A moment later the cabin door opened and Tamer walked in, having just seen a patient off after treating them for an intestinal infection. She placed a crate full of fresh vegetables and fruit on the counter, payment received for the care she'd rendered. It was nice looking produce and would be welcome nourishment.
Tamer washed her hands and then dropped into an easy chair. "I'm beat" she said. "What's that? 6 patients today?"
"At least. Here's some hot tea", said Samantha, as she passed a cup over to Tamer. "What was wrong with Mrs. Robertson?
"I can't tell you. There's HIPAA medical privacy laws you know." Samantha sat silent, looking confused. Then Tamer laughed and they both busted up. "Just arthritis", she said. I gave her some Coastal Sagebrush to make a pain relieving tea whenever it acts up."
Sunlight filtered in through the windows. It was Summer and the days were glorious. Warm air wafted into the cabin. Outside in the yard, the animals started calling, knowing it was nearing their evening feeding. Tamer and Samantha laughed and kidded one another over whose turn it was to feed them.
They sat and sipped the tea and enjoyed the golden afternoon as the day began to wind down. They treasured their quiet time together, thankful for simple pleasures.
And their lives.
It had been just over a year since the Harpe Brothers Raid, as the locals had come to call it.
Samantha's wounds had healed nicely. Tamer had stitched the wounds closed and administered what few antibiotics she had on hand. It had been enough and Samantha had recovered completely. Having no one but each other, they had moved Samantha into the cabin, bringing along the Pruitt ranch's animals and other useful items from James Pruitt's property.
James Pruitt and Jesse Wolter were at rest, buried in a nearby meadow. It was a peaceful place, surrounded by stately oaks, and every Spring, a carpet of colorful wildflowers, which they picked and placed on their graves.
They'd learned Jesse's name from identification found in his pockets, along with a photo of him with a young woman. The back of the photo read "Marla, 2017".
They blessed them for having given their lives to save them from the Harpe's.
Their lives were bought for a high cost.
"Mm-ma-ma-ma-ma", came from a crib in the corner of the room. Tamer smiled and looked across the room. Two little hands gripped the crib rails and she could just see a wisp of soft brown hair. It wobbled back and forth. Learning to stand is the first step.
Samantha giggled. "Uh-oh, somebody woke up!"
Tamer crossed the room and reached into the crib. She picked up the little girl and carried her back to the easy chair and cuddled her. "Hello mommy's girl! How are you? Are you hungry?" The baby cooed and smiled at the sound of her mother's voice.
She opened her blouse and gave her little one nourishment. The baby's blue eyes made contact with Tamer's and a little hand reached up and touched at her mother's cheek. The bond of a mother and child...evidence of the strongest force in all of Gods creation.
Samantha went over to the kitchen counter. "Oh, hey, I forgot. I got her a gift while I was at the Summer Festival in Felton a few days ago." She passed a wooden disk with a bright pink silk ribbon over to Tamer.
Tamer turned the disk over in her hand and examined it. It was decorated with hand-painted Ladybugs and Daisy's. A name was painted in script.
"Oh how cute! Thank you Sam!" , exclaimed Tamer.
When finished nursing, she burped the baby and passed her to Auntie Sam. The baby loved and knew Sam as family, and they cuddled while Sam sang softly for her. Samantha tuned their AM/FM radio, and they listened to a golden oldies station in Santa Cruz and played on a quilted blanket until bedtime.
The solar power panels Bobby had installed produced enough electricity to power their small household. It was a wonderful luxury.
The state government had recently been reestablished and indications were that life was slowly recovering. Power generation had been recovered in some communities and law enforcement had been restoring the rule of law. There were rumors of a new currency starting to circulate.
The years passed and life gradually returned to near normal. Samantha eventually met a man named Jeff Bates and they married. Jeff was an Engineer and helping rebuild infrastructure. They moved into Santa Cruz and built a family of their own. Samantha had two boys, Chris and James. She and Tamer remained good friends and stayed in contact.
Tamer never married. She raised her baby by herself and taught her everything that she could to make her self-reliant. The little girl grew up strong and could care for farm animals, hunt, dress game, fish, and had a deep knowledge of medicinal and edible plants. And Tamer taught her to fight.
If need be.
Tamer continued to work as a healer around Scotts Valley until her death. In 2048, Tamer fell ill with pneumonia and passed away. She was 51.
The buck moved silently among the oaks. It stopped from time to time and dipped its head to nibble at some of the tender Fiddlehead shoots and other greens that were coming up.
A light rain fell. Droplets formed on the trees and fell upon the leaf litter, making pops and plops as they landed. True to its nature, the wary buck raised its head from time to time to scan the woods and watch for threats from predators.
The clouds were clearing, pushed aside by gentle breezes, and the sun had come out. The deer continued to graze, then stopped suddenly and raised it's head.
It sensed something...
A primitive composite arrow silently sped through shafts of light that filtered through the trees. The knapped glass blade at it's tip pierced the buck's chest, just behind the foreleg and entered the lungs.
Startled by the silent impact, the buck jumped, arching it's back, and then ran a few yards. The hardwood foreshaft that held the blade slipped from its ferrule and remained embedded in the deer. The main shaft with the fletching detached and fell away. Were the buck lost, at least the arrow could be recovered.
The woods remained silent and the buck settled down. Hemorrhaging internally, it grew weaker and weaker, stumbled, and then went down on all fours. It's head bobbed, then lowered to the ground where it became motionless.
A shadowy figure slowly detached from behind a wide oak twenty yards away. It held a primitive self bow. The twisted sinew bowstring had turkey feather silencers tied to it. The figure nocked another arrow, pinched and drew the bowstring and slowly advanced on the buck. It prodded the buck, but the deer remained motionless.
The hunter had washed with a tea made from Coastal Sagebrush, which masked their scent. The deer may have caught the slightest whiff of the human scent, but the scent blocker had done its work adequately. They had made meat.
Satisfied, the hunter relaxed the string and un-nocked the arrow. The bow was carefully set aside. The hunter reached behind their back and drew a Butcher knife carried Scout style in a hide sheath tucked into a belt. It had a pitted, deep brown patina on the blade, and the handle was black with use. The edge was keened to a razor edge. Overall, the knife looked like it had seen a lot of use over the years.
The archer was tall, slender, and dressed in buckskins. Long wavy brown hair flowed loose over the shoulders. The hunter gathered the hair and tied back with a strip of buckskin. Raptor feathers from a Red-Tailed Hawk were clipped to the hair above the ear and fluttered in the breeze. The hunter placed a hand on the deer and thanked it for the gift of sustenance it would provide.
The archer worked quickly and efficiently, rolling the deer onto its side, opening it, and scooping the organs out onto the ground.
As they bent over to lift the carcass, a wood medallion fell out of the neckline of the archer's buckskins. It was quite old, and hung from a frayed pink silk ribbon. The paint was chipped, but the name on it was still discernible