By Snow McNaughton

She woke up with a start, realizing she was still in the chair from the airplane. But the airplane was gone. Renee was on her back looking up into tall redwood trees which glowed from a fire far off. She was cold, wet, and soaked through. It had been raining, but now lightly drizzled. She tried to lift herself out of the chair, but ended up falling sideways. Her face hit the wet ground. It smelt of mineral rich moist earth and slightly of chemicals. She tilted her head up and saw the debris of the tail section scattered around her. She tried to get out of the chair again, but the safety belt was still buckled. She reached to pull the belt loose, but her hand felt like rubber. Looking down, she realized that her left arm and hand has been damaged in the crash. The arm was badly bruised and cut up. The bleeding had stopped, but a couple of the fingers were swollen and might be broken. Instead she reached with her right hand and released the buckle. She slowly managed to get out of the chair and surveyed her surroundings.

The plane that she had been on was now a widely scattered wreckage spread down a mountain side. The wreckage had cut a jagged wound like a deadly knife cut through pristine forest. It was heartbreaking. Giant redwood and other trees laid scattered like popsicle sticks throw up into the air and allowed to randomly fall around the wreckage. She was unclear as to what caused the crash because she had fallen asleep. As the plane came down, it must have broken apart when hitting the trees. The tail section was a good ways from the main part of the plane which was farther down the mountain. The air was a mix of smells ranging from the ground soaked with rain, fuel to burnt plastic and metal, and the faint smell of pine. Most of the tail section was still in one piece, but it looked like it had burnt a little bit. It must have been raining hard to put out most of the fire. But still, scattered about the wreckage where small fires burning chairs or pieces of rubber. A strong wind could easily set the rest of the forest ablaze if it didn’t rain again. There was also the scent of burnt flesh. As she became aware of her surrounds, the other passengers came into focus, or at least what was left of them. Some were badly torn apart while others are badly burned or both. She wandered around to see if there are any other survivors.

While looking for survivors, she also looked for something to use as a sling for her arm which she held next to her chest. The bleeding from the hand and forearm had stopped, but pain throbbed through her hand up her arm. She found a broken open suitcase and searched it. The suitcase belonged to a women who liked a selection of belts. There were many to choose from in the case. Using her good hand, she buckled some of them together and made a sling. As she moved her left arm into the sling, pain shot through her arm. The pain was overwhelming and she collapsed to the ground crying. Once the pain subsided, she got up, made sure her arm was comfortable in the sling, and wrapped her hand in a tank top from the suitcase making sure the fingers where secure.   

She continued her look around. Down the mountain near a part of the midsection, she saw another woman walking. Renee headed towards her. As she got closer, she noticed that the woman was dressed in a long flowing white dress with a parasol. Renee didn’t recall anyone on the flight dressed that way. Renee watched her for a couple of moments, noticing how the woman went from person to person, looked at them then moved to the next person. Sometimes she would stop in front of a person and twirled the parasol as she studied each one. Renee caught up to the woman. The woman turned to face Renee and greeted her with a smile which Renee was taken back by. The woman didn’t look injured and was bone dry.

Renee didn’t recall her from before the flight, but then she was busy working, getting financial reports done before boarding the flight. Renee asked, “You survived the flight, too. I don’t recall seeing you in the waiting room. Which part of the plane where you on?”

“I wasn’t on the flight my dear.”

“Oh, do you live nearby?” It seemed impossible that a random woman in a full length dress would be out here in the middle of a forest in the mountains. Maybe they are near a town Renee thought.

“No child I don’t live nearby”. Then where did you come from Renee wondered.

“Where you driving by and can get us to a town?”

“No child. I’m not here to help you.”

Renee was stunned by this. Who was this woman? Couldn’t she see that Renee was injured and needed help. The woman kept going from person to person almost like she was taking an inventory. She’s didn’t take anything from them as far as Renee could tell. So, most likely not a thief. This would be a grizzly place to be a grave robber. “Who are you and why are you going from person to person?”

“I’m collecting them for their trip”. What trip Renee thought? Weren’t they already on a trip. One that ended badly.

“Who are you?”

The woman turned to face Renee and twirled the parasol a few times. After calmly looking Renee over, she said “Ankou.”

Renee looked puzzled.

“No?” the woman asked with a disappointing tone in her voice, “Given your family history and past friends, I would think you would know me by that name. I’ve also been called Thanatos”.

