Frailty, thy kinsman is pain. My scarred eyelids are unbelievably, incredibly sore. They often bleed with only the minimum of scratching and are swollen, heavy and unbearably itchy.
I should explain. Whilst walking in the countryside with my partner, we were en route back to the car when I scented a cheeky fox close at paw. I hastened after it with all the speed at my disposal, running and running through corn and barley fields until I was fit to burst. Finally coming to my senses, I suddenly realised it was exceedingly dark - and I had strayed far beyond my knowledge of the area. Muttering an inventive cocktail of swear-barks, I endeavoured to retrace my steps as swiftly as I could. Alas, I met with only limited success, finally (after a good hour or two) regaining the tarmac road towards home. I decided to follow its course, as it seemed easier than going over the fields. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a rat-run for useless drivers, despite being essentially a country lane. I had to dodge speeding cars and a number of cyclists which, believe me, was every bit as intimidating as it sounds. At length I arrived in one piece at the fork in the road - only to realise that I wasn't sure which one to take. Being always the passenger rather than the driver in my New Teal Megane, I was generally occupied with looking out of the window instead of concentrating on the route.
With a bark of frustration, I decided that I had better head back to the car park from whence I had started my walk and where, in all likelihood, my partner was now patiently waiting for me. I had, however, had quite enough of running the gauntlet of speeding vehicles on the dark and unlit road, so I ran all the way back through the fields, keeping sight of the road close at paw, so I didn't get lost again.
Arriving, exhausted and wheezing, back at the car park I was utterly stunned to find it empty. There were traces of my partner's scent and my own - but the place was deserted. I hobbled across the road to check the grassy 'overflow' car park, but no-one was there either. As I neared the edge of the small wood there, my legs finally collapsed from under me. The hours of running and increasing sense of panic within me had left me entirely spent. I tried to struggle to my feet but I quite literally could not summon the energy to get up. I slithered on my belly, snake-like, to the base of the nearest substantial tree and lay against its trunk.
At that point I became aware of plentiful tears running from my eyes - and then the pain struck me. I wailed as waves of agony crashed across my eyes. I tried to wipe them with my forepaws, which only served to increase the pain. Opening one stinging eye just a crack, I saw that my forepaws were now drenched with blood. For 'twere not tears pouring down my face. Oh no. It was blood.
Just then, the now-populous deer herd crashed their way through the scrub beside me. Petrified, I shrank back against my tree, fearing lest I receive an accidental kick or get trodden-on. Fortunately, they ignored me completely. They ran in long lines across the road, disappearing into the blackness on the other side. I had never seen so many deer in one herd before - I thought they would be running past me forever. It was like the bl**dy stampede scene in The Lion King. At length the last few stragglers came past, followed by the dominant stag who was acting as the herd's rear-guard and the sounds of them finally died away. I suddenly found that I missed them - I hadn't felt quite so alone and frightened whilst they were dashing past. At least their noise had provided some company of sorts. The next sound that met my injured ears was not in the least bit reassuring. It was someone high above my bleeding and tattered body, in the tree branches overhead. He was absent-mindedly muttering and cackling to himself in an oddly familiar voice...
Suddenly I realised, with increasing despair and plummeting heart, exactly who it was.
Oh, for GOODNESS' sake, I thought to myself.
Precisely what is a Buzzard's life-span, anyway...?!
TO BE CONTINUED.