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kevin398
19-08-2014, 08:58 PM
What happens when technology wipes out 2/3 of the Earth and the remaining government has to choose which way to go? And what skills are most important? It might surprise you.


WEEKDAY SUPER SPECIAL SHORT STORY


The Hunter

This is a story about a time long past....or maybe yet to come. In it small towns and villages replace the huge sprawling cities of today. They are easier to manage, easier to supply and friendlier, since people get to know one another sometimes for generations. Village Scholars are the wise men and women and have a high ranking job of knowing whatever needs known, and teaching it to the masses, Village Doctors see to the sick and injured and professional Hunters see that the village gets fed,with the help of its other residence of course. But sometimes people make mistakes, and when that happens things can go bad quickly. If the Doctor dies without teaching someone else, sickness and disease run rampant. If the Priest dies, then the spiritual needs of the community go unchecked and greed and depravity spread wildly, and when the only Hunter dies...then the people must step up to fill in the gap...if they can or know how that is, or go hungry, and starving, crying children is nobodies favorite sound.


Chapter 1: Death Comes in the Night


It had been days since the townsfolk had last seen Old Carl, the towns Hunter, it wasn’t like him to be away so long. The locals were well known as mercenaries and warriors, but send them out for ducks or deer, and you’ve got a long wait before you eat.

It was the evening of the third day when they found him, sitting upright against a tree, head hung low and his favorite sidearm laying beside him, with a huge black bear laying not 3 feet away. The fight had been one for the books but in the end they both lost, and they died there together.

They brought him back to give him a fine farewell and laid him to rest and after that to decide who would replace him. It was hard work, and long hours and even as many there were militarily trained, they were not Hunters by any stretch, they could sneak out in the night and kill enemies by the dozen but let them get hungry and send them out for food and maybe they might survive...maybe... but never find or bring in enough to subsidize the entire town. The few that could hunt were doing their best for their families and that helped, but there were many, old folks and the sick to mention a few, that could never do for themselves so they needed help... and now would get none.

“I’ll have my son do some fishing in the river every evening after chores, if it helps,” The town mechanic said as everyone agreed and another said he’d search for mushrooms and herbs and they thanked him for that.

“But without hundreds of pounds of fresh meat weekly, many will not survive, the town is growing too and many have no idea what hunting or fishing is like, we’ve been hired guns for too long, and there are times when having cash just doesn’t help feed families.” The town mayor, Jason Jackson said as many agreed, buying food was a serious thing, many towns wouldn’t sell to you if they didn’t know you, and being soldiers for hire didn’t give the town the best reputation in many areas.

“Then we need a new Hunter, we have no other choice.” He was told as he agreed.”Have some of the ladies clean up the old house and see to it its ready for a new person, we’ll send scouts out to see who has the best Hunters around and see if we cant hire one to move here.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Jason said as everyone got their two cents in about what should be done, and a few cash donations,and after asking all around town for info to start out with, three people left that night for Harrington, a small town nearly a hundred miles away... and rumor had it... the best Hunters ever trained lived there, and they took gold coins with them and a promise of a free house and help to keep it clean and even a cook if need be and they traveled all night and rested for a few hours during the hottest time of the day, and then traveled more and when the sun came up the fourth day, they were walking into a town, getting serious looks from the townspeople as they asked where they might find the local Hunter and one woman waved them to the local bar and as they walked in everyone turned to see new people...heavily armed new people...and no one left them out of their sight for a second. The smell of fresh food was in the air, so they took a table and ordered a bowl of their best stew and asked about the Hunter again, and the waitress wasn’t sure she wanted to tell them, but finally an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair turned from his drink at the bar and asked why they wanted him and the lady in charge of the team smiled her best smile and invited him to sit with them.

He did, and after a minute eating her fill after their long walk, Veronica explained why they had come.

“A town with no Hunter is a hungry town, and one with very few private citizens that know anything is even worse. Why didn’t anyone get him to train them when he was alive?” The man asked as she explained that there was more money in being a mercenary, so no young people wanted to ‘waste their time’ learning to hunt.

