There’s a quaint little town somewhere in the distance, almost isolated from the rest of civilization. It’s a rather rural place containing a few hundred people and a small surrounding forest. Despite the small size of the area, the streets would always be bustling with folks running errands, working on outdoor projects, and being generally social. Now, those roads are empty. Well, empty of human beings, rather. You see, something has been spreading among us lately. A sickness that has left our community in ruin has fallen upon us, turning the world as we know it on its head. No, not a sickness, but something more. Something none of us could have ever imagined has emerged, consuming not only our humanity but the hope we once held as well
When the animals began acting strangely, we initially tried our best to pass it off as nothing. We would catch the deer peering at us from the foliage. They never blinked, all they did was keep their eyes on anyone who passed by, tracking their every movement. When I found myself close to the woods, I noticed several eyes glued onto me. As I cautiously approached them, something seemed wrong. They weren’t even remotely afraid of me, holding their ground and continuously observing my movements. I stopped in my tracks, taking in the sight of the deer before me. Their bodies were scraped and bruised like something had brutally assaulted them. Their form was almost skeleton-like as a result of malnourishment. Despite their injuries, their face lacked any sort of emotion at all. It was as if they weren’t even aware of their condition. I silently backed away from the deer, their eyes still locked onto my every move.
The strange confrontations with the animals would progressively grow weirder as time went on. Rather than holding their ground when someone was close by, they would begin approaching the person. At first, their movements were methodical, and their eyes never wavered from their target. Soon enough, however, they grew bolder and their movements became faster. Some people would awake in the dead of night to find a pair of an animal’s eyes glaring at them through the window. Their faces would be pressed against the glass, breathing heavily on the clear surface. During these stages, their bodies were even thinner, their wounds more profound, and their eyes far wider than before. Their faces which had once been ripe with life now appeared sunken; their skin was stuck against the bone underneath.
I remember the first attack. Someone had gotten too close to one of the deer. His cries were heard, but help had not arrived in nearly enough time. When we found him, we saw the deer standing over his body, looking down at his corpse. A thick pool of liquid covered the man. It had a yellowish and black color which appeared to be a mixture of mucus and vomit. We witnessed the liquid, which we would later coin as the contagion, sliver into the man’s mouth, seemingly moving on its own. The deer noticed our presence and looked up at us. We could see the deer’s rib cage now, the bones protruding from its skin. The patches of fur on its back and stomach were messy and soaked with blood. Several people passing by stopped and took notice of what had happened. Some screamed with horror, while others gagged at the ghastly sight. I covered my mouth with my hands, attempting not to get sick at the vomit-inducing scene before me.
Everyone winced as the deer took a step towards us, and then another. Then, it dropped to the ground, dead. The two bodies were soon surrounded by the morbidly curious spectators, everyone either whispering or calling for help. Our small town had never witnessed such a grizzly sight, and we had an extremely small law enforcement presence since, well, nothing ever happened here. I looked at the man once more. His mouth hung open, his eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets. His body had been beaten and bruised, and his clothes had been torn from the several bites he had received. The mix of whispers and shouts all ceased as we took notice of a woman behind us. She didn’t say a single word. Instead, she simply pointed towards the forest, and our heads swiveled around to face the woods. Dozens of pairs of glowing eyes could be seen from beyond the underbrush. Everyone fell silent, but only for a moment. My ears were once more pierced by the shrill shrieks produced from the crowd as the deer erupted from the bushes and sprang towards us, moving impossibly fast given their physical state. We all frantically sprinted in the opposite direction, shoving past one another and making their way towards their homes.
I saw the deer pounce onto my neighbors and stomp down on their chests, snapping bone and tearing open their victim’s flesh with their teeth. The cries of those who were being attacked were quickly stifled by the deer crushing their throats with hefty hooves. I tried my best to keep my vision away from the hordes of monstrous animals attacking the people around me. I could hear heavy heaving as the deer projectile vomited the contagion into the orifices of its victims, and the sound of screaming began to fade as the sickly animals caught up with us. Most of our town was infected that day. Our few police officers fired round after round at the deer but to no avail. I do my best to suppress the memories of the outbreak. To remember them is to bring forth such a heavy dosage of anxiety that my entire body quakes with terror.