A middle age woman in an all white lace full length dress that looked vintage Victorian era just told Renee that she was the god of death. Like the evening couldn’t get any more surreal. Obviously she was in shock and hallucinating, or just dead. Was this what death was like? Or was all of this a nightmare she was having while sleeping on the plane? Maybe that whisky during beverage service wasn’t a good idea after all.

Renee noticed figures walking by in the corner of her eyes. They were dark shadowy figures. When she turned to look at them directly, they vanished. “You can’t see them that way”, the woman in white told her. “And you are gifted to see them at all. Usually the living don’t see the dead.”

Renee returned to watching them from the corner of her eyes. They were all heading down the mountain. As Ankou went to each member of the newly dead, a dark figure moved from their bodies to join the others down the mountain. “Are they all going to hell? Is that why they are all dark?”

“No, I just collect. Sorting is different department. Using your modern parlance.”, the woman said with humor like she’d made a joke. “They are not dark. You’re untrained eye can’t see the swirl of light that they are. What looks dark to you is their human experience dissipating. And maybe it’s looks dark to you because you are still tied to human form. All that will remain will be their true self”

Renee followed the woman for a while trying to understand. Off in the distance, she heard someone whaling. Ankou and her slowing made their way towards the sound. Renee realized the sounds were coming from a small boy being held in the arms of his dead mother. She remembered them from the waiting room. The mother looked tired like all mothers do when taking care of a high spirited young child, but she recalled the mother was patient and sweet to her little boy. He looked to be two maybe going on three. Ankou removed the boy from his mother’s arms and handed him to Renee. His scared blue eyes looked at her. He was lanky for his age, but seemed well feed given his weight. His blond hair was wild looking. The caked blood and dirt in his hair didn’t help either. As she held the boy, the woman put her hands on the mother’s forehead and heart. She said something quietly in a language Renee didn’t know, but it sounded non human. Ankou released the mother’s soul and she joined the others. The boy was crying, but calmed down in her arms as she comforted him. Renee noticed that the woman had moved far off in the distance towards the front part of the wreckage.

The rain started again. Even with the rain, the ground was soaked with chemicals and being at the crash site was not safe for them if one of the small fires took off. With this in mind, Renee carried the boy into the forest to find some form of shelter for them to rest at. Between the fires and the full moon, there was enough light for Renee to see. The crash was on the top of a valley canyon. Renee walked down into the valley with no destination in mind. After a while, she stopped. She was tired from carrying the boy who had fallen asleep. She looked back up at the crash site. They were not far from it if a fire did let loose, but she could go no further. This spot where she stood would have to do. She looked around and didn’t see much in the way of shelter. They were surrounded by big redwoods. Some of them were in a rings around grandmother trees. There were a few without the grandmother tree in the center. The center of one such circle of trees was covered in duff and other forest vegetation. It was soft and thick. Renee dug out large hole in the duff to be a little bed for them. She laid down next to the boy. Once they were in the bed, she used some of the duff as a blanket, too. The earth smelled sweet and inviting. She relaxed and didn’t realize how tired she was as she quickly fell asleep. Between the earth and their body heat, they were warm enough.

She was walking through a forest, but it was different than the one she had just been in. The path she followed led her through an oak grove to a large clearing. It looked like it could be part of a garden. She stopped at the edge of the clearing. In the center, there was a pool surrounded by a flat path of stones in a knot pattern. She walked up to the pool and looked down into it. The liquid in the pool was a swirl of orange, red, blue, and purple colors. In the liquid, images of past events played out. Her graduation, her father’s funeral, Julie packing a bag and leaving. Not all of the events shown were part of her life. Some were of world events like IRA bombing of London’s financial center, the Berlin wall falling, the rise of white terrorism in the United States, and the assassination of Turkey’s president. She realized that the last event hadn’t happened, at least, not yet. Not all of the events were in the past it seemed. More world events were shown to her like she was watching a news program. From across the pool, she heard someone breathing. She looked up and a large buck with a massive rack on his head watched her. The bucks horns had faded red paint on them. No, not paint, it was old dried blood. He licked his lips with his tongue, turned and walked off into the dark. From where he walked out into the forest, a figure walked into the clearing. Renee couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, not that it really mattered. The stranger’s eyes were black like the bucks, but they had no horns. The person looked like a normal human being minus the eyes which watched Renee with keen interest. As she knelt next to the pool, she watched the stranger move with the fluidity of an animal coming closer to her. The stranger stayed on the opposite side of the pool, but Renee didn’t think that was much protection if they decided to be hostile. Their high cheekbones, square broad shoulders and long reddish brown hair didn’t help to nail down a gender, not that it really mattered.

