by Jeffrey Harth
The doe stood motionless and stared across the road, flicked its tail twice, and started to pick her way out of the underbrush. She had been standing in the huckleberry for almost three minutes. The trail continued on the other side of the road, down the hill through a stand of pine, and then to her favorite feeding area. It was late July and the clover was laying thick in the clearing. In two jumps she covered the ten foot patch of huckleberry and the short gravel swail on the side of the road. As she landed on the road a motion to her left caused her to tense and falter. She hadn't seen it before she jumped and now her instincts told her to freeze, but she was already in motion. Then it was big, much bigger than what she first sensed, and moving fast, right at her. She kicked but there was little traction on the hard surface. The last thing she did was look away.
Cal looked up from the road. His eyes perceived the deer but his brain never had time to synthesize the information. The bike struck the doe just in front of the hindquarters. The front tire passed under the deer, but the fairing and front forks impacted the deer's gullet at nearly 60 miles per hour. The impact drove the splintering fairing and steel braces into the deer and completely severed the doe's hindquarters and sprayed blood, entrails, and bile into the humid air. The doe's legs and hips fliped backwards into the high grasses on the side of the road where she had come from, landing grotesquely, with one hoof stuck into the soft, sandy earth. The front half of the deer spun counter-clockwise in the air, spewing blood, bone fragments, and dislocated organs in a macabre swath until it landed in the opposite lane facing back across the road. The huckleberry patch was the last thing the doe saw before she died, her dark eyes never closing.
The bike had taken the impact squarely in front, the fiberglass fairing shattered instantly into tiny shards when hitting the deer, and the impact sent Cal into the front of the bike and into the deer and then over the handlebars, cleanly breaking his right arm just above the wrist. His left knee cap was shattered when it struck the handlebar. The rear tire of the bike came up off of the road after the impact and the bike then rotated over the front tire landing upside down on the seat and handle bars, where it slid backward for a moment until the back of the seat tore away, and the bike started to roll onto its side. The frame ground into the road leaving chrome-colored smears on the surface. A second later the rear tire caught the road and catapulted the bike off of the ground, flipping it four times, each time impacting the rough asphalt with a sickening, grinding sound. The bike finaly landed on its side, sliding off to the right, following the natural crown of the road, until it stopped, the engine still running and the rear tire spinning. Fiberglass shards and siver flakes from the shattered mirrors were strewn behind it, like a grotesque death trail.
Cal had the vague sensation that he was falling, though it was strange that he couldn't decide which way he was heading. His helmet was slammed from behind, then his back. He didn't feel any pain, only an intense pressure. The pressure seemed to grip his entire body. It was impossible to breath. He was spinning, and could hear muffled scraping inside the helmet. If felt like a thousand hands were grabbing him and jerking his body in every direction. For a moment he thought he saw his legs and his boots, then they disapeared from his view. The scraping sound stopped, but the spinning continued. He lay in the middle of the road, face down across the faded white line. He couldn't move. Then came the pain. At first it was a single wave , then it grew and seemed to invade every cell in his body. It quickly became unbearable. There was a distinct metalic taste in his mouth and he felt nauseous. For a moment he could hear his breathing, and the sound of the engine. Then the sound began to fade, like he was listening to it through a long pipe. He tried to focus but he couldn't make his eyes work, and the light was fading too. Carl's last thought before he passed out was that he hoped Sean hadn't seen this.