Celebrating East African Writing!
I plunged my teeth into the neck of the person; as they squirmed terrified within my mouth’s grasp, coppery liquid seeped into my mouth. I kept my grip until they withered and died, then I opened my jaw and let them lie on the ground. Their mouth was open as if gasping in pain while there wide open eyes were filled with the frozen expressions of shock and agony.
I suppose that any other fox would be shuddering with guilt now, but I didn’t have a conscience. ‘Bastards!’, ‘Scum!’, ‘Wretches!: out of all the words that were flying through my mind, these were but three of them. That species was not even worthy to live or breathe the air of the other creatures on this Earth. My first kill was a great source of pride and served as an escape to my grief; it was the only time I had felt happy ever since it happened.
I wasn’t always like this.
In front of the entrance of a foxes den were three young fox cubs playing. The eldest of them was a female named Snowdrop, she was confident and always on the look out for adventure; next was her brother who had been born soon after; he had been named Chestnut. Unlike his elder sister, he showed no particular interest in adventure, but he did want to become a strong fighter so he and Snowdrop would practice fighting together. The third cub was called Bluebell; she was smaller and weaker than the others, but any physical weakness that she had was combated by her strong spirit. She would judge the friendly duels that were held between her siblings while their parents, a strong, handsome male fox and his mate, a confident, content vixen watched their offspring proudly.
The vixen was me only one spherical moon ago.
Looking down at the ground I saw the body and reminisced the kill. It had made me feel so powerful. Almost euphoric with power. More. I wanted more. I had found my purpose in life. The sun was rising in the distance behind the small village which was surrounded by fields. To me the village was a blemish on the face of the countryside. It was then that I decided that every kill I did would be to avenge each member of my family. The last one was an adult – someone’s mate, its death will be for my mate, Oaktern.
I am ready for my next kill. The sun is higher up in the sky and it is morning. I am crouched in an alleyway looking out onto a place where humans leave the cold metal creatures that they travel inside. Groups of humans slightly younger than the one I killed this morning walk by. I watch them pass, all wearing the same maroon tops, all of them in the black trousers.
I crouch in the alleyway, the smell of food from the bins to the side of me wafts by, but I don’t care; vengeance is more important to me. A group of humans approach talking and laughing. One of them is a lot a closer to the alleyway than the others; I have already decided that this one shall be for my first born Snowdrop. When the human passes the alleyway, I dive out and fasten my jaws around its throat. Some of the others run away screaming while the ones who don’t stand there just watching a look of terror on their faces.
The human itself attempted to fight me off, but in vain. It too – just like the other one – withered in my jaws grasp. Its eyes were wide with the same expression of terror as the last one. I let go – more of the humans were coming closer. I glanced around wildly looking for a way to escape, but there was none. I clenched my jaws and charged at them. They jumped out of my way in terror. They thought I was going to kill them too, but I could only kill one in a single location, I wasn’t as powerful as them and I didn’t have the help of other creatures. I was truly alone.
I run to an alleyway in the town and crouched there. I recalled when I lost them. They had gone hunting – I had decided to stay behind as I was tired. I waited in the den for their return; I don’t know how many moments of time had passed, but when the sun was setting in the horizon, it became clear that something had happened.
My heart raced as I went out to look for them. I ran over the fields of the countryside, my heart pounding and the feeling of stones inside my stomach at the thought of life without them.
Chestnut was the one I found first by following the trail of blood. I barely recognized him as he lay there, he wasn’t as harmed by fox hunting as most foxes would have been, but I still gasped at the sight of his body. His leg had been ripped off revealing a bone as white as cold, icy snow. His body was framed by grass that had been stained by his blood.
It has been said that no parent should ever have to see their child die. For me, it was the most painful experience of my life, one that would happen three times over.
Lying not far from him were the grim remains of my first born cub Snowdrop and my mate, Oaktern; Snowdrop’s eyes were frozen open and filled with terror, pain, shock and a defenceless innocence.
