Bleary eyed I followed Robbie out into the red-orange glow of the sunrise, dragging our bags to the vehicle. Josh was already seated in the passenger seat next to the driver, fiddling with the radio reception in the front.
‘Take your time guys…we’re set to go in fifteen! Chuck me your bags, and report to the office before we leave. Oh, and this is our driver, Halim.’
Robbie and I shook hands with Halim, and we made our way quickly to and from the office. I sat next to him at the rear of the Land Rover, and I watched the landscape flash past as we travelled across the uneven land. I peeled an orange, and handed segments to the other three guys. The citrus smell stayed pungent on my fingers, wafting a trail into the mild breeze. An hour into our journey, I saw a few cape hares dash across the barren ground and scatter into the shrubbery. I looked up into the brightening sky and spotted a hawk soaring smooth circles around our position, its sharp eyes locating signs of movement from the wary hares.
‘Halim, stop the car!’ Josh yelled.
The Land Rover shuddered to a halt, and the three of us leapt out. We followed Josh as he ran towards a collapsed heap on the sandy terrain. I glimpsed a trail of red next the bundle, and quickened my pace.
‘What is it Josh?’ Robbie shouted, as Josh knelt down next to it.
We gathered around him and the object on the floor. A hare was bleeding profusely, its hind legs savaged and broken, stringy tendons dangling from each leg. Its eyes blinked rapidly, and I observed with horror that the hare’s spine was twisted in an obscure fashion - not obvious at a glance, but as I focused on the animal, the image transferred to my brain didn’t match that of an unharmed hare.
‘Road kill.’ Josh. muttered. He pulled out his pistol and held it to the hare’s head.
‘Josh, don’t! We have the first aid kit in the vehicle, let’s see what we can do.’ Robbie said urgently.
‘Mate, my dad was a vet. It’s as good as dead - its paralysed and bleeding in the middle of nowhere - if we don’t put it out of it’s misery now, some jackal is going to eat the poor thing anyway. Trust me.’ Josh pulled the trigger, and the shot echoed across the horizon. ‘Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind. Remember that.’
He walked away as Robbie and I stayed staring at the dead hare.
‘Come on Robbie, let’s go.’
He dragged his eyes away from the corpse, and we made our way back to the Land Rover.