The woods were still and quiet. There was a light breeze, tickling the leaves into waving around, but otherwise the night was peaceful and serene. The sliver of moon cast a dim light on the world, but it was plenty for her.
The doe grazed without worry, muzzle deep in the sweet grass. She was young, hardly a few years. She was about five feet at the shoulder; thin, supple and healthy. She had not yet mated and birthed fawns. She was young. Her body was the soft brown that blended with the trees, hiding her from predators ranging from mountain lions looking for a meal and human hunters looking for a pelt. Her throat and belly were a soft creamy white. Under her tail as well was this white fur.
She swished her tail, startling the flies away from her. If she ever felt the need, her tail would stand up straight as a flag, the white underside exposed, warning her kind of danger as she bounded away. Her muzzle was a gentle brown-ish red, tapering to black at her soft nose. Her ears, constantly in motion, were brown on the outside of the shell, white on the inside and black edged. They never stopped moving, scanning the woods for danger. Her thin legs walked her silently through the grasses as she fed.
A twig cracked, and her head shot up, ears swiveling around, eyes wide to the night, trying to locate the source of the sound.
She wasn’t the only one to notice. All the nearby bugs had stopped, and the night plunged into a deadly calm. The wind blowing through the trees seemed to be the only sound in the dark world. The doe was stiff and still, yet ready to bolt in an instants notice. Her tail quivered, ready to flash its white underside out of instinct. She remained still for over three minutes, sniffing the air and muscles tense.
Then, one single cricket chirped hesitantly, then one cicada buzzed its song cautiously. Then, seeing no consequences to their actions, the rest of the orchestra came back and the doe relaxed and began to graze again.
He crept closer. His carelessness had nearly cost him dearly. He wouldn’t make that mistake again.
He crept forwards, keeping his body low to the ground. Clouds covered the moon; not that he took much notice. He could see perfectly. He kept himself low, careful to keep his eyes hidden. Once before he had lost a hunt because his glowing yellow eyes had warned of his approach.
The doe stood upright.
He froze, body literally on the ground, breathless, pointed ears stiff.
But the doe merely bent her leg under her, reached back her head and scratched at an ear with her hind leg, the sharp little cloven hoof satisfying the itch quite nicely. She straightened, shook her head and resumed grazing.
He crept closer still. He couldn’t have been more than twenty yards away and so far, was undetected.
He continued forwards, front legs touching down soundlessly, the three fingers spreading his weight perfectly, hind legs with only two toes coming up behind silently, barbed tail trailing through the grasses without disturbing the vegetation. His soft coat helped him blend with the shadows of the grasses, hiding him from sight. He could see the burrs in her fur, ruffling the smooth coat.
He felt his heart pick up it’s pace as he approached. He could smell her now. She smelled sweet and clean. She had spent her life eating sweet grass and clean water. What a prize.
He paused, watching. Waiting…
The doe walked about, blissfully unaware of the predator watching her. Waiting…
She bent her head and plucked up a few more tender shoots, chewing silently. Waiting…
She turned, finished with her meal.
There was no sound. Just a heave of muscles, a thud of something heavy landing on her back.
The unexpected weight crashed her to the ground, and she began to struggle, tried to get her feet under her so she could run. Almost nothing could catch a terrified deer when it really got going.
But she couldn’t get her hind legs free! They were caught, tied up. She flailed, kicking out powerfully with her front legs. Her hooves, despite their delicate looks, could slice a mountain lion’s leg to the bone, given the right angle and power.
But then she saw her attacker. It was coated in darkness, making it invisible, but the eyes… The eyes were sharp and yellow and cold. The eyes of a predator.
But she had only an instant to see the eyes before the head ducked and she felt a piercing pain in her neck as fangs plunged deep, drawing blood.
She wouldn’t die of blood loss, however. No. Her fate was worse. Much worse. As she kicked and struggled and screamed into the night, the fangs dug deep into her neck and forced her windpipe shut.
Her lungs protested, pleaded, screamed for air, but the world was going black. She grew weaker, as did her struggles, only offering a few kicks and soft, plaintive bleats.