“Typical...” They heard as the men kept an eye on him as they shoveled down their food.”what animals are around there, are there many, or are they rare? What about herbs and rivers and streams?” he asked as they each told him what they knew. The old hunter brought in elk, boar and many types of herbs, but no one knew where he got them, and even the doctor mentioned that without them winter would be hard on them all this year.

“There’s a stream about as wide as this table with small fish in it, you can see them jumping,” Veronica added as he nodded and waited for her to continue,” and a wider stream as wide as this room and deep too, too deep to see the bottom in places, whats in there I have no idea.”

“Hm...” The older man said sitting back and sipping his drink while the three finished eating their food.” Crayfish, probably trout and shad,turtles, and a small river...no one should have to go hungry there for a long time.”

“Then you’ll come with us? We can pay...” Veronica said as she dropped a bag of coins on the table and the room turned to see and the older man counted out three piles and handed back the rest.

“That should do...” He added while they looked thrilled.

“When can you leave?” She asked grabbing the rest of the cash while he laughed loudly and the room looked more relaxed after a minute.

“Oh I’m not going anywhere,” He said as they all looked shocked,” but I have a student thats right up your alley...he thinks he knows it all and wants more than anything to see the outside world for himself.”

“But is he any good?” One man asked as the older man just smiled.

“He can kill an elk with one shot from a bow at 20 meters, and it’ll never move a step from that spot.” He mentioned as they looked impressed,” He knows at least 20 herbs and fruits and wild vegetables that many will walk right past too, I think you’ll be very happy with him.”

“But will he go with us?” He was asked as he nearly laughed in their faces.

“I guarantee it...thats to cover his training...” He said pointing to the cash as they agreed and he took the cash and put it into his coin purse.” I’ll be right back, have another bowl, its fresh boar.” He mentioned as they agreed and ordered more, it was a long walk home after all.


Chapter 2: A New Home


John went right home after that to see Simon, his oldest son cutting wood and stacking it beside the shed for the winter. It was early summer now so he was well ahead of time on that chore but then he’d be starting it again real soon.

“Simon...” John called as the tall brown haired man looked up and smiled and waved to his father, and slipped his pull over shirt back on, hiding the well tanned chest and ‘6 pack’ that hard work and walking the hills for miles gave him.”we need to talk, come inside.”

It only took a few minutes to explain it and as Simon’s mother gave John a dirty look he just smiled and asked if he was ready for a town of his own.

“Caldwell...a small town about a hundred miles from here, their Hunter died recently and the town has no one to replace him. They train soldiers there, but not a single Hunter, so things are getting tight. Your own house, cook, even a maid... probably...” John went on as Simon smiled wide and his mom saw all the buttons his father was pushing right before her eyes.

“Elk, boar, a trout stream and a river all close by, you cant fail if you tried.” He said as Simon agreed and his mom saw he was going to go.

“Promise you’ll write home and let us know how you are...” She managed to get in as Simon agreed and the deal was done.

“I have to pack, people are waiting...” Simon said as he went to gather just the few things he thought he’d need as his mom growled at John and he looked away.

“A maid...probably?” She asked as he just shrugged and said ‘you never know’ as she finally smiled and decided it could be worse.

Simon returned with a stuffed backpack and a collection bag around his neck, hanging down by his side. He carried a small metal crossbow, small but powerful, and a quiver of the best arrows too. His skinning knife was hanging on his belt and he had a pair of water proof boots on made for heavy wear. He gave his mom a hug and he and his dad went back into town and she shook her head sadly. She knew this day would come, but she had hoped it wouldn’t be so soon.

They were just getting to the bar when the team saw them coming and one man nudged Veronica and she turned to see. The young man was a head taller than her, and good looking, had short brown hair and muscles everywhere, and she could see him carrying something large in from the fields.

“This is Simon,” John mentioned as they all shook hands,” he’s my oldest and he’s more than ready for a town of his own, I think.” He added as Simon laughed and they all looked pretty happy with the deal.

“Then if everything’s alright?” Veronica asked as John nodded agreement,” We better get going, its a long walk back.” And with that Simon waved and they all walked out of town and John saw his son getting more mature by the minute.

