On a crisp, bright spring morning, as golden sky arrows pierce the forest an old raccoon labors up a narrow path to the top of a hill there to lay his tired and worn body in the warm sun. His time of walking on is close and he doesn’t want it to be during the cold, still night.

He is disoriented as he reaches the top of the knoll, but he can feel the warmth encompass him. The aches and pains of his lifetime are now numb as he as he lay his sick old body in the warning grass. He rolls over several times heating each of his joints as though cleansing them in the warmth of the sun as he wipes the spittle from his beard and rubs his paws on the moist leaves.

Weary from his trek, he closes his eyes and wonders, “How long will it take? Will I suffer the pain of many others or the madness of the few?”

A sound, a muted growl comes from the small brush by the path. He knows this sound. He knows his pain will soon end. He lays still.

Slowly, as if losing a race with a snail, the intruder emerges from the brush its eyes darting in all directions as it searches for the source of the delicious aroma that has imposed upon his haven.

“There, look there it is!” it thinks as it focuses on the old one laying alone in the sun. It begins to salivate – hunger is overwhelming, clouding the mind as it attacks plunging fangs into the old raccoon.

“Welcome coyote. Welcome to death. No longer will you steal our young!” cries the raccoon as he, in turn, bites his foe one last time before shadows overtake him.

The coyote stops, an unfamiliar taste assaults his tongue as the stench of insanity flows into his body.

Too late wisdom, too late options, too late…

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