Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fiction Archive: Roadkill

This piece was published in the UK by Thirteen Magazine, a short lived quarterly horror publication.

by Steven Stam

Each time I cross University Avenue I envision a car bursting through my body, destroying my bones, spewing my blood, and rendering me broken.  Each time I cross the street I think about what would happen if I stopped walking and left myself to traffic.
When I stand on a street corner, I contemplate the appearance of a pusher, feeling my skin pucker and tremor.  My casual, unsuspecting posture marks me an easy victim for a man with a shoving fetish.  A car would crush my skull, my life, my existence. 
I find my worries odd, perplexing, but view them as real.  I am a man.  I am fragile and mortal. My bones will break, have broken before, and the discerning moment when the structural support of one’s body shatters, never leaves a man.  Watery eyes, the souring of my stomach – conditions burrowed away as a hidden, grinding alarm.
When I cross the street adrenaline infuses my limbs.  Pebbles slip and grind beneath rubber soles.  Burgeoning thoughts of slipping, thoughts of becoming roadkill consume.  Mistaken death is the problem—I want the choice. 
Roadkill is simple – lifeless bodies, chunks of fur with eyes and feet and paws and gore.  A lame, inert raccoon scars the gutter at my feet.  Perhaps the raccoon scurried across the road in search of garbage, a mate, or to duck into a sewer home, but instead it met the end of worldly animation.  The raccoon represents a single animation cell, a passive scene in need of being flipped with others.  The exact thing I desire to do.
As a child, death fascinated me.  I couldn’t comprehend how an opossum, one I’d witnessed forage for food in the night, could be reduced to a trash covered corpse for collecting ants; how my grandfather could be reduced from a man to a static doll of waxy flesh. 
The one thing man seems centered around is death.  Proof is found in religion, on television, in music, on the Internet.  Most of what humans encounter in some way deals with mortality.  Even deities succumb to the constraints of flesh, melt to worldly trauma.  I believe that if man understood death beyond the bounds of the physical life, then I might be able to take the next evolutionary step.
I step away from the corner, over the raccoon and its outstretched paw.  The paw prays for help, for mercy, for acceptance.  Entering the road, I feel a few stones, discern sturdy footing, and turn to face mortality.  A white sedan bears down.  A female driver, sunglass shielded eyes, cell phone to the ear.  She observes my presence in front of her, I think.  She maybe even takes her foot off the gas, but her mind expects me to move.  Today though, I pursue the ultimate mystery, I give chase.  Closing my eyes, I think of holding the lifeless body of an opossum.  Ants nip my hands.

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