“So...” Simon started talking even before they got out of sight,” tell me about this town, the doctor, the Mayor, and all its people.” And the team laughed, it seemed he thought he needed to know a lot for his first day. But they talked to pass the time and after a full afternoon of walking they stopped for some rest and got a fire going. They bought some jerky at the bar and as they sat back to rest, Simon was gone.

“Nature call...” One man said as they laughed but in a few minutes he was back, and he took a small stick and strung mushrooms on it and roasted them over the fire as the team looked shocked he had gotten food so quickly.

“Where did you get those?” The one man asked, looking longingly at the cooking mushrooms as Simon laughed.

“Right over there, by the spring..” Simon said as the guys nodded and Veronica asked where he saw a spring, she didn’t see any.”about 50 yards that way...cant you smell it?”

“You can smell water from here?” She asked as he looked like she was crazy or something.

“The waters ice cold, and its a hot day, sure I can smell it, feel that tiny little breeze we get from time to time? Thats off that cold water.” Simon mentioned as Veronica went to see and came back with cold, fresh water in her cantine.

“60 yards more like it... but he’s right, its there.” She said passing it around as everyone got a drink and Simon shared his food with them.

“I think we did good...” She heard whispered as she passed the cantine and she refused to act like anything was said.

“I didn’t think we had time for roasted meat, so I left the rabbit go by me.” Simon added as they looked surprised and Veronica agreed, saying they were going to rest a bit then walk all night.

“Better grab a nap then...” Simon said as he laid back against a big rock and the team whispered about him while he snored away.

“He has skills no doubt about that,” Veronica mentioned as they all agreed,” the mayor will be pleased I think.”

“To be able to get a meat bowl or steak in the bar again will be more than worth this walk.” One of the men said as they all agreed.”a few of the local girls will want to see this too, don’t you think?”

“Maybe one or two, but thats not our concern.” Veronica said as they nodded agreement, as the sun was going down now and they got more fresh water and Veronica mentioned they better get Simon up as he stepped in between two of them asking if they were ready yet, and they jumped through themselves.

“Have an apple,” Simon said handing them each one as they just smiled and started walking again.

By evening the third day they walked down the little road and into town, with people cheering and waving as they entered. The Mayor walked out to see them come walking up to his house and he looked a little shocked to see Simon with them.

“Are you a Hunter?” He asked as Simon just laughed and nodded saying only time would tell that, as Veronica got a good laugh at that comment.

“He finds more food walking down the road than we find looking all day.” She offered as Jason got a big smile and held out his hand.

“Welcome to Caldwell then Mr...” He started as Simon shook it all smiles.

“Simon...Simon Templar...” He said as they all smiled and had their first meeting right there in the street.

“We have every person trying to help, but its been days since any real food has been brought in. The doctor is worried about the winter and the restaurant inside the bar is closed for now. The town butcher hasn’t worked this week yet at all.” Jason went on as Simon waved it all away.

“I’ll need some help, runners to carry food back during the hunts...” Simon started as Jason looked surprised,” then tell the butcher to get ready, he’ll be busy soon enough, and I need to get unpacked and a good nights sleep, so wheres my house?”

“I’ll take you there personally,” Jason said all smiles, if nothing else this kid has spirit, and he hoped his ego was well deserved.

Veronica and her team was let go and they walked to the bar for a drink and a million questions about the new man in town, if anything they said was true then eating week old jerky and dried fruits was coming to an end, and some town members had people watching over them sharing what little they had just to keep them alive, all unnecessary now...hopefully.

“This is your new home,” Jason said as they walked up. It was a small place not too hard to keep clean and had a nice shady front porch with a swing made for two hanging there, Simon smiled as he saw that and nodded it looked like a nice place to rest after a long day. They called and a young woman with brown shoulder length hair walked out and gave him an embarrassed smile as Simon thanked her for helping him now and she admitted that this was her first real job, as his cook and house keeper, but she hoped she was satisfactory, and he thanked her for being so honest, but it wasn’t hard to see that she was getting a good look at the new man, as had several others as they walked through town. If anything else it seemed Simon wasn’t going to be terribly lonely while he lived here, and Jason smiled and shook his hand again.

