The Stoutkan

sketch 15

This is a sort of deer creature colloquially referred to as a ‘snowdrop fattie’ from my current sci-fi series. Catero’s first hunting trip as a young man was to catch this sort of deer, and Vince explains that the proper name of the creature is a stoutkan.

I’m processing terror right now, and it’s very unpleasant. Physically, I’m having difficulty breathing. But I am getting the fear out, slowly. There’s a lot of it because I grew up being regularly threatened with murder. Silly people who talk about killing children.

Here’s some more Diana.


Define the Relationship

“How can you like me, Stuart? You can’t like me. You’re . . . no,” Diana said, feeling rage move like lava through her bones. She was getting angry enough to slip from the concentration she’d been holding towards the aliens this whole time, and a part of her brain reflected that she was very likely to be captured or dead soon.

“I know. I’m sorry,” Stuart said, meeting her eyes without any excitement.

Diana stared at him. She wanted to say several things to him that she didn’t feel were wise to say while the aliens were listening, so she looked down at the roof for a while and thought about what she could do that wouldn’t make her feel like exploding.

She wanted to drag up and mention a whole lot of physically inexcusable things Stuart had done to her in the past, and she was pretty sure the aliens didn’t know about any of those interactions. She’d told the two aliens who had visited last time that Stuart was violent, but she didn’t think they would realize how savage he’d been, or how complete his hatred of her had always seemed.

“What changed for you?” Diana asked, keeping her tone level with an effort. She could feel old bruises along her arms, phantom pains where Stuart had crushed her years ago and laughed. She was in the habit of not remembering any of the other injuries, and she blocked them out now, though her body seemed to ache as several ugly memories rose up.

“I got to know you better. Please come to bed, Diana,” Stuart said.

She hated the tone in his voice. It was a kind of friendly, pragmatic, protective voice, the kind she knew she was supposed to melt towards.

Diana’s face was completely still, though she wanted to curl into a snarl and start flinging vitriol at Stuart.

“I won’t sleep with you, Stuart,” Diana said, her voice clipping with a tight snap over the end of his name.

“I am going to take care of you, Di, and if you don’t come with me I will pick you up and take you to bed by force. Do you want me to do that? Because I will,” Stuart said.

Diana got really, really mad. She stood up, meaning to throw herself off the roof in order to get away from Stuart, but his hands closed around her wrist and her waist and she was, once again, too slow to kick him between the legs before he had her trapped. She’d always been too slow. Diana suspected that the long nature of Stuart’s abuse had made her body resist her attempts to fight back, since that usually made the pain worse.

“I hate you,” Diana said in a calm voice.

“I know, baby. Keep on hating me. It’s good for you,” Stuart said, slinging her over his back and trudging carefully down the roof towards the window.

Oh, it’s good for me? Diana wanted to howl, but she held still, aside from closing her hands around the waist of his pants and imagining yanking them up. She’d tried that sort of thing before and it had never gone well for her. Diana’s body, now that Stuart was in actual attack mode, was no longer cooperating with her. She felt stuck in a sludge-like morass of numb patience, and she wondered how long the aliens would watch before coming down to stop Stuart. He’d never once touched her in any way that could be construed as flirtatious, and he wasn’t touching her that way right now.

“Why did you kiss me?” Diana asked as Stuart maneuvered his way into the open window. He put her down on the bed and pointed a finger at her.

“Stay,” Stuart said, meeting her eyes. Diana fought the snarl that threatened to rise through her face. Stuart turned and ducked back out of the window.

Diana stood up and left the room, going to the end of the upstairs hall and into the master bedroom, where she shut and locked the door. She was pulling a heavy wooden dresser over to block off the door when she heard Stuart rattling the handle.

“Diana! Open the door!” Stuart called.

Why does he always know where to find me? Diana asked herself, repressing the desire to roll her eyes as she tugged on the dresser.

“Diana Vassel, if you do not open this door, I’ll break it down, and then we’ll be stuck in a house with a broken door. Seriously,” Stuart said.

“I want to be by myself,” Diana called with a convincingly cheerful sound.

There was a slight pause.

“Di, I’m for real. I’ll smash it open,” Stuart called, his voice perfectly calm. Diana held in a feral growl. There was a light knock on the door. Diana hated the idea of a broken door. She went and unlocked it, stepping back before Stuart came in.

He looked angry, and Diana nearly ran for the window. Stuart looked around the dark room and saw the dresser she’d pulled partway across the room. He sighed and easily pushed the dresser back into place before approaching Diana, who went quickly out the door.

“Di, stop,” Stuart said. He’d looked angry, but his voice was calm. She slowed. “Di,” Stuart said. This time he sounded exasperated, but not at all irritated. Diana paused and looked over her shoulder. Stuart came and scooped up her hand before she could pull away. “I just went out to get our blankets, Di. You didn’t need to run. We’re together now, and I’m not letting you sleep by yourself. You know you don’t sleep well,” Stuart said, making little rubs over her fingers that made Diana want to throw up.

“Let go, Stu,” Diana said, the playful, happy lilt back in her voice, hiding the fury fomenting in her heart.

“No,” Stuart said, sounding just as cheerful and kind. Diana couldn’t help staring at him, and he bent in and kissed her lightly on the mouth. “Come on, darling,” Stuart said, ignoring the shiver of disgust and rage trembling through Diana’s hand and pulling her back to the bedroom they’d started in at first.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the horticulturist is endeavoring to improve his character.