A dash of motion, then a bump. I braked to a stop, and looked in the wing mirror. A small brown body was unmoving in the verge. No, not unmoving. I reversed.
The fawn was fucked. Its chest beat shallow hi-hats, sucking hopeless oxygen down a broken neck. Two legs were snapped, a raspberry ripple of young bone and sinew breaching tatty fur.
Knife? I don’t have the stomach.
Smashing its head with….what? A car jack? I’m not.
Not driving over it again. I’ll miss. I’ll make it worse.
Can we choke it? Plastic bag?
We looked at each other, and at the deer. On the other side of some trees, broad and dark, the River Broom idled by.
Ferdia took the front legs and I took the back, and we carried the deer upside down to the water’s edge, and we pushed it under the water. It struggled, undirected spastic movements no defence at all, and we just held it. Broken bones jostled inside my fist. The mouth moved, but water swallowed any scream in the throat.
Come on, die.
The movements weakened, and became less coordinated and were no more than twitching, but still kept on, and on. Finally it stopped, and we held on for good measure, and then the most ferocious of struggles, surely the death throe, and then stillness.
We laid the dead deer on the riverbank, and felt sorry for its broken wet body. We found some iodine in the car, and sterilised our hands, and went into the pub in Ullapool wearing yellow stains.
Our ancestors lived among other animals, too clever and insecure to take chances...
At least we killed it.