I trudged over to my bike, which lay about twenty feet ahead of me. Once I got to it, I propped myself on it and surveyed the area for exactly what it was that I'd obliterated (there was no way in hell that anything could have survived the impact with the bullet my bike had become). Lying a few yards up the trail was the deer I'd hit.
Even in the fugue state I was in, I knew better than to walk up to a hulking mass of horns and hooves and attempt to awaken it. But I needed to know if it was still alive. I'd have felt horrible to have killed this poor thing just because I wanted to go down a hill really fast. So I called out: "Hey, deer!"
No response except for the little bolt of pain from my side.
"Deer!" I continued. "Hey, deer! Wake up, deer!"
I winced a little as I reached for the strap of my CamelBak. Slowly, I removed the bag and brought it around to the front of me, so I could reach in for a PowerBar. With what little effort I could muster, I lobbed the carb-loaded food replacement bar at the animal. The landed on the deer's hind quarters with a lackluster paff.
I hurled my full CamelBak at the thing. The full weight of the water-filled bag hit the deer right in the head and startled it awake. It began lurching to its side, attempting to right itself, and once it got to its feet, it stared at me.
Which surprised me. I'd figured he'd get a glimpse of me and take off running. But I guessed these nature-preserve-raised animals weren't really scared of humans. He just looked at me, silently asking the question: "Dude, what the f*** was that?"
"Uh, sorry, deer," I said to him.
He just kept looking.
"You, uh, you okay?"
No response save for a small sway of the head and a shake of his antlers.
"You wanna, like, trade insurance information or anything?"
He stood there, staring.
I didn't know what to do. I was somewhat scared that the deer might try to charge me. But the sun was going down, and I'd run out of whatever patience one might possess that would allow him to stand in the middle of the woods with a bloody leg, a broken wrist, and fractured ribs and have a one-sided conversation with a deer. I abandoned the little chat I was having with Mr. Deer and let him keep my CamelBak. I began pushing my bike up the hill I'd descended, keeping one eye on the huge mammal I'd bludgeoned with a bicycle.
The entire time he watched me walk up the hill. He didn't make any moves toward or away from me. He just kept his eyes on me. Every time I'd look back, he was standing there watching me limp up the hill with my bike. When I got to the top, I waved at him with my good hand and said, "Okay, later, deer. Get checked out by a doctor."
I failed to notice the two mountain bikers at the head of the Pine Mountain Trail who'd arrived in time to hear me talking to the animal. They took one look at me and said, "Holy s***, dude!"
"Yeah," I said, not even bothering to play tough. "I hit a deer."
"F***," one guy said.
"You want some help?" said the other.
Usually, when someone takes a fall or has a flat or whatever, someone else will pass by and offer help, knowing fully well that the offer won't be taken up. I wanted to tough this one out and be a hero and make it out to my car on my own, if for no other reason than to prove that I wasn't nearly as bad off as I felt. But the bolts of pain going through my body were telegraphing to my brain, saying, "Hey, dummy, you need some help." So I accepted their offer.