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Red Is the Color of Rust

Sarah Martin


            “You are such a liar.”

            “No, I swear!” Black trees whizzed past the window as the humming of the engine droned on and on and on.

            “I don’t believe you.”

            “I saw one!”

            “You did not.”

            “Did too! It was in a picture.”

            “Just because you saw it in a picture doesn’t mean it’s real.” The heat was suffocating. Open windows did little to stifle the rage of the sun as the air was just as hot rushing in as it was standing still. Outside one could see the horizon hiding behind clouds of dust. The grass was a sickening yellow.

            “I promise!”

            “They don’t exist.”

            “Do too.”

            “Do not.”

            “Do too!”

            “Do not!”

            “Do too!

            “Hey! That’s enough!” The man in the front seat glared. “Can you two settle down?” The rust from the steering wheel had stained his hands red. Even so, it was barely noticeable.

            “Is it true? Are they real?”

            The man glanced back for a moment, but then fixated his eyes on the road. He didn’t say a word. The sound of nothingness invaded the car. Silence lingered like a rotting stench until it was almost unbearable. Minutes passed. An hour maybe.

            “Hey,” one began whispering.

            “What?” the other said.

            “They are short and round . . .”

            “That’s enough.”

            “. . . and pink and have a weird face,” one began speaking louder.

            “I’m not listening.”

            “And they have hooves and snouts and tails!”

            “I’m not listening!”

            “And they can run and they can jump and they’re real!”

            “Shut up!”

            “They’re real! They’re real!”

            “Stop it!” The man was yelling.

            “Look! There’s something!” the woman in the front seat yelped. The man spotted it and immediately swerved off the road and careened through a rotten fence. They tumbled down a forgotten pasture chasing the shadow into the blades of grass.

            “Get it!”

            “You’re almost there!”

            “Go faster!”

            The engine roared but did not pick up much speed. The shadow was not fast enough anyways, and with a thud and a shriek they made impact with the shadow.

            “Everybody out!” The man shouted. “It could still be alive. Don’t let it get away!” He grabbed a knife off the floor and flung himself out into the barren world. Everyone else did the same.

            They rushed around the fallen shadow. The man plunged the knife in without hesitation and peeled off some meat. He tossed it to the woman before he devoured some himself.

            “What is it?” whispered the other to one.

            “It’s a pig,” said one, grabbing what he could and stuffing it into his mouth.

            “No way.”

            “Yep. I told you so,” said one with his mouth full. “Pigs are real.”