Late into the evening, after a lovely trip away in the mountains, Frank and Mary headed back to their home. They had many hours of driving ahead of them and just as Mary mentioned hunger, Frank’s stomach groaned in response. The long, desolate road did not provide many options for abolishing the pains of their guts. First place they came across seemed to be a big cattle ranch; the smell encroaching their vehicle. As they passed what looked to be the main barn, a diner appeared, all lit up from the inside. There was a sole truck sitting outside and frank pulled up next to it, putting the car in park.
The diner had a sign on top that read “BUCKY’S”, as the B and Y twitched on and off. A set of stairs lead to the front door, lit by a sputtering yellow bulb. The couple walked in, Frank in front with Mary skulking behind. Inside held 2 tables by the front windows with booth seating on either side, 2 floating tables with chairs in the middle, and a counter with 4 stools. Frank noticed the cook, was hard not to. He had to be about 7 feet tall, wide shoulders, and black, greasy, coarse hair running down his back. The cook hacked at a slab of ribs with a butcher’s knife while Frank and Mary took their seats at a table by the window, sitting across from one another.
A thin but sturdy older man came over, wearing jeans, a dirty white shirt and a blank blue baseball cap. His face aged with dirt and parted by a thin grin. He threw down 2 laminated sheets of paper and said “Let me know when you’se folks ready tuh order up, any drink til then?”. He jeered at Mary, sending chills through her spine. Both ordered water, already suspicious of how well the meal would turn out.
Glancing over the menu, there were few options besides meat. A few steaks, some sausage and bratwurst, and many forms of pork. At the bottom, the sides included a salad, toast, or mashed potatoes. Frank sipped the water and remarked “it’s almost like blood how rusty this shit tastes” staring down into the hazy water. The older man approached again. “Know whatchya wantin’ yet?” grinning large enough to see a yellow row of upper teeth. Mary ordered the Pork Chop with a side salad, and Frank got the ribeye with mashed potatoes. The man walked back to the kitchen and Mary leaned in “I hope this meal is edible, I don’t like it here Frank. I am starving though. What a way to end this vacation” shooting him a disappointing look.
They could hear the giant in the kitchen preparing the food as they took in the rest of the diner. Things they had not noticed at first due to their blinding hunger now stared out at them. It became more apparent Frank and Mary had found themselves in a genuine shit-hole of a place and were wanting out. The walls were torn down to the plaster with torn sheets of wallpaper flapping like flags here and there. Anything metal was a bronze color of caked rust, and 2 oscillating fans on either side of the diner acted as the A/C. The lights were wires dangling down to loose-fit bulbs, spilling out yellowish light enough to illuminate the whole place. Flies gathered in the kitchen and the odor of mildew and rot crept into their noses.
Distracted by the surroundings, Frank and Mary were surprised by the man returning with multiple plates. He tossed a big plate in front of Frank and 2 smaller in front of Mary. What sat there was not very presentable, everything halfheartedly plated, but it did look appetizing. Hours of driving gave a lapse in their judgement as they dug in. A bite is all either would get through. The meat on both plates had been seared so nicely, but the inside wriggled with maggots. Squirming larva fell from the teeth marks onto the plates. Mary looked at the salad, holding back vomit. Wilted lettuce and fly carcasses covered the plate. Frank gagged and spat out the food, swiping the plates off the table. Mary vomited and Frank proclaimed “What the fuck is this?! I’m calling the cops, this is rancid, the whole place! Why the hell are you feeding this to people! You lowly pig fuckers, you disgust me more than this garbage you fed us!”. The man at the front just stared back with that same grin. Mary cried at the realization of their situation. She got up and ran to the car. “I don’t know what game you’re playing at but you fucks are going down for this! You fuckin’ inbred freaks!” Frank yelled walking towards the door. The big guy in the kitchen slammed the butcher knife down into the cutting board and walked into the back of the diner, out of sight. “God Damn freaks” Frank said one last time. He rushed to meet up with Mary, he didn’t know where that big man had gone and he didn’t want to find out.
Frank looked at his phone and confidence fled from his spirit as he saw there was no service. “Just get the hell out of here” Mary uttered under her sobbing breath, curled up in the passenger seat. Frank felt so hopeless, but he did as she asked. About 2 hours later they ran into a town. Feeling more at ease, Mary and Frank wanted to leave that horrible incident behind them. They never wanted to see that damn grin on that horrid face again.
