"s 2015 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by SJ Nurse

This happened two years ago.

Me and Bryan were heading back to our house after a night at the bar. I was the designated driver, Bryan was riding shotgun. While we were cruising along we devised this game, where if you saw a dead animal at the side of the road first, you got a point. You didn't win anything, it was just a way to pass the time.

It was mid-July, about 1 AM, so a lot of animals were running around. In and out of the bushes, into the roads, into traffic. Under these circumstances, I had about five points, Bryan had three. There weren't many other cars out at that time, so we were pretty much the only souls around for a good 10 miles. It was a normal drive, for a while.

And then.

You know how the road from town to campus passes by those patches of woods? We drove through one, just past the Cornwell farm. As we turned a corner, all of the buzz and hum of the summer night muted. The road ahead suddenly seemed unnaturally dark and dormant. As we drove, more and more roadkill started to appear, first individually, then in groups, then in huge steaming swaths that filled the ditches and spilled onto the asphalt. Opossums, raccoons, squirrels, birds, basically any mammal that has ever met the underside of a rubber tire was dumped on the road in furry, decomposing piles.

Bewildered, I slowed down and tried to drive around them. It was kind of hard with Bryan talk-shouting "Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen points, uhh, fifteen points, sixteen points..." as we passed by. Occasionally I could feel the crunch of a skull under my tires.

The amount of gas that these things made created a fog, almost, thick enough that I could hardly see ten feet in front of me. It was a wispy, pale green. Hardly natural for any amount of corpses, no matter how decomposed.

After a few tense minutes of navigating through it, the pile dwindled away and I was in the clear. But, as I drove the few meters to the end of the woods, I saw the last one.

Through the fog, parked in the middle of the road, was the most massive buck I had ever seen. From its nose to its hooves it stretched almost the entire width of the road. Its rack was 10 points easy, and it had the weirdest color pelt, like a sort of puce, clotted purple. I stopped.

"Jer. Jeremy." Bryan leaned over and clutched my shoulder. "That's-that's a big deer, man."

I said, "Yeah."

"Go get it outta the road, man. I'm not going out in that fog. You do it."

"Hell no. Why should I do it?"

"Dude, if you do this, I'll owe you one. I'll owe you one."

It was late, I was tired, so I gave in. The moment I opened the door the foulest stench known to man shot straight into my nostrils. I covered half my face with my shirt to try and block it out, but no dice. This smell made my face scrunch inwards, this sweet, fecal, butcher-shop-without-AC smell. I held my breath and went out.

Ten rancid feet away was the deer. I went around the front to its hind legs, scanning its body through my stinging, watery eyes. It was huge, yeah, but it was skinny. It looked so emaciated, I could have counted its ribs through the mass of discolored fur. I stumbled to its hind legs, took hold of one (the other hand being busy uselessly holding my shirt up to my face) and pulled. It moved about a centimeter. I pulled harder, same result. I had to remove my other hand from my face and pull with all my weight to get this thing anywhere. Hacking, gagging through the death-fog, I got it moved about three feet when I heard the thrum of my engine, and a squelching CRACK as Bryan drove over the deer's head and out of sight.

I ran, heaving, out of the fog, up to the driver's side of the truck. I banged on the window, Bryan opened the door. "Nice job gettin' that thing outta the road."

"I didn't GET it out of the road, genius!" I slumped into the driver's seat as Bryan got back into his. "You drove over the head of the damn thing..." I had to stop to retch out the window for a minute.

"Hey, you don't look so..." Bryan started, but trailed off as I turned around and glared at him.

We drove in silence after that, I too focused on not vomiting and Bryan too frightened at my mild scolding to start a conversation.

After five minutes we came to a stop sign at an intersection. There was farmland on either side of us lined in white fence, and a short patch of woods was ahead of us. It was dark, and silence still smothered the air.

