Where the Deer Go to Die

📅 Published on February 28, 2021

“Where the Deer Go to Die”

Written by Nick Carlson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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ESTIMATED READING TIME — 20 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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Fact: according to the Insurance Information Institute, there is a one in one hundred and sixteen chance that you, taking your car out for a drive, will crash into a deer.  Those odds increase drastically during the fall and winter months, during the white-tailed deer’s mating season, known colloquially as “the rut.”  One and a half million deer-related insurance claims per year.  One hundred and forty-seven deaths per year on average.

You’re probably wondering when and why I became such an expert on this topic.  Well, what else could I do in spite of it happening to me?  When something catastrophic and novel like that occurs, one of your next moves is to research the Hell out of it.  Inform yourself of your plight.  Try and fool yourself into some kind of understanding or acceptance, to deaden that nagging, incredulous agony in your head, the one that constantly forces you to ask yourself two damning words: “Why me?”

I may have been dozing off.  My headlights might have been dim.  Perhaps I was distracted by some weird piece of debris on my windshield.  Regardless, all I can recall was something large and vaguely animal rushing into my field of view.  There was a muffled crash, a skull-rattling shatter, everything went blurry and red…followed by the sounds of a dying engine and a dislodged front panel dragging against the road.

I limped my spent car to the shoulder and staggered out the door.  I blinked against the darkness, the night air thick with blood and gasoline.  My vision adjusted to the bountiful shafts of moonlight, and I saw it sprawled in the middle of the road, a mangled pile of hide and protruding bone.

Tranced, I almost didn’t see the other car, a pair of angry glowing eyes that swerved and honked past us, lashing me with a whip of cold air.  It was only then I comprehended that the front of my car had crumpled in on itself like a soda can, and that I was in dire need of a tow truck and a cup of coffee.

In retrospect, an incident like that gets under your skin in a more detached, impersonal manner, I feel.  I’ve been in three accidents in my life.  A hydroplane that totaled my old car.  Some idiot who sideswept me because I was in their blind spot.  Those two at least had circumstances behind them…human error, lack of foresight, easy solutions to avoidable problems.  Despite the grief they incurred, I at least know why they happened.  There were reasons why.

Now this.  The stag didn’t know any better.  It couldn’t know any better.  Its brain was hopped up on sex hormones, preoccupied with screwing every doe from Duluth to Delonega.  And in precisely the right place at precisely the right time, its lustful quest drove it into the road, where I drove into it.

Without a car to commute with, my time working from home gave me time to fulminate over my misfortune.  I dwelled on the matter for hours, days even, yet I could only arrive at the conclusion that it had just happened.  That it’s what nature intended.  No circumstances.  No reason.  It just…was.

I guess that’s helping me cope with the other thing that happened to me.  Ironically, it also involved deer.  With the crash, I hated that animal and every breath it took down to its last; the frantic phone calls, incomprehensible insurance agents, and rampant deductibles were a testament to that.

With this?  Well, again, I find myself wishing they’d have died.

For their own sake.

* * * * * *

Working from home also presented ample opportunities to explore other activities.  One of them was walking.  At the office the greatest amount of walking I did was across the street to grab a sandwich for lunch.  With additional downtime, I took to exploring my neighborhood for the first time in a long while.

Living on the outskirts of a national park, deer were never a foreign sight to me.  At least once a month in the dark early morning hours, I’d see one or two trotting across the road, in search of fresh gardens to devour, mostly does; from what I’ve heard, the bucks tend to be secretive and stick to the depths of the forest.  With the rut, that number increased to roughly two per week, including evenings, when I usually went out on my walks.  That’s when the bucks became more frequent.

When the sun sets and darkness swallows the Earth, even the most familiar of places can turn into an alien landscape.  Normally my days end at six in the evening, and I spend the rest of my nights grounded in the house.  But with the lessened daylight hours and the chilly air, I felt an invigoration during my nighttime walks I hadn’t felt in years.  The coldness was like little nipping jaws on the bridge of my nose, bracing daggers in my throat and lungs.  The streetlights alternated orange and white, and my shadow crept and warped down the street as I passed underneath them.  The skies were schizophrenic in their variety: I saw marbled gray clouds, wispy tentacles of vapor, a veritable blanket of black…and sometimes, unbelievable clarity, so many stars I may have been looking at particles of sand on a cosmic beach.