“You don’t remember me do you, Renee?” they asked.

Renee shook her head, “No, should I?”.

“We use to play games with each other, running in the woods. But that was many years ago. Before you got lost.” they said with some bitterness.

Renee searched her foggy head for memories of playing in the woods with someone. She used to play in the woods, but alone behind her father’s house. She hated visiting him. His place was so far from her mom and friends, and to close to her step-mother. She loved her father. He was always loving and there when she needed him. His place was deep in the Appalachian mountains making it hard to meet people much less make friends. She did recall when she was really young, she would play with an imaginary friend in the woods. They ran like wild animals without a care in the world.

The stranger smiled, “You do recall. Like then, like now. ”

Startled awake, she looked around trying to recall where she was. The boy had woken up and now sat next to a tree while he watched her. His blond hair tossed about with forest duff in it. He had been crying but now just sat there with his thumb in his mouth while he looked around. The thumb in his mouth counteracted the wild look his hair gave him which made her wonder how wild her brunette hair looked with duff and dried blood in it. She couldn’t imagine what he had been thinking or was going through. The trauma he would deal with in the years to come if they got out of this alive would be great. But then, he looked to be young enough that he might not recall anything, only to be so lucky.

She dug herself out of the hole in the ground that served as a bed last night. Dawn was breaking. While warm and comfortable, she was still very sore from the previous day’s adventures. Her left arm was looking worse, too. The pain had increased and it was hard to move the hand. With the realization that this was not a dream, she woke up into fear that they might die out here. No one knew they survived the crash, so no one would be looking for them. She stepped out of the circle of trees and looked up at the crash site. She did manage to get them a fair distance from it. The smell of fuel and smoke wafted through the air. There also looked to be a number of small fires still going. For them, with all the chemical invested smoke, going back to the crash site would not be the best option. She thought they could find a clearing, start a signal fire, and hopefully get noticed there.

A small hand grabbed hers. Looking down, she noticed the boy again. Bright blue eyes stared up back at her. He was scared. She was, too. She surveyed their surroundings for a path to follow. At this point, continuing to go down the mountains would mean scrabbling over rocks. There wasn’t a clear path down, but to their right was a deer trail winding off into the forest. Before heading off, she knelt down to look at the boy. She didn’t know his name, but he was being a well mannered child. She wiped the hair out of his face and smiled at him.

“I’m going to need you to be a good boy and listen me.” she told him. He nodded back his understanding. “This is not going to be an easy time for us. But, I promise to get you home”. Not sure if she believed what she said or not, but it felt good to say it. He seemed to cheer up a bit, but not sure how long that would last. They set off down the deer trail. The boy followed behind. Renee keep a watchful eye and ear to their surroundings. She recalls from her own childhood her mother mentioning birds can be an early warning system for other creatures. As a child she would watch the neighborhood cats get busted by birds giving away their location. Other birds would notice and move to safety. She wondered if that would work for them.

The deer trail took them down into the valley with a casual easy going pace. After walking what seemed to be for miles, they come out into a really small meadow. Renee sat down and wondered if it was too small for the helicopter or plane, that could come up to survey the crash site, to see them. She doubt they would send a rescue team any time soon given the extent of the damage and remote location. Who could possible survive such an event, she thinks with a weary smile on her lips. She watched the boy as he wandered around. He was chasing a butterfly as it went from various brightly colored wildflowers.

“Fun watching the innocent”, a feminine, yet deep voice, said from behind. Renee turned her head to see next to her the stranger from her dream last night. Reddish brown hair fell loosely around the stanger’s attractive face. When they turned their head to face Renee, they seem to flow from woman to man to woodland creature and back again. Dark eyes faced her.

Renee shook her head. Not believing her eyes. “You’re not real. Like the goddess of death, you are just a figment of my imagination. A result of the shock I’m going through”. Renee ignored them while she rubbed her forehead. She and the boy would need water soon given that the day was getting hotter. But storm clouds were moving across the sky, so maybe, it would cool down later.

