Darby O’Ryan was born in Belfast in the late 1990s. Her mother was Catholic and her father was Protestant, something that twenty years earlier was unheard of and still rare in that part of the world. Her family's attempts to immigrate to Canada finally succeeded in 2008, and they found themselves in the Fraser Valley. In Northern Ireland, Darby always had an interest in wildlife, farm animals, and critters of every kind. Some believed the patron saint of animals; St. Francis of Assisi blessed and gave Darby a special connection to all creatures.
Darby worked hard but often found herself alone in the school system, spending time with animals at local farms and volunteering in the wetlands and reptile habitat. After her graduation, she worked at a shelter full time until the Covid-19 struck. As the world struggled, the shelter and her life slowly shut down.
Harold Matthews stood in his clubhouse at his RV and Cabin Resort. He looked at the four others in the room with some despondency. "We will be facing food shortages in the future if nothing changes," he grimly remarked.
At the other end of the table, Patrick, who six months ago worried about his daily responsibilities as a School Principal, sat. He had been thinking about the subject for several days. " The cattle across the highway. We use our cattle experts and get as many as we can put them in the fields connected with our holdings."
In a spin, Terri Sadhu said, "We've shot that Psycho Bull twice already, and both times it kept charging. Two dead, and thirteen injured."
Harold Matthews looked at Patrick, "Terri does have a point. I went on one of those raids, I suspect that bull has the Infection or is already Half Dead. Lots have tried to get that cattle. "
He walked over toward Patrick, "Unless you have something up your sleeve, you would like to share it with us."
A vicious dog attacked the field during a rugby match several years ago. But one girl came out of the school and talked to the dog, leading it off. I heard she was here with you."
Darby hated the "Infection" not so much for what it did to humans, but how it interfered with her work with animals. She now sorts food items, not for animals but for people, and rarely leaves the RV Park anymore. Her father died of Covid-19 and her mother was either wandering around the town of Agassiz as one of the Dead or one of the Half Dead.
She was surprised when her area supervisor, Albert came to get her, she had not wandered away for a while, she had no new snake pets in her trailer, and she had not fed the raccoons this week. As she moved toward the clubhouse, she thought they must have found out about feeding the Bobcat again.
Immediately after entering the room, she recognized the former principal and began to call him, "Mr".
Patrick cut her off, " Darby, we are all adults here and, in this reality, we are all quite equal,"
She smiled remembering how he could often make things seem better no matter how serious they might be. "Patrick, then it is," she tried to grin slightly. "I promise I will not feed the Bobcats anymore. Can I go now?"
Suddenly, all five looked at her startled as she turned to leave, Harold Matthews said loudly, "Darby!" She looked around, trying to figure out what else she had done lately, "Please come in."
Fifteen minutes later, she knew what they wanted and had to decide if she would trick a bull to its’ death to feed humans. As they all looked at her, she stood up, "I will agree if no one shoots, blows up, or electrocutes the bull. I will go in alone and bring it out and away from the cattle and give you fifteen minutes to get what you can. "
In the end, a plan was agreed upon. Only Darby seemed happy about it. Others thought she would be dead before the next day was over. Patrick was assigned to gather the resources and required vehicles for the operation. Others were assigned duties, from preparing the field to checking fences for the cattle, security at the ranch during the operation to monitoring of road conditions.
As Marie and her team moved to observe the ranch the following morning, she was surprised to see Knight Riders approaching the cattle barns through her scope. Besides the usual array of motorcycles and pickup trucks, they had two dump trucks, a courier flat deck with a hitch crane on it. As she radioed this to the others, her group moved closer to watch these bikers.
They removed three or four of the dead farmers, as they drove to the main gate and attached chains to it. Tess and Marie watched with astonishment; just days earlier they had been around that gate. The four bikes all hooked the other end of their chains to their bikes as a Knight Rider stood on the road and signalled them to go. The motorcycle engines roared, dirt flew into the day, dust filled the sky and, a moment later, three of the motorcycles flipped upward, tossing the riders off. The fourth motorcycle spun out as the chair broke and the driver slipped off his bike.
The Knight Riders climbed another fence and approached a single cow in the field. They put a rope around its’ neck and led it toward the fence. The crane on the truck moved over the fence as a dump truck backed up toward the truck. Marie and Tess looked but could not see this fierce bull anywhere and were surprised.
