Kill the Beast?

Seldom do I tell this; I have mixed feelings concerning this story, and many more reasons why I should not be telling you. 

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Kill the Beast?

I was hunting with a friend that fall; it was deer season, and I wanted to get that buck. The buck. My friend and I both agreed: it was the biggest thing we’d ever seen. The animal was a giant.

We were camped out in the bush for about three days (the plan was to stay for a week) when my friend saw it. It was getting dark but the stag was out grazing in a field just a little way from the herd. I cocked my rifle and pulled the trigger. There was no hesitation. Just a shot which ripped through the silence.

The herd scattered, but not before we saw the stag stumble. I had got it. Still, the animal bounded off with the rest, disappearing into the forest.

My friend and I both got up and began to head in the same direction. We’d like to say we weren’t in a hurry, but that animal was strong; we intended to tire it out. And whoever reached the body first got to keep the rack.

We half-walked, half-ran across the field; when we reached the forest we found the stag. It was hobbling down an old hiking trail. The animal turned around to face us, but that only caused it to fall down on its front legs. Wide-eyed, we watched as its body began to change–that’s the only way I can describe it–its entire body was melting and reforming itself. Like liquid.

Afraid, we stood rooted to the spot. The thing took short, beleaguered breaths throughout. Now it was like a man, a titan. I’m sure it would have killed us. Its jaws were like that of a wolf, big enough to crush a man’s skull . . .

“Oh shit!” I heard my friend mutter under his breath.

The beast growled at us. But it was dying, weakened by the loss of blood. A tar-coloured river poured freely down its left side. If it were any other way, we would have been dead.

Two owlish eyes turned to me–I could see its ire, a hot smouldering fire . . . It knew.

The next thing I remembered was my friend shaking me. Somehow we had made it back to the city; I don’t recall the journey back, and to this day my friend refuses to speak of it. While my friend refuses to do hunting of any kind, I still go out from time to time. Alone, and never in the same spot twice.

Vaguely I wonder if the beast is still alive.

Should I have killed it?

Should I have put it out of its misery?

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