“I hope to see good things from you,” he said as he walked away and Simon went in and looked the place over and nodded appreciatively. It wasn’t bad at all, had 2 bedrooms and a nice sized living room and a small kitchen/dining area with a fine table and some chairs. It had enough electric lighting to be comfortable but not decadent, and the beds were nice and soft. He could see himself getting some rest there and that pleased him.

“There’s no food here for dinner but if you want I can find something, maybe my mom...” The girl started as Simon just smiled.

“Your name, little one?” He asked as her face grew red and she wondered what part he thought was too small.

“Cassandra Jennings...” She said as he just smiled and opened his collection bag and laid out several large mushrooms and several small to medium sized apples he had picked up along the way.

“We wont starve tonight, and tomorrow I’ll see about getting us stocked up on food here.” he said as she smiled wide and took it all and went to see about making something, and later on as they ate together, she realized that she was doing better tonight than half the town, and letting her mom rope her into this job was starting to look better by the minute.



Chapter 3: Just Playing Around



The next morning as Simon stepped out of the house two young men were sitting there on the front porch,already whispering and whining about getting picked for this job. It seemed they were the towns jokers and butt holes and the Mayor thought a little hard work might do them some good, and Simon smiled and asked if they were there as his helpers as they turned to see this big man with arms half the size of their legs standing there with a quiver around his waist and a crossbow over his shoulder. Standing there looking down on them, he definitely looked like someone you’d want to obey, as they both jumped to their feet and agreed the Mayor had sent them as Simon got a big smile...the Mayor had a sense of humor he saw... together they wouldn’t make a good large farmer but they were his, so he decided to make the most of it.

“Then lets go kill something!” Simon announced as they all smiled and they walked along beside him like two puppies as they started out into the countryside. They talked...a lot...and Simon was busy listening for something else as a large grunt was heard off the side, and he slammed his hand over the mans mouth and held up his fingers over his and they paused right there in silence.

“Sit...now!” he demanded in a whisper as they both dropped to their butts in the grass.”One word until I tell you to and I’ll kick your ass.” And with that he snuck into the brush and they looked at each other for several minutes not knowing when they were allowed to speak or even breath for that matter. But after a while they heard a loud yell and they jumped up and ran to see him a hundred yards away, and a dead deer laying there, a doe, and it was as big as either of them.

“Now you get to work,” Simon said as they looked oddly at him.” we need this taken back to the butcher and get him started too.”

“You expect us to carry THAT?” One man asked as Simon saw they really had no clue.

“Like this...” he said and a large knife appeared in his hand and he cut away the quarters of the deer until it now was in 5 pieces, the four legs and the main trunk.”now its easier to handle and lighter too, get to work, carry this all back while I look for something else.” And they looked oddly at each other as he took his bow and walked away and they each grabbed a piece and started into town, before he buried them in fresh meat.

The butcher was surprised to see the panting men with 50 pounds of meat each pounding on his door at daybreak and they told him in no uncertain terms that if they had to work this early so did he, and he laughed and gladly took the meat in and started getting it prepared.

“The Hunter says: ‘get him up and working, there’s more to come!’ was the official announcement and the man waved and smiled as they went back out after more, and his sign on the front door changed from ‘closed until further notice’ to ‘ open for business, fresh venison for sale’ and he smiled to be back at work again.

The word got around quickly and by the time the Mayor got out of bed, the whole town knew that food was coming in again.He walked out to see the butcher selling fresh meat for the first time in a while and the two little men, now acting all special because they represented the new Hunter when they came running in.

“Here you go Frank,” One called as he threw two colorful birds on the counter,”pheasants, fresh from the fields.” And a second later he was gone again.

“You hired just one man?” The butcher asked as the Mayor agreed but looked around to see several nice cuts of venison and now birds coming in,” He’s good I’ll say that even old Carl might not be this fast.” And Frank went back to work getting the birds ready for sale too.
“Good...” Was all Jason said but he was smiling very wide as he walked out the door, almost getting run over by patrons coming in looking for the first fresh meat in a while, and he saw that even this wasn’t going to stock them up quickly.

