Not long ago there was a programme on Radio 4 which said that deer had become a pest. There are now a million and a half of the blighters roaming the country, ravaging crops, gardens and young trees, and their numbers should be severely reduced. Trouble was, said one expert, that the public wouldn't believe the truth about deer, as they still had the cute, cosy Bambi image... Well, it's never too late to try to change an image, so here's a short story entitled "Fallow My Leader".
The herd of deer was drifting silently through the wood when they heard
crying. They stopped. Their leader, Bambi, went ahead to investigate. He found a small deer weeping.
"What's up, kid?" said Bambi.
The small deer looked up. His name was Binko.
"My mummy has been killed," he said. "And my daddy. And all my herd."
"Uh huh. When? How did it happen?"
Bambi showed no pity, just interest.
"It was yesterday, down at Three Mile Farm. There were people with guns, waiting for us in the woods."
"Ambush, eh? Down at Three Mile Farm? Thanks, kid. Good information."
He was about to move off when the baby deer said: "What'll happen to me?"
"Well," said the large deer, "I should say you'll probably starve to death, or be shot, or caught by the Beast of Staples Hill. Or you could tag along with us."
"I'll come with you, if I may."
"OK," said Bambi. "But there are conditions. You must do everything I say. You must eat everything I tell you to eat. And you must do your eye exercises."
"Nature gave the deer a wonderful advantage in life. A pair of big soulful innocent eyes. It makes us look adorable to humans. So practise your big eyes."
He took Binko back to the herd and went to where the mothers all were.
"Another kid to look after, girls."
They looked at each other. One spoke.
"We've got more than enough in the herd already, Bambi."
Bambi went over to the speaker and with his evil horns backed her up against a tree.
"We need all the recruits we can get, lady. We lost five deer last week alone."
He jabbed her with a horn to make the point, until the blood ran. Then he addressed the whole herd.
"Tonight we go into the garden at No 5. The family is away on holiday. It'll be feast time for everyone. They've got a wonderful herbaceous border..."
Binko spent the rest of the day with the young ones. He asked about Bambi.
"He's tough," said one called Bafta proudly. "He's the toughest deer leader around. Last week he killed a hunter and took his gun."
"Can he fire it?" said Binko.
"No," admitted Bafta. "But the humans don't know that. They probably think there's armed deer out here."
The young ones all cackled and head butted each other. They seemed very combative, thought Binko.
"What's the Beast of Staples Hill?" he asked.
"Oh, that's Bambi's joke," said Bafta. "The humans believe that up on Staples Hill there is a mystery animal killing things – a puma or cougar or something – and he uses it as a threat. There's no such thing, of course."
"How do you know?" said Binko.
"Because all the deaths they blame on it were actually committed by us," said Bafta. "That's why they call us the Mean Herd."
Just how mean Binko didn't find out until they all got to the back of the garden at No 5 that night. They stood in the dark at the opening in the hedge which they had chewed the previous night.
"Very quiet," breathed Bambi. "Too quiet. Don't like it."
There was imperceptible grumbling from the hungry herd.
"One way of finding out. Where's the new young one? Binko..."
Binko was sent for.
"Binko," said Bambi,"I want you to walk across the lawn."
"But won't that be..?"
"Just do what you're told."
Binko walked out into the moonlight. a shot rang out and he fell. The herd, as they had been trained, didn't panic but stayed stock still. Bambi, who had spotted where the gunman was, went round behind him silently in the dark and kicked his brains in. Before they ravaged the garden, Bambi went over to the dying Binko.
"Well done, kid," he said. "Thanks. You didn't die in vain."
"Am I dying?" said Binko.
"Put it this way," said Bambi. "The next time you go to sleep we won't hear you snoring. And now if you'll excuse me, I see some marigolds need attention."
Taken from 'Tales of Killer Bambi', published by Real Kids StoriesReuse content