‘Tis the season.
Duck Season, that is.
Out of bed and into the gear. Shotgun strapped on my back. Double-barrel obliteration.
I put the Duck Call up to my lips and sent a quack up into the air. That first one was met with silence, so I doubled up the next.
I trudged a bit further and tried again. An answer this time. From a beauty of a mallard that ascended into the sky.
I’m an excellent shot; but I missed this one. And the crack of the discharge didn’t seem to phase that beauty of a mallard. It stayed on his path.
A second one took to the sky. I aimed and pulled the trigger. Zero for two. The two mallards stayed together, floating idle in the air.
A third joined. The third lived.
What. The Fuck. Was going on?
The trio plus one.
The four ducks sailed in place together. Flapping their wings but going nowhere.
The Duck Call, but I didn’t commission it. The four ducks maintained a diamond, squawking at each other like my cousins and I used to when we’d fight over the leg of one of their ancestors every Christmas dinner.
Foul language among the fowl.
Four birds calling back and forth to each other.
Four calling birds.
They’d evaded every shot. Their squawking was mocking. It carried across the sky.
I aimed again. Bit my lip. Pulled the trigger.
Right in the back. Obliteration.
But it wasn’t any of the mallards’ backs. It was my back.
And it wasn’t a bullet. It was an antler.
The four mallards continued their frenzied squawking as I fell to the ground. My throat dropped to my balls as I tried to turn on my side to see the beast that had impaled me.
Obliteration as I rolled all the way onto my back, onto the shattered skin.
I kicked and thrashed as best as I could but it was ineffective. I felt the hooves on my gut and the steam from the snout.
The antler came down again, this time across my throat.
Four calling birds. Squwaking and mocking. Having turned the hunter into the hunted.
The creature burrowed its snout into my shredded throat, then reared its head to look at me again.
Blood dripped from its nose. My blood.
Never in all those years had I ever seen a reindeer in these parts.
Those four fucking calling birds.