Stained

The pavement was stained red with blood and there was the undeniable stench of decay in the air.

Carl had a morbid curiosity to follow the red stained path.  Sinew and large chunks of flesh were strewn along the pavement,  and each chunk had hundreds of flies buzzing around.   As Carl continued down the path the smell of decay got worse, but the stench didn’t phase him.

In the center of the path there was what looked like a torso — skinned.  It was enough to make anyone vomit, but not Carl.  He stepped over it and kept walking.

Upon reaching the end of the blood stained pavement, Carl spied a camp fire off in the distance; and his curiosity led him to further exploration.  As he continued toward the camp the smell of decay was stronger and much more intolerable than before and there was more sinew, flesh, and skinned torsos.

“Hello there.”

“Hello,” Carl says.

Carl spies a figure coming from the woods. “I’ll be right there.  I’m just gathering some more firewood,” replies the stranger.  “I hate having to search for firewood in the middle of the night.”

He watches the stranger approach the camp and drop an armful of wood near the fire.  He smiles at Carl and says, “Where are my manners?  Would you care for something drink.  I would offer you something to eat, but I haven’t been hunting today”

“No.  Thank you,” Carl says nervously.  “I was just curious.”

“Curious?” “About what?”

“Just, I’ve never seen so much blood before.”

“Yeah. Sometimes, my catch doesn’t want to be caught; so I have to go chase it down,” the stranger says.

“Oh, I see.”

“Do you hunt?”

“No.  I’ve never shot a gun before”

The stranger chuckles a bit. “There a more ways to hunt than shooting a gun.  I don’t like to use a gun” says the stranger shyly smiling at Carl. “My food inevitably tastes like lead, and well that’s just not a good taste.”

“So, what’s your preferred hunting method?”

“Knives,” the stranger says as he taps the sides of his waist belt. “It might not be the most effective way, but it’s definitely better than having a mouth full of lead.”

“Hmmm. Interesting.” Carl looks at his watch. “I didn’t realize it was so late, I better be getting back.”

“Okay.  I hope you’ll stop by again real soon.  I don’t get to many visitors out here.”

Carl turns and makes his way back to the blood stained pavement.  “Hey wait up” the stranger says.  “I might as well walk out with you.  I’ve got to get some beer.”

“What do you hunt out here?” Carl asks.

“This and that.  I’m not picky.  I can make anything taste good.”  The stranger and Carl walk together and step over the same skinned torso Carl stepped over earlier.  “The right seasonings can do wonders.

“I don’t really cook, so I never know what seasonings to put with what.”

The stranger leans into Carl and whispers, “To tell you the truth of it is, all you need is a good beer.”

A few days later Carl heads back to the blood stained pavement only to find there are no red stains and no smell.  There are no skinned torsos or pieces of sinew littering the pavement.  Carl, ever more curious continues his walk down the formally blood stained pavement and back into the woods.

“It couldn’t have been a dream,” Carl mutters to himself.

****

“Wakey! Wakey!”

Carl slowly opens his eyes and tries to focus, but is unable to.  “What’s going on?”

“You’re a big one. You should last a couple of days.  No need squirming about like that.  I’ve never lost a catch in this net.”

“Catch! What are you talking about?! Carl screams.

Carl feels a sharp pain in his left side.  “Relax.  You won’t feel a thing” the stranger says as he puts iron cuffs around Carl’s wrists and ankles.

Carl tries to speak but nothing comes out.  He tries to move, but can’t.

“Relax.  It’ll only be a minute or two more.”

Carl feels his body uncomfortably stretching in what seems like 10 different directions.

“Alright. Here we go.  Are you ready?” the stranger says, but there is no reply from Carl.  “Good.  It’s time.”

****

“I’ve never seen the pavement stained with blood like this before,” Jessica said.

“Me either,” says Denise.

“It must have been something pretty big.”

Jessica and Denise look at each other and they know they must investigate.  As they walk down the blood stained pavement they come across sinew, large chunks of flesh, and what looks to be a skinned torso.

“Hello ladies,” a stranger says to them.  “Would you like to join me for some lunch? Yesterday was a good hunting day and I have plenty to share.”

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Lay it on me

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