Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Settler

Credit: Chris Schultz

The man himself is a riveting sight. Clad in black trousers and vest; a light gray coarse shirt can be seen under the vest. Covering everything is a gray duster, with a wide brimmed hat to match...

He's walking down a gray dirt road. Wagon ruts and horse hoof-prints can be seen marring the dirt. Mottled green and brown grass is growing in the center between the two worn ruts. The banks rise slightly about 3 feet on either side of the path as they slope off gently into the dark forest. The wooded floor is littered with pine needles and oddly shaped slabs of granite. Scraggly bushes grow in groups, fighting for life in their apparently ill-chosen abode. The trees are all starkly straight pine trees. Oddly enough, the branches come quite low; so low that visibility is less than 6 or 7 feet into the woods. The sky is cloudy, but colorful. It's about seven in the evening and the sun is casting orange and pink blazes across the wide expanse above. A few crows call through the clear, cold air as they keep an eye on this new intruder. The road twists on ahead, curving slightly to the left and stretching out of sight up a hill. Behind the man is a bridge, worn with age and the wear of many travelers. The planks seem to be creaking out warnings to those who wish to traverse its span. In true American fashion, its message comes across from the ages past “don’t tread on me!” The stream runs with that calming trickle of water so well known to any who have spent time in the outdoors.
The man himself is a riveting sight. Clad in black trousers and vest; a light gray coarse shirt can be seen under the vest. Covering everything is a gray duster, with a wide brimmed hat to match. The most noticeable feature however, is the Sharps .45 carbine slung over his shoulder. A fine piece that any good huntsman would love to own, the rifle fit the man’s aura as if it was an extension of the man himself. He held himself well, walking with a steady cadence and standing in a straight, well-disciplined manner. To the knowledgeable observer, he was obviously a military man. Despite his heavy attire, he barely made any noise as he walked along the path. The only sign of his presence rang out in the form of the cries of the crows.
Suddenly the man stopped. Alert and obviously focused on something, he moved towards a boulder that rimmed the road. Silently taking the Sharps in his hands, he steadied it on the rock. Looking out into a clearing in the woods, the object of his attention could be seen. A deer, with two young fawns, is standing in the moss. The sun is slowly setting in the distance; the man hesitates for a moment. The doe snaps her head up, intently watching the underbrush. Our hunter exhales slowly, the thoughts of his own family running through his head.
The shot rings out through the forest and echoes off of the trees. The crows all take off with sharp cries of alarm as the rifle barks out its harsh report. The two young fawns spring away over the foliage, following their mother. The man stands and walks over to where the buck had emerged from the bushes behind the trio. Enough meat to feed his family for months, and the doe and her young were free to live on to see future years. One life is sacrificed to sustain more. Such is the way of the world.

About the Writer

XanthusKidd is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on The Settler

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By Anastasia on July 06, 2011 at 08:44 am

Nice story, a good start, Chris. My only suggestion is that you should break it up a little, with better spacing.

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By XanthusKidd on July 06, 2011 at 07:59 pm

Thanks everyone! I haven't written very much in this genre, so I was a bit nervous publishing this. You're encouragement is wonderful! Thanks again!

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