The fangs readjusted and she kicked a little more. As her consciousness waned, she registered that hands were holding her, not paws. But then the creature held her tightly and with a swift readjustment of the sharp fangs, snapped her neck.
The doe began to twitch, but it was finished. He relaxed and withdrew his mouth, only to begin lapping at the blood trickling out of the wound he had created. The warm, coppery liquid was only the appetizer.
He crawled down to her soft belly and stuck his face between her front legs. There, he took a mouthful of skin and fur and began to chew. Finally he got a hole and hooked a fang into it. Then, with another hard jerk of his head, ripped the pelt, revealing the warm muscles underneath.
He then carefully skinned the underside of the deer, until it was an expanse of warm, wet, red meat before him. He licked his lips and began to feed. His first bite brought a flood of still-warm blood. He paused to drink the life-essence of the creature until the stream dwindled to a trickle.
Then he re-interested himself in the tender muscles. He dug into the meat, stripping the flesh and gulping it down, not bothering to chew. He reached the ribs, and then turned his sights lower, to where the chest cavity ended. He dug deep, and then, with a few choice punctures of his fangs and eager fingers pulling the muscles apart, he felt a blast of heat. He grinned and reached into the warmth, feeling. There! A warm hunk of meat about the size of a baseball!
Without a second thought, he plunged his head into the warmth and began to snap specific cords and tendons. There as a wet thud and he withdrew, task done. His hair was pasted flat to his skull, his fur matted with wet blood, but he didn’t care. He reached his hand back inside the doe and withdrew the heavy muscle.
Then, sitting on his haunches, he ate the heart with great pleasure, savoring the tough delicacy. He soon finished and began to dig around again, this time finding an even larger hunk of meat. This one didn’t feel as solid. It was more like solidified jello. He was careful with it, leaving it in the cavity-bowl, lest he rip it. He leaned his head down and began to take huge bites out of the liver, reveling in the thick bloody taste.
Blood was pooling in the doe’s side, threatening to overflow and spill onto the grass. He swiftly turned his mouth and began to drink the blood, loud sucking and slurping the only sounds in the night.
Swiftly, the threat of spilled blood disappeared and he concerned himself again with the liver, finishing off the large organ. He paused to rest, lying on his side, lapping blood from his hands, tail swishing contentedly in the grasses, chest rumbling with soft, deep purrs.
Clean, he got up and resumed his feeding. He began to dig again, tossing the intestines aside, letting them steam in the grass, interested only in the tender loins along the spine. He reached in, and with his bloody fangs, cut the tendons and with a happy growl, withdrew his prize; a foot-long tube, about three inches wide, of the softest muscles in the doe’s body. He lay down and began to eat, the warm meat filling him up wonderfully as he lapped at the blood still trickling out futilely. He took his time, appreciating his rewards, but still finished the meat in a span of a few minutes.
He sprang back into the doe, and withdrew the other loin, treating it similarly. He then proceeded to skin the deer’s front and hindquarters and attacked the firm, tough meat.
After about two hours, he had dismantled the carcass, eating all the meat that pleased him, the rest tossed to the grasses to be eaten by bugs and scavengers. He lay on his side, belly bulged out with all the meat he had eaten, and yet he continued to feed, using his fangs to crack the bones and lick out the marrow. Just a few more bits to take care of.
He crawled to the doe’s head, his bloated gut impeding him slightly, and forced the mouth open. He reached in, and with a quick decisive rip, aided by sharp nails, ripped out the soft, limp muscle of the doe’s tongue. He took his time chewing this muscle, enjoying the clean taste before eagerly gobbling it up.
He finally got to the best part and with great satisfaction, plucked out the two watery eyes, popped them into his mouth and swallowed them whole. He rested.
The carcass wasn’t very recognizable as a deer. The pelt had been neatly removed from the body and most of the good meat was gone, including the tender muscles at the neck, back and belly. He lay on his side, and rubbed his full belly. It bulged out a good foot from his thin frame, stretching the fur and skin. He purred deeply as he settled down into sleep.
He sighed as he repositioned himself, curled up loosely around his swollen gut. His tail wrapped itself around him, curling up by his cheek. With another deep purr that vibrated him to his bones, he passed into a deep, satisfied sleep.