Trot’s eyes open to the all too familiar scream of his alarm clock, its face flashing 7:00 a.m. He pulls the sheets back and swings his feet, clad in scuffed dress shoes, over the bed’s edge. It was a long night. He stands and rolls his neck side to side; the bones lightly pop in protest.
What the hell did I do last night? – He’d think, if he could.
Trot wears a business suit, dressed to impress, complete with a scarlet tie because a magazine once told him red was a power colour. The suit’s a smoky charcoal with pin stripes, deeply wrinkled from the night’s rest and covered in dark red stains. From a distance the stains could be mistaken for strawberry jam, but on closer inspection the clumps of hair and bits of flesh would be hard to miss.
A man is only as good as his suit. – Trot would believe, were he able.
Trot heads to the bathroom and glances in the mirror above the sink. The handsome man that once greeted him every morning didn’t show up today. Trot turns away from the stranger and fumbles with the shower handles. He steps into water that’s yet to warm and stands rigid, letting the cold water spray his upturned face and drench his dry-clean-only suit.
Across town an armored truck, impregnated with a dozen men in riot gear, rolls steadily in the direction of Trot’s quiet neighbourhood.
The shower finally warms up and begins the task of removing the red stains from Trot’s suit, sending them in a spiral down the drain.
He steps out, ignores the towels and walks through his home, his soaked suit leaving pale pink splotches along the carpet.
I should have hardwood put in. – He’d say to himself, if possible.
Trot steps outside into the warm morning air, into the bright sunshine of a beautiful day. His stomach rumbles, crying for the breakfast he’s yet to eat.
He walks onto his lawn. It was once well-kept but now the grass has grown long. Just next door, Mr. Peterson stands on his own lawn, hose in hand, watering his grass. The water pours from the hose, adding to a large puddle that expands under his feet. Mr. Peterson stares dumbly ahead, not bothered by his self-made lagoon.
Trot watches his neighbour awhile in curious wonder before being startled by a loud gun shot.
A bullet crashes through Mr. Peterson’s forehead, exiting the back of his head in an explosion of skull and brain matter. He crumples facedown in his flooded yard.
Holy Shit! – Trot would shout, if that was an option.
Confused, Trot moves around his home, hoping to find safety in his backyard. Turning the corner to the back, Trot is greeted by the ominous black eye of a gun barrel. The barrel is attached to a large rifle, which is gripped by a grinning kid. The kid wears heavy protective padding on his chest and arm. ‘KILL TEAM 6’ is printed sloppily on his vest in bold yellow letters. The kid’s smile widens.
“See you in Hell,” he says, before pulling the trigger. There’s a dull ‘click’ but no bang. The kid figures forgetting to turn the safety off is probably the last mistake he’ll ever make – Trot makes sure of it.
Arms out, he lunges toward the kid, practically falling on him in his eagerness. Trot’s mouth finds the kid’s exposed neck. He bites down and tears away a hearty chunk of flesh from his would-be assassin’s throat.
The kid pulls free, staring in disbelief at Trot.
I can’t believe this is how it ends. And I was such a badass. – The kid would proclaim, were most of his neck not in Trot’s mouth.
Blood pumps generously from the wound. The kid clutches his throat in a feeble attempt to hold his life in. He tries to step away but trips on his own feet and falls to his back, dropping his rifle and chance of survival.
Trot chews the piece of flesh, savoring its warmth, enjoying the challenge of swallowing the gristly meat. But his hunger isn’t quite satisfied yet – the small taste has only intensified his craving.
This time he really does fall on the kid, who digs his heels in the ground in an attempt to escape. Trot works his hands under the protective vest and finds soft flesh. He digs his fingers deep into the horrified kid’s stomach, searching for a tastier treat. The kid offers only unintelligible gurgles as Trot wraps his hands around spongy intestines and begins to pull.
Trot works quickly, pulling intestines hand over hand like a homicidal magician pulling handkerchiefs from his fist. The young man sees nearly six feet of himself pulled from beneath his vest before his head drops back in a permanent sleep.
Trot reaches the end of the intestines and gives a final jerk to rip them free. And just in time, as Mrs. Peterson soon makes an appearance. She lumbers slowly, her remaining eye staring wildly down at the kid’s corpse. Before her untimely death, she had been so beautiful, lusted after by every man on the street. Now her face is long decayed, worms squirm hungrily in an empty eye socket, and the flesh of her once-perfect legs hangs in flaps like dried clay. She kneels on all fours next to the corpse and begins to gnaw greedily at his face.
Others soon arrive, hoping for a scrap. Trot looks back at the corpse before heading into his home, his dinner filling his arms.
Welcome to the neighbourhood. – Trot would say, if he cared.
Doug Mallette currently lives in Southern California where he continues to write short fiction as well as develop films alongside his partners at Untrademarked Productions. Untrademarked recently premiered ‘Worm’ – their first feature-length film.