His leg was broken. Destroyed. Shattered in at least two different places and pouring blood onto the ground. He pulled himself along and crawled to the side of the road and rolled over onto the side of his good leg. A streak of blood trailed out behind him. He watched the cars keep speeding by. He saw their headlights rise and go over him as they came over the hill and then flash over his body as they passed by and went off behind him. He didn’t have the strength to turn and watch them go from behind.
He didn’t move but he started to cry, lying there in a growing pool of blood with his leg shattered into pieces next to him. He tried to get up again but only collapsed into a heap after just a second. The leg couldn’t take any weight. There would be no fixing it. He would most likely lose it if he were lucky enough to get some help but people couldn’t see him lying there along the highway in the dark. There were no lights along that part of the highway and the dense, hanging forest between the northbound and southbound lanes made it feel even darker. He heard a coyote and other animals calling out in the darkness. He heard the stream down in the little valley trickling over the rocks. He could almost hear the clouds moving over the din of the passing cars.
He crawled farther from the road and squeezed under the guardrail along the edge. Just on the other side there was soft grass and cool dirt that he could lay his head on. The pavement was still hot from the sun earlier in the day and felt dry and barren. It felt better to rest his leg on the grass. He could make out the shadow of the creek bending down the hill below him and he desperately wanted water. Despite fearing that falling down the hill would kill him, he started to move himself down towards the stream to try and drink. Each movement tore at his leg and burned and he cried out but kept moving towards the water. It was starting to go numb and he was beginning to lose feeling in the lower half of his body. His groin and good leg were both warm and sticky from the drying blood. It was congealing into fat globs hanging from the hair on his leg. He was dying. And now, as he felt nothing, he could feel death.
Finally reaching the bottom of the little valley he dunked his head into the water and drank deeply. He closed his eyes and blew bubbles as he exhaled from his nose and took another deep drink. As he pulled his head out of the water he started to shake from the cold and wished he had a blanket or a pillow to lie on. Maybe in the morning he could find some food and crawl to get help. Maybe someone would find him and set his leg and he would be all right. He may have to lose the leg in the end but at least he would be alive. He could get by fine while missing a leg. He knew of others who got by fine while missing a leg. He was only worried now that he may never see his friend again.
“He’ll come back for me,” he thought lying there next to the creek, the water drying in the hair on his face. His leg had stopped bleeding but now he couldn’t move and could only just reach down to get his tongue into the water. It was enough to make him feel better for the moment. But he wanted his friend to come back. He wanted him to come back and set his leg and carry him back home. He wanted to see him one last time. He put his head back into the water to drink more but pulled it back out when he heard something behind him. He shook the water from his face and pricked his ears up for someone to come up behind him but no one came. He laid his head back on the dirt there next to the creek and waited for his friend to come back for him.
“Come here! Check this out!”
He ran over to Carl standing on the bank of the little creek between the highways. He could hear the morning commute pass by when he stopped and recoiled, “Dude! What the fuck, man! That’s sick!”
“How long you think it’s been here?” said Carl, smirking at Mitch.
“I don’t know, man! Let’s get out of here!” Mitch said backing away from the corpse. He couldn’t take his eyes off it. The top of the skull was exposed and bleached from where the sun had shone through the trees overhead. The eyes and tongue were long gone and the mouth hung open loosely with flies buzzing in and out. There was still hair matted down along the length of the corpse and one of the legs was badly broken, like it had been smashed with a heavy hammer or had been run over by a car. The head hung down over the creek like it had been trying to drink water. The body was half eaten by animals and rotted with maggots and flies but they could make out the shape. The snout was falling apart into the creek and the tail was eaten off by something. Only the thin white bones were left. The paws had melted away and the nails were cracked and broken. A fuzzy green mold had grown on the fur along the back towards the hindquarters. A fly sat on the hole where an ear used to be.
Mitch turned and walked along the edge of the creek down towards where the road passed under the highway. Carl shouted insults at him and told him to come back but he didn’t listen. Carl turned back around and looked down at the rotting body hanging over the creek.
“It’s just a fucking dog.”
Carl kicked the head and knocked the skull from the corpse, sending it floating downstream.
NOTE: This was a tough one. I love animals and I particularly love dogs. I have two and anyone who knows me knows I would do anything for them. This is obviously a piece of fiction but it is very graphic and about a very sensitive subject. But as a writer, I am trying to elicit an emotional response from my reader and sometimes you really have to stab at the heart to get there. But if you thought it was tough to read know that it was even harder to write. Either way, I hope you got something out of it.
Disclaimer: Road-Kill is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.