This doesn’t end well. You’re warned.
Toward the end of my run on Saturday, something wriggling in the ditch beside the road caught my eye. I stopped to look, and saw what I took to be a juvenile skunk in distress. Its small form was squirming around spasmodically in the leaves at the bottom of the gully, one paw sticking up. I assumed it was either rabid or had been hit by a car.
When it turned a little I could see its muzzle, and suddenly the animal’s proportions didn’t make sense. The face on it looked full grown, but its body looked stunted. The skunk was looking at me, mouth open, panting. I felt terrible, but assumed it was not long for this world and would expire on its own. I ran a few more paces, but curiousity took over; the size and shape of it had been wrong. A glance back told me the rest of the story.
The back half of the skunk was a few feet further up the bank, motionless. The front part – head, one leg, a portion of the body – still lay trembling in the ditch, writhing in what appeared to be agony and which showed no signs of abating as I watched in horrified fascination.
Reluctantly, I concluded that I should finish the grisly job that someone in his car had started. I picked up a log, apologizing to the skunk the entire time, and dropped it as hard as I could on the creature. Its spasms continued. Still apologizing, I picked up another one and dropped it on the first one a couple of times, until the animal lay still.
UPDATE: For the record, I did not feel good about this. Not at all.