The fawn appeared lost wandering through the burnt stubble of the blackened meadow. Her eyes, brown, blinked slowly, surveying the scene. The wind was carrying scents from parts of the forest not scorched by wildfire. The fawn’s senses were confused.
At the rim of the destruction panted a kit. The beginner prowler was weary. A hungry blaze had been reaching for his tail for several sets of days and nights. He was just beginning to realize he had an appetite.
The brush was thick, yet the weary mother could clearly sense the presence of danger. The large doe was rigidly still; a slight breeze blew in her face. She could smell the predator just yards away.
Where’s my baby? Is my mate alive?
The fox crouched silent; hunger and patience battled for dominance. Her mouth watered. The other side of the heavy bush was the possibility of dinner. She knew she had the strength left for one attack.
Where’s my mate? I hope my son is still waiting where I told him to?
The kit was restless. He knew his mother told him to stay, but there was something in the wind. He spied out unto the meadow’s remains.
The kit took off in full run; grunting with each step of his burned paws.
The familiar sounds of a running fox tickled a pair of singed ears. The weary male struggled to his feet and discovered the will to run.
The doe was contemplating her options. She could run, but not have the strength to fight if caught. Or, she could stay and try to ward off an attack by a smaller animal, if the predator was alone.
“Fox, I know you’re there. I smell your indecision.”
“”Listen, I know you are a mother fox and you’re hunting because your mate is missing, like mine. You do know I am able to kill you with one strike of my hoof? What do you say we save our energy, for today, and go find our babies?”
The mother fox crept around the bush. She stood and stared at the doe; neither creature blinked.
Cries came from the middle of the meadow. Both mother’s instincts kicked in and they took off running towards their offspring.
The doe arrived at the standoff first. Her baby was backed up against a large rock. The young fox was creeping closer. The mother jumped in front of the kit and reared up.
The female fox ran to her baby and grabbed him out of the way with her teeth.
“What are you doing, Mom? I’m hunting.”
“Not today, Son.”
The voice was mean, deep and familiar to the kit. “What do you mean, not today?”
“Yes, Son, it’s me. Looks like you’ve done a fine job. There are three of us. I think we can pull that fawn down and eat well tonight. What do you say, Mate?”
The mother fox couldn’t speak. She glanced quickly at the Doe, then back at the ground. She prepared herself to join the attack.
“We go on the count of three.” The male fox ordered, sneering at the doe and fawn.
“One, two …”
With the strength he didn’t know he still had, the huge ten point buck burst through the bushes at full gallop.
“Father!” The fawn screamed.
Quickly the massive buck stretched his huge antlers down and scooped up daddy fox and threw him against the rock his daughter had been backed up against.
It didn’t take mother and baby fox long to scamper off into the forest. After a moment to regain his composure the male fox trotted off after them. His red tail was hanging between his legs.
“Oh, Father. You saved our lives. I thought you were gone.”
“No, not gone, just a little burnt up. I found a better place for us to go. It’s safer; follow me.”
The mother deer looked at her mate and snuggled close. She whispered.
“You know, mate-of-mine, you just redefined ‘Father’ for your daughter.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re her hero now.”
The Buck stood proud.
“Hero Stag. I think I like that.” He smiled.
“Knock it off, mate-of-mine, before your head gets too big to run. There are more than foxes out here. Those two legged creatures will be coming soon.”
“You’re right, let’s go. Come on little girl.”
“Coming, Father, I mean, Hero Stag.”
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