Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Deer Hunter

[Media prompt] Never before seen: Deer spotted eating human bones.
The Deer Hunter

When the man woke, he watched the Milky Way fade from the sky, the white splash disappearing as the sun glowed beneath the horizon. He could see all the way to the trees, which lay beyond the creek and three hundred yards of grass, which swayed in the light breeze like a gentle swell on the ocean. He had been to sea once. Long ago when he was a boy. But he knew better than to dwell on thoughts like that.

He rolled over and cradled the rifle in his arms, sighting through the scope. He scanned the edge of the forest. It was too dark to see into the trees, but he could see well enough if any of them had started grazing. He moved the barrel until it pointed at the watering hole, a small muddy indentation on the creek bank. There was no movement there either. Time would tell if that were a good thing or not.

By the time the sun laid a rectangle of light across the cave floor, the man had rekindled the fire. He cut a strip from a thick chunk of wild boar hanging from the wall. He had cured it a month ago, but cooked it again, boiling water in a can while he did so. Fat dripped and fizzed in the fire. He set the can aside to cool as he ate. When he finished, he lay down on his stomach again and looked through his scope into the trees. There was enough light now, and he could see them moving. One of them, the one he called White Spot, rose its head and sniffed. This one was always skittish, sensing endless danger in the wind.

The man felt the side of the can with the back of his hand, and took a long drink from it. When he looked again, he could see White Spot staring at him, gripping a rib bone between his teeth.

“You son of a bitch,” the man said, swivelling the barrel towards old man Sullivan’s camp.

Sullivan also had a cave, though not deep or well protected. The man watched the entrance for a long time, until it dawned on him that Sullivan was not inside. It could mean only one thing. Instinctively, in anger, the man loosed off a round, hitting White Spot in the right forward flank, pitching him forward.

There was a minute or two while the rest sniffed at the body, looking all the time in the man's direction. Eventually they started appearing from the shadows onto the grassland. Dozens of them.

“Come on, then,” he yelled. "Come on."

The deer started to trot towards him, then as he fired on them they accelerated until their hooves rumbled on the ground like far off thunder. As they splashed over the rocky creek bed, he could see the flecks of spit on their lips, and heard their war cry rise to a high pitched scream. The man snarled as he shot, making each bullet count. He could do with Sullivan’s trigger finger right now, he thought, cursing his neighbour for being caught off guard.

He hated the fools who had appeased the deer, the animal lovers who could not bring themselves, until the end when it was too late, to fight back.

He fired again and again.

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