ROADKILL RUN

Posted: November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
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ROADKILL RUN

The road was long and winding, curling like a restless serpent through the thickly wooded foliage of the forest. Towering monumental trees marched ever so vigilantly alongside it, green and bristling, as if they were hairy green giant soldiers standing guard over the lonely strip of highway.

In their sky blue Holden Ray Hennessey and James Frew made their way along the desolate road, the volume of the stereo cranked up high to coincide with their high spirits.

Even though it was a good three hours from their destination, neither of the two men were feeling fatigued at all or discouraged by the long distance they were going to have to travel.

     Ray was at the wheel, having made the switch of drivers at the last place of respite, a secluded truckers spot about twenty kilometres behind them, and James was in the passenger seat resting up should Ray’s stamina not last out the final hours.

Ray leaned forward and lowered the volume of the music until it was a little more than a dull hum in the background.

     “You know what this stretch of road through these boonies is, Frew?” He addressed his companion.

     “Twisty, windy, curling and loaded with fuckin’ potholes,” James replied. “That’s what it is.”

     “No, do you know what it’s called?”

     “Forty miles of bad road?” James hazarded.

     “Close, but no cigar,” Ray laughed. “It’s called … wait for it … Roadkill Run.”

     “Roadkill Run? Why?” James wanted to know.

     A malicious sparkle glinted in Ray’s brown eyes as he navigated his vehicle along the treacherous twists and turns of the road.

     “Apparently there’s a tribe of cavemen or something, woods people you know, queer backwards freaks who live up in the hills. They only come down to the road to do their hunting and gathering. Whatever they scavenge off the road is dinner. Crows, rabbits, snakes, foxes, if it gets nailed by a car they eat it.”

     “You’re shitting me,” James looked incredulous. “Where’d you hear that?”

     “I’ve heard it a few times, just whispers and stories. That’s why this road is usually pretty deserted. People don’t like driving through here late at night.”

     James didn’t look convinced.

     “If nobody drives through here how do these tribes-people survive? No cars, no gourmet meals to be had.”

    “Apparently they make do alright. I can believe a car couldn’t make it through this stretch without hitting some critter and laying it low for the woodland gourmands.”

     “You’re jerking my chain aren’t you, Hennessey? Nobody eats roadkill.”

     “Savages do,” Ray amused him. “It’s a true story. A primitive tribe exists in these woods here. Up in the hills there.”

     “These woods?” The dubious expression on James’ face was growing.

     “Yep. Roadkill Run. The restaurant of the primitives.”

     “Bullshit.” James decided. “Absolute bullshit.”

     Ray shrugged, grinned and turned the music back up to an audible level. “Fine, don’t believe me.”

     “I don’t,” James replied, and he didn’t.

     Whoever heard of a tribe of people dwelling in the woods and feasting on the carcasses of animals provided to them by speeding metal juggernauts racing along the curling road?

However, it wasn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination to envision fur dressed barbarians with bones in their noses and sharp bone weapons in their hairy fists.

     James’ mind was all ready to accept that the thick of the woods housed bands of roadkill munching weirdos.

     Ray glanced at him, the mischievous grin still plastered to his features.

     “Hey there’s a long straight stretch of road coming up. What do you say we speed up a few notches and try and knock something off so, the heathens have got dinner tonight? Hey? What do you reckon? They’ll forever be worshipping the blue Holden from heaven which delivered the feast.”

     James bestowed a looked upon him indicating he certainly believed his companion was out of his mind.

     “You want to hit an animal with the car so your mythical imaginary wood creatures can have a feed?”

     “Yeah. Bird, animal, whatever they eat. They’d probably be stoked with anything.”

     James shook his head. “Aren’t you confusing reality with bullshit Ray?”

     “It’s not bullshit. It’s true. We put something on the road and they come and get it and eat it. We can even come back and wait for them to come calling. Or we can just wait for them to come down.”

     “I don’t think so.”

     “Hey, why not?” Ray pressed. “We can even take a few happy snaps of feasting families.”

     “Come on, Ray, just drive the damn car and let’s just get where we are going.”

     “Fine.”

     Ray came round a sharp corner with a screech of tyres and then the long straight stretch referred to was before them, looking like a dark highway in a virtual reality racing game.

     James had seen little evidence that any life at all existed. No birds fluttering away in alarm from the side of the road, no foxes, rabbits, dogs scurrying across the black top pinpointed in the glowing beams of the headlights.

That’s because the woods tribes have eaten all of them, James thought. Crap.

     James gazed out his window at the densely forested landscape rushing past.

Trees grew almost all the way to the very edge of the road. A miniscule strip of bare dirt studded with small infrequent stones was the only border, which prevented the stalwart wilds from choking the road and trampling it under.