As I gazed in deep despair over their bodies I wondered how someone could have done this. Did they think? Did they even hesitate to wonder what pain they would cause? I had been told that to them, we were just stupid, dumb creatures with no soul or personality. We were just alive, but with no soul or concept of pain to them.
I had to finish my work. My purpose now was to avenge the death of my family. I had no other purpose in life now. Was my purpose right? I didn’t stop to wonder, as long as I had a purpose I only cared about fulfilling it, I didn’t know whether it was right or wrong, all I knew was that if I didn’t have it I would have no reason to live. I would die in the dust forgotten, alone and unfulfilled.
I journeyed into the center of the quiet village where another building where the younger humans went. This one was different, a lot smaller and the humans wore different colours, blue and black. The creatures played in a field with the building behind them. I crouched in a bush willing one of them to come close enough for me to avenge the death of my second born.
I sighted one close to the bush in which I was concealed. Then, suddenly, I sprung out and grabbed it by its throat. It let out a squeal of terror, but did not have time to run for I was too quick. I shook it hard, trying to end the life of another member of that destructive species. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bigger human running towards me, but I didn’t let go. I had to shake all the life out of this creature; I couldn’t leave one so young to die in pain. It was better if I killed it as quick as possible unlike these creatures did to my people.
Once it was released my grip on the wrenched creature condemned to sufferer for the crime of its species and let the body fall to the ground. I turned and ran; I had not yet completed my purpose in life. I still had to avenge the death of my youngest. In running away from that place I was nearly hit by one of the metal creatures that carry the humans to different places. I darted away; I was terrified by how close I had been to death that time.
I managed to find another alleyway in which to rest. I wanted to remember my last born before avenging her death. I suppose for me, the death of Bluebell was the bitterest loss I had ever suffered. When I found the bodies of Oaktern, Snowdrop and Chestnut, I looked for the body of Bluebell, she was the runt of the litter and I was sure that she wouldn’t survive the fox hunt. I scanned the surrounding area trying to find her body.
It was then that I heard it; a whimpering in the distance. My heart skipped a beat with hope for I recognized it as the cry of a fox, a young cub, possibly my Bluebell. I listened carefully, trying to trace the sound whilst sniffing the ground in an attempt to pick up her scent. I finally found her. She was lying in a muddy ditch; her fur was mattered and covered with dirt. A gash of a wound was on her side and her eyes were almost closed, but she was breathing: she was alive.
Relief exploded in my heart expanding out into my soul. I pulled Bluebell out of the ditch gently so as not to hurt her. I should have been sad, but I was overjoyed that she had survived. I did not think of the future, all I could think of was that she had survived. As I licked the mud off her fur and tended to her wounds I felt sure that her survival had been a miracle.
“Bluebell,” I whispered in her ear. “You’re going to be alright, the angels watch over you” I told her.
She mumbled something that I couldn’t quite understand. I just assumed that she was disorientated as she was barely conscious. I nuzzled her lovingly.
“You will be alright, just rest now.” I told her.
It was getting late; most of the humans would be in the boxes that they live in so we could stay by the ditch safely plus we didn’t really have a choice, Bluebell was far too weak to make it back to the earth. I fell asleep that night with the feeling that Oaktern was watching over me and Bluebell. I huddled up to her to keep her warm. I could feel her soft warm body breathing next to mine. Every breath she took reminded me that she was alive and even though Oaktern, Snowdrop and Chestnut were dead, I still had family. She gave me the strength to prevent my grief for that night.
