Nancy’s frying up a mess of catfish that her neighbors had given her from their haul that day when she hears the screaming. It’s close but not in her yard close. She has 10 acres of land, so she figures it must have been coming from one of the neighbor’s property that borders hers. She tilts her head tucking her thick brown hair behind her ear to get a better listen and hears it again, longer this time, more frantic.
She flips the stove eye off, wipes her hands on the green dish towel hanging over the oven door, dials 911 on her cell, and explains the situation to the dispatcher. The sheriff’s on his way out, but given where she lives, it’s going to take him a good 20 minutes. Curiosity overwhelms her caution, and she heads to the closet near back door to grab her flashlight, her .22, and some extra ammo. Just in case.
She never keeps the gun loaded even though she lives here alone and has no kids. The dogs aren’t going to break in and get the gun, but her daddy always taught her safety first, and those lessons stuck with her. No exceptions. She takes a moment to load 10 rounds, braces herself, and steps out the back door.
Outside, she hears another blood-curdling scream coming from the Myers’ place on her left. Never in her life has she heard another human being make that sound. It makes the baby-fine hairs on her arms stand on end. Even in the 80 degree Southern humidity, she shivers violently like she’s found herself standing in the snow in her skivvies. Another scream pierces the air before its cut off with a loud thud. She feels a wave of panic and fear well up inside her chest, sending her heart into a flurry of beats. The beer she drank earlier announces its desire to make a fast, messy exit from her body, but she swallows hard, takes some shallow breaths, and moves slowly towards the sound. Really, the direction of those screams is the last place she wants to find herself walking towards as the last rays of sunlight fade behind the trees across from her land, but she could never live with herself if she doesn’t at least scope it out and see if she can help.
She isn’t really close to the Myers but they’re neighborly enough. She’s given them eggs when her hens laid more than she could eat and let their kids, Tommy and Michelle, come pick plums and apples from the trees in back. They don’t really socialize much. The women don’t get together for brunch or social hour or any of that shit, and Nancy is fine with that. Hell, she likes it better that way. But they *are*neighbors and stay friendly enough, and if there’s a slight chance Nancy might be able to help them out, she’s going to. It’s just who she is, and she knows it. No sense fighting her own nature. Her daddy had told her that too late one night after one of her softball games. “Nancy,” he had said, “one of these days there’s going to come a time when you can either hide who you are and who you love from the world like a coward or you can be brave enough to be who you really are. I might not understand much about how the world works, but all I know, girl, is that I want you to be brave. Be you, bug, and screw what everybody else thinks, promise?” She was only 14 at the time, and she really hadn’t understood it then, but the first time she went out with a girl, that same conversation came back to her, haunted her when she spent a few years trying to deny her real self, but eventually, she kept the promise she made to her daddy that night. She is who she is, unapologetically, and there’s no use hiding out in the house tonight acting like nothing is happening.
She thinks the night will be born into quiet as she crosses the last yards of her tract of land before crossing onto the Myers’. The screams are gone. All she can hear is her own breathing and the rustle of the dying grass of Autumn under her footsteps. It shouldn’t be quiet like this in the country at dusk. Night creatures should be coming to life, crickets chirping, dogs barking at their shadows. The dark, reaching its tendrils around the last remaining remaining stretches of dimming orange light, is eerily silent.
When she gets right on the edge of the property line she catches some sort of noise. Finally. But she can’t quite identify the sound or the cause. It’s almost like a low growl but there’s a gravelly crunching sound mixed in as well. The closer she gets to the barn on the Myers’ land, the louder it gets, the wetter it sounds…almost like a pig on slop, smacking and slurping and rooting around.
She stands outside the barn doors, flashlight on now that the remaining light of day is asleep until dawn. The smallish circle of light is shaking as she moves it back and forth across the ground in front of the doors. Flecks of blood coat the grass like morning dew. Her own toes, unhidden from the elements in her plain black flip flops, are smeared with crimson streaks. Her breathing is fast and hard, heart thumping so hard she swears she is going to have a heart attack, but she pulls the bard doors open slowly and as quietly as possible. The rifle is still slung over her shoulder, but with her flashlight in hand, it’s hard to do anything with it that makes her feel any better about walking into that barn.
With a bravery she was unaware she possesses, Nancy sweeps the light first one way then the next but sees nothing out of the ordinary. The sounds are coming from a pen their pig Lord Byron used to live in before he finally passed from old age. The sheriff should be here anytime, and part of her knows she should just back out of there right now, but there’s another part of her screaming at her to keep going, to find out where those sounds are coming from. That part of her is thinking of Tommy and Michelle and knowing the difference between saving a life and burying someone can be just moments of time, and its that part that pushes her forward to see just what the fuck is going on in that pen.
And then she wishes she would have told that oh-so-brave part of herself to eat a bag of dicks because what she sees in that pen is a complete horrorshow.
Ted Myers is there kneeling over Sandra, his wife, feasting on some part of her that Nance can’t even begin to identify. Sandra is an all-you-can-eat buffet and Ted came to get his money’s worth from the looks of it. The light catches his attention, and he turns quickly growling and baring his bloody teeth before he turns back to his meal.
If this were a movie, she thinks, I would be wearing high heels and would fall, cut my forehead a tiny bit, rip my shirt so my boobs almost flop out, and become the second course to Ted’s macabre meal. She would be the part of Sunday dinner that would make Ted have to unbutton his pants to get some relief.
This isn’t a damned horror movie, she thinks, but are these shoes really any more sensible?
All the while she’s thinking, she stands frozen, light still focused on the unbelievable scene before her, her mind broken. Ted’s the kind of guy that holds his wife’s hand in the market. The man before her is nothing like the Ted she thought she knew.
Something within her finally snaps in place, and she starts to back away slowly being careful to move the light away from the scene without attracting any more attention from….that thing…than she already had. She struggles to open the barn doors without taking her eyes away from the back of the building but finally manages to get free and closes the doors behind her. A pile of 2 x 4s are stacked to the right of the door, and she slides one through the handles to keep whatever was in there from getting out.
In the distance she heard sirens and hoped it wasn’t too late for Tommy and Michelle.
Since it's the last installment of Sunday Confessions before Halloween, I decided to do a little campy horror. Hope it gets you all in the mood for frights and delights for the upcoming Halloween weekend. Be sure to check out the other contributions on More Than Cheese and Beer. The prompt this week is fluid.