Red Fox was trailing behind his mate as she stalked a rabbit, when it happened. The rabbit hopped across the black ribbon of asphalt separating one part of the forest from another and the female fox followed. Usually she looked for approaching beasts, but this time she was focused solely on her prey, and failed to see the shiny four-wheeled beast approaching at an impossibly fast speed.
The beast struck her squarely, sending her flying through the air to land on her back in the gravel beside the ribbon of asphalt. Red Fox came to her side and waited for her to rise to her feet again. Perhaps she had just been stunned by the blow from the beast which had continued on its way with no perceptible change in speed or direction.
But there was no movement. The life spirit was gone from his mate, the love of his life. He stood over her body protectively as another of the four-wheeled beasts whizzed by on the asphalt.
They had raised five litters of pups together, all of them healthy. Once they left the den he had only seen one once. It was a male who came into his territory. He gave him a look of recognition, then the obligatory growl to make it clear he would defend his territory. The pup walked away, looking back only once. The pup knew him too, and would not challenge his father.
What would he do next? He had never imagined being without the love of his life. Since they first met and mated they had been partners and parents, always sharing their kills between themselves and with their young. Prey had been plentiful in the woods they chose as their territory. They had lived a good life. What should he do now?
He grabbed her lifeless body by the nape of her neck with his teeth, and dragged it to the center of the black ribbon of asphalt. Releasing her, he stood over her body, as if guarding the remains of his mate, and waited patiently for another of the shiny four-wheeled beasts to come to strike him and send his life spirit to join hers in whatever came after.