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Last Hope of the Roadkill by DeAnna Knippling

Last Hope of the Roadkill

by DeAnna Knippling
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Page 3

But I couldn’t help it. It would have been like leaving a dog to die alone on the side of the road. I figured... I figured if I had to, I could at least try to put it out of its misery.

When I reached where I thought it might have fallen, I fished around with both hands until I felt something especially slimy, and gave it a yank.

It was maybe sixty pounds or so, a good-sized dog’s worth of weight.

Another semi drove past just then, lit it up the best I’d seen it up to that point. It was ugly, and its face was all crushed up. One eye wasn’t going to be opening anytime soon, but a three of the others were open and looking at me, straight black eyes that glinted in the light reflecting from up on the highway. It blinked at me twice, whimpered a little, then collapsed in my arms.

If you knew anything about me, you’d know that was it. It was cold and wet and slimy, but I had it in my arms and it was still alive. I knew that I’d have to take care of it, come thick or come thin. My house is generally occupied by more animals than anything else, half-dead, mangy, as likely to bite you as look at you. Marge calls me the last hope of the roadkill, which sounds about right.

I clutched that alien to my chest and hugged it. If my luck had anything to say about it, he’d die in a day or two, but at least he’d be loved and well-fed until then, if I could figure out what he might like to eat.

I hoped it wasn’t me.

Across the highway, Marge was still shouting, but she had fortunately walked into another patch of weeds and pine brush, and had kind of stalled in place. I crossed both sides of the highway as quickly as I could, opened the back door with a foot, and laid the alien in the back seat, on top of an old wool blanket covered with animal fur and dried blood. I tried to keep the thing washed on a regular basis, but the roads were always pretty bad come early spring, always something getting hit and trying to drag itself to the side of the road, so the blanket has been pretty bad lately.

After I had the alien wrapped up in the blanket, I went after Marge.

Who was still asleep.

I just could not believe it at first, that she could have slept through a car crash, let alone walking into a patch of pine brush. I took her by the shoulders and kind of steered her out of the brush. I had to push her a little bit to get her to head back to the car and get her sitting down again. I tried to belt her up, but she was swinging her arms around still, and after a couple of tries I have to admit I got so tired of getting hit in the face that I gave up on it.

Then I sat down, crossed my fingers, and tried to start the car.

The engine turned over once, then stopped.

Let me tell you, my heart just about stopped, too. After almost being hit by that semi, I wasn’t looking forward to flagging one down. I could have dug Marge’s cell phone out of her purse, but I wasn’t looking forward to doing that, either, seeing as it was down between her feet on the floor.

I felt myself tear up and start to cry.

Juana Banana, I said, which has been my nickname ever since I was a little girl, get ahold of yourself. You just sit here until dawn, and either someone will see you and pull over, or Marge will wake up and you can get her to give you her phone. Either that critter in the back seat will die or it won’t, and nothing you can do will change that either way. You done your best except for not putting Marge’s seatbelt back on, and you got nothing to be ashamed of.

I looked back over the seats at the alien. The dome light was on and shining down on it. It had thrown off the blanket a little, and I could see its face, the eyes all shut but the one still looking pretty crushed up. It was oozing. I didn’t think it would last long.

A light flashed into my face from the back window then, and I looked up a little.

When I saw what was behind me, I couldn’t have stopped myself if I’d tried. I turned the ignition switch on and stomped on the gas. This time the engine caught and turned over and started, and the car rammed forward into the barbed wire fence for a second before I remembered that forward wasn’t the direction I intended to go just then. I threw it in reverse and stomped on the gas so hard that my poor little Toyota practically flew backwards out of the ditch and onto the shoulder of the highway. I backed right into it. I hit it hard enough to make the inside of the Toyota ring like a bell and the lights behind me to swing around like it was a car spinning around on an iced-up road. I got another glimpse, shifted from R to D, and floored it.

What was it? It wasn’t a semi. I’m sure it wasn’t a semi.

I drove about as fast as I could, all things considered.

The Toyota tried hard. The tires were shimmying. The alignment had to be pretty much done by then. Then I started to smell antifreeze coming through the heater vents. But I didn’t dare slow down. What was behind us was catching up real quick. Which makes sense. If you can cross outer space then you can probably fly faster than a 1980 Corolla.

The flying saucer—I might as well call it what it was—started creeping up on us and I was starting to think about slamming on the brakes to knock it around a little, when suddenly Marge shut up, which was quite the change from her constant screaming.

Then she took one loud, long breath.

“I smell antifreeze,” she said.

I tried to figure out how I was possibly going to tell her what was going on.

After a second, I just said, “Yep.”

“Everything all right?” she said.

I glanced into the rear view mirror to see whether the flying saucer had somehow disappeared. It hadn’t. I want to say it was about twenty feet back by then. And, as I was looking back, what do you think I should see but a shape pop up from the back seat. The alien was awake, too.

It whimpered.

Marge sighed without turning around. “You stopped to pick up some road kill, didn’t you?”

“Yep,” I said. The saucer inched up on us. Ten feet and closing. The lights were blinding me from the rear view mirror. I flipped the toggle to see if that would help. It didn’t, so I switched it back.

“Well, pull over and throw it back out on the road. Because it’s gonna start to stink.”

“Oh, Marge,” I said, squinting a little and crossing my fingers, “it’s awful hurt. I can’t just leave it out there. I’ll take care of it when we get to Denver. It’s just a couple of hours further on.”

“I am not going to listen to—and smell—something dying for the next two hours.”


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About the Author

DeAnna Knippling

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer and editor in Colorado Springs. Her first book, Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse was released in November 2010 by Doom Press. She has recently published in Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Silverthought Online, Crossed Genres and Nil Desperandum. She was also honorable mention in Best Horror of the Year, Volume 3.

Story Discussion

Stories by DeAnna Knippling

The Person Who Puts Down the Keys by DeAnna Knippling

The Person Who Puts Down the Keys

FTL pilots were a rare breed. They traveled the galaxy faster than light. Faster than it was possible to go. Strange things happened to them. They changed.

People who signed up were people with a death wish, or people with long-term ambitions. The desire to see one era disappear and be replaced by something else. At first, he’d thought he was one of the second kind.

What will Tom actually find when he returns? Find out in this new story by DeAnna Knippling.

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FTL pilots were a rare breed. They traveled the galaxy faster than light. Faster than it was possible to go. Strange things happened to them. They changed.

People who signed up were people with a death wish, or people with long-term ambitions. The desire to see one era disappear and be replaced by something else. At first, he’d thought he was one of the second kind.

What will Tom actually find when he returns? Find out in this new story by DeAnna Knippling.

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