June 7, 2017 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Verah goes tense. Every muscle in his body is wound up, ready for flight. It’s a battle against instincts that have saved his life countless times before and the desperate hope that he can truly trust this strange husky, that he can trust the humans that have been lured into this area.

Kilah’s ear twitches. His eyes open, but they are bleary and unfocused. “Da?”

“It’s alright,” soothes the stag. He moves, stepping in front of his child. “It’s alright, Kilah. Da is here. Da has found you help.”

“It’s okay,” says Zarro, doing his best to convey that in the sound of his voice, the shape of the syllables dripping off of his tongue. “I know that humans are usually bad for you. But these humans – I promise that these humans are different! They’re good folk, Verah. They can help him.”

And the humans, to their credit, have all gone very still. It’s rare that they can see a stag up this close – they aren’t hunters, for the most part, and the zoom feature on their camera sometimes can cause the image to blur, can cause the shape of the deer to bleed into the colors of the tree.

“He’s massive,” breathes Chris.

WoofDriver agrees. “Look at the antlers on that thing. He’s been alive for a long while.”

Rhett adds, “that doe looks in bad shape. Think this is what Zarro was trying to show us?”

Zarro sits down. WooFDriver laughs and answers, “I would say so! What a good boy, Zarro! How on Earth did you know they were out here?”

Princess, sounding rather amused, says, “yes, Zarro. How on Earth did you know that they were out here?”

“Lucky guess,” says Zarro. “Does it really matter? The point is, that doe is hurt. We need to make sure that he gets help.”

Verah says, “are you sure they won’t hurt Kilah?”

“I promise,” says Zarro. “These are good people, Verah. They’re going to do everything that they can to help your child.”

As if reacting from a cue, WooFDriver holds his hands up. Carefully, he starts stepping towards the two deer. The entire time, he’s talking, saying senseless words of platitude, trying to calm the deer, trying to reassure the deer. “It’s alright,’ says WooFDriver. “I promise, I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to look at that one, okay? Shhh, it’s alright. Beautiful thing, I promise that it’s alright.”

Slowly, the stag steps backwards. He dips his head, just a little bit, and lets WooFDriver kneel beside the captured doe.

Rhett is holding up his phone, trying to catch the exchange on video. “Watch that big one, Bill. Those are some nasty look antlers.”

“I think he knows that we’re going to help,” answers WooFDriver. Carefully, he runs his hand over Kilah’s neck, down between his shoulders. “Chris, see if you can come over here and give me a hand. This looks pretty nasty.”

Chris makes sure to walk slowly when he approaches Kilah. He kneels down beside WooFDriver and gives a low whistle. “We need something to leverage that open with. Think a big stick would work?”

“Maybe,” says WooFDriver, softly. He runs his hand over the baby deer’s neck again. “We can’t leave it here like this. See what you can find, okay?”

“I told you,” says Zarro, talking to Verah. “They’re not going to leave here until Kilah’s free.”

Verah watches Chris look for a sturdy enough stick with large, sad eyes. The stag sees less than impressive at that moment. His fur is dark with shadows, his head lowered just a little bit. “That leg will never heal correctly. Hunters may not steal his life tonight, but they have insured that my child will have a short one.”

Chase offers, “maybe WooFDriver can help with that? There has to be something that we can do for it!”

Verah says nothing. He just watches as Chris returns, triumphant, with a thick piece of branch. Together, he and WooFDriver work at leveraging open the bear trap. It must hurt, because Kilah lets out small, pathetic bleats and ticking bellows and cat-like whines.

But they do, in the end, pop open the steel trap. The springs creak when it snaps apart. Frantic, terrified, and in pain, Kilah tries to scramble up.

But the deer’s long, lanky legs refuse to cooperate. They will not support Kilah, and the young deer goes sprawling back down on the ground.

Blood stains pale brown fur. Zarro promises, “they’re going to help, Verah. I swear, my humans will help.”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author