Friday, June 18, 2010

Darryl: Chasing Sunrise (pt. 1)

"It's freezing out here!"

Darryl's breath looked like that of an old rich man exhaling his pipe smoke. You know, the kind of man you see over-dramatized in the movies wearing his over-sized, yet too short robe with matching slippers, nestled comfortably in his leather recliner (which is usually a little too close to the hearth of the fire), his newspaper pulled up just high enough to hide the intrigue for current events that is in his eyes, and, might I add, a pretty admirable mustache. Then, to no one's surprise, he pulls down his paper to reveal not only his eyes, which now seem to show no interest in the events of the day, but his pipe. This pipe is like none you've ever seen. This is a fatta a mano Italian pipe, made only from the finest Mediterranean briar around. He pulls the finely balanced acrylic mouthpiece up to his lips, gives the camera a pompous glare, and draws a considerable amount of smoke from the burning golden Cavendish into his lungs. He holds the smoke in for a moment, and then... the exhale. Thick, aromatic smoke.

"Shut up you idiot!"

Evans' reprimanding was more of a violent whisper, followed by a smack in the shoulder that was arguably louder than Darryl's initial offense.

"They're gonna hear us! All it takes is one wrong move from either one of us to blow our cover. Then, we return with nothin' at all to show for stomping around all night in this damn woods."

"I'm sorry... but it's cold."

Darryl's voice drifted off as he dropped his countenance. He always seemed to be getting in trouble by Mr. Evans. Why was he always in charge? Sure, he knew the most on the subject. And he had the most experience. The most gear. The best guns. The most kills. Still, Darryl was sure that if he could have just one chance, he could show Mr. Evans that he knows a thing or two about killing.

The two were dressed from head to toe in black winter hunting gear. Sporting their black winter hunting parkas with matching bibs, boots, sock hats, gloves, and socks, there's no way anyone, or anything could see them at this time in the morning. The sun had not yet begun to show its rays on the land, resulting in a thick darkness throughout the woods.

"There's a clearing up ahead," Evans pointed out, "We'll set up there."

"You don't think they'll be able to see us from there?" Darryl was almost afraid to ask after his previous shoulder pounding.

"Of course not."

Something else was stirring in Darryl's mind. He just had to ask.

"Think they'll be able to smell us?"

Mr. Evans looked almost angry, but maybe confused. It was hard to tell in this darkness. "They shouldn't. But you never know with these things. Did you put on the stuff I gave you?"

"I told you I wasn't gonna wear that stuff. I'm all natural. Rub a little dirt on yourself and you're good to go!"

"Yeah, well we'll see who's method works best," replied a now very obviously annoyed Mr. Evans.


Darryl startled awake with the firm hand of Mr. Evans covering his mouth.


A calming Mr. Evans reassured Darryl, "Wakey, wakey, sleepy-head," he chuckles. "We've only got about 20 minutes to sunrise."

Darryl tried to quietly work his way up to his feet; however, the dead twigs that littered the forest floor broke like celery stalks under his boots. Saying nothing, Evans just stared at him.

Again. Head. Down.

"Shhh! D'you hear that, Darryl?"

"Prolly just another one of those stupid twigs," Darryl complained, almost as if he were holding a grudge against those twigs for making him look careless and stupid in front of his boss.

"No! Over there!" Mr. Evans pointed a slightly shaking finger out in front of them as he dropped his head a bit to focus his eyes. "Quiet down now. You see it?"

"Yeah," said Darryl in a confused tone. He tilted his head in his confusion, like a puppy who is just learning its name. "What's it doin'?"

"I don't know," replied Evans, equally confused.

Evans pulled his rifle up and brought the scope up to his right eye. After a few slow breaths he dropped his sights. Something like fear, closer to confusion, actually, filled his eyes.

"What is it, John?"

John Evans. John was the proud owner of Evan's Auto Shop, Just off the Expressway at Fulton! (as the billboard put it) in Evansville, IN. At work, John demanded that all of his employees refer to him as Mr. Evans. To John, work was work, and home was home. He had made it a habit not to get too buddy-buddy with the guys at work; however, he didn't really have any friends at home, so this was a principle that he let slip with Darryl, one of his long time employees.

"It's Mr. Evans, Darryl."

"Damn it, John, drop the act. What is it?"

"Look for yourself," John said, handing the rifle over to Darryl, who was still yet to pull his out.

"I... I... I ain't never seen a deer do that before," Darryl choked out.
No more than 30 yards away, a deer, a doe, stood hunched over the freshly killed corpse of a buck. The doe repeatedly bit at the neck of the buck, ravaging the poor beast. The blood from the buck had not yet began to clot up in its fur, indicating that this horrendous scene had not been playing very long.