Those times I saw deer were always in the streetlights: majestic silhouettes that just sort of…appeared from the gloom, only to vanish again on the other side of the beam.  Sometimes they saw me, swiveling their shadowy heads over to me, their antlers like jagged pagan crowns.  We would stare for a moment, and then, with a flick of its tail, it would gallop away, its hooves making no sound on the asphalt.

In those cold, lonesome moments, inexplicable thoughts crossed my mind.  I wondered where exactly they’d gone off to.

What if I were to forget about my walk, my work, my life for a night, and just follow one of those wandering bucks into the void?

The question lingered in me like grubs in dead wood throughout the end of the autumn months.  Then, one cold December night, a Friday, I took my chance.

I don’t know if I heard him or not, but something compelled me to turn around, just in time to see him emerge under the light.  He was an impressive specimen, a twelve-pointer if I remember correctly.  His winter coat had grown out in full, adding a layer of tawny shag to his figure.

I stared at him, an invisible pull tugging in his direction.  I looked around.  All the lights in the surrounding houses were off.  The moon was so intense it could have been early morning.  And the buck was moving away.  I made my choice.  Readying myself, I followed him.

I kept my distance, knowing that one wrong move would alert him to my presence and he’d lose me in the undergrowth.  The buck ambled up a hill between two houses.  I picked up the pace, the sounds of air conditioning units drowning out my footsteps.  Thankfully the backyard wasn’t fenced in, and after a quick scope, I slipped across the lawn and was not too far behind the buck when I entered the forest.

Intuition told me the buck was probably looking for food or a receptive doe.  But I didn’t care where it would take me.  Even before the crash, my life wasn’t terribly exciting; something as simple and aimless as following a deer was the most daring thing I’d done since my teenage years.  And even back then, I wasn’t exactly what one would call a “wild child.”  I felt a tense giddiness within me.  I wasn’t “supposed” to be doing this…but I didn’t care.  I more than welcomed it…I embraced it.

The trees were thin in this part of the woods, so I was able to stay out of sight and keep an eye on the buck.  After a few minutes, it emerged into a new backyard.  I stopped.  I wasn’t as close to the heart of the forest as I’d suspected.  After assessing its surroundings, the buck lowered its head and began uprooting a bed of petunias.

I sighed, realizing suddenly how stupid this all was.  I was in sight of someone’s house; if they had a sharp eye and enough of an inclination, they’d see my face standing out in the brush like a flashlight.  I took one last at the buck, then turned around and began picking my way back between the trees.

Several things happened at once: a metallic crash from the side of the house, the scurrying of feet, the deep booming bark of a dog; and I saw the canine tear from a doghouse and across the yard.  The buck startled, jumping in the air, and bolted to the right, back into the forest; I could see its gracile form flitting between the trees.  In a bout of recklessness, I dismissed my pledge to turn back and followed it back in.

After a moment of breakneck running, it came to a stop and threw its head back over its haunches.  I could still hear the dog going berserk in the distance.  Hidden behind a tree, I reflected on the noise I had heard: it was most likely a trash can, knocked over by a raccoon or a coyote.  Whatever it was, it was of prime interest to the dog, who continued barking its head off.

Then, whatever it was silenced the dog as it gave a last high-pitched yelp.

The resulting silence that followed was more chilling than the late-night air.  Even the buck seemed dumbstruck, having gone completely still, save for a nervous twitching of its ears.  I stewed in my dark corner…was it a coyote?  Wolves were not found this far east, and bears were astronomically rare.  Maybe its owner had only come out with a physical reprimand.  Whatever the case, I certainly wasn’t going to turn back and find out now.

As if overcome with a new directive, the deer swiveled its neck forward and trotted off.  I didn’t want to resume immediately.  The option to give up and go home never seemed more inviting.

