Reynard the fox slipped across the dual carriageway. It was quiet at this time of night and the danger from the cars and lorries was vastly reduced. He trotted through the shopping centre, pausing only to sniff at the litter bins on his way to the skips behind the restaurant. You could count on plenty of food in the city at night. Humans are such careless, wasteful creatures. They don’t know how good they’ve got it.
He crunched some bones from a fried chicken shop, scaring several rats who screeched and complained that they had found it first. Get lost, Reynard told them. Vermin!
Yes, life was good since he’d become an urban fox. He’d met a vixen who had shown him around – where the best places were for litter, for hiding, for sleeping during the day. Her name was Daisy but she had been killed by a motorbike, its cyclopean headlight confusing her for a moment. Fatally, as it turned out.
Now, Reynard operated alone. He considered going back to the countryside and enticing a female to return with him. Things were crazy in the countryside. Humans chased foxes, haughty on horseback, trumpeting like elephants, and spurring horse and hound alike to move in for the kill. And they call us cruel! Reynard marvelled. All right, if I come across a chicken coop, of course I’m going to break in and kill the lot. It’s only forward planning. Give me time and I’d carry them all away and cache them somewhere safe for a rainy day, but no. There were always alarms, and gunshots, and even banging saucepans together until I run away. I rarely get the chance to eat what I kill, thanks to humans.
But his new life suited him well enough. He was even gaining weight. Must be the fried food, he reckoned. I’m a hunter no more. A scavenger taking what I can find. And I never have to look very hard.
The humans, though, were a different story. Riding roughshod across the land, baying for blood. Reynard had heard rumours that they didn’t even eat what they hunted. It was just sport to them, the instilling of terror, the ripping apart. They even painted the faces of their young in their quarry’s blood. It was sick, in his opinion. You wouldn’t catch an animal acting like that.
He climbed onto a skip and dropped inside onto a mattress of discarded food. There was enough to feed him, a mate and a family of cubs for weeks, and the humans just threw it all away.
Reynard ate his fill. There was still time for a snooze before the sun came up and the humans came to open the supermarket. His last thought of the night, before consciousness slipped away, was “If I can give up hunting and live very well, why can’t they?”