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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/826650
Rated: 18+ · Book · Writing · #1670440
A collection of various short stories and poetry.
#826650 added August 30, 2014 at 12:21pm
Restrictions: None
Measure of Humanity
I was challenged by Prosperous Snow writing poetry to write an anthro story about a Tigon and a Liger. A Tigon is the offspring of a male tiger and a female lion, and a Liger is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. Needless to say, Challenge Accepted.

Thomas looked out the window of the infirmary, and watched the sun rise of the horizon. He smiled at the sight of the yellow-orange orb, which banished away the night. The sight was breathtaking – green fields to the front, and he could even see the forest – there was usually good hunting to be had. Only one thing marred the beauty – well, three things really, the stench of burning bodies, the dead corpses that laid in the fields, and the moaning of the wounded, especially the moaning coming from the man he’d been charged to watch.

Thomas turned his head, and looked. The human didn’t have long to live, and once he died, he’d be one of those thing being burned. He sighed, as he grabbed a bolt for his crossbow, pulled back the string, and placed the projectile in the designated slot. Only by destroying the brain could the creatures be killed. Thomas walked up to the bed, and checked the restraints, especially the right hand, where some fingers had been torn off. The man wasn’t going to be going anyplace when he turned.

“A glass of water?” the man asked weakly.

Thomas nodded, and filled a cup. Carefully holding the vessel, he helped the man to drink the cold liquid.

The man coughed. “Thank you.”

“I hope you go someplace better than this,” Thomas said, as he sat by his crossbow. “At least you got to see the…”

Suddenly, the man began convulsing, and screaming, and growling, in such a way that the fur on Thomas’s back stood on end. He picked up the crossbow, stood up, aimed, and then pulled the trigger. The body laid still, the bolt having pierced the skull. The creature was dead. Thomas placed his furry hand on the skull, and used his other hand to pull out the bolt. He then closed the person’s eyes. “At least you got to see the sunrise, old friend.” He then covered the body with a sheet.

Thomas then left the room, and found himself looking at his commanding officer, Colonel Zachary Tailor, a liger, one of the largest feline-types, easily 600 pounds of pure muscle. By contrast, Thomas was a tigon, just barely 300 pounds, although that was mostly muscle.

Zachary looked him in the eyes. “Report, Corporal Sampson.”

Thomas saluted him. “Sir, Sergeant Richard Andrews is dead, sir.”

Zachary frowned. “It will be hard to replace him. I fought alongside of him ever since I was a Sergeant, back when he was just a Weekly Guard. He even saved my life a few times.” A tear fell down the liger’s face, and he sighed. “It will be hard for those under him.”

“Who will command them?” Thomas asked.

Zachary’s eyes hardened and he looked right at Thomas. “You will, until you get killed, or I find someone better.”

Thomas saluted once more. “Yes Sir.”

“Good. Tell the men that they can rest,” Zachary said. “I’ll confer with the others, in regards to whether or not you’ll get the command officially, and we arrange for Richard’s funeral.”

“Um, sir, do you honestly think that I’m ready to command the men that Richard led?” Thomas asked.

Zachary chuckled. “You’ve got five years in the Professional Corps – that and Richard had been talking to me about his eventual retirement – 20 years of service is a long time, and he’d been thinking about it, and about who would lead the men. He told me that he wanted you to do the job.”

“I’m surprised he was never promoted past Sergeant,” said Thomas. “I mean, he should have been a Major by now.”

“He should have been one, more than qualified for it,” said Zachary. “However, every time the subject came up, he’d turn down the offer of promotion. He claimed that his job was to lead the men on the field, not get bogged down in paperwork.” Zachary chuckled at this. “He’s an interesting one – I have to give him that. ‘The Eternal Sergeant’ he called himself. Claimed that it was his job to make sure that the orders the men got didn’t lead them into a Clusterflop. Couldn’t blame him for that – sometimes I wonder what the boys in Hawaii are thinking – probably drinking too much desalinated water and the salt’s starting to build up on the filters. It’s not like they are surrounded by a few thousand miles of land that the dead can walk across, or have times of the year where they can’t leave their city to get supplies from the countryside!”

“But don’t the dead roam along the seabed?” Thomas asked. “I mean, they can walk underwater, right?”