Stop it, a voice in my head urged.  Follow this through until the end.

I still don’t know whether or not I should have listened.

As I followed, I realized that I was making more noise than normal, yet the buck seemed not to notice, or care.  Instead, it stopped again, brought its snout to the ground, then reared its head up, its lips curling back in a bizarre sneer.  I watched this ritual with subdued fascination.  It snapped back to attention and galloped off, and I broke into a full run.  Weaving through the trees, I realized what it must have been with a smirk.  Only one thing could drive a male so mindlessly dogged like that.

The ground below us began to slope downward, and while I had to step carefully among the rocks, the buck simply seemed to glide from one uneven outcropping to the next, like a phantom in the moonlight.  I could tell now we were definitely in the heart of the forest…the shrubs and thorns at waist-level were overgrown and grabbed at my clothes.  If the buck couldn’t hear my manic swiping and crashing then, I knew I was definitely in the clear to catch up however noisily I wanted to.  There must have been some seriously prime tail wherever it was going.

The ground leveled out again, then, after a brief pursuit through a patch of young growth, I heard the sound of rushing water.  Was it only looking for a drink?

Then the trees gave way entirely, and the pit lay before us.

It was a stony gulch, like an empty swimming pool in the middle of the forest that stretched out of sight.  Its bottom was jagged with boulders.  A circular drainage pipe wide enough for me to walk upright through emptied a weak stream of water into the ravine.  I stopped, bewildered, but the buck went right down into the pit.  My stomach gave a lurch at what I saw within it.

There was a single doe, lying down, its spindly legs tucked underneath it.  As I breathed in I recoiled at a sharp, musky, ammonic odor.  Without having smelled anything like it before, I knew exactly what it was.  I was surprised every buck in the state hadn’t converged on this one spot to this one doe.

As the buck approached, the doe’s wet black eyes flashed with fear, the moon reflected in her vacuous pupils.  He circled her, nuzzling her flanks, giving affectionate jabs with his antlers.  She tried shifting away, but she seemed hesitant to get up, as if injured or weak.  The buck became insistent, shoving at her hindquarters.  The doe emitted a squeal, trying to reach back and snap at him.  She wasn’t having any of it.  It was only when the buck tried lowering himself onto her that she rose shakily and scurried away from him.

I blinked, thinking it was just a trick of the moonlight.  The harder I gazed the more my body seemed to forcefully reject what I was seeing.  Yet there it was, solidly, undeniably, there.  Something was clinging to the doe’s stomach, swaying like a pendulum from her movement.  I let out something between a gag and a gasp when she turned in my direction.

Reaching up from her underside and clasping her side was a human arm.  Someone was attached to her underside.

The buck must have seen it too, or heard me; regardless, it whipped around and tried to run – but a sharp whistle cut through the air, and the buck shrieked, rearing up, and then dropped like a bag of bricks to the ground with a crunch.  Amid the regal tangle of its antlers, something ivory and spear-like protruded from the buck’s eye.

What sickened me most from the spectacle is how the thing underneath the doe merely shifted its grasp, and its host laid back down to resume its laden vigil.

From deep within the drainage pipe came the sounds of whispers and dragging feet.

I didn’t want to see whatever was going to happen.  No one would have.  But I felt like I had lost an old friend and I had to see his fate through to the end, no matter how horrible that end might be.

The entrance to the pipe blazed with orange torchlight.  The sounds from within almost seemed to pour out, echoing and reverberating.  I ducked lower behind the edge of the gulch.

People emerged from the drainage pipe…grotesque, deformed people.  Stunted, completely naked, pale as the moon, hairless, with warped, apelike countenances.  Like stalking lizards they crawled among the rocks, their moist skin like glistening embers in the glow of their torches.

I could tell they weren’t “normal” people.  Some kind of subspecies…a lost hominid. Terror and fascination kept me glued to the spot.  The men, distinguishable from their shriveled endowments, surrounded the dead buck like wild dogs, butchering it with blades, unwrapping it like a Christmas present.  Complete deconstruction in seconds.

