Under the Rain Shadow

1 year, 1 month ago
7 months, 26 days ago
10 8638 5 1

Chapter 9
Published 7 months, 27 days ago

Explicit Violence

Perturbed by the lack of any rainfall for months in the Central Grasslands, one conspiracy theorist stormchaser bunny starts to seek the truth for himself.

Theme Lighter Light Dark Darker Reset
Text Serif Sans Serif Reset
Text Size Reset


The crashing and thrashing ended as quickly as it started. The gunfire meant to neutralize the beasts ceased with it. Gonzo pulled the vent free and dropped from the ceiling to all fours, daring not yet to look in the hallway for what was dead outside.

"I couldn't find the tape, man," Gonzo sighed. "I tried."

Calhoun was more assured, albeit preoccupied trying to pick the handcuffs with one of his claws. "That's alright. We're alone now. We can just get it on the way out."

"Do you think anyone survived?"

"Nah." Calhoun only shook his head. "They're all hunter boys. They'll go after the angriest, horniest, most territorial buffalo in the building."

Indeed, there were no survivors. Five servicemen lay dead in total, some having dragged themselves a few feet before succumbing to stab wounds and the blunt force of bison heads and hooves. The trails of blood only grew fresher as they approached the front of the building.

"Shit." Calhoun's eyes were wide, and he tread lightly from room to room.

The carnage by the front desk was the most excessive; filing cabinets overturned, chairs tossed, broken glass creating a sparkly shimmer across the floor, more blood than Gonzo figured could fit in one person, and the lieutenant, his gun feet away, slouched in a pool of maroon that spilled from a gaping horn wound deep through his chest.

Gonzo's hands and arms shook uncontrollably. He had to look away from the destruction before too long, coughing nauseously, his eyes welling up with tears. Though he wasn't much of an emotional sort, Calhoun figured he had to say something to console the young bunny, as little as it seemed to work.

"Hey, take it easy, man..."

"Why did you bring me here?"

"You wanted an answer."

"I wanted an answer. I didn't want people to die."

Calhoun leaned back against the wall of the hallway, pausing for thought. "Look, it—really wasn't my intention. I'll explain it at the ranch. Someone's gonna find out about this stuff, and you still need to grab that tape before they do."

Reluctantly, Gonzo stepped over the blood trails as best as he could and located the tape in the surveillance office at the very end of the hall. Calhoun also took the lieutenant's envelope from the interrogation room; true to his suspicions, it was filled with copies of his files from his time enlisted, and besides, he didn't have copies of those anyway.

If the drive from the ranch was heavy with anxiety, the drive back to the ranch was low with mourning. Aside from the 30 feet in front of the lights on Calhoun's old pony car, everything on the ground was an inky black. The clear skies of the desert streaked the only color in view, gently luminescent blue-greens and a small handful of brown sand sprinkled in. Neither Gonzo nor Calhoun talked.

The first hour at the ranch was similarly quiet. Gonzo sat bunched up on the stoop of the ranch house, nursing a pit in his stomach. After having gone inside to file away the envelope, Calhoun returned with a beer in hand; Gonzo requested the rest of the case, and burned through two and a half of them quickly.

"I should explain all that still," Calhoun, now sprawled out in a lawn chair, broke at long last.


"I wish I could say it was some noble strike back against the government, but the opportunity presented itself and—I wanted to cause some chaos."

Gonzo slumped, head in hand on knee. "Was it worth it?"

"I'll put it like this. You don't like a politician, you can vote them out. It balances out their lies. You can't vote the military out. Even if it wasn't weather control, they were still abusing wildlife for—something."

"What do you think for?"

Calhoun took a deep breath. "Well...a military is meant for one thing in the end, which is killing people more effectively."

Slightly tipsy, Gonzo giggled at the absurdity of the thought. "So they wanted to kill people with buffalo?"

"I dunno. Maybe." Even Calhoun had to smile at it. "It is silly. I didn't want to kill anyone, not then, not now. Just—thought it'd be poetic. All their toys smashed up by the animals they were toying with. Maybe it'd get them to stop."

"It is poetic, man." Try as he might, his conscience still wasn't letting it go. "...Would you still have done it if you knew people would die?"

Calhoun stretched his legs out, reclining. "Depends if I knew it would make them stop, I guess. When you enlist, you're technically government issue. Those guys are meant to die. But the animals aren't meant to be abused like that."

Gonzo felt as if he'd been beaten and jarred with a metal pipe several times that day. The alcohol eased his tired muscles, the nausea of what death he'd seen, and the frayed nerves over getting caught, even if they'd taken all the evidence with them, but he was still achy, queasy, and scared inside. He wanted to hate Calhoun—turn him in, regardless of the consequences for himself, and watch the bastard rot in a jail cell for the slaughter—but he couldn't. He made his point.

"It's about dignity," Calhoun added, sitting up. "You want a cow for a cheeseburger, you kill it quick and you make sure it doesn't feel pain. Those guys didn't give a fuck if the animals were in pain."

"It's true," Gonzo whispered to himself, finishing the rest of another bottle. He yawned and rocked slightly in his seat, feeling himself heavy with exhaustion. "I'm gonna get to bed, I think."

"Yeah, you gotta get out of here. I'd say drive to Weston and stay in the campgrounds, but you're pretty liquored up."

"I'm going back up north tomorrow anyway." Gonzo got to his feet, staggering towards the van he missed so very, very much, the one with his bed and blankets and everything he knew and was sure of in life in it.

"Hey, what are you gonna do with the tape?" Calhoun called from behind.

"I dunno. What do you want me to do with it, man?"

The coyote pondered it briefly with another swig of beer. "Run it over with your van. Or actually, wipe it. I have a degausser inside."