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In an not so distant future the world had been devastated by an terrible pandemic. Gus is born a with a mutated gene, causing him to be born with antlers and the ears of a deer. His eyes are also very wide and round, "Don't give me that Doe-eyed **** neither." It also seems Gus is part of a new race of mutated humans who are immune to the disease which has killed most of the old genetic code. He also appears to have some prophetic ability, as his dreams continuously warn him of the dangers which approach him. He lived in the "deep woods" with his parents, this is mentioned as being somewhere near the border to Colorado. His mother died when he was very young and his father taught him how to survive in their tiny safe haven. His father, a deeply religious man also taught him about God and set down a set of five golden rules, two and three of this list were to pray from himself and say thanks and also to pray for his mother. Gus was told that anywhere besides their home was not safe and that he was never to leave. Rule number one, NEVER leave the woods.
With time Gus' father grew ill, it is established it is the same disease which has swept the lands. His father becomes weaker and eventually dies, though Gus leaves the body in bed to "melt" as the snow does. He then buries the remains next to the grave his mother. He lives on alone, day by day growing more and more lonely. One day whilst out in the woods Gus comes across a deer, after a moments consideration the deer is shot by a hunter. Gus attacks one of two with his sling shot and flees only to trip, fall and become captive. He is then saved by a stranger named Jepperd who reasons with Gus and eventually convinces Gus to leave his home in order to find a safe place known as the Preserve.
Along the road the two are attacked by cultists all of whom Jepperd quickly dispatches. They also meet Jake and his wife who run what seems to be a savage brothel in a desolate town. The two try and take Gus but quickly realize they are no match for Jepperd even when armed and return him. They are about to leave when they hear Jake beating Becky, one of the prostitutes. After a short conversation with Gus Jepperd returns and after seeing Jake holding a gun to one of the girls he kills him. Jakes wife fires at him but misses and his gripped by the throat, he is about to kill her but lets one of the whores, Lucy do it after she asks to do so. They leave whores to live a free life, though as Lucy says as Gus and Jepperd walk on "where else are we gonna go?"
Becky also tries to tell Gus that the preserve does not exist, though his faith in Jepperd is strong and he ignores her warnings. After battling through a huge gang of men at the Colorado border their horse is shot and Gus is injured from the fall. Jepperd carries him for days and once Gus is fit to walk they travel on. Soon they reach The Preserve. Jepperd callously hands Gus over to a stern aggressive man in red glasses who orders his men to "process" Gus and then to take him to "the kennels." Jepperd his tossed a large duffle bag as a reward though it's contents are never revealed. Gus pleads with a silent Jepperd, crying and explaining that he wants to go home. The last we see Gus, a great hand silencing his cries as he is dragged away to his fate.