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The Deer War
by Bastard Francais

I've been running for three weeks now - drifting from town to town, not really knowing who or what I could trust. I've tried to keep a low profile, hoping to simply fade away and lose my pursuer completely. So far I've been successful only in keeping one step ahead of my enemy. Two weeks ago, in Milford, it was close - somehow I was discovered before I had anticipated, and barely managed to escape.

The sign read: Huttersville, Wisconsin - Deer Capital of the Midwest. This made me somewhat apprehensive as I approached the town. I like to consider myself a fairly open-minded person, but since all of this trouble began I've learned that being open-minded could buy you a ticket straight to hell, if you weren't careful. Normally I would have welcomed the opportunity to visit the deer capital of the midwest, but things haven't been normal for quite some time, and I just couldn't be sure where the deer woul d stand in my dispute. Being low on food and exhausted, I decided to chance it.

Walking up the main street of the town square, I was immediately struck by the fact that no deer whatsoever were present. There were several humans, however, some carrying rifles. A knot suddenly formed in my stomach as I contemplated the possibility that I may have entered a recently occupied town. I hadn't been keeping abreast of current affairs, and was unaware of any dispute between humans and deer, but if their capital had been taken by force then things must be going very badly for the deer.

Just then, a cream coloured station wagon went through the main intersection just ahead of me, moving slowly as if in a parade, a deer's body tied down over its hood. My hand went straight to my mouth, and I wrestled with nausea for command of my gastrointestinal tract. To vomit now would be to publicly label myself a spy. I managed to maintain my composure and feigned a deep yawn.

The human activity was thoroughly repulsive. It made my blood boil, almost made me want to join the deer.... No, I didn't have time for distractions - I had my own problems. I had to keep moving. I shut away my pride in a rarely visited, dank cellar of my mind, banished my ethics to the nether regions of my soul. I COULDN'T GET INVOLVED.

The less time I spent here, the better. I would get supplies and that was it, I'd be on my way. Troubles of my own, I kept telling myself.

As I crossed the street, a large man wearing combat utilities nodded to me, blowing cigar smoke in my face and mentioning that he'd bagged "the king of all deers." This was horrible. With the king down, the deers were without stable leadership. The man kept looking at me, as if waiting for some sort of response. His eyes narrowed suspiciously. If I didn't prove myself now, I was surely going to be across the hood of a car myself.

"Good job. Someone's gotta show them deers we mean business." I muttered in a gravelly voice.
The man laughed heartily and slapped me on the back. "That's a good one, pal."

After three or four minutes of small talk, I excused myself from Jake's company, explaining that I had other matters to attend to. I was glad to be away from him, and headed straight for the grocery store.

Minutes later, in the frozen food aisle, I thought long and hard about my role in this war. It occurred to me that it might be the perfect cover - my way out. I could help the deer and lose my pursuer once and for all. That was it then; I was committed.

As I stood in line at the cash register, the grocer and the woman ahead of me spoke in hushed tones about how barbaric killing the deer was. I put down my basket and interrupted.

"Listen, I'm new in town and I've noticed what's going on. I want to help."
The grocer looked strangely at me. "Help with what, mister?"
I took a deep breath. "You don't know me, but you've got to trust me. I'm on your side. I'm for the deer."

The woman shook her head and left with her purchase, saying goodbye to Jim, which was apparently the grocer's name. I watched uneasily as she left, then turned to Jim. "Can she be trusted?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about what I said. Will she leak my allegiance to the others?"

I grabbed him by the shirt and shook him back and forth. "Enough with the facade, man. I'm with the deer, and I need your help."
Jim was somewhat taken aback by this. "Do you need any help, mister?"
"Yes! That's what I'm trying to tell you. I'm new here. I need contacts, weapons, transportation. You're the first person I've seen who sides with the deer. Will you help me?"
"I'm not sure if I can. I-"
"Damn it, Jim, I'm taking a big risk involving myself. I've got other problems to worry about. It's still looking for me."
"What's looking for you?"

I lowered my voice. "Alright, I'll trade my story for your help. But this information goes no further than us. Do you understand?"
Jim nodded his head slowly and raised his eyebrows. "Um... sure."
"Okay, I hope you realize that my life could be a lot shorter if the wrong people got wind of this."

I paused and took a deep breath, trying to silence the butterflies in my stomach. "It's the brown sugar, Jim. I... got nervous and bailed out of a contract I had with it. I've been running ever since."
"Brown sugar?"
I nodded. "Yeah. It almost got me back in Milford, but I got away."
Jim cocked his head to one side and stared at me out of the corners of his eyes. "What's your name, mister?"
"Names aren't important, Jim. That's my story, now I need your help. Are you with me?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know damned well what I mean. Now, my cards are all on the table. Are we gonna play some poker, or do I pack up my cash and look for another table?"

I almost lost my temper. "Jim, I'm willing to help, and it looks to me like the deer need all the help they can get. Did you know that their king was gunned down today? This is serious."
Jim shrugged. "I don't understand."

I had gambled and lost. Now I had to clean up my mess. "Jim, I have to kill you now."

* * *

That night I sat naked around a campfire with a couple of deer rebels, battle-hardened deer with the scars to prove it. It was pure chance that I ran into them. We ate bark as I told them about the brown sugar. I was one of them now, and they vowed to help me with my problem after the war was won. Things were looking up.

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