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The James John Daniels Stories, Story One: A Citizenry of One

Mike is a long-time supporter of procrastination and enjoys doing as often as he can.


The Tree House

James John Daniels sat in the treehouse he and his father built six years ago with his father’s rifle watching for the coyote. His current excuse for staying away from the family. It had been three weeks since his father, E5 Sargent John James Daniels, died in a training accident and two weeks since the funeral. His father was a sniper with the Army in Afghanistan for two years before taking a stateside position as a trainer. A week before he could get home, he died in a helicopter crash. Jimmy had a hard time finding the sense in his father’s senseless death. When the wind was right, he could smell his father in the treehouse. He could see his handiwork in the mortise and tenon joinery, the metal roof made from hundreds of license plates. He could sense his presence and his words with every hour he committed to the job.


His Father's Gun

Jimmy had his father’s Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC blackout tactical rifle along with all the ammunition he could carry up the tree. The gun was off-limits to him, but his father was never coming back to tell him to put it away. From an early age, Jimmy was taught to respect guns. His father showed him and his sister Barbara or Barb how to not only shoot but how to maintain a firearm. When he turned ten, his father gave him a Ruger 22caliper rifle. Two years later, he was given a Henry lever-action 30-30 with the understanding that he would only have access to the gun when his father was home. The gun was in his mother’s room. He remembers seeing her there lying with her eyes open, and his father’s uniform stretched across his side of the bed. She was talking to it, but he couldn’t hear what she was saying. The week before what would be his last time deployed, John took Jimmy hunting for the first time. Two days of stalking deer netted them nothing but the memories that now kept Jimmy awake. He was fifteen, and his sister was turning ten soon, but without their father, she would never get the gun he promised, their mother didn’t approve.

A Form

Off in the tree line, a form walked out. Jimmy looked and saw what looked like a mangy dog, but this was no dog. Two weeks ago, something got into one of the chicken coops and made a meal of the chickens along with their chicks. A local game warden seeing the carnage, said it had to be a coyote. They did their best to protect the remaining chickens, but somehow the killer found its way into another coop belonging to a neighbor. They lived on a farm out in the middle of nowhere near Lodi, Ohio, in the small farming community of Hinesburg, Ohio. His mother, Anastasia or Anna worked as a store manager at the Ohio Station Outlets, and with his father deployed, they rented their farmable land to a neighbor who grew fields of corn.

Jimmy had his father’s eyes and could see there was something wrong with the coyote. Something was smeared all over its side. The coyote took a few more steps, then a large ten-point buck stepped out of the trees and skewered the coyote. It yelped as the deer picked it up and tossed it into the air. Another larger buck came out of the woods and waited for the coyote to drop. When it hit, the second deer drove a hoof into its head. Jimmy had heard that deer could be dangerous, but he never heard of such behavior. His relief in the coyote’s death faded as two than six more deer stepped out of the woods. To his eyes, some of the deer looked identical from the coats to the antler shapes. The largest of the bucks had something blinking on it like a tracker, a little red blinking light. The line of trees seemed to shift as the eight deer became twenty, then fifty until he lost count.

A Flock of Birds

His neighbor, Owen Spears, was out on his ATV riding the open area between the rows when he came upon the herd. Jimmy figured they would bolt, but instead, they went for Owen. Jimmy checked his rifle and went to the side of the treehouse to see better. Owen went for the gun mounted on the ATV, but the deer were quicker as they knocked him down, stomping him flat. Jimmy could see many of the deer had blood on them and not just Owen’s or the coyote’s blood. He aimed at the lead deer, and it looked back at him. He could swear it had hatred in its eyes. Like a flock of birds, the herd shifted and came his way moving as a group. The herd was heading to their house. Jimmy aimed and fired. With so many deer, it was almost impossible to miss. He emptied the first magazine, loaded the next and did the same thing. The herd shifted with the shots away from the house. They turned back to him, but the treehouse was just out of reach for the deer.


Sparks Fly

On his seventeenth or nineteenth shot, a spark flew from the head of the deer he hit. The deer herd stopped with the one sparking deer as it fell. From the back, another large deer with a blinking red light jumped past the fallen deer, and the herd was on the move again. Jimmy dropped the magazine and loaded his next. He had ten magazines, two-hundred rounds. It seemed like overkill before the deer came out of the woods. As he fired, the herd grew larger as more came out of the woods. Forty became sixty then eighty shots with no end in sight. He had killed at least seventy deer, but the count was well over six-thousand and growing. Jimmy kept firing, and the deer kept falling, with a few showing the strange sparks when hit. Twenty minutes after the first deer appeared, the last of the deer stepped out.


Jimmy stopped firing only to hear more gunfire from the house. He turned and saw his mother leaning out the window with his Marlin shooting into the herd. Down at the door, Jimmy could see the large buck from before trying to bust its way into the house. Jimmy took aim and fired, sending a shower of sparks across the side of the house. His mother shot the rest of the deer near the door. Jimmy turned back and fired his gun dry. He dropped the magazine and went for another only to find he fired his last round. His mother told him to stay there, and she would get to him as soon as she could. Jimmy saw something in his mother’s eyes that made him think of his father. Anna fell forward, dropping the rifle out the window. She looked at Jimmy as a red blotch appeared in her pajamas, then an antler. She fell out the window, followed by a large eight-point buck. The deer crashed into her body, breaking its neck when it hit the ground. Anna twitched then nothing.