     Ray stamped on the accelerator and the vehicle shot forward with an increase of speed as if it had been blasted forcefully from a powerful cannon.

     James stopped gazing out his window; the fast rushing scenery was nothing but a blur.

He returned his attention to the highway, peering through the windscreen.

     “Ray! Look out!”

     The racing vehicle was bearing down on a hunched shape directly in its path out on the highway, a shape that swivelled a shaggy head around as the engine roared.

James grabbed the dashboard with both hands with such desperate strength that had it been constructed of a more malleable medium his fingernails would have punched his fists right through.

     “A monkey!” Ray exclaimed gleefully. “Chow time mountain folk! Come and dig in!”

     “It’s not a monkey, Ray, you fuckwit!” James screamed.

The hunched figure tried to scramble away like a deformed crab dragging some limp shapeless object after it.

     James realised with a horrifying clarity that what the creature was hauling away was a cat corpse, trailing intestines and other unidentifiable entrails.

Then the car slammed into the retreating shape just before it could dive off the road into the undergrowth.

     James covered his head as the body of the cat flew up and sprayed foul matter over the windshield.

     The thump of the larger body echoed in his ears and he saw a twisted form throwing outstretched arms wide as it was flung off to the left of the car.

The car started making an awful grinding noise.

     “Stop the car, godammit!” James bellowed. “You hit a kid you fucking idiot!”

     “Cool it, Frew, just cool it, it was just a monkey.”

     “You ever heard of a monkey living native in this country? You dolt!”

     “Maybe it escaped from the zoo,” Ray suggested lamely, but he stopped the car and mercifully the grinding noise of the tortured engine ceased.

James was out of his seat, out the door before the car had come to a complete halt.

     “You fucking moron,” he was railing at Ray as he left, leaving the car door swinging wide. “You dickhead! Can you believe…”

     His voiced trailed away as he headed back up the stretch of road where the splayed figure had been hurled by the charging bull of the car.

     “Come on James,” Ray wheedled. “Forget it. Get back in the car, let’s just go.”

     James didn’t respond.

     “Don’t make me get out of this car Frew, I’m warning you. Get back in now.”

     Nothing from James.

     “I’m counting to three and then the last train to Clarkesville is leaving,” Ray said. “One… two… two and a half… two and three quarters… Come on James! Three. Ok that’s it. I’m off.”

He didn’t drive off.

     He hesitantly exited the vehicle and stood beside the car, gazing back up the road they’d travelled.

     James wasn’t anywhere in sight. A cat carcass lay sprawled like a feline fur rug on the road, but there was nothing else.

     “James! Where’d you fucking go?”

     Slowly Ray trudged back up the road cursing and muttering. He didn’t expect another vehicle to come screaming down the road.

He only heard it.

It had no headlights.

Whoever was driving was doing so blindly.

Ray screamed like a terrified child and dove for cover.

The rushing dark shape of the lightless vehicle hit his driving form from the knees down and a giant fireball of excruciating agony ignited in both legs.

     The freak car didn’t slow. It had no rear lights either. It vanished in the murk with a barely audible purring engine.

      Ray lay across the gravel-studded strip separating the road from the woods, his shattered kneecaps throbbing regions of sheer pain. He passed out almost immediately due to the agony. He found himself fading in and out of consciousness.

Each time he swam back into the pain streaked world of wakefulness he called for James, his voice ragged and hoarse.

     There was no reply.

     The silence of the waiting woods mocked him as if they were informing him that they’d swallowed James up and all in time they would claim him as well, busted kneecaps and all.

     He drifted back into merciful black.

     Returned to reality.

     A set of feet stood before him.

     “James?” He questioned weakly and hopefully, even though the boots James had been wearing were now absent and his feet were bare.

     Christ James has gruesome feet, Ray thought illogically. Curling black hair on them, dirty as all fuck, grimy and huge. Obviously wasn’t too keen on keeping his toenails trimmed either. They are so long they are almost talons.

     Lying prone on his stomach, Ray could only see as far up as James’ knees. They were knobbly and furred with black bristles of hair.

     When a second and third pair of similar legs appeared behind the first Ray realised he wasn’t in the company of James.

     A shaggy head appeared about three inches from his.

     Yellow eyes with black slits like those of a cat peered intently at him through an unkempt field of wild black hair.

     In that jungle a cavernous mouth cracked open, exposing yellow-black stumps of teeth filed to needle points.

     Ray’s screams were loud enough to wake the dead, frantic and horrified.

     They fell on deaf ears.

     On the long dark lonely stretch of road that was Roadkill Run the woods tribe settled down around the latest offering to begin their feast.

      ©2013 Jim Goforth

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