Read Graham Ran Over A Reindeer Online

Authors: Sterling Rivers

Graham Ran Over A Reindeer (2 page)

BOOK: Graham Ran Over A Reindeer
2.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Chapter Two


Graham turned the window-wipers on max, but they did little to help. It was getting bad. The wind was picking up and it tossed around snow haphazardly, the visibility dropping to only a few feet. He was still angry with himself for chickening out and the treacherous weather only soured his mood further. He could think of a million ways his night could end well, all of which involved Rudy Snowden, but none were possible because he didn’t know how to work his mouth.


As his phone started chiming, he cursed. He attempted to dig it out of his pocket and keep the truck on the road simultaneously. By the time he freed the cell, the call dropped and he tossed it on the passenger seat. More than likely, it was the kids wondering where the Christmas tree was, but if he didn’t concentrate on where he was going, they’d end up decorating toothpicks this year.

When the wheels started to slip, he accelerated, not wanting to get stuck—as long as he kept moving he should be good. Luckily, the main road wasn’t far and the plow guys were pretty good at keeping it clear.

His phone started going off again and he growled at it, the screen displaying his sister’s number. She probably needed some last minute thing from the store and with her husband out for the weekend, Graham was the go to guy. Reaching for his phone, Graham took his eyes off the road for an instant. When he returned his attention in front of him, he got a bright flash of fur before something large and heavy hit the windshield and rolled over the cab.

“Fuck!” he shouted and slammed on the breaks. He came to a sliding stop, narrowly missing a tree.

It took him a moment to realize that he’d hit something, the shock of the ordeal freezing him. His heart banged against his ribcage and his ears rang from the sound of cracking glass—he wanted to keep going and not look back, afraid of what he might find. Pulling a healthy dose of air into his lungs, he slid his hands into his gloves and hopped out.

Tentatively, he eyed the massive ball of fur lying in the middle of the road. At first it looked like an old rolled up carpet carelessly discarded. He closed his eyes, accepting that he’d just killed a living creature. On shaky limbs, he inched closer, realizing that it was a rather large caribou. Had one of the Snowden herd gotten loose? He didn’t spot any identifying tags, so he assumed it was wild which wasn’t out of the ordinary. He tried reasoning with himself—
with the weather I would have never been able to stop in time… these things sometimes happened—

A hearty snort startled him and his stomach did a somersault as the caribou kicked a hind leg. He didn’t see any blood, but it more than likely had broken several bones. Scrubbing his face, he hated himself in this moment. If only it had died on impact, but now it was going to suffer and his shotgun was back home.

His throat tightening, he eyed the evergreen bundled and secure in the truck bed then dragged his attention back to the animal. It was still again, but he could see its chest moving and hear the soft patter of its breath.
, he chided himself for even considering leaving the animal to suffer. Setting into motion, he scooped up the tree and tucked it behind a drift on the side of the road, mentally apologizing to Rudy for discarding it so haphazardly. Using the tarp, he cautiously approached the caribou and secured it around the animal. Luckily, it didn’t fight. That was all good and dandy, except the thing weighed a ton. Graham grunted and groaned, making little progress. Frustrated, he returned to his truck and tried calling Rudy, but it just rang and rang. Graham cursed viciously and bumped his head on the steering wheel. Today was so not his day.

After a long minute, he approached the caribou, hoping it had finally succumbed to its injuries, but its chest was still steadily rising and falling. Tears of anger pricked his eyes—he couldn’t leave it here to anguish. He scored a short coil of rope from behind the passenger’s seat and secured it to the animal’s hind legs. He hoped they weren’t broken. The last thing he wanted to do was cause it further pain. Graham pulled with all his strength and managed to drag the caribou to the edge of his truck.
Half way there,
he mused, but the problem of getting it onto the bed eluded him.

