Jack was not happy. Jack was, in fact, wet, cold, miserable and plowing through some very dense brush, looking for the buck he had shot with his bow an hour ago. He had been following the blood trail as best he could, but the light was starting to go and there was still no sign of his buck. And to make matters worse, he was now facing a barbed wire fence with No Trespassing signs every 100 ft., ruby drops of blood glistening on the leaves just on the other side.
Jack knew exactly where he was. The Slingerland Farm, where he had hunted every year since he was a boy, bordered another large estate. Set at the top of Kennedy Hill, Deerfield boasted its own water tower and two separate gatehouses at the road. What lay beyond the gatehouses was the source of much rumor and speculation. No one was ever allowed to hunt on the property, and the Hirschmorders were not close with their neighbors. Jack doubted whether old lady Hirschmorder had been out of the house in twenty years.
Still…shit. He and Diane needed that venison. Surely it was better to track down a wounded animal than let it suffer?
Well, Jack old, boy, he thought, surely it would have been better to put him down immediately. And with that, Jack climbed the fence into Deerfield.
Diane was not happy. Diane was, in fact, bouncing wildly between anger and worry. Jack was missing their first Halloween together as a married couple for hunting, and he should have been back by now. The trick-or-treaters were long gone by now. It was full dark out, way too dark to see anything if he was still hunting. And accidents happened from time to time. Should she drive by the Legion Hall like a jealous wife, to see if he had a big buck in the back of the truck and was inside, bragging over a beer? Drive up to Slingerland’s and see if his truck was still there? Unease was creeping in like a fog, obscuring the anger. Diane grabbed her keys and left the house.
Jack swore softly, a raspberry bramble catching him square across the face. Just ahead was a glint of moonlight on what he hoped was antler, laying down in the jing-sing. Quiet now, quiet, he thought, slowly pulling his bowstring back, hoping one quick shot would finish it. Damn, the buck looked much bigger than it had from his tree stand. Must be at least a twelve point. Jack took a deep breath and the buck opened his eyes, glowing red as…
Blood splattered everywhere, black in what little light there was through the trees. Jack fell to his knees. What the hell had just happened? He felt sick and dizzy, blood dripping in his eyes until he could no longer see. Was it his blood? Jack wasn’t sure, he felt hot and nauseated. More than anything he had to get up. Hands out in front of him, he tried to get his feet underneath him, only to find that, well, this was good. This felt stable. Like he had four legs instead of two and surely that was impossible, but yet he was standing. He shook his head; it felt heavy, but at last the blood cleared from his eyes. And he remembered that he was supposed to…what was it? He was looking for something, wasn’t he?
Diane sat in her car, crying, at the foot of Kennedy Hill. Damn, she had just made an ass of herself at the Legion. Seeing a few of Jack’s buddies’ cars out in front, she had gone in and, before she knew it, accused them of covering up for Jack. Why did she have to be so insecure? They had only been married seven months; times were a little tough, but it wasn’t anything they couldn’t get through, she thought. Diane wiped her eyes on her sleeve, and started the car again. As she was turning around in Slingerland’s drive, she spotted Jack’s truck. Diane stopped and got out to check the truck, but it was empty. Panic started gripping at her heart; it was nearly midnight, and there was no way Jack could still be hunting. He must have gotten hurt. Diane backed out of the drive and started up Kennedy Hill, looking for Jack..
High beams on, Diane crept along the shoulder, straining her eyes into the blackness. She stopped a few times to call Jack’s name, but it echoed back to her. Finally she reached the top of the hill, where the first gatehouse stood. No way Jack could be in there, she thought. Everyone knew you did not trespass at Deerfield. Diane pulled into the drive to turn around and start her search over when something glinted in the headlights. Once again, she stopped the car and began calling for Jack. As she stepped through the stone arch of the gatehouse, the woods parted, revealing not man nor beast, but a hellish union of the two. And it was not Jack, strictly speaking, that answered Diane.
Give it to her, thought the thing-that-was-not-Jack, give it to the bitch good. Damn complaining bitch, nothing was ever good enough, couldn’t keep her damn mouth shut, made him sit in the woods like a goddamned animal! He’d show her, by god, gripping her by the arms, lunging himself into her again, and again, and again. An unearthly scream ripped through the darkness.
Diane, on the other hand, said nothing, gored stem to stern by the thing-that-was-not-Jack’s vicious antlers.
In the dark of the night, in the pale moonlight, an old woman opened French doors leading out to a small clearing of the woods. She held out her hand filled with corn, and a large buck stepped out from the trees, antlers glistening. It nuzzled the old woman, and fed from her hand before stepping back. The old woman looked at her hand, now stained red from the buck’s velvet lips. She wiped her hands across her face.
“My, you have been busy tonight, haven’t you dear one?”
There is a phantom, they say, that walks the road on Kennedy Hill. Some may say she is a hitchhiker; some compare her to Resurrection Mary. The truth, though, may be that Diane is never leaving Jack in Deerfield.