But the men ran back and forth all morning until they were ready to drop. They carried in two deer, some birds and even a bag full of fruit they found almost a mile from town. By now they were not so much running as crawling back and forth, and Simon saw his day had ended, and he released them to go home. Then he gathered a few things for himself and when he walked in at nearly noon Casey smiled to see two birds and a bag of fresh apples for her and she thanked him and started making them a fine meal.

They sat down to it a while later and as Simon dug in saying she was a good cook, she looked a little embarrassed at all the food before them and he saw it right away.

“Something wrong?” he asked as she admitted her mom was alone now and was probably eating dried fruit for her main meal of the day, so this made her feel sorry for her, as Simon nodded and cut away a drumstick and put it on a small plate with some vegetables and slid it to the side.”there give her one good meal today at least.” He said as she looked like she’d cry but thanked him and gulped down a few bites and then excused herself as she ran out the door with the plate in hand, and Simon sat there smiling thinking she was a nice person after all, and he was glad he could help.

Casey ran down the road and into the door at her moms house just as she looked up from drinking some tea to see her daughter, panting and carrying a plate full of food, and it smelled great. Casey walked over sat it down by her and demanded she eat, and as she tried it she smiled, saying Casey had paid attention to her cooking classes after all, and thanked her for thinking about her.

“So what’s the new Hunter like? I hear he’s big and handsome...” She started chomping away as Casey smiled and agreed.

“Oh he’s all that,” She admitted dropping into a chair across from her as her mom smiled and finished her meal,” but he’s a good man too, when I said I was worried for you he made this plate up and sent it over. I thought you might want to come back and meet him, he brought me a whole bag of fruit so maybe a lesson in making pies?” Casey asked as her mom laughed out loud and agreed and when they got back Simon was sitting on his swing looking very happy and Casey introduced her mom to him who got a good look too and quickly dragged Casey into the kitchen saying if she didn’t make a move on that man she wasn’t her daughter any longer, and Casey looked shocked she could be so forward so quickly and refused to even discuss it after that. But an hour later and she handed Simon a piece of fruit pie and he tried it and admitted it was pretty good and thanked her mom for coming to help.

“ You know...Casey’s a good cook and cleans well too, but still needs a few lessons in some... other things... will you see to those for me?” She asked as Casey choked on her pie and Simon laughed it off like it was a joke and Casey wasn’t at all sure it was.

“I like you, your silly...” Simon said as she looked like he might just be too dense for his own good.

“Thanks for the help mom...” Casey slipped in there nodding to the road, as she smiled and took her leave, taking a piece of pie home with her. Casey apologized for her rudeness as Simon laughed and said not to worry, she was just a mom watching out for her daughter, maybe being a little forward but nothing too outrageous, and Casey admitted she was like that all the time, she never really held back she just jumped in and started talking.

“I think she’s a good person though,” Simon admitted as Casey agreed, and that was it for that discussion.”we don’t have coffee yet right?” He asked as she admitted they didn’t.

“Its nice having a cup after work like this, so tomorrow I’ll see about getting some, if the towns store doesn’t have any Chicory makes a strong cup too.” He mentioned as she just shrugged it off and they rested for a while before going to bed.



Chapter 4: Salary



The two little men were there first thing, and had a request for more birds, as Simon just laughed and agreed. They started out right away and as morning got going everywhere, Casey went into town to ask about coffee so she’d have some for Simon when he came in later.

“You’re the little girl working for the Hunter right?” The lady behind the counter asked as Casey admitted she was working there.”The town gives out certain things to any Hunter for free, so here this is your first months salary, in goods. I’m sure you’ll be needing all this and more.” The lady said and handed her two nice sized bags and Casey was surprised. She thanked her and went home and found flour, salt, pepper and many other things she certainly could use, as well as a pound of coffee and a tin of tea.

This made the cupboards look less empty now and Casey felt a lot better knowing that they got free food for just doing their job, and she searched through the other cabinets and found a small steel coffee pot and gave it a good cleaning and got it ready for when Simon quit for the day.