The more nubile of the group gathered around the doe.  I found myself more drawn to her with horror.  They clustered by her head, and one of them held out what resembled a small, shallow basin.  The others dipped their fingertips in the basin and seemed to anoint the doe, streaking a liquid across her snout, under her chin.  The fresh smell of deer piss hit me, and as I reeled from the odor, the doe stood again, and a creature scooped up the thing hanging off its stomach. I nearly fainted from the sight…it was an infant, one of their own, its chin dribbling with milk, and it let out a cry that was matched by the low, garbled wails of the matrons…

Transfixed, I didn’t notice that the males had finished their work on the buck, and had diverted their attention to me.

Something whistled past my ear and stuck in the tree behind me – I jumped reflexively to my feet, and I was suddenly in full view of the coven.  The pit exploded with their unearthly shrieks, and as the females among them scattered for cover, the males stiffened and held out their arms in an aiming formation – they seemed to drag the knuckles of their other hands up their arms from the wrist – there was a collective snap like a bowstring and I ducked again, and the air above me rained with pearly white projectiles that again stuck to the trees behind me…

I got up and pivoted to run before they could reload again…but once again, I stopped at what I saw.  The trees, freshly splintered with what looked like arrows of bone, were marked with deep scratches of archaic symbols…circles and swirls and gouges.  The weight of the revelation held me in place…this was their patch, their feeding grounds, and I was the intruder there…

That split second of frozen dread nearly cost me.

I could feel the back of my leg split open and jam in place, locked by a penetrating shaft below the underside of my knee.  The pain wasn’t intense at first, but the sudden lack of motion and the ghostly sensation of a foreign body inside my skin caused my blood to spike and my lungs to seize.  Spasming with panic, I lurched into the woods away from their line of fire…but with the downward slope and one crippled leg, gaining uphill traction was a lost cause.  Instead, I found myself drifting slightly downward…back down towards the gulch.

I lost my footing…my leg stiffened entirely, and I keeled over and hit the ground with a breathtaking crash.

The angle carried me downhill – my elbows and sides caromed off protruding rocks and my clothes tangled in brambles – the world was a dark, spinning, light-headed blur for a moment that felt like years – and suddenly I came to a stop in a cold, muddy puddle.  Bruised, flaring, my mouth flooded with the taste of sludge, I pushed myself up and stumbled incoherently among the boulders.  I glanced up, and as my vision swam back into place, I realized I was essentially in a giant bowl.

Only one way to go. Through the pit.

In the distance, behind a bend in the gorge, I could hear frantic shrieks and tumbling rocks. They hadn’t known I had fallen back into their hole. I took what I knew to be my one last chance and ran.

It was an absurdist endeavor, hopping on my one good leg, sparing only precious half-seconds to balance myself on the other, which sent wooden jabs of pain up my body with each heaving motion.  I prayed the sounds of their own manic scrambling would drown out my constant kicking of pebbles, splashing of puddles, and ragged, horrified breathing.

I rounded another bend and saw light flickering in the clearing.  I staggered towards it, my heart elating – then blackening as I got closer.  It was a crudely-assembled campfire, a smoking spit of organs roasting over it, surrounded by pikes topped with the shadowy, decomposing heads of bucks.

I had escaped their hunting grounds straight into their fucking nest.

In the firelight were run-down bungalows made of sticks and dried mud.  Over the crackling flames, I heard rustling from within them. Like worms crawling from soil, pallid pygmies emerged from the bungalows and laid their beady black eyes on me.

They shrieked in alarm – in my blind frenzy, I barreled towards them, and they retreated into their shelters.  I would have slipped past them into the woods beyond if my damn leg hadn’t given out.

I fell and crashed into one of the bungalows, taking it down at its foundations.  A creature inside burst from the collapsed pile of sticks and bolted past the fire with a screech, like a wailing wraith in the night.  I scrambled away as more creatures shifted from underneath the rubble, finally latching onto a low-hanging branch and dragging myself back up – the rubble fell away entirely, and the image within burned everything else I’d seen that night out of my mind.

