Samantha didn’t know where she was. Her foot was heavy on the pedal, gliding down the open, hilly slopes of the backcountry. Cellphone in one hand; the GPS buffering. Twice already she almost crashed. Approaching out of the horizon was a yellow SLOW DOWN-SHARP TURN-15 mph. Samantha pressed the clutch as the momentum leaned her forward; the seatbelt fastened behind her. GPS still buffering, Samantha flew past the occasional country road which posted: UNIMPROVED ROAD - PASS AT OWN RISK. Then one caught her attention as it approached; SLOW DOWN – SHARP TURN… she rolled her eyes.
A screech followed by a single percussion of thunder which echoed off the rolling backcountry hills, into the ears of a farmer digging a plot for her garden. The farmer’s head shot up at the pandemonius sound. She scanned the property lining the road until she noticed a plume of smoke rising above the treetops. She impaled the shovel into the earth and began the trek to the road where the turn is hazardous.
Cleaving through the woods to the road, the farmer could make out more clearly between the spikes of trees a car in the ravine. Eyes rolling up to the top she saw the shitty wooden fence lining the bend splintered open, the fragments trailed down the precipice. The car lay in the stream screaming with a hiss and flames that breathed through the front grill. The farmer clenched her fists and lunged forward. The door, as damaged as it was, opened. She peeked inside through the smoke and saw Samantha; face streaming with blood, hair perfectly groomed, eyes glassy with death. The farmer knew what death looked like. Taking a deep breath, she leaned into the smoke, dragging Samantha out like a ragdoll across the rock studded stream onto the marshy earth. She scanned the top of the ravine, then back towards the farm. “No one” she muttered.
It was a catatonic gaze. Samantha lay there in death as her body was still warm, eyelids slightly ajar only revealing the whites of her eyes: a death gaze. It was this farmer’s living eyes that was oddly catatonic. She once again scanned the top of the ravine and the woods around her, seeing and hearing nothing but the dying hiss of the car.
Grabbing Samantha by both wrists, she proceeded to drag her over blades of crab grass and jagged rock to the farm. A second percussion of thunder in her ears, the farmer didn’t look back. Instead she observed Samantha’s expensive white dress dotted with blood stains and diamond earrings which glinted in the sunlight.
The farmer rested her up against the inside of a shed housing tools of trade for any farmer. The shed was old, weather beaten and leaning to one side, settled into the soft earth where the field ascended. Its black windows never illuminated with any light. She crouched down before her, lifting some strands of hair which had gracefully come to rest over Samantha’s forehead. From where her knuckle had brushed her forehead there was now a smudge of drying blood. The farmer noticing the blood on her finger and as quick as a reptile popped it into her own mouth, wildly licking Samantha’s copper-tasting fluids. She was a mad woman. Hearing the sounds of squirrels running along the shack’s gutters, she beamed her insane eyes to the ceiling and back again to Samantha, “does it hurt to be dead” she said with eyes locked onto those lifeless ones, as if expecting a twitch of the eyelid or a roll of those profound blue eyes.
Hours later the dusking beams of the sun were yellow at the bend as each beam of light struggled with death to shine out of the dark woods lining the road. The shitty, broken wooden fence was now intact with fresh white paint, the skid marks in the dirt raked. The farmer slowly made her way down the precipice with a tool bag slung over her shoulder, a rake in one hand, a paint can and brush in the other. At the bottom of the ravine, she stopped in the middle of the stream and once again scanned the area: dozens of crumpled, burnt out cars and trucks scattered along the stream. A smile came over her face. The smoke now no longer plumed nor was there a hiss, the car laid there like Samantha: warm in death.
Making her way back over the field to the tool shed, the farmer took notice of a congregation of hogs at the shed door. She clapped her hands and shouted at the animals to scatter. Stepping through the door her jaw fell in silence and eyes gleamed. One hog had a shred of Samantha’s dress in its mouth. Another’s mouth was black with blood. “Shit” said the farmer.
The dusking sun had descended below the horizon and gave way to a blackening sky over Jolie’s Swine Farm. The lights of the two-story farmhouse at the edge of the field burned more brilliantly as the nighttime haze came. Occasionally the passing of a truck or car could be made out, then thunder could be made out. Following that a trek out to the ravine whether it be day or night, then rebuild the fence Following that, squeals from the hogs.
There was no more thunder that night. At the farmhouse Jolie lay in her bed before the television; static on the screen. The bedroom window was parted a few inches and allowed a steady, chilled breeze to enter. At the corner of her room there laid, still attached to its metal post, the yellow SLOW DOWN sign. Jolie’s attention was then taken by a screeching of tires in the distance, but no thunder. Jolie’s eyes rolled from the window back to the meaningless static.
The beasts squealed below Jolie’s bedroom window, propelling rushes of excitement within her. She smiled. The wind carried the squealing from other beasts who congregated at the shed. Their savage sounds were conducted by their hungry stomachs. It would have pierced the ears of any living body, save a seasoned hog farmer. The dead cannot hear. And the wind howled, rattling the tin coverings of the shed with its hidden, cold hands. Tearing the tree branches, stampeding through the fields, hurling dead leaves into the shed siding. The white-eyed corpse sat slumbered, reticent, insensitive to the pandemonium. The beasts were desperate to get in. The tool shed was locked. Its lifeless blue-eyed inhabitant dead to the world in rigor mortis. The hogs again congregated at the door, pressing their nostrils into it, squealing. Jolie could make out the squeals in the distance as her eyes rolled back to the parted window. Lifting the covers, she said aloud “it’s time.”
Jolie made her way down the stairs and her oversized calves made it difficult. Keys in hand she made her way to the tool shed with a flashlight that beamed profoundly in the milky haze over the fields. At one point she shot her head back towards the farmhouse, watching it slowly disintegrate out of view into the veil of the nighttime haze, the bedroom window was a distant glow. The grass was damp, the soil soggy from the evening fog.
The rusted padlock barely unlocked and the chains rattled. The corroded shed doorknob wobbled under her vice grip. Jolie unhurriedly opened the shed door as if in trepidation and a rush of musty air came out. Shining the beam of her light into the murkiness of the shed, the blade of the scythe glinted as did Samantha’s diamond earrings. Jolie’s flashlight dimmed till it went out, the air turned black all around her. Jolie vigorously shook the flashlight till the life of light came back. “I’m in Hell” she said. Her light scanned the interior of the shed for rodents. One hog pressed its snout in the space between the door jamb and her leg as Jolie responded by striking the hog to back away. The hog squealed. Then the hazy beam came to rest on the otherwise unrecognizable corpse save for two white eyes. “The hogs did a number on ya” Jolie spoke. The whites of its eyes stood out on a pale-white face dried in crimson. Jolie shut the door behind her and the whole siding of the shed rattled. The beam of light came to rest again on the white-eyed corpse, “compost! I need more compost!”
The sun was peaking above the horizon over the fields and gave heavenly light to the early morning blue. The first ray to rest on Jolie’s face forced her to squint as she stood beside her small vegetable garden with a marijuana joint as she does every dawn. The sky was dotted by blue clouds in a backdrop of brilliant pink hues. With garden equipment, Jolie took her eyes off the brilliant dawn and proceeded to dig the next plot to her garden. Jolie will periodically turn eye to the tool shed on the hill and again say aloud to herself, “compost! I need more compost!”
Had the corpse been able to breathe, see and hear, those murmured words would have brought tears of terror to those white eyes.