Leaning against the truck he huffed and puffed, the cold in his lungs uncomfortable. One would be surprised at the amount of upper body strength he’d developed from working the stick shift all day. He prayed one good lift would do the job, or he really would have to leave the animal behind. Carefully, he wrapped the tarp around the caribou’s massive rack in case it decided to thrash. With a solid grip on its covered antlers, he pulled, groaning in the process. The blood rushed to his head, his muscles burning and just before he intended to let go, the caribou kicked its legs, pushing itself up onto the bed. Graham scrambled away from the truck, afraid the creature would start thrashing and kicking, but it just lay there, motionless. Watching closely, he spotted the faint rise and fall of its chest.

“Thanks for the help,” he said on a sigh.

Graham secured the animal the best he could, using a second tarp to shield it from the wind. He quickly, but carefully unknotted the rope from its legs, realizing one was broken at the ankle, the bone pushing against the skin unnaturally. Wincing, he closed the door and hopped in the driver’s side. He wasn’t gentle with the pedal, the four wheel drive slowly gaining traction. He was on the main road in an instant and he took it over thirty as he headed toward the veterinary clinic in the center of town. He prayed Rudy’s grandfather was still there, because he really wasn’t in the mood to finish off the animal himself.

It took far too long to reach town, the weather slowing him down, but he was relieved to find Doc Snowden’s pickup still in the parking lot of the clinic. Graham swung around to the rear and backed up until he was a foot from the bay doors. He probably should have called beforehand, but his hands were quaking and his attention was stolen by where he was going—the last thing he wanted to do with hit something else.

Bursting through the door, he shouted for the man, but the place seemed empty despite the cacophony of dogs barking and the glaring light overhead—

“Graham? What’s the matter? Is Mattie dropping her foal early? I had hoped—”

Graham snapped his attention to Doc Snowden, and he breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank God you’re still here. I had an accident… I need your help. I hit something. It’s in my truck.”

The man’s lightly wrinkled faced dropped and he set into motion, following Graham outside.

“It just came out of nowhere,” he explained, pulling the tarp away. “It’s not one of yours is it? I didn’t see any tags. Looks like it broke a leg—” As Graham motioned to the caribou’s ankle, the bone suddenly snapped back… or maybe he had touched it, unintentionally shifting it?

At a loss for words, he looked to Doc Snowden for reassurance, but the man seemed stricken with horror, his dark skin paling, and his slate eyes wide in his face.

“It’s not one of yours, is it?” Graham prompted.

“I’ll need your help carrying him in. Let me get the flatbed,” Doc Snowden said, and rushed back into the clinic.

“Okay,” Graham muttered, eying the caribou uneasily.

The man was back in in instant, pushing a flatbed up to the back of the pickup.

“I wrapped its antlers—”

“That is fine,” he said, working quickly to pull on the caribou’s legs while Graham pushed from behind. They managed to slide the unconscious animal onto the flatbed smoothly. The Doc commanded, “Get the door.”

Graham was quick on his feet and held the door open as Doc Snowden put all his weight into wheeling the animal inside. The caribou lay limp and Graham thought it had finally succumbed to its wounds.

Before he could follow, the veterinarian turned to him, his hand on Graham’s shoulder. “Thank you, Graham. You go home and be with your nieces, okay? I’ll take care of this.”

“But—” his words were cut off as the door was slammed in his face.

As much as he didn’t want to deal with helping the Doc put the animal down, he was responsible for having caused its death. He spent a long minute fighting with himself whether to own up to his mistake or go home. The realization that he’d misplaced his keys somewhere between the pickup and the clinic decided for him. Marching back inside, he found his keys lying on the floor and retrieved them. He’d come this far… he headed for the operating room where he spotted Doc Snowden standing over the flatbed.

“You know, I should at least offer to cover the euthanization cost—”

The elderly Snowden was on him in an instant. “Don’t worry about it, son. Go home, I take care of everything. Too dangerous right now for you.”

“But what about you—”

The sound of something crashing sent them both rushing back into the room. Graham gasped as the animal thrashed and kicked, sending surgical instruments flying in every direction, its antlers swinging around in a flurry.

“Now!” Doc Snowden commanded, pushing Graham toward the exit.

“You’ll need help!” He planted his feet where he was, realizing the Doc couldn’t possibly handle the animal by himself.

