An Unfortunate Stag

December 10, 2013
Nolan came out from his mail truck resentful and tired. Resentful of the same trek that he made every day into the woods to deliver the mail of a certain man who refused to move his mailbox to the road. Nolan made his way thought the endless woods, stepping on spiders and cutting his hands on thorns, until he came to the wide expanse of land that belonged to the disgruntled, old, dried up thing that was Arthur Fleet. Art sat out on his porch, cleaning his gun and waiting for his mail.

"Nolan, you arrogant thing get up here with that," Art croaked. Nolan ran up on the porch handing Mr. Fleet his mail, being careful not to touch hands. Nolan visibly cringed, hating to look at the scarred, mangled blob Mr. Fleet called a hand. "Wait, before you go Nolan, I have some venison here, for you."

"Eh, thanks, Mr. Fleet," Nolan said quickly, grabbing the meat. Nolan had no mind to tell Arthur that he didn't care for deer meat, but he didn't want to be there any longer than needed. Just as Nolan stepped off the porch, Mr. Fleet's granddaughter came out from behind the screen door, whining and crying.

"Shut up, Lucy!" Mr. Fleet yelled at the door.

On that note, Nolan all but bolted from the scene. He hated being near that house and that nasty man. Arthur was seriously the most hideous thing Nolan had ever seen in his short life. He could only imagine how that poor girl felt, having to live with that raggedy man. Nolan kept his thoughts locked on the idea of his soon to be job, in a cubicle, away from crusty old men. Grateful to have jumped over that hurdle, Nolan got on with the rest of his day.

Finally finished with the workday, Nolan arrived home, dropping his deer meat on the countertop and plopping onto the couch. He flipped through television channels, only half awake, and stopped on a news station. The sharply dressed lady on screen droned on, numbing his mind effectively. "Tonight local police have released a report on a case of missing persons, they believe to be connected," the reporter stated. In the middle of the pretty anchor lady's speech, Nolan, quite rudely, fell asleep, still in his mailman's uniform.

Nolan was dreaming. He was in the forest, a forest he knew very well. The very one with spiders that he stepped on and thorns that cut his hands. There were deer everywhere, but they didn't seem to mind him. Nolan walked to a nearby stream, looking for something to quench the ache that sat in his tummy. As he approached the water, he started to feel the tight tickle that was unease. He looked down and up and all around. Until finally, he saw that he was walking on all fours. Below him, were hooves instead of human toes and behind him was a fuzzy tail instead of fleshy muscle. He was big and far from the ground, he was a stag. Nolan bent down to drink from the stream when a solid 'thump' sunk into his chest, an arrow. Just like that, his vision was going black, and he was sailing towards the forest floor.

Nolan jumped up from his dream, sweaty and wild. He quickly forgot about his dream when the microwave beeped. Nolan murmured a what? and hobbled towards the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. The clock on the microwave read 9:17 and inside it sat the venison burger that Mr. Fleet gave him earlier that day. Nolan must have been sleepwalking again, he had a tendency to do that. He would often draw on the walls and open windows, little things, but they still managed to startle him. Nolan's stomach grumbled as he realized that he had fallen asleep without dinner. He gave a little shrug and figured he would eat the burger. It's not like he didn't like deer.

Nolan dug into the burger, thinking it didn't taste so bad. Something about eating the animal disturbed him though. He thought about his dream. Maybe, he was a deer in a past life. A wild stag with big antlers and a bad attitude. A little guilty, he reassured himself thinking, thus is the circle of life. The circle of life would never be more applicable to Nolan than in the next twenty four hours.

Nolan woke up for his job the next morning feeling cranky and crusty. He even considered calling in sick to work, but thought against it. He rolled from bed and threw on his uniform. He brushed his teeth with one hand and buttoned his shirt with the other. Before he knew it, he was standing outside Mr. Fleet's screen door. It felt like he had blinked and half of his day was completely gone. Other than being somewhat unconscious for most of the work day and the headache creeping up on him, Nolan felt quite alright now. As Nolan was staring off, Mr. Fleet had arrived at his door, eyeing up the boy.

