then turned to him and older Bambi, “May I ask you two to also come with me.”

They all followed Stabo over to Carie and Stuben. The other deer were already leaving. The matter of the herd had been settled. He did notice Galin hanging back about three lengths behind them. When Stabo got within two lengths of Carie, Stuben and Young Faline he stopped dead and stared right at them. “Let me say this to both of you,” he told Carie and Stuben. with his voice showing anger. “I am herd leader here and when I step aside I will suggest to the herd that Veron’s son Bambi take over from me. I know you do not like that so I suggest you both leave now, because I will not put up with anything from either one of you.”

“And just where are we supposed to go?” Carie sneered. “Our forest is burnt, that fool Balo and his family are leaving for the deep woods; we cannot go with them. Maybe you hope we go to the forest far away over our hill we used to live on, and die before we get there?”

“You will not go to my forest, I do not want you there,” Galin called out from behind them. “You go to that forest and when I become herd leader, the first thing I will do is chase you both out. Deer like you I do not need.”

“I suggest you go to the forest over that hill,” he pointed toward the bear’s den. “No one knows you over there except Young Claris. If you behave, her and Felon will let you live there in peace.”

“Very well,” Stuben said. “I am taking Young Faline with me.”

“That is up to her,” Young Bambi said moving right up to Stuben.

“Young Faline,” he called to her. “You know Stuben and Carie will need to leave here. It is your choice if you will go with them or not.”

Young Faline lowered her head. “I do not like what I am about to say,” she said in a low voice. “Although I care for Stuben very much, I will not leave the rest of my family to go with him. I am sorry, Stuben, but you will need to go alone.”

‘You are coming with me,” Stuben growled and stepped forward right into the front of Young Bambi who stepped forward quickly blocking him. “You heard her, now go,” he said making it very clear he was ready to fight.

He saw Stuben almost turn red with rage and he was waiting for him to take it out on Stabo or Young Bambi. He wisely decided not to. Instead he turned to him. “I hope you are happy, Father.”

“No, Son,” he said calmly. “I am not happy, but again you and your mother brought this on to yourselves. You have no one to blame except yourselves. I am pained to see you go, and go alone, but it would be best for the herd if you did.”

With that he walked away thinking how problems tend to work themselves out if you give them enough time. Only one more thing left to see. He went back to where he slept before and ate some grass until his side started to hurt. He then found a stream and started to drink. The older Bambi Faline and the Claris all found a soft spot of grass as the greater light rose, they all fell quickly asleep.

The next night he and the others watched as Balo, Stena, Delon and Karlene gathered together. Four males, two females and five yearlings also went with them. They all were deer from the other forest Razor had come from.

“I wish you all luck,” he told them.

They said nothing in returned. He knew they all blamed him for the situation they were in. In a way they were right. He could not control how this turned out. It just happened. They walked off into the distance and disappeared into the deeper darkness of the forest. He hoped they be alright, but from here on out there was nothing more he could do for them. The problems with his family have been sorted out. He had done his best, there was nothing more to be done. He looked back and saw Stabo, Young Bambi, Gena and Charlene standing together. He walked over to them with Claris. “You know it occurred to me, we never asked permission from the herd leader to stay in this forest.”

His Son laughed out loud and rubbed his head and then his mothers. “You two never have to ask my permission to stay anywhere,” he said. They all walked off to feed.

It was two days later that Claris and he were walking to the edge of the Man path forest after they had fed. They looked out at the burnt meadow. He could see the remains of the Man cave lying in pieces on the ground. A burnt up Man animal lay alone and looked dead. The lush green grass was gone, replaced by a burnt cover of gray.

“Will it ever grow back?” Claris asked.

“Yes, he said. “It is like Bambi’s old forest did after the fire there. It grew back and is still growing back. It is only we will not see it.”

“We are all getting old,” she said and rubbed his neck.

“It is not just getting old,” he told her. “It is my injuries that now bother me. What bothers me the most is what happened in my family. I have heard what you and the others have told me, but I still feel it is my fault I did not see it earlier. Now the lives of our daughter and my son are lost to both of us.”

“We still have our eldest son,” his mate told him. “You cannot be blamed for this. None of us saw this coming, not you, me, Bambi, or Faline.”

“I suppose so, but like our old forest they are gone from us now.”

It was then he noticed the scent of another deer behind them. He turned and sniffed the air. It was Garten and he was alone.

“You can approach us,” he said out loud.

The young male came forward, looking a little hesitant. He approached until he was within a few lengths of them and then stopped. “Am I disturbing you?” he asked bowing his head slightly.

“No, of course not,” he answered. “Come here and tell me what the problem is.”

The young male was smaller than his brother and somewhat weaker. However he was no weakling. Like Balo had been when he first got here, Garten was a little taken back at events and preferred to let his older brother talk.  

“Stranger, besides being herd leader, all the deer say you are one of the wisest deer in the forests,” Garten told them.

“I wish that was true,” he said. “Please continue.”

“I must tell you that since I came to your forest, I have always been interested in Young Faline. I think she is beautiful and she is smart. I never told her however, because I felt her and Stuben were a pair. Now they are not. I was wondering, do you think she be interested in me?”

“Have you asked her?” Claris asked.

“No,” Garten said in a low voice. “I was afraid that not being a lead male, her brother, Young Bambi, would not approve.”

He repressed a smile. “You are a senior male,” he told him. “Other than larger deer like Stabo, Young Bambi, Galin, or Balo,” there are few deer in the forest that can beat you. I know this because I have helped train you.”

Garten swallowed hard enough to be heard by all of them. “I just do not think of myself as a senior male when I see deer like you, Bambi, Stabo, Young Bambi, Delon and Stuben around. They seem more powerful and ready to act. I am not like that.”

“No, but you have learned,” he said. “Most deer do not act because they do not know how to. They also have little interest in learning. You have taken the time to learn. I hope better than my own son and daughter. Even when you go back to your forest, you will be a senior male. If you are interested in Young Faline, ask her. If she tells you no; you have lost nothing. Only if she says yes, will you need to see her brother. Young Bambi will mate with your older sister; I do not see why his younger sister should not mate with you.”

The young male's face lit up. “Thank you,” Garten said with a bow of his head and walked quickly away.”

“Do you think he will asked Young Faline, and do you think she will accept?” Claris asked.

“That is their decision to make,” he said.

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