A startled moan stilled them and Graham got a flash of fur and wide, fear-filled eyes the color of slate as the caribou barreled right for them. He pushed Doc Snowden out of the way and threw his hands up in protection. Luckily, he managed to avoid the blow. The animal hit the door, then slid to the side, whipping its head around and slamming its hooves into the ground. An antler broke off and skidded across the floor—

Strong arms pulled Graham back to reality. It was the doc trying to help him to his feet. “You go now!”

“Are you crazy? We both need to—”

They gasped in unison as the caribou bucked, kicking a cabinet to splinters and flinging metallic objects everywhere. The thing seemed determined to go out in a blaze of glory. Doc Snowden shouted something in his native language and held his hands out in supplication as he approached the creature. Graham wanted to pull him away and get them to a safer location, but as the man spoke softly and fluently, the caribou settled, throwing its head back as it danced on its feet in agitation.

“Please, Graham,” Doc Snowden said, his attention on the animal. “Please, you go.”

He knew he should obey. After all Doc Snowden had more experience in dealing with injured, wild animals than he did, but something in the man’s voice stilled him. That and he was terrified the guy might get trampled.

Before he could decide, the caribou snorted and started kicking again, barreling through a table. Graham kept his eyes on the animal, prepared to dive in the opposite direction as it completely obliterated the room, fur flying around in clumps. His breath caught in his lungs as the caribou shifted direction and headed right for Graham. With nowhere to go and no time to maneuver around the trash, all he could do was stare at the mountain of fur and single antler aimed at him.
Everything comes full circle,
he thought.

Doc Snowden’s voice rang out and the caribou slid to a stop inches from trampling Graham. His back against the wall, Graham could do nothing but look into deep, intelligent eyes that shone a dazzling silver. With every labored breath, a hot breeze brushed across his cheek and he wanted to reach out and comfort the creature, but he was likely to frighten it further.

I’m sorry.

Graham jerked as the caribou rose on his hind legs and he thought it was going to freak out again, except that it started to melt—it was the only way he could describe what he was seeing. It was as if the animal were clay, its body shrinking, reforming, the thick fur smoothing out into skin, its muzzle receding… His jaw hung open as the animal melted into something that looked… very much human.

“Oh my God!” he gasped, stumbling for the door.

“Graham!” Doc Snowden reached for him. “Wait!”

His leg got caught on something as he evaded the man’s grasp and then all he knew was blackness.




Rudy lolled his head… at least he thought he’d had, but he was having a hard time telling which way was up or down. He couldn’t see anything clearly, colors flashing before his eyes in a blur… he remembered being so happy and carefree… then intense pain slammed into him, followed by a flash of a familiar face…
What’s happening?

His system flooded with fear, the instinct to flee riding him hard, but he seemed to be trapped in some sort of cage, loud and ear-hurting voices yelling at him… arms stretching to attempt to capture him… things made of wood and metal closing in on him from every direction.

Need to get away from these monsters.

No, wait. He was sure he recognized… Grandfather?

Rudy slipped in and out of consciousness, the commanding rule of his instinct rising and falling, leaving him on one hell of a roller coaster ride through confusion. He needed to get home… yeah.
… where he would be safe. But his body hurt and he couldn’t seem to get away. As heavy things were thrown at him and monsters tried to tackle him, he fought with all that he had. One of his legs wasn’t working right, the appendage refusing to accept his weight. For an instant, he got a clear picture of a door and dived for it. Something suddenly appeared in the way… something that seemed intent on keeping him in this cage. Confused and in pain, he just wanted to go home. He put all his strength into it, heading straight for the exit. If these monsters knew any better, they’d get out of the way—

BOOK: Graham Ran Over A Reindeer
2.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Striker by Michelle Betham
Pineapple Lies by Amy Vansant
What He Wants by Hannah Ford
So Many Ways to Begin by Jon McGregor
Notes From the Backseat by Jody Gehrman
Leap of Faith by Fiona McCallum
Jailbait by Jack Kilborn