Two other creatures were there…one spread out on the ground, her belly swollen with child…one overseeing her, who snarled and bared her gray teeth at me…and next to them, curled tight into a ball, a doe.  She seemed catatonic, unaware of the chaos around her.  Her engorged udder jutted from her stomach…I could see veins snaking underneath its thin skin…I never even knew deer had udders…

Paralyzed, I felt a warm liquid caking my side, and smelled the odor of deer piss again. Backing away into the cover of the trees, I off-handedly wondered if a gang of horny bucks would descend on me as well as a coven of enraged pygmies.

Torchlight bloomed in the distant darkness. Once more I turned and ran, but there was another sudden drop, and I plunged down a shallow cliff into a creek.

I went under, and the frigid water engulfed me, seizing the breath from me, but with one last shred of thought, I undid my coat and shook it off like old skin, finally breaking the surface, letting the current take me away…away from the deformed, unspeakable horrors festering in the pit.

* * * * * *

The current carried me to a bridge overlooking a rocky shore, and I clambered up great chunks of granite to the side of the road.  The remnants of my clothes felt stuck to my skin.  My blood was slush in my veins; my muscles were icy with agony.  With the moonlight whitening my complexion, I was indistinguishable from a walking corpse.  Thankfully, the bone arrow in my leg had dislodged from my brief swim.

A passing pickup truck flashed its high beams at me and pulled over.  The driver was a real delight, a thick-bodied shirtless hick staring at me with a quizzical expression.

“What in God’s name happened to ya, man?” he boomed.

I shook my head.  “Can you just take me home, please?” I uttered.

His brow furrowed. “You a cop?”

I shook my head again.  His expression lightened.  “Well, get yerself in here, then.  I reckon you oughta find a – goll-LEE!”  The man wrinkled his nose.  “Why d’ya smell like deer piss?  Do I even wanna know?”

“No,” I replied flatly.

He shrugged and accelerated back onto the road as I settled in next to him.  I think at one point, he started going off about compost or something, but to me, the ride back home was a long, deadened affair.

I never wanted this to happen. All I had desired was deviation from the norm, an injection of abnormality from my dull life, a distraction from the misfortune.  I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing about that coven of lost hominids in the woods.  I know I could have.  I harbored fleeting, treacherous illusions that I was being punished for my curiosity, for even daring to explore beyond the reaches of what I knew to be true, familiar, comforting.

A hot shower did good to cleanse me of the mud and blood, but the foul thoughts in my head persisted with a vengeance.  They were doing something to the does.  Training them, poisoning them, hypnotizing them, whatever the term might be…inducing them to lactate, to provide milk for their own young.  That cocktail of urine and pheromones and whatever else they were cultivating…that had to have been their M.O.  From what I saw in the bungalow I had collapsed, their women with sunken chests and weak midriffs…I could understand why they needed to turn to other animals to rear their offspring.  They had evolved to be…inviable for motherhood.  As for the bucks that showed up, attracted by the inevitable chemical spills…to the pygmies, it would be more like “gathering” than “hunting.”

To a scientist, the implications of this finding, a human subspecies coevolving with native mammals, would have been groundbreaking.  To me, it was disgustingly tragic.  Natural selection and random chance had screwed them over, left them for dead in the forest, broken and wholly dependent on another species for their own procreation.

I’d read about certain tribes in the Indo-Pacific reacting with visceral hostility to outsiders’ attempts at contact.  It was no stretch speculating how they’d remained undiscovered for so long.  In other words, I wasn’t lucky to have seen them…I was lucky to have gotten away.

That night, as I sat in my living room in a state of sleepless shock, I knew that I’d be fine with keeping them a secret.  Nature had done them dirty.  Best to let them be, to let them die away, swallowed by the forest, and let nature run its thoughtless course.

Things didn’t quite work out that way.

I only saw them in the light of the early morning.  I hadn’t moved from my dead-eyed perch for the entirety of the night; the sun had risen gradually, and I had no idea how long they’d been standing there.  All I know is that I took a closer look through the back windows and jumped from my chair, for each one was occupied by a buck staring directly at me, their breath fogging the glass.