The stranger watched Renee with an amused look on their face. They picked up a small stone and threw it at Renee. It hit Renee in her shoulder. She angrily turned to face them. “That hurt” Renee snapped.

The solid dark eyes on a womanly face stared defiantly back at Renee with a slight smile as they tried not to laugh. They threw another stone at Renee. This time hitting Renee dead center where the heart is. “You think you can ignore me. I’ve known you since you were as old as the boy”, they nodded in the boy’s direction. “We would talk for hours as I showed you the mysteries of the forest. You were a wild one.” The stranger looked around the meadow and the trees lining it. They sighed, “Not sure one of those oversize noisy dragon flies will find you here.” They look up and around at the sky. “You were always so relaxed in the woods. I recall it felt more like home than anywhere else for you at one point.”

Renee did feel more alive for the first time in years. While she would go hiking with friends, there was always a safe domesticated feel to the hikes. It had been years since she had gone camping. She did feel alive here.

Looking back at Renee with a melancholy expression the old friend asked, “What happened to you? Why did you leave?”.

“I’m human. I grew up.”, Renee bitterly said and got up to join the boy.

“That is a shame.”, the woodland creature watched as Renee stormed off towards the boy. She picked him up into her good arm. He had started to dig at a mound of dirt. Renee realized it was an ant mound. Luckily, she’d gotten to him before he made too much of mess and pissed of a colony of ants.

The childhood friend watched Renee and the boy with sadness. The old friend wondered if being on the land would wake up Renee again or would she try to forget and go back to being another cog in the wheel. Renee was talking to the boy about the ant hill. While the old friend walked around behind the two of them to listen, Renee had put the boy down and was poking a long stick into the mound.

Renee was telling the boy that they needed to eat. She was trying to convince him to eat some of the ants as they crawled on the stick. As she plucked off one ant after another, hoping none of them bite her while she ate them, the boy looked very unconvinced that this was a good idea. Renee recalled her not being to thrilled by it when she was a young child. Her daddy had tried to convince her to try them because he claimed that they tasted like the lemon candy she liked so much. She had to admit the ants did have a citrus taste to them, but not like candy. She gave up trying to convince the boy and hoped they would find something else for them to eat. Maybe they would be in luck and find some blackberries. She was sure she could get the kid to eat those.

She picked him up again and headed to the edge of the meadow. Looking back she didn’t see the darked eyed creature, which didn’t surprise her, since they didn’t exist. She was disturbed by her seeing people who didn’t exist, but figured it was just the stress of trying to survive out here. Though, she wasn’t sure how much longer they should be wandering around the forest if she was losing her mind. They needed to find a better place to be seen by rescuers and something to eat. As Renee turned to follow the path, her old friend watched Renee from behind some foliage and smiled.

They followed a deer trail for a couple of hours. She would stop once in a while to take in their surrounds. The boy didn’t wander off to far. He stayed close to her like he was afraid she would leave him. At one point, Renee heard running water and realized they were close to a creek. They left the deer trail and moved towards the sound. For the first time in 24 hrs she felt happy and excited. The sound of flowing water over rocks made Renee’s mouth water. As they got closer to the creek, it became clear they were not heading towards a creek, but possibly a river. The sound of rushing water moving fast was music to her ears. They reached the edge of a cliff and down below them was the river. At this spot on its bank, the river was about 25 feet below them. It was wide with many well rounded boulders amongst the steep cliffs. This was not the spot for them to get access. Renee looked up and down the river trying to assess which direction would lead them to an easier and safer place for access. Since the forest didn’t look as dense down the river, they headed that way.

They walked for a short distance before finding a low point by the river were boulders jutted out into it. She knelt on one of the boulders to take a drink of crisp cold water. The water felt smooth and refreshing across her tongue and down her throat. As she took a moment to be thankful of this amazing gift, she looked around. The cold water felt good on her left hand which she soaked in the water. She was able to clean the wounds a bit, and the numbing water eased some of the pain. With her left hand in better shape, she was able to use small twigs and long thin leaf plants to put a small splint around her fingers. As she cleaned out the wounds, she realized that her left arm was bruised with minor cuts, and most of the damage just seem to be in her hand. She and the boy drank more of the water as she watched some fish swim by. Scattered around the boulders where numerous rocks which could be built into walls to form a small pool to hopefully capture a small fish. Once a fish was in the pool, she could put ash in the pool to kill the fish, but making a fire right now seem a daunting task given the lack of supplies she had. Maybe she could make a spear which seemed just as daunting with no knife. Well maybe inspiration would hit while she made the pool. She surveyed the river a bit more and picked a place towards one edge where smaller fish looked to be feeding. Excited, she got to work building the walls. The boy wanted to help. She wasn’t sure if this sped things up or just made the building take longer. But either way, he was close by and she was able to keep an eye on him. She was proud of him and wondered if this is what it was like to be a parent. She’d have to reassess that decision when she got home.