Darryl's ears were ringing now. His sight became a little more than distorted. His mouth dropped open and his eyes widened as his hands cupped gently over his ears. Evans pulled down his gun with an accomplished look on his face, "Dead now."

"Heh, heh, heh... You alright, pal? How's them ears? Hee hee!" John hooted as he helped Darryl to his feet.

Darryl didn't say much. He was still a little confused. A little in shock. And a little ringing in his ears reminded him that he was a little pissed off. "A little warning next time before you 'bout blow out my ears!"

A rustling noise came from the direction of the deer loud enough to startle both of the men. Now silent, the men jerked their heads towards the kill. The doe jumped to her feet and, violently shaking her disoriented head, began to sprint at the hunters.

"RUN!!!" shouted John as he took off in the opposite direction.

Darryl dropped John's gun in a panic and took off in the same direction. He could feel his heart pounding. Was that his own footsteps he heard or was it the beast on his tracks, ready to pounce on him and make him her next meal?

"Split up!" shouted Evans from ahead.

Up ahead the trail split off into three. One trail went straight up the middle and continued towards the truck. The trail to the left was only about an eighth mile long and winded down towards the lake, much too cold at this time of the year to seek any sort of refuge, even in this situation. The trail to the right, the one that Evans took, was straight as well, but ran at about a twenty degree angle from the one that Darryl was about to take.

Don't look back. Don't look back. Don't look back. Just run. Run. Run. Run.

Despite psyching himself up mentally, Darryl spun his head around to locate the savage animal. To his surprise, not only was the doe on their tracks, but now the half mutilated buck was chasing as well. He caught a glimpse of the doe's teeth. Not the normal teeth a deer should have. Two sharp teeth jutted out from her upper jaw.

Are those fangs? Darryl thought to himself. Both of the animals split off to the right to follow Mr. Evans. Darryl couldn't help but think, I guess the dirt method isn't so bad. Huh, John?

"They're coming after you, John!" Darryl warned, but the beasts were gaining on him quickly.

Up ahead, Darryl could see the sunlight breaking through the trees.

"There's a field up ahead! We're getting close to the truck!" Darryl encouraged John.

How long had they been running? They must have been at least a mile from the truck. Were they on the right path? Regardless, the field could mean safety. There may be a place to take cover.

Darryl and his boss, Mr. Evans, had been hunting in these woods for years. Every half mile or so off of the main road there were homes (you would call them that based only on the theory that a heart was there, otherwise, they looked like target practice for time and weather). As a result, there were often broken down, abandoned vehicles in these woods. If they were lucky, they would make it to the truck. If that didn't happen, they would hopefully be able to take cover in one of those cars.

The field was fast approaching, as were the deer, or whatever they were. Darryl looked over to see the animals catch up to John. The first, the doe, sunk her teeth into John's calf, bringing him immediately to the ground. John let out a blood curdling scream. The buck joined in on the meal within seconds after the catch.

"Over here!" yelled Darryl in an attempt to divert the savage beasts away from John. "Over here you sons of bi....." Running straight. Looking hard right. Chased by blood-crazed deer. Yelling in furious anger. This is not an equation for balance. Darryl's diversion was interrupted with a crash into the cold, hard ground.

The beast stopped and gave their attention to Darryl. Without hesitation, they left their kill in pursuit of Darryl. Darryl quickly lifted his head and jumped to his feet, but before he began to run again, he noticed that animals were smoking, as if they were burning. The animals sprinted onward, though disoriented from the constant burning they were experiencing.

It appears to be from the light.

Darryl turned his head towards the clearing. If it is the light, he thought to himself, that clearing is my only chance. He took off towards the field like a kid after a departing school bus. He was getting so close that he could feel the temperature in the air rising. The animals, fast approaching, were hissing and screaming like nothing he had heard before, let alone from a deer. Another glance revealed that the deer appeared to be disintegrating.

Darryl crossed into the light with such excitement that he stumble over and went tumbling to the ground a second time. Frantically, he turned to his back to see his predators leaping towards him out of the wood. It was as if everything were in slow motion. Some people say that, in a moment like this, they see their lives flash before their eyes. Their loved ones. The mistakes they've made and how they wish they could have had one more day to fix everything. This didn't happen with Darryl. He just looked on his attackers in shock. In fear.

As the deer crossed into the sunlight their flesh began to burn away from their bodies. Almost instantaneously. Before they touched the ground the deer were nothing more than burned flesh and fur being carried away with the wind.

A calm ease came over Darryl, but only for a moment. A sharp pain came shooting up his leg from his ankle. A quick glance downward revealed that it was definitely broken. Not just broken, but the "I didn't know your foot could bend that way" kind of broken. Then, like the first breath after a coma, he remembered that he wasn't alone.


Part Two Coming Soon...