Meanwhile Simon found a small flock of pheasants, and as he pinned one to the ground with his bow, a few others didn’t seem to notice at first, he was very careful which ones he aimed at but eventually they caught on and flew away but not before he got 3 of the biggest birds that were eating seeds around the edges of the flock.

“Take these back now, it’ll be a while until we see those birds again.” Simon mentioned as the one little man agreed and took off running.

Simon sat down for a minute to check his arrows and clean dirt and other assorted bits from the blades, and he was busy doing that when his helper tapped him on the shoulder and pointed, and Simon turned to see a large woodchuck not 15 meters away just standing up looking around eating some bit he had found for himself. It was a large animal for its type and Simon managed to get a shot off before they were seen, and the arrow went clear through and out the back and it just fell over in a small pool of blood.

“You’re learning, nice ‘spot’”, Simon said as the man looked oddly at him.” when you see something that hasn’t seen us thats a ‘spot’ spotting is a very helpful job for any Hunter, after all there are times like today when other things need taken care of and you did exactly the right thing.”

“I did good then?” He asked as Simon laughed and they went and got the animal and he sent it back with a good slap on his back as he walked away.

“You did good,” Simon added as the little man laughed and took off running.

He got back to town and walked in to see his partner talking away as he walked up to the counter and dropped the woodchuck there for all to see.

“Come on, I cant do all the spotting myself you know!” He said as he started back out the door and his friend ran along behind asking what he was spotting, and the men and women in the butcher shop laughed at their antics.

“Thats a big chuck...” The butcher remarked as a few agreed but he took it into the back and cleaned it up and handed it out to his wife who smiled wide to see it...now he knew for sure what his family was having for dinner tonight and he went back to cleaning and hanging out the birds for sale, and they didnt last an hour.

The shelves were looking a little bare again but he smiled, in two days they had done a lot to help the village and he felt really sure that they weren’t through yet.

When the two men got back they found Simon in a really,really bad mood about 50 yards from where they had left him. As they walked up one asked what was the matter and Simon threw a stone he had in his hand down onto another bigger stone so hard to shattered into a million pieces, and they stepped back in shock.

“While you were gone I took time to sharpen my arrows, and while I was doing that a young elk bull walked right out of the thicket across from me. We saw each other about the same time and I got a running shot off, but it was a bad hit, a real bad hit.” he said looking disgusted with himself as they looked sad for him.

“It’ll die though right?” One asked as Simon finally allowed himself a smile and he said it would...sometime...as they looked tired already.

“We wont give up until we find him, thats a lot of meat and we’ll be dead tired before we get that all back to town.” Simon said as they asked how big it was and he had to think for a minute then decided.”maybe...600 pounds no big rack but a nice fat deer.”

“No,no,no...” He heard as he looked around.”OK follow this thing for half the afternoon, fine but carry 600 pounds back to town from where...2 miles away? No..no freaking way!”

“I wont waste something this big, we WILL carry it back!” Simon demanded as the other man stopped them both.

“We can get the mechanic to come get it..he has a truck.” he added as Simon looked surprised.

“He has a vehicle? And it runs?” He asked in shock, as the men both agreed, a little truck, small by any standards with a wooden bed, but it could carry a lot more than them.”Then we track this down and when we find it, one goes for help and we take that time to cut it up to carry.”

“Much better idea,” He heard as they all laughed and finally Simon waved for them to follow and off they went, looking for fresh tracks and the all important blood trail telling them they were going the right way.

It took all morning and well into the afternoon when one man ran into town and asked for the use of the truck. He explained what happened and the little vehicle rattled to life and they ran out while people laughed at them. 4 miles out of town Simon and his helper sat there along the road, and waited as the sound got closer and soon the little rattletrap stopped along side and the old man waved and shut it off as it popped and cracked then quit.

“Heard you got something big..” He said as Simon agreed and one leg of the beast covered half the bed as the man looked shocked. They got it all on there and even Simon was ready for a rest after that, and they all climbed on board as they rattled their way back into town and a heros welcome. This would keep them supplied for a while now, and the sign on the butcher shop window screamed ‘fresh elk steaks here!’ and Simon walked back home for some rest and some very welcomed fresh coffee, and he brought back a large elk steak for dinner and they ate like kings that night.