Sounds of Gunfire

Off in the distance, he could see lights coming on and hear gunfire. News about the chicken-eating coyote had all of Jimmy’s neighbors ready for a fight. He couldn’t see what was happening from the treehouse, and there were deer still below. At one time, there was a crow’s nest planned for the treehouse. His mother put a stop to that, but the beginnings of the platform were still up there. Jimmy carefully slipped out the window and up the tree to where the nest should have been. Up there, he could see the town, the flames, and flashes of gunfire. Shotgun blasts gave way to the staccato sounds of the AK-47 and the sounds of the AR-15. Somewhere around the police station, he could see the rapid-fire from a rumored 50caliber machine gun the police confiscated. Just behind the gunfire, he could hear the screams and breaking glass. The deer swarmed into the town like a wave crashing against the rocks. The deer kept going with the tail end of the herd reaching town ten minutes after they started. The herd shifted again and went in the direction of Lodi.


Jimmy slipped off the supports and nearly out of the tree. He caught a branch and turned his body toward the treehouse. Jimmy hit the floor and rolled, trying to keep from falling out. In the fall he found one unfired round. Jimmy popped the cartridge in and was ready for one more kill as he heard another sound. Someone said his name. Jimmy looked down and saw his nine-year-old sister Barb standing at the base of the tree with four deer nearby. He tried to signal her to get up, but Barb was afraid of the treehouse. In a loud stern tone, she yelled, “NO.” Jimmy looked over, and the deer looked back.

He told her to run, but it was too late. A large deer took hold of her with its antlers pushing her to the side of the house. Another deer walked over to his sister, turning its head going back and forth between her and him, almost saying they would trade his life for her. The deer stepped forward, almost mocking him. Jimmy aimed at the deer holding Barb. The mocking deer almost seemed to smile. Aiming for the heart so he wouldn’t hit Barb, Jimmy squeezed the trigger and nothing. The round was a dud. Barb looked at Jimmy, shivering, and pleading for her life. The mocking deer turned and drove its antlers into her chest, pinning her against the wall breaking its antlers off in the process. Jimmy watched as Barb took her last breath.


The deer stopped in their place and watched Jimmy knowing he would eventually have to come down. The mocking buck twitched its nose and looked over to the south just as a shot went off, and its head cracked open like an egg. The remaining deer ran for the tree line only to be cut down by gunfire. Five men came around the house, scanning the yard. One of them was the sheriff. Greg Augustus was a friend of Jimmy’s father and would regularly check in on his family when Jimmy’s father was out on deployment. Greg saw Jimmy’s mother lying next to the dead buck nearly cut in half. Jimmy watched as two of the men broke the antlers away to free Barb. Jimmy shifted, and a spent shell rolled out of the treehouse. The men aimed for the tree. Greg called out Jimmy’s name, and he came out of the tree. One of the men climbed up and saw the spent shells and the deer count. Between him and his mother, they had shot and killed over two-hundred deer. The man came back down with Jimmy’s father’s rifle and handed it to him. The six of them walked back to a town barricaded with makeshift walls.

Inside the walled city, the sheriff gave Jimmy a box of the 300 Blackout his rifle fired and told him to find a place to rest, but rest was the last thing on his mind. He walked around, watching the others. There were maybe sixty of the seven-hundred or so people that lived in the town left. Behind the supermarket, Jimmy found a team of men butchering deer. Part of his hunting training involved field dressing as well as butchering. With little said, he joined in and helped them dress the deer. As he cut, he noticed something strange. Many of the deer had clean insides like their digestive tracks were never used. The unusable deer were piled and set on fire, all except the metal deer. Later that night, they piled the metal deer, and using Semtex and other explosives, they eradicated them.


Going Back

The town decided to have a party to celebrate their victory against the deer. To no one’s surprise, deer was on the menu. More than a few people praised Jimmy for his early morning gunfire. One gave him a bottle of whiskey saying he was old enough now. Jimmy wasn’t hungry and didn’t want the praise. All he could see was the faces of his mother and sister. The sheriff gave him ammo, but the magazines were back in the treehouse. He left the walled city and made his way to the tree, where he climbed up to find himself again where it all started. He took a sip of the whiskey and spat it out. Over the next hour, he loaded the magazines while staring at the place where his sister died. Off in the distance, he could hear the survivors celebrating.

Jimmy woke the next morning after a night of nightmares and memories of things past to find himself in the tree, smelling like rotten meat. He got out of the tree with what was now his rifle and loaded magazines. Jimmy went inside for a shower. The house had a generator, and with power, the shower was hot, just not hot enough to wash his guilt away. Jimmy got dressed in his hunting gear and loaded a backpack with what he figured he would need. He accessed his father’s gun safe taking the Glock G19 with all the preloaded magazines he could find, the absurdly large Smith and Wesson 500 bear gun, a snub-nosed revolver that would most likely break his wrist if he tried to fire it, and plenty of socks and underwear. He would let the sheriff know about the generator and offer him the bear gun.

A Citizenry of One

Jimmy made his way back to the wall only to find the gate open and no one on guard. He walked inside and found the place feeling deserted. It wasn’t until he came upon the cookout that what happened came out. There were bodies everywhere. People folded over in what looked like severe pain surrounded by bubbly pink vomit. At the head of the table, Jimmy found the body of the sheriff. Written in blood was the warning, “deer poisonous, don’t eat.” Jimmy checked the town only to see he was alone. A citizenry of one. With nothing here for him, he decided to take a dirt bike and head north to Cleveland and see if the big city survived.

  • My Private Global War, Part One
    A man trapped in a room below ground recounts his past, and the events that brought him to where he is and his part in either saving or destroying the world.
  • My Private Global War, Part Two
    Bill starts to talk about the events that led up to him being trapped underground at what might be the end of the world.
  • My Private Global War, Part Three
    The Military, Deer, Robot Deer and a Coyote. Bill finds himself getting deeper into the events that could end the world.

© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron