Sunday, April 2, 2017
1st 5 Pages April Workshop- Collins
Name: Timothy Collins
Genre: Young Adult Horror
The toe tag on the decapitated body read: IF FOUND, CALL (512)576-3038, so fifteen-year-old Del pulled out her iPhone.
“I’m not afraid of you,” Del said, circling the shirtless decaying corpse. She maintained a perimeter outside the buzzing flies and fluid soaked ground but breathed easier knowing it wouldn’t answer. “I’ve seen other dead people, you know.”
Seen. Created. Collected. Same difference.
The burning Texas sun played spotlight for the headless body starring center stage. Nothing else in the forgotten hay field warranted a second glance. Del spied a turkey vulture gliding in a copycat pattern around the body. She reached her sweat drenched hand down, snatched a piece of gray limestone from the dirt, and launched her projectile at the hideous black bird.
“Get outta here, dumb bird! He’s mine!” Del’s cheeks boiled red matching the shade on her Deadpool t-shirt. The vulture settled into the field’s lone oak tree and voiced its displeasure, but, for now, Del owned her prize uncontested.
She sneered at the corpse. “He’d eat you if I let him, but you’re my entrance fee.” Del flipped her head toward the oak masquerading as a kickstand for her ten-speed bike. “And them.”
Dead bodies were a one-way ticket to life in jail for most, not a bloody precursor to salvation.
Dad better not be full of shit, but finding a body with a phone number attached to the toe just like he mentioned in his stories was too much coincidence to simply be a coincidence.
Del chewed her last unbroken nail to a jagged nub before dialing. She figured most people would be afraid to call, but they weren’t in her situation. How many people needed to find a magical cure for cancer, like yesterday.
What if no one answered?
Del wondered if she should have dialed 911, but the cops would canvas the field. Talking her way out of one dead body seemed plausible, but not half-dozen. Her underground fort kept them hidden from sight, but their putrid scent would betray her.
“Yeah?” Gruff and tumble on the other end, but welcoming in an odd way. “You got Pez.” Del strained to hear him over the hum of the idling truck engine behind the man’s voice.
“Hi, this is Del.” She pulled the phone away from her ear and stomped the unforgiving limestone ground. Dammit, Delilah. You, stupid child. Why would you say your name?
“Pez, who the hell you talking to?” A garbled male voice in the background asked.
“I found something I think belongs to you.” Del opted not to slow play her hand. Time wasn’t an ally.
“I’m listening,” Pez said.
“A body. Male. Fat and goopy. Like, ‘loved Taco ’ fat.” Del noted the corpse lacked fingers. No blood ran from the wounds. “And no head.” She performed a quick pirouette to verify she didn’t miss it in the open field.
Nope. No head. No smell. Maybe the perfect guy.
“Should I be freaking out?” Del asked.
Silence swept over the abandoned field. She dug her teeth into her sun-chapped bottom lip.
“No need to freak out. We’ll take care of everything. Can you tell me where you are?” he asked.
The background voice chimed in, louder and filled with subtle rage. “Did you put your phone number on a dead body?”
“Do you think I’m stupid? I’d never give out my phone number, Dermit,” Pez paused. “This is your phone.”
Del jerked forward, laughing so hard the jet-black iPhone slipped from her hands. It bounced harmlessly into the white milky substance oozing from the body. She hesitated but relented and plucked it from the goo.
“Five second rule,” she muttered.
Del wiped the phone clean on the hip of her jeans shorts.
Trashing these as soon I get home. Not sure how I’ll explain to Mom how I “lost” another pair of shorts, though.
Del scrunched her face when she felt the remnants of the ooze squash against her ear. Addie was going to owe her big time.
“Just find out!” The background voice faded, but his anger resonated through the phone.
“Relax. You’re gonna burst a blood vessel.” Pez cleared his throat. “Still there, kid?”
Del rolled her eyes.
Doubt many kids achieved my body count without getting caught.
Del filled her lungs and then exhaled a full three seconds before speaking releasing her frustration. “I’m here.”
“Text me your location,” he said, before lowering his voice, “and if you keep this between us, I’ll make sure there’s a little something in it for you.”
Del fingertips danced nervously across the touch screen tapping out her location.
“A magic fountain of life,” she muttered. “Dad better be right.”
His words ran through her head:
It’s like those trays by the convenience store cash register.
Give a penny. Take a penny.
But instead the fountain treats lives as pennies.
Give a life. Take a life.
Del amassed enough bodies for six lifetimes, twice what she needed. If these guys coming weren’t who she thought they were, that number would have to increase to eight.
“You’re the first headless body I’ve seen, though. I’ll give you that.” Del relented her guardian’s prowl and knelt near the body. “If you truly want to impress me, you’d answer.”
Ears or no ears, the dead made the best listeners.
“Can I tell you a secret?” She cupped her hands around her mouth and leaned in close to her headless companion. “We’re not alone in this field.”
She pushed a pile of dirt over the “dude milk” as she referred to it. Dude milk seemed harmless compared to whatever name some scientist would label the white ooze. Maybe they’d name it after her. God, she hoped not. That’s not the way she wanted to be immortalized. There was a better way, if one was inclined to believe the ramblings of a dying man.
The corners of her lips turned higher when she saw a clear spot close to the body. Del tossed a handful of dirt onto the corpse’s chest. The clump floated on the soggy flesh. She continued until his nipples became a buried treasure.
“Sorry, dude, not a fan of man-boob. Moobs as we call them in high school.” Del leaned in closer and molded the dirt into a bikini. “Everyone’s going to be wearing one of these this summer. All natural, organic dirt bikini. The Dirtini. It practically sells itself!”
Del glanced at the digital readout on her iPhone. Ten after three. She rolled her eyes realizing she didn’t ask the guy how long it would take them to arrive, but Del didn’t believe she could risk leaving.
“How come you don’t reek?” Del inhaled deeply. A few small particles of dust snaked deep into her nose. Her chest heaved before it evicted every bit of oxygen from her lungs in an epic sneeze. The force of air sent the loose bits of the Dirtini flying in the opposite direction.
Del cleared her throat and sat back on her knees examining the random brown splotches on his otherwise bare chest. “Design flaw. We’ll need to work on that.” She moved her finger and thumb to her chin. “Why don’t you smell? The others smell.” Del flipped her head toward the oak tree. “Can’t get enough air fresheners to kill that stench. Can you believe I used roadkill to cover the smell? You’d be surprised how effective a splattered skunk carcass can be.”