by Myles Abroad
The POV of an animal as its world comes into conflict with man's expanding world.
Silence descended on the edge of the hedgerow; the sounds of pursuit left behind. Hidden in the dying undergrowth, under the shadow cast by the discarded carcass of a man-made contraption, I pant, my breath dispersing into a cloud of vapour in this bitter morning air. A pool is nearby, its thin ice shattered, but despite my thirst, I can't drink. The water's sharp, poisonous odour still fills my nostrils; the film on its surface dancing with the bright hues of the rainbow.
Through the weeds I study the expanse of a torn and furrowed field, not a blade of grass only frozen clods of earth with a dusting of snow. An isolated copse of wood lies beyond it, a place of refuge before I make my journey home. A gust of wind catches another of man's castoffs. I watch as it dances in the wind, turning end over end; white, green and blue blending in the dance. The 'caw' of a crow. I hold my breath. My ears pricked. I look up and gaze into the black depths of its eye and I know the chase will begin again.
I lift my snout and catch the sweet, yet pungent stench of man. His spore is everywhere but now it's stronger, yet mingled with leather, horse and fear. I hear the slow and deliberate plod of hooves and cautiously, I look in that direction. Instinctively, I curl my lips as a man, astride his enslaved steed, emerges from around the bend in the hedge. A quiet growl emerges from my throat. I cut it short, but my revulsion persists as I remember seeing man's nakedness. They were like maggots writhing; hairless, pasty white, fat and clumsy. And yet so dangerous. Like ivy, they spread everywhere, consuming everything. They have removed our forests and smothered the earth under man-made rock. But we hide, live by our wits and survive, as we always have. We own the night when we hunt at will.
I tense up at the bark of a hound, bewitched by man into forgetting himself. He has caught my scent. Patiently, I wait until he appears around the bend, excitedly sniffing the air.
I break cover and rush from the undergrowth, dashing across the broken and frozen soil, drawing them further from our den. Today it's my turn to lead these vile creatures away from our home.
A loud mournful sound echoes repeatedly, hounds bay and the earth trembles under the hooves of horses. A gunshot echoes in the early morning.