On the drive home, I came upon a curious sight on the road. A number of small beasts had gathered upon a shape on the road, first leading me to believe they were scavengers set upon a felled possum or pet, but as I drove closer my headlights lit up a really strange scene.
No less than four foxes stood around one of their own, who had been injured but still moving a little. They fled as the car approached but immediately returned when I pulled over. They appeared to lick, tug and nip away at the injured fox, darting quickly back to and from the shrubs as dark shapes under the orange streetlight.
My heart clenched - the little creatures appeared immediately so human. I could relate to their efforts, I had seen these scenes, of distressed family or friends around an injured loved one. Increasingly I become just as distressed as they.
I quickly approached the injured animal in the hopes of assessing the outcome. He was no more than the size of a cat, crumpled on the road, but to my surprise he was intact. Nothing appeared crushed or wounded, except for a thin black streak running across the back of his neck. It dawned on me of what had befallen this poor little fellow - he had been run over by a fucking cyclist.
Around me, mere meters away, circled the foxes. I became increasingly aware that they were daring to come closer and each time I turned around, I was greeted with one that had been bold enough to be not more than a meter behind me. They would skip away, return to hold a circling pattern and try to get closer to their injured kin. They were resolute in this objective.
I decided to take it, him, to any animal care facility that would still be open at 4am. To my dismay, I was informed by an equally saddened lady named Kelly that the fox was considered ‘feral’ and would be put down. She told me the best I could do was to inform the council and they would deal with it.
The foxes, now, appeared more human as we became less.
I swore at Kelly, I should not have. I resolved to take this fox home and nurture it, damned be all of the natural fauna and its council handlers here!
I returned to the scene of the grieving foxes with heavy electrical gloves and a tarp, but no foxes remained. In the bushes I could hear movement and I caught the glint of yellow-white pupils from the darkness watching me. Puzzled I returned to my car.
My girlfriend told me she had seen the foxes return and drag their injured kin in a group effort back towards the roadside shrubs, that in the very last half meter the injured fox had gotten up and walked the final leg, its fellows skipping around it.
I’m unsure as of the habits or oddities of foxes in artificial environments, but I strongly doubted they ever formed clans or packs in which they roved around in, more so as scavengers I never really expected them to be so compassionate to their own - even in the face of possible danger.
I am, however, sure that I can confidently no longer associate the term human with the meaning of humanity. I drove past last night to the same bend of road and stopped to look at the bushes with a torch.
No foxes; dead, alive or otherwise injured.