Finally, it was complete. She gave it one final going over to make sure the walls would stay in place. There was an area in one wall that was lower which would allow fish to swim in when the water rapids rose. Granted, a fish could swim back out that way, but she was hoping the river current would keep it in the pool, since the fish were swimming downstream. She was proud of their work. It wouldn’t place in an architectural competition, but it would work. The boy was looking at her, probably wondering what would happen next. She smiled back at him, hugged him, and told him to stay by the pool and not to play in it.  While building it, she figured she would find a long thin fallen branch or stick and make it into a spear. She went in search of stick and soon found one that would work. It was about 4 or so feet long. She took it back to the water’s edge. Being mindful not to disturb the fish in the pool, she watched them as she fashioned a point on the stick by rubbing it on the boulders. By getting her whole body into the process instead of just using her hands, she was able to get a sharp point on the spear in short order.

Over by the pool, she watched the two fish that were in the pool. Trying to time a strike at one of them, she stabbed the spear into the pool and missed. Both fish desperately swam around looking for an exit. She striked again and missed again. She decided to wait a bit and let the fish calm down. After a while, she tried again and hit one. As she pulled the spear out of the water, the fish thrashed on the stick, but a quick smack on a boulder ended it for the fish. Looking at the fish, she realized she has no way to cook it. Sashimi was on the menu.

She pulled the spear out and tried to pull apart the fish. It’s skin was tough and she was not able to get the fish apart. She sat for a moment staring at the fish. She was so close to having food, but frustrated with the situation. She thought about using her teeth to tear it apart, but that didn’t seem practical given she need to feed the kid, too. She looked around and noticed that some of the small pebbles around the river looked to be chert. She looked for larger stones that could be chert. When she found a couple, she went back up the river bank a little bit until she was over a large flattish boulder and threw the stones at the boulder with all her strength. The stones shattered. She made her way down to the boulder and looked at the broken pieces. A few pieces of the stones now had a sharp edge on them. She went back to the fish and hoped her makeshift knives would be sharp enough to cut the fish open.

Armed with the makeshift knives, she was able to cut open the fish and fillet it. She cut of a few pieces for her and the boy to eat. She was surprised that he ate the fish without too much fuss. He must have be really hungry. The fish tasted rich and oily. It’s flesh was a little pinkish to orange color. She wondered if it was salmon.

As they were eating, she didn’t notice the bear approaching them. But when he walked out of the bushes towards them, she noticed. A large black bear stood about ten feet in front of them. He was sniffing at their meal which was also all over their hands. He growled and took a step forward. Renee stood up and in the same motion pulled the boy behind her, but held her ground. The bear probably will settle for the fish but she was not sure. Quickly going over how to defend themselves, some grey foxes ran past them. Both the bear and her stood their ground watching the foxes dive into the river. The bear sniffed the air. More animals past them headed into the river. Some animals cross while others stay in the flowing river. She could hear crackling and trees exploding in the distance. Renee and the bear both could now smell it. Smoke was in the air. If a fire had broken out and was headed their way, they were in deep trouble. More animals joined them at the river. Renee marveled at the number and the diverseness of them. Deer, foxes, rabbits, other bears and even a mountain lion took refuge in the river. Renee grabbed the boy and headed into the river. She found a spot towards the middle that wasn’t to deep and not to close to some of the less friendly animals. Not that she wanted to be to close to any of them.