My hand over my pounding heart, I watched them as they tilted their heads back and bared their teeth, that same gesture the buck from last night had performed.  I had read that the behavior was called a “flehmen response”, displayed after smelling the pheromones of a receptive female.

“Oh no,” I breathed, backing away slowly…the driver had asked why I smelled of deer piss.  Even a hot shower wasn’t enough to expunge the scent from my skin…

One of them brought its head back again – and slammed it forward, its antlers jabbing the windowpane with a startling thud.  It reared and thrust forward again, the very walls around me rattling from the force.  The others joined in…I could see their eyes, buggy to the point of seeing their whites, crazed and incoherent as they drummed my windows with percussive insanity…  They couldn’t hold out for much longer…

A pane shattered – I practically flew to my feet, my leg smarting from the arrow wound.  I expected to see a buck halfway through my window, tossing its head and kicking its legs wildly.

The deer had all vanished.  A single object sat on the carpet.  An arrow made of bone.

Before my eyes, a volley of arrows soared through the panes.  The dawn air became heavy with projectiles and broken glass with a cacophonous explosion of sound.  The fragmented frame of my windows simply fell limp to the floor.

And beyond the wreckage came a battalion of pygmies, emerging from the forest in one onrushing flood.

It was too much.  Their demonic whispering chorus rooted me once more.  My injured leg, pulsing and burning, refused to let the rest of my body move.  They crawled into my home with spiderlike limbs, their sneering, contorted faces gnarled with excitement.

They surrounded me.  I could see their ribs, the skeletal shadows on their chests, their swinish eyes, their shrunken manhoods dangling shamelessly.  They pulled me to the floor, some standing on my limbs, some crouched next to me, pinning my hands or holding my head in place.  I was too dazed to struggle.  I could only watch as one of them stood over me, aiming his arm at my forehead like a rifle.  There was a grungy sling hanging from his fingers.  He inserted another arrow and pulled it up the length of his arm, stretching the sling taut up to his shoulder…

“Fuck me,” I whispered…but before he let go I noticed that the tip of the arrow was rounded and blunt, not at all sharp.  They weren’t aiming to kill…

Then the sling snapped forth, there was a crunchy flash of white, a split-second fire in my brain, and everything went black.

* * * * * *

The first time I came around, all I saw were many naked, marching legs.  The light around me was gold and green…late morning.  The forest again.

I tried to move, but something had bound me entirely.  Then a searing pressure dug underneath my neck and the blackness returned.

* * * * * *

The second time, I finally felt the bruising pain in my skull.  My vision was clear, but still darkened around the edges.  I was back in the pit.  The convoy of pygmies was hoisting me along.  My sinuses were clogged, yet I could smell that familiar odor again.  It was cold out.  Cold and airy and…

I was nude.  They had stripped me of my damn clothes.

As I squirmed, my head fell to the side, and I saw the face of the cliff was clustered with bucks, all watching me getting carried off.  Go away, you’re being used, you’re being fucked over, I wanted to scream at them, but my voice had been lost somewhere miles back.  As if detecting my resistance, another thumb pressed below my neck.

The last thing I saw before blacking out the third time was the entrance to the drainage pipe, alive with the glow of torchlight.

* * * * * *

The walls around me were smooth, rounded, concrete.  Marked with symbols of ash and oil.  The pipe was a funnel for the pygmies’ noises…a torrent of whispers, clattering feet, slimy chafing skin.

I couldn’t imagine what they were planning with me.  They’d only been hostile up to this point…I never would have guessed it would have gone down the way it did…

The space around me began to widen, and soon I found myself surrounded not just by my captors, but other pygmies as well, wearing expressions of primitive bewilderment.  A few reached out and stroked me, their broken fingernails brushing across my cheeks and my sides.  Soon my captors were being trailed by a parade of pygmies, all of whom were emitting low, subdued puffs of breath.

Then it opened up entirely into a chamber the size of a cathedral.

