The Stranger: Into the Rising Light

This is the sixth and final story in the life of the Stranger. Stranger is now old. Other deer have taken over from him. He now awaits in the forest for his end which he knows will come soon. This should be a time of rest and relaxation, but old enemies and new problem once again upset Stranger's plans. How he faces these problems brings this series of stories to an end. Please let me know what you through of these stories

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8. POINT OF ARRIVAL

 

 

You would think finding a bear in a barren forest would be a simple task. It was not. He had to walk well into full day light before he came across her scent trail. He moved as fast  as he could away from the meadow and up the hill toward  the top  near where he used to live. The scent trail led him toward the place Bambi and him had escaped the dogs and Man long ago. He was still looking when he heard Man voices from below. Man was already out hunting. Man would be here soon.

He decided to take another risk. He stopped, collected his breath and call out as loud as he could. "BEAR," he yelled twice before he was exhausted. Below him he heard the dogs bark even louder.

He continued his climb up the hill. It seemed a lot steeper than he remembered it. He was exhausted by the time he got close to the top. There were more Man noises from below and then suddenly, the barking of the dogs became much louder. The barking was deep, these were the big dogs. The noise was moving. Man had let the dogs lose. There is only one place they would come. They follow the bear scent until they found his trail, then they be up after him. There was no way he could run away this time.

"URRRAAAAA," he heard from his left. He knew that voice: it was his friend bear. He moved quickly toward it. He was almost staggering before he came into a place with the remains of several old oak trees that were still barren. There he saw the two bears. He staggered up and almost fell over onto them.

"Stranger," bear called out. "What happened?"

He took in several deep breaths before he could answer. "Man went to your old den yesterday. They hunted all around it and found nothing. They are all coming here today. They have the dogs, the big dogs." That was as far as he could get before he had to start breathing heavily again.

"I know, that is why I left," the bear said. "I came around the edge of the forest to here so I would not be seen. I felt here might be safe."

He shook his head no. "More men came last night and more big dogs came with them. They all rested at the Man cave last night. They are coming here now. You have to run."

"Run where?" Uttral said looking around at the barren landscape.

He thought about that for a moment and remembered their old hiding place. "If you run along the top of this hill away from the Man path forest, you will come to the end of the hill. Between this hill and the other hill is a stream. Cross the stream and run up the other side," he told them and started to breath heavily again until he could talk again. "It is hard for Man to climb that hill from the meadow. You might be safe there."

The bear seem to nod. "I remember the place. We can all go there now," the bear said. "Come Stranger, Uttual."

He shook his head no again. "No, my friend, I am too old. I can no longer run. I am exhausted, and I can hardly move. You two go. I will stay here."

The bear looked at him in amazement. "If you stay here, Man and the dogs will find you. You will die."

"I know that," he said still breathing hard. "I do not think anything will prevent that one way or another now. My time is here. I can no longer run, and I can no longer hide. Besides, if I am here, it will give something for Man and his dogs to do, before they come after you."

From below he heard the increasing barking of the dogs that seemed to get louder. From their barking, he could tell they were still searching for a sign of them. He looked at both bears. "You both have to go now."

The bear walked toward him and nuzzled his long nose with him. "You do not have to do this?" he choked out.

"My choice now," he said returning the nuzzle. "Man will not be happy until he had his meat for burning. He will not be getting much with me. Now please go!"

The bear back away. He looked around and motioned to Uttral to leave. He then turned one more time to him. It looked like he had a tear in his eye. "Goodbye, my friend," he said tenderly.

"Thank you," Uttral said warmly. "I will remember this."

"Remember Stabo and the others," he called to them as they turned away.

"I will," they both repeated.

He watched them both disappear into the forest. He hoped they be alright. He was now alone. He looked around. He had always wondered where he would end up. This place was as good as any. He had been born alone, lived a lot of his life alone, and now it looked like he was going to die here alone. There was nothing to do about it now. He turned to face the meadow and then he lay down and tried to gather his little remaining strength.

It did not take long for the dogs to find the bear scent and follow it. He could hear them coming up the hill toward him, all yelling back to their master. "Here, they are here," he heard their calla. A short while later he heard the barking noise increase again. The dogs had found his scent. From the sound there were many dogs this time. He looked around him. With many dogs, they would try and get around him and attack him from the rear and try and pull him down. There were a few old burnt oaks behind him. It be difficult for dogs to get through them. He got up and stood with his back close to the trees. At least now he only have to fight in his front, and he still had his rack.

He had time to wait. He closed his eyes and thought about all those who had gone before him. Not just those he cared for like Claris, Bambi and Faline, but those he had not cared about like Kargus, Duro, Geno, and Carie. All those faces came into his head and with them the memories. Then he saw those still here like Stabo, Stelar, Stuben. It was like it all passed him by in an instant. He had done the best he could. It was now up to them. There had been much pain and  happiness; perhaps that was the same for all creatures.

There was motion in front of hum that caught his attention. It was a large dog sniffing through the bushes looking for his scent. Three others followed him. It took only a moment for them to find it. They ran forward and in a few moments were in the same small clearing her was in. He looked at the four of them all there drooling from the mouth, barking loudly.

"Here...Here...He is here," they all yelled.

He did not know whether to feel anger at them for having hunted him down, or pity that they were all being forced to serve Man. He felt more anger at them just standing there looking so sure they had him. That sureness is what finally made him angry.