However, my joy was cut short when I woke up the next morning. Her body was cold and still. I nudged her, but she didn’t move, not even her eyelids fluttered. They would never open again. This time I was so consumed with grief that I could feel it choking me. I ran back the the cold empty earth that I had lived in with my family. I stayed there for some time, but I don’t know how long. I only emerged when I was so weak that I was starving. I did think about stopping eating and drinking all together. I would die, but I felt that inside I was already dead. I just sayed in my earth thinking about the cold hearted monsters who could do this. Who could kill an innocent unarmed creature? Did they think about the pain they would cause? These questions and more pumped through my mind repeating themselves over and over. I managed to sleep, but they seeped into my dreams, stealing my mind, my rationality and my conscience.
The humans always killed members of my species for taking some of their food. We eat to survive, they kill for their own pleasure. Why should we suffer? Surely the great creator put them in charge to us to protect us not kill us for trying to survive? They should be the ones to suffer! These thoughts repeated themselves in my mind. It was exactly at that moment that I decided that I would avendge the deaths of my family. I would be doing the world a favour – helping my species.
I could see a row of human buildings. I was puzzled by these ones; one was full of meat, all the bodies of dead creatures hung from the window. Did these creatures really find that a nice decoration? I wondered to myself. Next to it was even more puzzling; it was full of vegetables. It was then that I saw my next victim. A human was pushing a strange contraption. It was the colour of the sky at night and in it was a small laugh. A human cub. Its parent laughed and talked to another human outside one of the buildings. Now was my chance!
I leaped out of my hiding place and tipped the strange object which held the cub over. I grabbed it in my jaws and began shaking it hard. It emitted a deafening shrek followed by other screams from the other two humans. One of them dealt a hard blow on my head, but I refused to let go until it was dead. The body dropped to the ground. Before I ran, I somehow managed to see its eyes; terrified, filled with pain, shock and a defensless innocence.
The eyes of this creature were like a mirror in which I could see the body of Snowdrop lying on the ground, her eyes open without seeing, frozen with the emotions that she had worn at the time of her death. My conscience which had lain dormant suddenly awakened. I saw myself in a way I never thought I would before; a monster.
The human cub was now dead. Another blow from its parent and I ran. I looked back to see the mother frantically trying to wake the child in her heart knowing that it would never wake again. All those times that I had killed before; had I thought about the pain I’d cause? Did all those people who I killed do anything wrong? Those creatures who I killed were unarmed. All the reasons why I despised them still fizzed in my mind, but I realized that they applied to me. My heart was as cold and unfeeling as their heart. I no longer felt a bloodlust; it had been replaced by guilt.
I slinked back off to my earth and lay down there. It didn’t feel right. How could I, the killer of innocent people dwell in the same earth that my family had lived in before they died? I dragged myself up, all the guilt was weighing me down. I didn’t care if I died. I wandered through fields and fields, I was very near the town now, just seeing the place where I had murdered made me feel so ill with guilt that I turned and walked in another direction. I lay down in the middle of a field. I felt oblivious to my surroundings. I had no purpose in life, I did once, then it was stolen from me, then I thought it did, but it was an illusion. Now I trulely had no reason to live. I lay down. I had no plans for the future.
Suddenly, the sound of a horn blasted the sound of the English countryside. On instinct I jumped to my paws and ran, then I stopped.
‘What is the point?’ I asked myself.
I heard the sound human’s voices, horses hooves and the barking of hounds drawing nearer and nearer. Most foxes would run, but not I. The hounds fell upon me, I stayed still as I could. All my soul was gone and my body was just the shell. I could feel pain, but somehow I could withstand it. I was being destroyed by the creatures whom I had previously destroyed and who had murdered my family.
I felt a strange feeling of peace when my world faded to black. I was at rest and would remain so until the end of time where I would be judged by my heart. Would my heart be pure then? Would I still be the same fox? Would I see my family? I dwelt in peace freed from the ice-cold hard heart that had been my downfall. Free from the heart that I had shared with my killers. That heart that we had once shared had been my downfall, would it ever be theirs and if it was, would there not be a time where their hearts would change just as mine had and if that time came; would there be a chance that we could meet again and be reunited as good souls?
© Ali Painter 2010
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