Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Untitled Horror Story

Hi Guys, welcome to my story workshop. I figured why not post a story here? All the greats do it. I am in no way a writer in any sphere near Neil Gaimain except by following him on Twitter. And lucky you, I can't afford an editor. So please give me some idea. It's just a rough draft, nothing more.

Happy Halloween

It’s not that I don’t like animals, I do. I had many pets growing up. I donate every year to the ASPCA, receive my wrapping paper, or stationery stickers in appreciation. No wonder they always need money, they are always giving stuff away. It’s a bad business model.

Anyway, it started on a Tuesday night. I remember, because Ginny, the house was dark when I returned home from work. Ginny and Cara were at Zumba, a mother-daughter bonding group or something. I’m sure they’ve told me and I’ve forgotten.

I headed to the kitchen to look for something for dinner. On occasion Ginny would leave something, if she had enough time after work to cook, and I was hopeful. There were lingering traces of cooked meat in the air. I searched high and low, nary a scrap of aluminum foil to signal leftovers wrapped up. The freezer lacked any frozen meals as well, a fact to which my stomach protested in a deep caveman guttural tone.

Muttering to myself I picked up my keys and left the house to go to the supermarket a few miles away. As I emerged fat raindrops began plopping down on the shoulders of my coat, adding to my irritation. My approach to the car was announced by the neighbors’ dog, a whining Chihuahua mix that pranced anxiously along the edge of the fence. As I slid into the driver’s seat it began alternating jumping and digging as it watched me.

I backed out of the driveway, leaving it behind, quickly arriving at the grocery store, the evening crowd of after work shoppers almost gone. Good. A handful of frozen dinners and I was out again, my mood lifting at the prospect, only a ten minute car ride, and a few minutes pacing in front of the microwave away. Perhaps I would make two, since one of them never seemed to be enough, I thought as I drove, the windshield wipers gently whooshing in a hypnotic rhythm. The girls wouldn’t be home for a few more hours, maybe a whiskey to go along with it.

I admit I wasn’t paying much attention as I drove down my street. Didn’t notice the gate was open next door, didn’t see the small dog, in the headlights, running around on the wet asphalt. Maybe if I had I couldn’t have helped it anyway, with the roads being so slick. Maybe I would have spun out and died myself.

It was a soft thump, but it woke me from my trance. Echoes of the last bark translated themselves into thoughts in my brain. The dog. Was out. I hit it. I slid into the driveway, putting the car into park, on autopilot. Shaking, I got out of the car. There were clumps of tissue and fur in the treads of the front tire by my door. A trail leading out to the street.

The house next door was dark. I looked up and down the street, didn’t see anyone, any other cars. We weren’t exactly off a main road so it made sense. And why would anyone hang outside voluntarily in this weather?

I nodded to myself, following the trail to the lump in the street. It was hard to tell what it was, really. Squinting it just looked like meat. I expected to feel more revulsion at it than I did. I nudged it with the toe of my dress shoe. I have no idea what I expected from it, but it was satisfying.

So was the silence. The lack of barking, just the gentle pitter patter of the rain. I could hear it without the yapping. The tires would probably be clean by morning, with the rain, but the pile in the street looked obvious. I walked to the garage, punched in the code and pulled out the snow shovel leaning against the wall. I walked back out to the street, ignoring the fact I was getting drenched. I scooped up the pile, it fit into the shovel easily and dumped it down the storm drain. I put the shovel back, retrieved my grocery bag and went inside to fix dinner. Maybe I would make it a double whiskey.

I slept well that night, Ginny by my side, the rain on the windows, a small dog’s keening mysteriously absent.

Ginny informed me the next night that the neighbors’ dog had gotten loose during the rainstorm. They were going to put up posters if it didn’t come back by the next day. I assured her I thought it would. I was surprised how easily the lie came. I wasn’t in a habit of doing it.

The dog never returned home. What a surprise.

I think the squirrel had rabies. You don’t often see them as roadkill. Raccoons, sure, but not squirrels. Too smart, too wily. The way that sucker was crossing the road was a sign, like he’d had one too many at the bar and the barkeep made him walk home. I figured I was helping out society when my wheels rolled over it and I felt the thump. I glanced back in my review, but didn’t stop. I was late for work.

The evening news had a story about spreading rabies in the wild animal population. Ginny said she thought she’d seen a raccoon with a suspicious gait and snuggled closer to me on the couch. I felt like a hero for a moment, maybe I had saved a kid’s life by running that thing over.

So the next one, the skunk, I saw, and I didn’t try to put on my brakes, in fact I swerved slightly towards it, without realizing I was doing so. I would save people from the offense of being sprayed by a skunk.

Don’t run over skunks. Not worth the smell. It goes off when it dies. How awful. Why wouldn’t it? Animals piss and shit themselves, why wouldn’t the glands go off?

At least it made a more satisfying sound than the dog. Made me wonder what it would be like to hit something even bigger. People hit deer all the time. Did it pop, crunch, thump? I started to get distracted at work thinking about it. Ginny asked why I was being so different. I told her I wanted to take a vacation. Somewhere cold for Christmas.

I added a better front bumper to my car before we went on our road trip. I cross referenced indexes on deer population late into the night. I found an alley where strays liked to hang. It was behind an seafood restaurant. Easy pickings, not much of a challenge. Stinky little animals, breeding incessantly. Not much will stop them. Should we spay and neuter them all?

My tally book added up quickly. I thumbed through it constantly. Cats-27, dogs- 3, skunks-1, raccoons-4, squirrels-1, crows-1, possums-11. I was ready for some fair game. But I wasn’t ready for the ice.

Unless you’ve been in a car accident it is hard to understand the eerie stillness of time as the scene unravels around, chaos spinning outward, uncontrolled, and you really are just a passenger to fate.

The doe lay bleating in the road, a sound not much different than the one my wife was making from under the dent in the passenger side door. Didn’t you see him? Ginny had screamed after, once the shock had worn off. None of us had been seriously injured but the car was totaled, and the deer was put down by the animal control officer who came to the scene. It was an overall disappointing vacation.

You’d think that would have been that, curbed my obsession, ended it. But cars were easy to replace.

Wives not so much.

It didn’t surprise me when Ginny left. It was the night she found the ones that didn’t go down the drain. My trophies. She said there was something wrong with me. I had changed. And she was going before it got worse.

There was nothing for me to do anymore but drive. Every night, in my new car, I would prowl the streets, eyes open wide, ready for the slightest moment that wasn’t metal. Then one night a bicyclist, out late for a joyride one abnormally warm winter evening, hit a pothole caused by caused by all the recent rains. He flew out right in front of my car, a sign from the universe.

Any witnesses would say it wasn’t my fault. I had no time to brake. Truthfully I had become one with my car and probably could have done something. But he was put in my path. Maybe he was a serial killer or something. But how gentle it was, no more than a large dog. I was around the corner and out of sight moments after, calmly parking my car and walking around the corner to see what I had wrought.

So much sympathy from those collected. Did they know what it felt like? The joy, the power? For a moment I was ready to burst with my experiences to share. But looking closer I could see in their eyes it was the discomfort of understanding, the revulsion. Why was I the only one?

I backed away from the scene, no longer wishing to be part of it. As I stepped away I slipped in something.

I looked down. Guts, of some sort? I tried to shake it off. I took another step, my foot falling into more of the stuff. I kept backing up, trying to scrap it off my shoe. I noticed a paw in the muck. Its’ fingers clenched around the hem of my pants. I screamed, trying to back away. I was firmly held by the small fist. In my struggle to get free I didn’t notice the police car careening around the corner.

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