Frank pulled up to a stop-sign and looked passed his wife on his right to see oncoming traffic. A pair of lights were coming down the road. Impatient, Frank tried to outpace them. They pulled out and began to merge, but Frank misjudged the speed of the other car. Gas pedal to the floor, they slid in front of the oncoming vehicle forcing it to swerve out of their way and off the road. Frank’s heart was racing as his wife wailed about his vast stupidity. Suddenly, high-beams from a large, grey, refrigerated truck, overcame the cab of the car and blared the horn on their tail. Frank turned left up a side-street to get out of the way and avoid confrontation. Calming down, Frank stopped at the sign, checked both directions, and proceeded through the intersection. Frank glanced to the right and saw the silhouette of the truck, following parallel a block down. The next intersection came and the same silhouette followed. Franks heart sped up as he approached the next crossing. He looked over and to his relief, nothing was visible this time. He checked at the next intersection and again there was nothing. Frank decided it must have been a random person trying to get home like themselves. He looked at his wife and apologized for his recklessness. As they rolled through the intersection, Frank asked “Hey honey, would you like to ge…”. The truck collided with Frank and his wife. Frank saw the front-end of the truck cripple his wife’s head and plow into his chest before darkness took over.
Glimpses of an operation flashed, and then pain. Searing pain infected Frank’s mind. He could not make sense of it. For a moment he could see, then blacked out again. Shaking himself back to awareness, he could see pieces of him being removed, but could never stay awake long enough to say anything or fight back. He would go into shock numerous times just to be brought back for more. Time no longer existed for Frank.
Meat hooks hung from the ceiling by thick chains, like dozens of spider legs swaying below. Shredded plastic sheeting that once split the room into sections accompanied the chains. A faint blue haze tinted the room, highlighted by the subtle fog that lingered right above the ground. The air was crisp with a sharp rusting odor. Large, loud fans circulated the frozen air through the room. Many of the hooks held what looked like old slaughterhouse meat left for ages, but one supported Frank. Not much life remained as he hung there nude. The hooks, jabbed into the underside of his shoulder-blades, supporting his weight off the ground. Roughed up by the crash, a purple and bleeding welt took up most of his right cheek. His right eye socket leaked blood through stitches where his eye had been, and his ears were gone. His right arm severed below the wrist and stitched while his left arm severed at the elbow. The joint was covered in soot and infected due to being burned by a lit torch to stop the wound from bleeding. His legs and reproductive organs were missing. He gave a subtle groan as the fans turned on, chilling what nerves he still had.
Frank swayed left to right when a screeching metal sound blared through the room. A door on the far side had opened. Frank felt a presence moving towards him and he screamed in pain as his body was removed off the hooks. Tossed to the ground, he now saw more hooks from a new angle. Distorted faces of 3 men and a woman stared back down at him, scattered on the ground lay pieces of other bodies. What was left of the woman’s face came into view and Franks bones chilled to the core. The back of Mary’s skull caved in and her left eye hung out of the socket lazily. Her jaw sagged to the side, dislocated on the right and missing a number of teeth. The beast must have enjoyed her because she was nothing but a torso below the neck, every limb sawed and mangled off. Death was a dream now for Frank, the only escape from this box of horror.
A grumble came from the beast that had entered, “New meat” said the voice. “Clear out the old” as they turned and picked up something from behind them. Another man, intact from head to toe. The beast threw an arm around his neck, grabbed a hook, and plunged it under the man’s left shoulder-blade. Chains rattled as the man groaned and twitched. The beast tightened up the chain, lifting the body awkwardly to the side.. A second hook was lodged under his opposing shoulder-blade. The chains violently danced as they were pulled taught and the body wriggled. The beast moved to the man on the floor and picked him up. “old meat to rot” uttered the beast, throwing the body onto another hook. Frank tried to scream, tried to move, but it was futile. His body forcefully plunged onto an unoccupied hook. The hook went between the vertebrae in his spine, severing the connection but not shutting off his mind. Frank could no longer move or feel, it was almost a saving grace. The beast looked upon his product and with a grunt shoved Mary’s corpse down the hall, the chains screeching on the rollers above. As she faded into the darkness, Frank’s perspective began to follow as he was flung into the same abyss. He would be joining his wife once more.
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