November 11th, 2023 | Delivery
7.1 Minute Read
The first dead deer was pushed over onto the sidewalk, a short trail of blood marking the posthumous path it took from the road. I came across the carcass during one of my runs and I hopped over it out of reflex. It was only after I hit the ground on the other side of the body and made it a few steps that I realized what I had just leapt over. I turned my head to look over my shoulder and saw the brown husk still on the sidewalk, but what can be done about two hundred pounds of rotting meat and flesh and antlers sitting quietly on the sidewalk? I returned my head to face forward and never lost my stride. A few minutes later the deer was gone from my mind entirely.
When I made my way back on the return run to where I saw the deer, it was gone. No bloody jelly smear on the street nor the walkway. No evidence that anything living had been killed. I put my hands on my hips and stood in place, looked around a few times. The sidewalk is wedged between a solid wood fence and the road; nowhere for anything to go. Maybe Animal Control came? I shook my head, a little acknowledgement of the mystery, and then continued on my way home.
I didn't make it out the next day. I don't remember exactly what happened throughout the day, but when I looked out the window and saw the sunset over the horizon, I imagined myself getting ready and rushing out the door for a run, but my bones ached and felt like cement inside my body. I'll take a rest day, then.
I planned to run long the following day. Maybe 15, maybe 20, wasn't sure by the time I actually hit the road. When I turned up the street perpendicular to the one I live on, I saw two dead deer. One in the street, nearer to the right side but still very much in the way. Its tongue was hanging out of its mouth too far for it to seem real. It looked like it was two feet long. The other deer was lying halfway on the banked lawn of the Murray's house and the other half on the sidewalk. I didn't see any blood from either deer. I tried to avoid looking at them as I ran by.
It was hot that day, hotter than it should've been that time of year. I didn't take any water with me or any money or anything. At the 12 mile mark I could feel myself getting dry; my lips were caking over and the sweat was dripping from every part of my body down onto my legs, a white salt-foam gathering on my exposed kneecaps. I had run too far out and even with an alternate route that was more direct, I was still 6 miles and change from my home. The quickest way home is to just keep running. My vision was fuzzy around the edges, but I kept pounding pavement on the return route.
When I got to the parking lot of my old elementary school, there was another dead deer. It was split in three; the front half, the back half, and one of its legs ripped off. At first I couldn't register what it was, my brain was too hot and soupy to make intelligent thoughts. The deer pieces just registered as a shadow object to avoid. But then a moment of clarity. And then, horror.
Why do I keep finding them? Where is the blood? Despite the carnage, the scene was dry. I stopped running and walked over and stood in disbelief. I paced around, scanned as much of the parking lot as I could. The lot was empty, except for me and three pieces of deer. I should say something, some kind of prayer or something. I stood around and didn't know what to say or do. My left quad started to spasm, started to lock up. I needed to keep moving or else it would get worse. I looked at the face of the deer, the eyes staring into infinity, and then turned around and started jogging again.
I ran in from the other side of the street and had a thought to run past my house and back towards the Murray's. My legs were hardly moving and my heels were taking a beating as my form got progressively worse, so I limped into my home and drank enough water to burst my stomach.
I woke up early the next day. Earlier than I should've, but I had a bad dream and couldn't get back to sleep. Might as well bang out the miles early, then. I got ready and walked out my front door. I clicked the buttons on my watch a few times to start a new run, and then looked up and saw them. Five deer, all on my lawn in a pile. The smell; I didn't notice it at first, or maybe I was too far away. But as I slowly crept closer to the pile, the smell overwhelmed me. My eyes watered and I held a gag in my throat. I noticed a piece of paper on one of the carcasses. I got close enough to grab it, it was stapled to the body. I pulled the paper and it tore at the staple. I flipped the page over to read it.
Why are they trying to tell me?
Thank you for reading.
Filed Under: Fiction