The concrete walls were studded with torches, casting the room into a permanent flicker.  Metal tubes and dusty machinery snaked around and over us.  Everything had been refurbished with the wild…branches, dead vines, bones and skulls.  What must have been the entire pygmy tribe had gathered in the chamber, and they rose up in a chorus of anxiety when they saw me shuttled in.

They set me down, still bound tight, and I looked around.  For roughly every half-dozen pygmy there was a doe, all broken down and nursing a child.  I averted my gaze, but what was on the ceiling terrified me even further.

It was an elaborate fresco, a Sistine Chapel of cave art, painted in the primordial colors of ash and berries and sap.  Despite its arcane scrawl, I could still make out what it was depicting.  There was a ring of deer, bucks and does. Within that ring was a circle of pygmies; their stooped postures and pale palette gave them away.  And standing in the middle, towering above them all, was a faceless, godlike figure, sporting mighty antlers, its arms outstretched, an infant pygmy propped in each hand.

My first thought…my first, naive, fear-curdled thought, was that this was their deity they intended to sacrifice me to.  I was the only one to escape after seeing them, and they had brought me back to finish their hunt in grandiose fashion.

They undid my bindings and my limbs seemed to spring forth, almost rejoicing being freed.  But instead they set upon them again, holding me in place, three on each arm and leg.  Their collective strength was like boulders pressing onto my body; movement was once again a lost prospect.

I could vividly picture a blade digging into my ribs, them grabbing a hold of my heart, perhaps ripping it out and devouring it, still pulsing in its final beats of life.

But what they brought out was the skull plate of a massive buck, with robust antlers of what must have been over twenty points.  I panicked, imagining they were going to rake my flesh away with it…

Instead, they placed it underneath my head; it curled over my scalp, fitting like a helmet.

In a flash I made the connection.

It wasn’t my flesh or blood they were after.

The pygmies exploded with calls and hollers; the entire chamber rang, and particles of rock rained from the ceiling.  Pheromones and blood were flecked onto my naked skin, anointing me.  Raw intestines were draped across my chest like a lei; the smell was overwhelmingly rotten and fecal.  Torch-toting pygmies marched around us in a circle, the flames merging into a solid blurry line of yellow.

One of the females sauntered forth.  A flare of blush bloomed across her pallid skin.  Her nipples were erect like bullets.  She placed her palms on my face, red and sticky with blood.

There was the cold, wet, loving prod of a tongue.

Everything went numb.  My throat seized up.  My muscles surrendered to her unrequited advance.  She moved down to my waist.

* * * * * *

I…I don’t think I need to recount the details.  They got what they wanted.  They had fulfilled whatever demented prophecy that was chalked on their walls.

They had dumped me in a meadow.  I awoke to the rays of the afternoon sun, and the reeking odor of putrefaction.  There were violets growing around me, brushing my skin, as if consoling me for my traumatic experience.

By some bad stroke of fate, the same shirtless pickup truck guy saw me wandering naked on the side of the road.  He was rather blasé about the circumstances.  I shouldn’t have been surprised in retrospect.  I’m sure he would have invited Cthulhu into his truck if it meant he could further discuss compost with someone.

To think only that previous night, I’d been lamenting their ability to rear young on their own.  Apparently they had, too…much longer than I had.  I can’t blame them for mustering the initiative to do something about it, one last saving grace to cement the continuation of their species.  But I can’t say I hope our children will see the light of day.  The thought of my legacy, some twisted hybrid abominations running amok through the woods, bred for the sole purpose of displacing their parents and becoming an independent generation…it disturbs me to the depths of my soul.  I don’t know if their mothers would even be able to deliver our kin…they must have thought of that, too.  My first partner wasn’t the only one during the ritual.

Now, I know talking about it’s the only way to cope, the only way to attempt to accept what happened to me.  Because I can’t be angry at them, nor look down on them with disgust or shame.  My trauma, their lust and delusion…they were just instances, in nature’s sweeping tide.

It’s…what it intended.

No circumstances.  No reason.

It just…was.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Nick Carlson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Nick Carlson


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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