She felt the fire approaching. The heat that approached was suffocating. Like banshees out of hell, it came screaming towards them. It ate through the forest with amazing speed. Consuming small and mid-size trees like an animal that has been starved for years. Some trees exploded while others fell to the ground. None of this stopped the fire. Even with the river being forty or so feet wide, she could feel the heat of the fire on her face. The fire warmed up the cold river water to be almost to hot to stay in with steam was coming off the water. She wondered if they were all going to boil in here. Some of the animals started to panic and tried to find boulders to sit on as the fire raged on one side of the river. Other animals crossed over to the non-burning side and ran for it. She was debating to do just that when the fire jumped the river. Soon she, the boy, and the remaining animals were surrounded by the fire. Both sides of the river where engulfed in a blazing hell. The river was not getting much warmer, but the steam off of it increased. She tried to keep the boy and her as far down into the water as she could without getting them swept away. After the fire moved on to feed its insatiable appetite, they all stayed in the water for a little longer and watched the fire from a distance. The ground was black and smoking. The air was hot with the stench of ash everywhere. The land was a charred husk of the great beauty it once was.

She and the boy made it back to the riverside where they started. Renee figured it would be best to head back to the crash site. The fire was moving away from them and rescuers could be there. She put the boy down and looked him over. He was calm in the river, but looked scared now. The smoke and steam coming off of the ground and burnt trees made it hard to see very far. She knew they were traveling west before, so they would head east now. The sun was barely visible through all the haze. She wondered if they would get back to the plane or if their luck would run out.

They walked for awhile. Renee was lost in thought about friends, family, and a future she wasn’t so sure about. The boy kept up with her. He was crying again. She knelt down to comfort him when she noticed a glow in the distance. Oh, no, fire. She picked the boy up and ran. She had no idea where to go. There was no shelter for them this time. She noticed a couple of deer run pass them and instinctively followed them.

Soon, the fire had caught up to them and raged all around. It was closing in. Carrying the boy Renee ran as fast as she could. The smoke was so thick it was making it hard to see, but she could see a large buck running next to her. He could have outrun them, but kept pace with them instead. The boy was getting heavier. She thought about dropping him. She would be able to run faster without him. Would it matter? Were they both going to die out here? No, a voice from within her said to keep running. It was the voice of her childhood friend. She kept running, but coughed more and more. It was getting harder and harder to breath. The buck all of a sudden changed course to their left. She looked ahead, but was unable to see where he was going. Did she see red flashing lights in that direction, or was it just fire?

“Run you fool”, the voice said.

She grabbed the boy tighter which just made him wrap his arms around her even tighter. She was amazed that he was so calm and not screaming. She followed the buck, but was sure she will lose him at any moment. He all of a sudden disappeared. Renee and the boy were tumbling down a small hill to land on a road. Renee landed on her back and looked down the road to see a fire truck with firefighters packing up and getting into the truck. She reached out to them screaming for help, but they didn’t hear her. The buck was next to her, bending his head down to lick her face and nug her to move. Still on the ground, she started to get up, pushing the boy down the road, and telling him to run for the truck. The truck started to move down the road as she screamed louder. As she got to her feet, the lady in white stood in front of her. Her screaming turned into hysterical laughter as she fell down to her knees crying. On her knees she looks up at Ankou and wondered if she was already dead.

The fire truck driver slammed on the brakes. Right in front of the truck, a large buck with a full rack had just jumped in front of them. It was big enough to damage the truck even at the slow speed they were moving. The driver yelled and honked the horn at the buck, but defiantly he stood in front of the truck. When the driver tried to go around or push the buck with the truck, he kept his ground. Making sure they couldn’t pass. The other firefighters were getting angry. They were yelling at the driver to just run the buck over. He was going to die out here anyway and if they didn’t get moving, so were they. Some of the firefighters looked back at the approaching fire and saw the boy on the road. Not believing their eyes, they yelled at the driver to wait that there were people on the road. Two of them jump out of the truck and they run to the boy. One of them noticed Renee lying on the road. He ran over to get her. She was alive, but injured. They grabbed the boy and her, carried them back to the truck. Renee was half conscious, and hysterical insisting that they get the lady in white. She was on the road with Renee, but the firefighters didn’t see anyone else. One of the firefighters took her breathing apparatus mask off and attempted to calm Renee down. She put her mask over Renee’s face while coaxing her to breath. Renee looked at the woman wide eyed, because the firefighter was the person from the meadow. The firefighter assured her that there was no one else on the road and ordered the driver to get them out of there. The driver turned expecting to see the buck still blocking their way, but the buck was nowhere to be seen. The driver stepped on the gas sending the fire truck speeding down the road.