Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Paved Meat: A Roadkill Romance

   This week's Flash Fiction Challenge is to choose from a list of titles and write a story around it.  I chose my personal favorite:

Paved Meat: A Roadkill Romance

   Duke had never tasted anything so good in his entire life.  As he sank his teeth in the fleshiest bit of the 25-pound cat left flattened by a speeding 14-wheeler, the blood ran down his chin and dripped to the ground.  He licked it up greedily, savoring the juices from the meatiest meal he'd had in a long, long time.  
   Ever since his people left him, Duke had been on a strict diet of squirrel and raccoon meat, or whatever trash he could find wandering up and down the road.  He was dropped off three months ago in the middle of nowhere, on I-10 between Houston and Beaumont.  His once-paunchy Rottweiler body was withering away, and his ribs were beginning to stick out.
   This meal was a gift from the gods, and Duke was enjoying every bit of it.
   That is, until she arrived.  He smelled her long before he saw her.  Duke's eyes shifted fiercely as he growled a warning at the bitch creeping toward his meal.  
   It's MINE!  Go find your own!
   Rhonda was desperate.  She was homeless, and the dog who got her pregnant left her to chase after another female.  She needed this meal.  She hadn't eaten in days, and she knew the puppies would die if she didn't get food soon.  She whimpered, pleading with the other dog for some of his food.
   Duke was about to snap at this bitch, but something in her eyes softened his resolve.  He looked at her -- a well-muscled Rhodesian Ridgeback frame with a blue coat and Pitbull's square head -- and decided to investigate a little closer.
   Rhonda stood still as Duke sniffed her butt, taking in her pheromones and learning about the puppies she carried.  He licked her face, and shared the rest of the cat with her.
   Rhonda devoured the remains of the cat hungrily, then licked Duke's muzzle clean.  
   They ran toward the trees, marking territory and wrestling together.  As dusk settled in, they snuggled together for warmth in the Autumn night.  A waning moon seemed to smile on them as Duke licked Rhonda's head, then nuzzled into her neck.  Of all the other dogs he had come across, this one somehow seemed different.  
   That special spark -- the kind that tells you this is the one -- hit him earlier that day.  There was just something about the way she rolled around in her own shit.  And the way she smelled afterwards knocked him off his feet.  He knew he was in love.
   For so long, he had to walk alone, fending off his food from other dogs, snapping at vultures that tried to descend on his skid-marked meals, braving the elements as he struggled to survive.  Now, he had someone to share his life with.  No matter how harsh the sun was, or how cold the storms, Duke had someone beside him.
   As the months passed, Rhonda's belly became more and more pronounced.  Her nipples started to droop, and she started to sleep more during the day.  Duke would spend his days finding food, and bringing Rhonda whatever he could find.
   One morning, he woke up the sound of Rhonda whimpering,  He knew it was time.  One tiny puppy emerged after another, squeaking a helpless greeting to a brand new world.  They were so tiny, so precious with their little ears, their little paws, their little mouths crying out for food.  It was the most magical moment Duke had ever known.
   The fourth puppy wasn't so easy to birth.  Rhonda screamed in pain as she tried to push, but it wouldn't come out.  For hours, she tried, but couldn't help the puppy find the outside world.  
   As the puppy suffocated inside her, she became weak and passed out.  Duke tried to wake Rhonda up to feed the puppies she had birthed, but she wouldn't open her eyes.  The puppies cried out for milk, but Duke had no way to help them.
   Duke whimpered, helpless to save the mother or her pups.  He tried for days to wake Rhonda, to find any way to sustain the puppies.  One by one, they all slipped away.
   There was nothing Duke could do.  The smell of death rose off of their bodies like vapors off a scorching-hot road.  A Sadness he had never known gripped his heart.
   Over time, the Sadness slowly smothered his will to live.  Days passed, and the Sadness crept beside him like a deranged stalker as he wandered the empty roads, unwilling and unable to eat. 
   His nights brought him no relief.  Dreams of Rhonda and her puppies haunted him.  Even the happy dreams were cruel, because the mornings that followed reminded him of what he had lost.  
   The Sadness grew bigger, eating Duke alive as he grew smaller and smaller, until one day, the strength completely left his body and he collapsed.  A single tear slid down his cheek as the Sadness began to devour what was left of him.
   In the darkness, a large red pickup slammed on its brakes -- too late to stop from hitting the big black thing in the middle of the road.
   "Shit!  What was that?!?"
   Two men got out of their truck to see what they just hit.  
   "It's a dog.  I thought it was a baby deer at first!"
   "Well, if he was alive, he sure as shit ain't now!"
   "Whaddaya wanna do with it?"
   "Ehh, just push it to the side of the road.  He's nothin' but roadkill, now."
   The men pushed what remained of Duke out of the way, then drove off into the night, leaving blood-soaked tread marks in their wake.

1 comment:

  1. I got this link from the terribleminds blog, and was interested to see how you would tackle that title.

    I found your story to be both sweet and poignant, and incredibly dark. I actually started to feel for Duke, which isn't the easiest thing to convey in 1,000 words, and that made his death even more powerful.

    I enjoyed the irony in your story. The cruel twist of fate that brought Duke from a life of living off of roadkill to becoming roadkill himself is morbidly poetic.

    I especially liked this line "The smell of death rose off of their bodies like vapors off a scorching-hot road." When I read it I absolutely pictured the sort of steamy-mirage-like vapors that hover over hot asphalt in the summertime, only laden with the scent of death and loss.

    This is my first terribleminds challenge experience, and so I am trying to read and comment on the stories that I like. I recently started a writing blog, and this seemed like a great way to start connecting with other writers.