As the Knight Riders prepared to hook up the cow to the crane, the bull appeared in the distance. Two Knight Riders fired weapons, but this did not slow the bull. A moment later, the bull ran off with the cow as the Knight Riders were fleeing to their side of the fence.
Darby watched some of the attempts by the Knight Riders over the next hour to get the cattle from this fierce bull. What she also noted was how the cattle seemed to be in tune with their leader and assisted him constantly. She needed to win the heart of the bull quickly, and she just knew the cattle would follow their bull. She believed that they would have to take all the cattle at once. The others would not survive without their protector. Darby, thought about this as she prepared to leave and decided to keep it to herself. She wanted to free the entire two hundred or more cattle, rather than just a few dozen.
The Knight Riders, after a few hours, departed. Four motorcycles were damaged, and seven were injured. After using their crane to lift the broken bikes into one of the dump trucks, they drove off.
Darby sat in her truck as it moved across the overpass listening to "Oscar November Echo, Chilliwack" One playing the song she requested, "All I Need is a Miracle" by "Mike and the Mechanics." As the trucks arrived, Darby could see the large bull moving around the field, aware of their arrival. She got out of the truck with a water bottle on her hip and several rags hanging out of one of her pockets.
She climbed over the fence and walked into the field. The open plain felt good and a slight breeze made the heat of the sun bearable. The bull turned towards her and came towards her with a surprising burst of speed.
Some aimed their weapons as they saw the bull-rushing forward, others looked away, not wanting to see this young lady meet her end. Patrick, however, looked forward to remembering that little girl who brought the angry dog off the sports field.
Darby sat down in the field as the bull charged forward and sang, "All I need is a Miracle." The bull came to a stop not more than a meter from the young woman. It stared curiously at this human that invaded its field just to sit down and make a nice noise. Darby looked up, "Hello, I am Darby." She said quietly. "It is a beautiful day," She slowly took out her water bottle as she looked at the bull, "I have some fresh water,"
Darby slowly put some water in her palm and held it out toward the massive beast. She moved very slowly, singing as she did. The bull sniffed her hand, moving its feet around, but made no aggressive moves. For the next fifteen minutes or more, Darby barely moved as she spoke with the bull as it slowly appeared more at ease. She slowly got up before the fierce beast, as the bull stepped back several times, unsure of her intention. Once she stood before the bull, she spent several minutes talking to the bull and observing the wounds it had suffered over time. She also observed a fine metal plate around its neck and over the front quarters.
She moved her rag to the beast and wiped the bull's face. She eventually got close enough to remove the straps that held these metal plates. The metal plates collapsed and fell off the sides. The bull seemed happy with the bull version of a tactical vest, removed. She slowly began to pour some water on the areas that had been covered by the vest.
The next hour, Darby twice motioned to the others to stay back as she moved with the bull slowly toward the cattle it protected. "You are so brave, you are the protector of your herd," she said as she walked next to the bull." Once she was near the herd, she walked through the barn with the bull closely nearby till she found a key lockbox. She turned to her new friend and nearly touched their faces. She whispered, "It is time for new pastures,"
She slowly placed a rope lightly around the bull's neck and moved toward the large iron gates with the bull. "The rope is to make humans feel better," she whispered in the bull’s ear. Once at the gate, she slowly unlocked the gates as the shocked humans on the other side pulled them open.
She loudly said, "All my friends are coming. Help keep them together but do not touch!"
The next few hours, the strangest event of the "Infection" occurred as the bull, just like Moses, led its herd to the promised land. Darby stood at the bull’s side having a friendly chat with her new friend, occasionally looking back and speaking to the following cattle.
"We have a problem," the captain said to Martha as she was placing a cake in the oven. She turned and learned that their fresh meat supply was gone.
Martha stood up and said, "It is time to introduce ourselves.."
That night, Darby slept with her new friends, next to her bull. The human community was busy building extended cattle shelters, diverting water for the herd and wondering about the future.
Patrick and others stood in the clubhouse looking at the bull's armour. Marie spoke first, "Someone is going to be pissed.
About the Creator
A Fifty something male that enjoys writing short stories, scripts and poetry. I have had many different types of work over my lifetime and consider myself fairly open minded and able to speak on many topics.