Fox Holes (The Vixen’s Scream) by Suzy Pope

Foxholes or The Vixen’s Scream

Golden discs of sunlight play across the forest floor. I slink through the trees while birds call warnings to each other. Horns blast. The fox hunt.

I spot another one of us through the trees, fur the colour of autumn leaves. He raises his pointed face, yellow eyes frozen like marbles. He ducks his head and pads off, quietly, quietly through the forest. I follow.

The horns. The bark of foxhounds. Foxy breaks into a sprint, flying across the forest floor. Even now he smiles. He always smiles like he knows something I don’t. My stupid flat feet clomp and stomp as I try to keep up. He darts into his hole, nestled in the great roots of an ancient tree. I’m too slow. I’m too big with stupid sticky-out limbs that won’t fit. They’ve never fit. The dogs are on me, snarling and snapping. All I can do is cover the hole with my great weight. I will protect you Foxy, and your cubs.

Hooves like thunder all around me. I let out a vixen’s scream. Danger. Short. Sharp. Screams.

“What the f…” red coat, voice like oil.

“A woman?” black boots glinting like beetle shells.

“What should we…” they stink of manure.

I snap my sharp little teeth at them, filed to points. Raw meat was hard on human teeth. Hard for the old me. The horses pad, unsure. I leap up, snapping and snarling. Their faces are twisted masks of disgust.

A bark from behind me. Not a dog’s. Foxy. They have him by the throat, but he’s still smiling like he knows something I don’t. I pull out my hunting knife, but the dog is faster than my stupid human legs. The world turns a blur of forest green and deep brown, leaves and sticks all melding together in a soup of colour. I can smell blood, hear shouting, feel something warm trickle down my arms.

I remember how warm it was that day. How it came out of me and wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t just blood, it wasn’t just tissue and a heartbeat. It was everything. Everything leaked out until I was just skin skulking on the fringe of this world.

Night falls. Somewhere another vixen screams like the cry of a woman who’s just lost her child, just lost her everything. I couldn’t save him. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I curl up in my leafy den, my little fox hole and I hear it again. The hunt. The crackle of branches under foot, the crackle of a walkie talkie. The man hunt.

 

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About helenmoat

Helen Moat is the author of Slow Travel The Peak District. part of the UK Slow Travel guide books and published by Bradt. The book is available from Amazon and the online Bradt shop, as well as major outlets. Helen Moat was born in Northern Ireland and spent her childhood travelling the length and breadth of the island in her Dad’s Morris Minor – or so it seemed: she still suffers from wanderlust. Helen studied German in England, living in Switzerland and Germany for extended periods. The author has since settled in the Peak District, her adopted home. She is constantly inspired by the local landscape, and the people and places shaped by the Peaks. A keen walker and cyclist, she’s happiest when outdoors and on the move. As a travel and fiction writer, she’s always on the hunt for a good story. The Peak District gives her plenty of material. -
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