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The Scavenger - Original Short Story

Off a desolate country road in the middle of nowhere at 2:00 a.m., 27-year-old Richard Garris had crashed his beloved ‘74 black Pontiac Firebird into an electric post. He had been speeding to get home after a late-night party with friends because he had to work his office job in the morning. More than a little tipsy, Richard thought he saw a German shepherd quickly scurry across the road and swerved to avoid hitting it. He hadn’t hit the post straight on, but the driver’s side was smashed in such a way that his right leg had been crushed against the car door from the thigh down. The crash also shattered the screen on his phone, rendering it useless. Richard checked his chestnut hair in the rear-view mirror for any wounds, his steely grey eyes now forcefully drawn out of their drunken stupor by pain and darkness. No blood on his sweat-soaked light red tee but he could feel the wet slickness of it on the left side of his dark navy jeans. Richard’s face had grown stark white from either shock or the severity of his injury as a flood of crimson slowly began to soak his seat. The silence of night was then broken by rustling in the tall grass on the other side of the road.

Normally Richard would chalk such noise up to some wildlife or the shepherd he had spared, but something about this rustling planted a seed of dread in the pit of his stomach. So did the overwhelming smell that subsequently invaded the car, the strong scent of grass and leaves after a rainy day. Generally a calming smell but in such a strong concentration the stench became sickening. Not to mention the fact that it hadn’t rained for months. With a violent jolt, a burlap sack headed figure burst through the passenger’s side window, its two hands grasping Richard’s shirt to pull him out of the wreckage. It was clothed in tattered black rags so ancient, whatever its outfit was supposed to be had been lost to time. Fighting it off in the pale light of the moon, Richard saw that this person's arms had boils all over them. His ring finger popped one struggling to pull the thing off him and sizzling hot liquid made him cry in pain. As Richard moved to push the sacked face away, the sack fell away and so .did his understanding of reality. Its long, wispy hair seemed to shine gold in the moonlight, the flesh of its head covered in boils and sores. Where its face should have been was a skull yellowed with age and glowing orbs of light shining out of pitch-black eye sockets. It opened its mouth and a roaring sound like that of violently dragging a bow across a violin exploded from its throat. The sound was the haunting call of death. No, something more absolute: the sound of complete obliteration..

When the authorities arrived in the early hours of the morning there was no sign of Richard, no blood or residue of any kind, no bits of clothing in the car, no sack, nothing. Just the smell of wet leaves after a night’s hard rain.

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