"Nolan, you have my mail?" Art said.

"Um. Yes, Mr. Fleet. Here you go," Nolan handed the man his mail, shaking out of his haze. Arthur continued to look up expectantly at Nolan. "Um. Bye, Mr. Fleet," Nolan said stepping off the porch, looking up at Arthur hesitantly. Nolan fast walked away from the house, occasionally looking over his shoulder. Arthur still stared right back at Nolan. "Okay," Nolan murmured uneasily, rubbing his hands up and down his arms. "Okay. Everything is O-K." Nolan felt relieved to jump back into his mail truck. Nolan finished off his day and headed back home, once again falling straight into bed and into a deep sleep.

Nolan pushed his palms against the top of his skull, trying to subdue the sharp ache. His fingers, smoothed over the top of his head and came back in sight, appearing slick and wet. A stretch of moonlight escaped from the curtains and traced out black liquid draping across his tough fingers. He ran up from his mattress and to a mirror. A man showed in the mirror, peaking through darkness. Snowy white points, emerging from rips in the skin of his scalp. Black rolled down his forehead and neck, leaving behind a sticky trail. Nolan pulled at the skin there, seeing the jagged lines, and with each light tug, black dripped and oozed from the nasty wounds. The wounds looked as if someone had dug their fingers into a pile of sun baked sand, and pulled their hand out quick and rough.

On each side of his perfect little head, sat protrusions of light colors, coming harshly through the tan of his flesh. Then, with almost no time to ponder his new ailment, a sharp and stinging pain came from his abdomen. Nolan let out a small and pathetic little whine, looking from his stomach to the mirror. In the reflection, Nolan could see blood spreading across himself, and also a man's mangled hand resting on his shoulder.

“You were worthy of the hunt, Nolan. Truly worthy,” the man whispered. “And what a handsome stag you will make.”

Nolan fell weakly to his knees, confused and dizzy. The tile floor was cold against his back as his captor drug him through the living room and out of the front door. Nolan was just starting to see the green of his front lawn when dark blurry muck started to pull at the edges of his eyesight, asking him to sleep and so he did.

Nolan now sat, pathetically, in his own mess waiting for anything. Sitting alone in the dark and stinking of urine, he started to worry. His stab wound ached along with his head. Nolan reached up again to place his hands on his scalp, tracing long and bent what... were those horns? Raw bone stuck out from his sweat slicked skin. Nolan felt like he was on the verge of unconsciousness.

"Help! Help! Somebody help me!" Nolan screamed into the dark. He threw himself against the walls and kicked at nothing. He stopped suddenly, when light flooded the pit.

"Shh! Shh! Shut up!" A tiny girl said from a row of stairs he hadn't noticed before. She ran down the stairs and came next to him. The girl shakily unlocked chains that fettered him to the wall. Nolan looked at her with wide eyes. "Go! Leave, now!" She shouted at him. Nolan didn't wait any longer he ran up the stairs and into a long hallway. The corridor let out at a most terrifying room. Nolan stopped and looked around. Human heads sat mounted up, like common deer, against the walls. Something was off though, these things weren't purely human,no. Nolan let out a whimper and touched his head, feeling the raw bone sticking up, like antlers. It didn't take long for Nolan to make the connection between his antlers and theirs. Hot tears clouded his vision, until the heads were just smears against the wooden walls. Nolan ran out of the room and found the back door, unlocked.

He stumbled through a certain forest, stepping on spiders and cutting his hands on thorns. Shouting and crying like a newborn. This was it, he was almost out of the forest, hope infected his entire body. A big force hit him from behind, and he fell to the mud.

"Aha! The thrill of the hunt!" Mr. Fleet called out, sitting on top of Nolan's back and tying the boy's hands together. Nolan cried into the mud, wriggling in the old man's grasp. Nolan was dragged back through the forest and back to the old cabin.

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