As we're sitting there, I hear this irregular clacking noise. It sounded like two people hitting rocks together at different tempos. Clack, clack, clack clack. My first thought, due to previous events, was that a big chunk of freak deer had lodged itself into my truck. Must've gotten in the engine. I sighed, turned it off, but the sound persisted. Clack, clack clack, clack clack. Wasn't in the engine, must be somewhere else. Bryan stared at me, waiting for my next move.

I rested my back against the seat and glanced at him. "Ok, Bryan. You told me you'd do me a favor. Get out and see what you got stuck in my car."

"What favor? I don't remember a favor..."

"You said if I got the deer out of the road you'd 'owe me one.' This is that 'one.' Get out and see what that noise is."

"But you said you didn't-"

"And Bryan, I have more points than you." I smirked, pleased that I had brought up our little game, or rather my winning of the game.

He scowled, unbuckled, and mumbled something like "S'not fair, didn't count all those..." He opened the door, leaned out, and slammed it shut almost immediately.

"Bryan, I said-" I stopped. The look on his face told me something was horribly wrong. His eyes were so wide I thought they might fall out, his mouth contorted like a Greek tragedy mask. He sat stiff, still clutching the door handle.

"Hey, what's wrong? Don't tell me you're trying to weasel out of this." I turned to look out the back window, just out of curiosity to see what spooked him so bad.

Oh, man.

It was so tall. Taller than the truck. It was hunched, like a mad dog, and staring with murky white eyes straight at us. I glimpsed the green fog curling around its hooves before I whirled back around and sat rigid in my seat.

We both stared straight ahead, not thinking, not looking, not even breathing. All we could do was listen to the approaching clack clack clack-clack. It got louder, harder, more certain. Something scraped against the side of the truck, closer and closer to the passenger side door.

We heard breathing. Labored, curdled, claggy inhales and exhales accompanied by something splattering on the ground. Without moving my head, I forced my eyes over to the source of the noise, right outside the door.

I saw Bryan, eyes closed, face squinched into a mass of fear. Right outside the window, the huge deer gazed in.

Its face was half-smashed into bloody strings, its purple coat tangled with blood and bone. One antler stoically protruded from its skull. It stood perfectly still, gazing blankly at Bryan, breathing, dripping, letting the green fog envelop the truck. Just behind it, the white paint on the farm fence was rotting black and peeling away from the wood.

I snapped my eyes back to the ignition key. If I could start the car without that thing noticing, we might get out okay. Slowly, I inched my hand towards the keys, praying the thing wouldn't notice. It seemed like time slowed down, 50 years passing by every second.

Eventually, my fingers found the keys. I wrapped my fingers around them, and with one quick movement, I twisted down. Suddenly, a scream sliced through my eardrums over the engine. I whipped to the side to see the deer-thing distending what remained of its jaw in a shrill wail, rapidly smashing its head against the window. Bryan started to scream, too, loud, blubbery yells of "PLEASE I DIDN'T MEAN IT GO AWAY GOD PLEASE HELP ME" as he shook and beat his head with his fists. I slammed the gas pedal to the floor, the truck heaved, something dislodged from the back wheel, and we sped forward into the woods. I didn't look back.

We got back to campus soon after. Both of us remained in the car for the rest of the night, unspeaking, Bryan whimpering in the fetal position.


The next morning, I woke up, got out of the truck, and headed towards my dorm. Dave stopped me near the elevator.

"Hey, Jer, what'd you do to your car?"

"I, uh," I was still groggy. "What's wrong with it?"

"That huge gash in the side! What'd you and Bryan run into?"

"God, I don't know. A deer or something." I couldn't remember at that point. I didn't want to remember.

"Oh, sick. Hey, did you see what he did to his hair?"

"What? You saw him?" It had just occurred to me that he wasn't in the car when I woke up.

"Yeah, man, he went up to the student clinic a while ago. Looked kind of frazzled. But yeah, his hair was wacky, like old-man white! Crazy." Dave walked off. "Crazy, man."

I haven't seen Bryan or the deer-thing since.