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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2275580
Jake's strange encounter
On cool, Spring mornings, Jake Landou loved to take a run through the woods behind his southern Indiana home and this beautiful day was certainly no exception. As he stepped out onto the patio, the clean, damp air washed over him like a gentle ocean wave. Jake closed his eyes, thoroughly enjoying the light scent of the dew-covered grass, the whispering of the light breeze through the trees, and the slight, but growing sensation of heat on his face as the sun began its climb into the heavens. He opened his eyes and started a slow trot towards the trail in the woods where he would begin his run.

He had just passed the first trees when the sight of a deer caused him to stop suddenly. It wasn't really unusual to see a deer in these woods. In fact Jake had placed a deer feeder not far from where he now stood and would often see deer from his house, either at the feeder or sometimes, in the Fall, standing on their hind legs to reach apples in the trees. No, seeing a deer wasn't unusual, but when he ran, if any were there, they would scatter. But this deer was just standing there, not looking the least bit afraid, and that was very strange, indeed.

Jake's first thought, of course, was rabies. He knew that one of the symptoms of rabies in deer is that they seem to lose their fear of humans. But there was something about this particular deer that caused him to throw out that idea as fast as he had thought of it. There was a calmness and somehow even a look of purpose to its stance as it stared into Jake's eyes. The deer suddenly turned, trotted a few steps then turned back to look intently at Jake again.

Jake's next thought was what a great picture or video this would make. Holding up his hand, he said, "Wait right there while I get my phone out. The guys at work are not going to believe this!" That was when, to Jake's utter astonishment, the deer spoke.

"We really don't have time for this. We have to go now!"

Jake dropped his phone to the ground and froze. "Did you just speak to me?"

"Well you weren't taking the hint, so I had no choice. Look, can we talk about this later? There's really not much time left. If you want to live, and I hope you do, you need to follow me now."

With that, the deer turned and began heading deeper into the woods. Jake stood there, frozen to the spot, his mind telling him to run back to the house, but his body refusing to listen to reason. The deer turned, and seeing Jake still standing there, ran back and got behind him pushing him until he nearly fell. That at least got his legs moving as the deer ran ahead and Jake stumbled after.

At first, the deer seemed to be following Jake's running trail, but after a few minutes, he realized that they were off the trail and deep in a part of the woods where he had never been. He was about to ask where they were going and why, but hesitated, questioning, for at least the tenth time, his sanity when the deer took a sharp right turn and stopped. If he hadn't been lagging so far behind he would surely have run right into the animal.

As more questions formed in his mind, four more deer appeared, one a little smaller than "his" deer, and three much smaller - obviously a family. They immediately started moving in a slightly different direction and picking up speed with Jake trying desperately to keep up. After about ten minutes at this pace, Jake was feeling the exhaustion beginning to overtake him when he saw just ahead, a small cave. It was really just a small outcropping of rock with just enough room for the five of them. Jake, of course, stumbled in last, falling to the ground and breathing heavily, still wondering why he was even there.

It was just a few minutes later when he heard a nearly deafening crack and the earth began to roll and sway under him. As the minutes, which seemed like hours, passed he heard more cracks and booms as several tall trees in the woods came crashing down, including one not ten feet outside of the "cave". When the shaking and nerve-shattering sounds finally stopped, Jake lay still in the dirt until weariness finally overtook him and he slept.

When he awoke, the sun was considerably higher in the sky. The deer family was gone and he had no idea where he was. Without his phone and its GPS, it took him over an hour to get back to his house - or what was left of it. The very rare, Indiana earthquake had caused a large tree in the front yard to fall on the house, completely demolishing the living room and kitchen. The firefighters and police were very glad to see him, as they had feared the worst and were searching the rubble for a body.

It was months before the repairs were completed and he could move back into his house, but Jake would never forget that experience. He never told his friends at work about the talking deer that saved his life, and as time went on wasn't sure he believed it himself anyway. In fact, whenever he thought of it, which was often, he usually told himself it was just a trick of the mind. It didn't really happen that way at all. But he knew better.

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