I never got around to writing about the Thing I found in the woods. For now, I call it “IT” and occasionally “THING”, but I feel like I should be able to come up with a more descriptive name.
On an ordinary day, I was walking Giles through the woods, which is what we typically do right after work. The ride to the woods was uneventful that day- no dogs slithering out the window onto the highway, for example. It was business as usual in woods as well, with Giles bounding gleefully through the brush, taking a dump and peeing on things. Still nothing remarkable about this particular walk in the woods.
I didn’t jump and I didn’t scream. Instead I felt a sudden invisible punch to my stomach, pretty much what I imagine it would feel like if someone were to heave a shot put or small cannonball straight into your gut. I didn’t jump nor scream because I was too startled and split-second terrified. Instead I froze, kinda like a deer in….well, you know.
I don’t know how long I was actually frozen to the spot, it was one of those moments in time where milliseconds stretch into minutes as your brain struggles furiously to make sense of the incomprehensible image that your optic nerve is transmitting to it.
My super-slow-motion thoughts as I tried to process this sight were something like this:
1. Oh look! A deer! How lovely!
2. No wait! THIS DEER IS NOT NORMAL!
3. Don’t worry about it! It’s harmless because this is clearly a dead deer! Carry on, no danger here!
4. Not yet! There’s something weird here. This deer is dead but it’s upright and staring at me with sparkling, lifelike eyes! Dead deer don’t stand up and look at you! This is wrong, very, very wrong! You should panic! PANIC RIGHT NOW! IT’S A ZOMBIE DEER!
5. Ok, ok, calm down everyone, rational brain here…this is an odd sight indeed, but I don’t think we’re in any immediate danger. Let’s take a closer look….
Hmmm, this looks like a deer taxidermy mount in terrible, moth-eaten condition. Someone has propped it up into a tree in order to scare dog-walkers in the woods. See? There’s nothing to be scared of…
But, but- THAT’S WEIRD! I can’t process this weird information! Taxidermy is not supposed to be in the woods! This is weird and weird is scary and you should PANIC!
I walked away from it, trying to recover from the cannonball-stomach feeling and waiting for my pounding heart to slow down a little, and for the blood to circulate back into my hands, both of which had become ice pops. Giles blasted past me, running around like The World’s Happiest Dog and completely unconcerned with IT. I was headed back to the car with Giles by the time rational brain had full control again and my stomach wasn’t churning any more. Then rational brain got an idea-
“Hey, you like taxidermy. Maybe you should go back and take some pictures of it.”
That seemed like a good idea, but then rational brain continued and started to sound less rational but definitely more fun than a rational brain usually is:
“You know, you could even take it home with you. I mean, clearly it was placed there precisely for you to find. What are the chances that you, of all people, were the person to find this? I know it’s a mess, but maybe you could do something with it. Maybe you could at least keep the form and figure something out.”
So Giles was delighted to go back into the woods to retrieve IT. Despite my brain’s suggestions, the idea of touching IT made me nervous, like I still wasn’t fully convinced IT was not a zombie deer.
Once I was carrying IT, it immediately transformed into a nonscary piece of grody taxidermy and was no longer a zombie, and so I was happy and pleased with my find. And I was hoping that there would be people in the park or the parking lot staring at me, walking jauntily along with a ragged deer head, accompanied by a grinning dog who didn’t seem to notice that his mom was carrying something. No such luck, though. I was the only person there.
I took IT home and walked into the house where Jon was getting dinner ready. Fully recovered by this time, I said happily- “You have to come out and see what I found in the woods! You won’t believe it!”
Then I decided that it might be cruel to lead him to such an unexpected and gruesome THING in the far back seat of the car without any warning of IT’s nature. But I didn’t want to spoil the surprise completely, so I said “It’s really, really scary!” several times along the way. “No, I mean it’s seriously scary!” I thought that was fair enough.
I do wonder what he expected me to show him that had come from the woods. Maybe some weird bug I’d found? Possibly a dead animal? Well, that guess wasn’t far off.
His reaction was…controlled. “Ohhhhhh….that’s. Something. Mmmm-hmmm.”
We agreed IT was too disgusting to bring into the house, but it was ok for IT to live in my workshop and be my workshop mascot. IT looked on last weekend while I worked on some projects.
Except working alone with IT watching me was giving me the willies and I eventually covered him with a garbage bag to keep him from staring.
My idea that hasn’t taken full shape yet is to convert IT into a real zombie deer- cover him with resin so he won’t get any more bug-eaten, add bones popping out here and there, give him some teeth, a visible trachea in the spot where his throat is torn, make him bloody- that sort of thing. I figure he’s a perfect taxidermy specimen for me to practice on because there’s almost nothing I can do to ruin him even more, and it might be fun.
On the other hand, I feel like if I’m going for creepy, there’s nothing I can do to him now that would enhance that. He’s plenty creepy exactly as he is.