Chapter 5: Competition Makes for Great Bedfellows?



It was nearly noon the next day when Casey heard a knock and answered the door to see an old friend all dolled up and painted to the max standing there all smiles as she felt sick seeing her again.

“Hello, Rachel...” She managed to get out as the other girls big smile fell too.

“So, its true, your mother finally sold you off as a slave.” Rachel said chuckling as Casey felt like punching her, but didn’t.

“What do you want?” She asked through clenched teeth as Rachel looked past her and all around and she finally mentioned that Simon was out hunting.”Its what he does for a living remember?”

“My mother mentioned that he’s a hunk, and that I should come see for myself.” Rachel said as Casey just pushed her away and started closing the door.

“He wont be back until nightfall, so either come back then or try again tomorrow.” Casey added as the other girl gave her a dirty look and finally decided it couldn’t be helped.

“I will be back, you can count on it.” She added as she walked away and Casey felt sick seeing the town slut coming around. If possible she’d get Simon into bed and blame him for some dastardly attack or something, it was the way she did things, and her mother wasn’t much better.

She went back inside and after a little while the door opened and in walked Simon, with two nice pheasants for dinner and she took them and went to get it ready. Then they kicked back to rest for the evening, and Simon was surprised she came out with coffee for them both and asked to sit with him.

“Of course, anytime.” He offered as she sat down next to him on the big swing.

“I should warn you, someone was here today looking to meet you...so you better be ready if she comes back.” Casey started as Simon just chuckled as she gave him a dirty look.

“I know,” He said as she looked lost.”I was working in the workshop repairing traps when she was here.” He mentioned as Casey looked a little embarrassed he might have heard her.

“Oh, I see, I wasn’t aware.” She mentioned looking down at the dirt as he smiled at her embarrassment.

“You wanted rid of her pretty bad didn’t you?” He asked as she looked upset he could ask straight out like this.

“Shes the town slut, and she doesn’t deserve you, she cant cook or clean and god knows what she thinks she CAN do...the tramp.” She went on as Simon laughed out loud.

“So who does deserve me, anyone you know?” He asked and waited as she took a deep breath and started as fast as she could.

“I do..I can cook and clean... we get along pretty well I think, and I’ve been told I’m not too bad to look at either...” She took off on a rant while she had the courage and after a minute Simon kissed her, and she looked surprised by it.

“And your mom makes great apple pies too...” He mentioned as she gave him a dirty look and said she made those ...her mom just helped... as they both laughed.
“I would have asked sooner or later if you hadn’t mentioned it...” Simon whispered as she looked happy and a little embarrassed but mostly just happy, as he kissed her again.

“Ahem...now just because we like each other don’t think I’ll just jump in bed with you any time you want, got that?” She mentioned trying to sound as serious as she could and he smiled and agreed.”And you better be careful because kids right away is just no...not for a long time yet.”

“OK, anything else?” He asked as she felt like she was being the bad guy here.

“Yes...” She said softly,” I love you...so please don’t hurt me or run away after a while, please?” She asked as she looked like she’d cry and he gave her a big hug and told her he was here to stay, and she felt good about that.

“Then we’re a couple...if you want to be.” She added as he agreed and they sat there on that swing and hugged and kissed...for 50 years, in front of friends and children who became the next generation of Hunters there too, and his mom and dad came to visit once, approved the marriage and faded away back the way they came, and after many years they too passed on and their youngest stayed as the Hunter for their town.

It was just the way the government had planned it. After the Last War with the atmosphere full of pollutants and toxic chemicals, they returned the remaining people to a simpler time. A time of hard work and good friends, not huge cities of gangs and enemies. Big business became the town merchant or farmer, and each town had a doctor and mechanic and even a clinic in some for serious medicine. But never again would they set their entire civilization on the road of laziness and comfort. Many years of that had proven it was as deadly as any other enemy. Hard work and fresh air were the keys and so long as their country existed thats the way it would be