Middle of the Road (an excerpt from The Matriarch)

SkyTreeFangMoon10After accelerating out of a curve, Craig glanced down at his dashboard. The Escalade was just about to turn over its first hundred miles. He grinned as he repeatedly sneaked looks down at the dash trying catch the number rolling over. Just as it did, he looked back at the road in time to see something on the right side of the vehicle fall into its path.

Impact.

Craig gripped his steering wheel and stomped on his brake; the Escalade skidded to a stop in an impressively short distance. After shifting into park, the shoulder strap on his seat belt disengaged. He wondered for a moment why the airbags never inflated before finally assuming that whatever he’d hit hadn’t been big enough to set off them off.

What the hell was that?

He could make out something brownish and furry slumped over in the middle of the road ahead of him, just below the hood where he couldn’t see it clearly. He considered backing up enough to look from inside, but he also wanted to know if there was any damage. The thought alone pissed him off, that his first brand-new vehicle was already f***** up because Bambi or someone’s dog didn’t have enough sense to stay out of the road.

Flipping his hazard lights on, Craig glanced into his rearview mirror and up the road. No other cars were coming. He could take a quick look, and if it was nothing, just hose it off later. The thought of seeing splattered blood and guts all of the front end disgusted him.

He got out and walked around to the front, discovering that the dead thing in road was a fawn. It was barely bigger than a good-sized dog. He looked at the grill of the Escalade, but there was no visible damage or even that much blood.

Lucky, but weird.

Taking a step closer, Craig saw the fawn’s coat had blood on it around the back of its neck and on its haunches. What disturbed him was that much of the animal’s damage was around the throat, like something had ripped it out. Shouldn’t it have been bleeding out more if he’d caused that by hitting it? The carcass was taking up enough of the right lane to mess up any other vehicle speeding around the corner. If he could find something to drag it off to the side of the road with, he might not actually have to touch it.

“You okay, buddy?” a disturbingly cheerful voice said from behind him. “You have that deer-in-the-headlights look.”

Spooked, Craig wheeled around. Partially blinded from the Escalade’s headlights, he could make out the silhouette of a sizable man. Enough light spilled over from the high beams to reveal blood-stained hands. Each time the hazard lights blinked on, Craig saw a devilish grin getting wider.

What the hell was wrong with his eyes?

Read more about the upcoming novel, The Matriarch…

Advertisements