"Whoever wants to die first, come on. I am here," he bellowed as loud as he could and lowered his rack.

The four dogs  just stood there barking like mad.  Soon they were joined by two other dogs. They were all standing in a line looking at him. They were waiting for him to run or show weakness. At that moment they all pounce on him.

"Neer da yeeeer," he heard a Man call out from below him.

"Are you all so afraid that you are going to wait for your master to kill me?" he yelled to the dogs. He could see they did not know what to make of a deer that did not run or show fear.

One of the younger dogs  growled loudly in anger and lunged at him. He caught him in his rack and threw him aside. He heard the dog whimper and then drag himself away limping on the front right leg. That action had just about exhausted him.

"AHH DAR ROOO," he heard a Man shout out near to him.

He looked up and saw a Man walking up toward him. He held his killing stick in two hands. He was dressed in those red and black skins he had seen before.  He walked slowly up to the dogs and look to pet them gently. He then watched him slowly raise the killing stick. Once he used it, he be dead. In an act of pure desperation, he lunged with all his remaining strength at the Man standing there. He saw the shocked looked in Man's eyes as he pointed the killing stick at him. He caught the Man in his rack and  pushed forward.

"BBUUUAAAAAAAA," he heard as he pushed the Man aside. At the same moment he kicked out with both rear feet catching one dog in the face.

He heard a loud snap from inside him. At that instant all the strength in his legs vanished. He took all his might to keep standing. He stood, head hung low to the ground trying to breath. He was spent. He looked at the dogs, who seemed as stunned as he was. He turned to face them. They took one look at him and four of them back away. One dog was still sprawled out on the ground but the other looked at him looking to tear out his throat. The large grey dog jumped forward. He was only able to lurch. He felt something impact his head and then a huge squealing noise from the dog. It had impaled himself on his rack.  He felt his head pulled down and his legs gave out. He was pulled to the ground. The dog was still screaming, but managed to pul himself off  his rack and ran away still yelping. He felt the dogs blood running down his side. It took a little while but he was able to stand and face the other dogs who were starting to approach him slowly. He stood facing the dogs. He head a small sound of something hitting against something when he felt something push hard against his right side just behind his front right shoulder.

"BANG!," came at the same instant..

He staggered, and fell to one side. There was a large pain near his left shoulder. He looked back and saw the Man on the ground holding something in one hoof. It was a small killing stick. He staggered for a moment and found he had no strength in his legs to stand. His legs gave out and he collapsed on the ground. As soon as he fell over, the remaining dogs all leaped at him. He felt many teeth and claws on his back and neck. This was it. He knew it and accepted that death had finally found him.

'RRRUUUAAAAAHHH," he head behind him and he felt as large presence near him. There was an immediate cry as two dogs went flying off of him squealing in agony. The other dogs turned and  a moment later they were knocked aside also. He wonder what had happened until he smelled the odor of wet fur and fat.

"Bear," he called out weakly.

He saw a huge, dark, body leap over him and run straight at the down Man. As the Man looked up and he saw terror on the face of the Man. Man could be afraid like he had been.  The bear reared up and brought his huge front paws down  on the prone body of the Man. There was a huge crash and then the bear's huge body blocked his view.

"DAAAAAAAAAA," he heard a scream. The bear rose on his hind legs and he could see the prone body of the Man being held in the mouth of the bear. The huge mouth had grabbed the Man in side and lifted him high in the air and then with a toss of the large head, the body of the Man was flung down the hill. He last saw the Man flying away from him.

The bear turned quickly and came back to him. "Ahhhhhhh, Man tastes awful," he called out. Then bear saw him lying on the ground. "Can you move?" he pleaded.

"I can move some and he got up staggering. At the same instant he felt a choking sensation in his chest. He coughed up a large pool of dark red blood from inside him.

"Lean on me," the bear said and they slowed walked away from the small clearing.

He was feeling dizzy and he could also feel a cold stiffness moving up from his back legs.  Every step he took, he could see more blood coming from his mouth and  nose. He half walked and half staggered away from some time, he was not sure. Everything about him was a blur. Finally the stiffness in his rear legs came up to his tail. When it did, his rear legs stopped moving. He fell over onto the side of the bear and then onto the ground on his right side. His side hurt and he lay still.

"Stranger we have to move on," the bear said. "Man will be here."

"No, my friend," he gasped. "I have been struck by a killing stick on my left side."

The bear looked over at where the wound was. The huge head took one look and closed his eyes. "It is too deep for me to get too,"  the bear told him with his eyes getting misty.

"I know," he said, his speech was slurry. The stiffness was now coming up his back. He could no longer  move his tail. The bear in front of him was getting gray. His vision was narrowing.

"Thank you again," my old friend," he labored to get out. "It is time for me to go. If you want, when I am gone, you can have me for a meal."

"Do not say that," the bear said. His voice was also labored.

"I said long ago, I would rather you than Man have me," he tried to say. By now the darkness over his eyes was almost complete.

"Better this way," he mumbled. It did not hurt much at all now. He looked now at the bear fading from his view.

"I hope you, your daughter, and my family remain good friend. If you see them, tell them I was thinking of them. Goodbye."

He felt a sudden weariness come over his body as if a he was suddenly being forced to sleep. He put his head on the ground and felt the coolness on the side of his face.

"Stranger" the bear seem to call from far away.

Those were the last things he felt and heard.

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