QuoVadis met the light at seventeen after rolling his truck into a drainage ditch. Shards of teeth and chipped glass scattered around him, all soaking up the same amount of light. The pull of beer through his veins and leak of life from his hands pooled out into the roadway slick as he sucked in his last few breaths and the tune of his still-running tape deck played him out of the world. The doe he swerved to miss ran off into the deadwood where it grazed on sneezeweed and grew sick and spewed bleats and bits of lung so loudly that it called upon itself the birds of prey. They perched upon its tick-swollen flanks, their beaks making quick work of all the doe’s tender parts. And as one flew back up into the sky, the heft of its meal flustering the flight and spread of its wings, hot cinders tore through its backside and it spiraled in a limp swoop to a spot in the dirt where it was picked up by two gloved hands. These hands were Herlin’s who strung the bird up with wire and swung it over his back, feathers beating up against his shoulder blades without any real meaning to fly. Herlin who brought the bird home to his wife Kersey who plucked it and pinched its skin hard with salt and set it to cook over an open blaze. They ate everything but the bones and six hours later, Herlin felt the bug in his stomach that took up the flame and delivered it in hot pins and explosions through the tract of his insides until he was war-torn from mouth to drum. Kersey did her best to take care of him, but the bug drowned her in sweat and shivers until she collapsed bedside. And first their dogs bayed to be fed but then they bayed for the stink that came from the house, twisted up in the sheets where Herlin and Kersey stopped, soiled across the grain of the wood of each floor plank. Those dogs broke free of their chains in the yard and pushed their way into the house where they swam in the stink, lapped it up in a frenzy. They ate up the bug and the bug passed easily through the dogs in runny lines and smeared pawprints leading down the road. The dogs ran for miles and miles only ever stopping to drink from the creeks and to tree the messy-eyed squirrels that flittered uneasily from branch to ground to branch again. Those dogs lived a natural life.
Matt Jones is a fiction candidate in The University of Alabama MFA program. His previous work has appeared in Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism, theNewerYork, and Paper Darts. He also has work forthcoming in The Golden Key and Whitefish Review.