“True, but most people don’t go swimming these days, and most fish are smart enough to stay out of their hands,” Zachary said. “And as for them walking up onto the beach – the boys in Hawaii and the other islands took a cue from the Germans at Normandy during WW2 and built a 20 foot tall concrete wall about a hundred yards inland from the beach, surrounding the island. The dead can’t get at them easily. As for us, well, if you want fresh meat, you’ve got to leave the city, and the Wall, meaning that you’re at risk of encountering at least a few of them, if not a whole herd.”

Thomas frowned. “I know. That’s what happened to Richard – he and the Hunting Party encountered a herd while they were out.”

“He saved his kids, not to mention the others,” said Zachary. “That’s the important thing that you must remember – not that he got bit, but that he protected those that mattered to him. After all, he saved your life out there, nephew.”

Thomas looked at his uncle, well, half-uncle, and nodded. “I know that. That’s why he got bit – kept the one from tearing out my throat, and he got bit on the hand. I got him killed.”

Zachary frowned. “That’s the reality of this war – people get killed, even those we love and respect. The thing is to remember the good times that you have with them.” The liger chuckled. “Like the time Richards damn near busted my jaw – he kept me so focused on his right, the left caught me by surprise. Good thing he was wearing gloves – some of my teeth pierced my lip, and broke off in his glove. If it weren’t for that glove, he’d of been turned into something like you and me.”

Thomas frowned. “Probably would have been better. Better to be something that’s half-animal, instead of dead.”

Zachary’s eyes narrowed. “Now that wouldn’t have been like him. He was given the option when he joined the Professional Corps – he turned it down, like most Unimmune humans do. If he was scared of dying, he wouldn’t have signed up in the first place. He would have just stayed a Weekly Guard, only serving on the Wall when it was his week, to pay his Civic Duty as a citizen of this city. He knew the risks – he knew that he could get shot by a bandit, bitten by the dead, and thus put down or accidently get infected, and turned into one of us instead. Still, he signed up for the job, and he did a good job – better than most. Even I’d be hard-pressed to compare myself to him – hell, he should have held my job – he’s that good.”

“Still, he’s dead. There’s no denying that,” Thomas said. “And I was the one that killed him.”

Zachary frowned. “Maybe you put the bolt in his head, but look at it this way – he’s not one of those things out there.” He looked out the window, where a straggler was roaming across the field. He picked up a crossbow, put a bolt in the slot, aimed, and pulled the trigger. The creature dropped without a sound. “Two hundred and seventeen yards – not a bad shot.” He looked at his nephew. “It’s better to put them down, and give them a prayer or two, or something, just as they turn, than to let them roam around, devoid of humanity. That’s the real war – can we keep our Humanity, even if we are no longer Human? There are those out there who are worse than those things – kill you for what you have, and do worse than kill you. Those are the real monsters, not the Dead. The dead you can feel sorry for – they never wanted this, only they are the victims of a terrorist attack from a hundred years ago, one which continues to this day. As for Bandits and the like – they had their chances. We may not have a choice in what we are, thanks to our ancestors finding out about that other virus, the one that combines human DNA with Non-Human animal DNA, but we have a choice in how we act. We can act like animals, and be savage to one another, or we can act like men, and try to help each other. That’s how we measure humanity, and that’s the key to winning this war in the long run – keeping our humanity.”

“I understand,” said Thomas.

Zachary smiled. “Good. Now, tell your mother I’ll see her for supper. It’s always good to see my little sister. And tell your father that he’d best make sure his stripes are shiny enough to outdo mine. It’s not like he has a mane to compete against me with.”

Thomas chuckled, as he walked towards the door to the rest of the city. “Are you looking for another wife for your Pride?”

“Your grandfather was a lion who took both a tigeress and a lioness for his brides – the tigeress produced me, and the lioness produced your mother, and your mother picked a tiger for a husband,” said Zachary. “As for me – got a tigeress, a lioness, a leopardess, and a cheetahess.”

Thomas chucked again. “Let me know when you find a puma.”

“So long as no one calls me a cougar,” Zachary laughed. “Now remember, tell the men that they can rest, and I’ll get someone to finish the remainder of the bodies.”

“Yes, Sir!”
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