By Matt Kincade
The young buck approached an ancient forest clearing. Tentatively, his ears swivelling this way and that, he stepped forward. His dark eyes, wide with fear, searched the moonlit night for danger.
Still, an ancient calling pulled him forward. His hooves sunk into the soft carpet of pine needles. Delicately, he perked his head up and scented the air.
“Stands Proudly,” said a voice that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, speaking the buck’s secret name.
Stands Proudly stood, rooted in terror.
“Stands Proudly, step forward.”
Then he saw her. The doe was pure white. Her eyes were pink. Standing in the clearing, surrounded by a perfect circle of pine trees, she glowed with an inner light.
“Grandmother,” said Stands Proudly, bowing his head until the velvety tips of his young antlers scraped the ground.
“My child,” said the old doe, “you have been chosen.”
the young buck snorted in frustration and pawed at the ground. His eyes rolled as if searching for an escape. “By why me?” he cried, “I have so many summers ahead!”
“I am sorry, young one. I do not choose. I am only a messenger. A conduit. I wish that it could be otherwise.”
After a moment, Stands Proudly nodded. “I know, grandmother. You are wise. I do not question you. I only wish…I wish I could have had a little longer.”
“As do I. You deserve many more summers. Many mates, and mighty antlers spread like the branches of an ancient oak. Alas, it is not to be. Our mission is too important.”
“But why must it be this way?”
“The old forest gods have chosen our kind, young one. It is our eternal task to keep the balance. To maintain harmony. When the earth’s energies are out of tune, then we must act. It is our duty. This is known.”
“Yes, grandmother.” The buck sighed again and bowed his head, accepting his fate. “What is my mission?”
“A man approaches,” said the old doe. “The fate of universes hinge upon his actions. He is as innocent, as blameless as you. Yet another pawn of the cosmic dance. But his son, should he be born…” Grandmother closed her eyes then, and Stands Proudly saw a vision in his head. Liquid death raining from the sky, a wave of fire rolling across the land, slaughter and sorrow and pain.
Stands Proudly’s eyes widened. “All that, from one man?”
Grandmother nodded sadly. “Some beings are as a rock balancing upon a hilltop. The slightest push may cause a landslide. Untold destruction from only the smallest breeze. We must prevent this. He must be stopped. It is our ancient duty.”
“I will not fail you, grandmother.”
“I know, Stands Proudly. I know. You are of a noble line. Your ancestors have served me well, from the very beginning.” The white doe’s ears perked up. “He approaches! Go now! Quickly!”
Stands Proudly dashed through the forest, leaping fallen logs, splashing across a stream bed. He hurried down the embankment and felt the hard, smooth surface under his hooves. “If I die, I die standing proudly,” he whispered.
The young buck held his head high and bravely stared down the headlights as they rushed around the bend in the road.
Author’s note: This odd little story was written in response to the question, “Why are these stupid kamikaze deer always jumping out in front of my car like it’s their job?”