RICHARD AND GEOFF stood above the animal. It lay there much the same as it had done since Karen rescued it from the fence, its eyes like dead fire scanning anxiously within its paralysed head. Geoff lifted it out of the basket and felt the warmth of its belly as it rose and fell below the fur. He gripped the hare around its ribs, feeling its heart beat against his palms.
Richard was attempting to conceal his unease, forcing an unnatural posture. It was an odd mix of masculine immediacy and hardened composure, his cool-running blood – red, but growing stagnant.
Geoff moved to the bench. He placed the animal on his lap, holding it just above its hind legs and wrapped his finger round the hare’s neck until it met his thumb. With a short tug, the neck snapped and the animal fell limp.
‘A simple chinning.’ Said Geoff as he stood up, patting Richard on the back with his free hand, the other still holding the creature by its neck. ‘He died looking up. An honourable, Christian death, wouldn’t you say?’ A strange ironic glint appeared in Geoff’s eye.
Richard’s revulsion awoke his other senses as the short act echoed in his mind. He heard more in that echo than just a quick snap of the neck. Time slowed and each ligament from the animal’s neck to its shoulders tore and cracked as they separated from one another. He saw it too. He saw beneath hair and skin and flesh and saw the spine disjoint and its fluids change course. He heard death enter through the gaps of its bones.
Geoff squeezed down the animal’s lower half with his thumb, draining out the urine which had already soaked into the fur.
‘We don’t want that in the stew now, do we?’ he said, more to the animal than to Richard.