The room had no windows. Chapman’s hands shook. It would be better if the room had windows, he thought. “I’m going to need you to focus,” said the corporate investigator, his voice incongruously deep. Chapman thought he looked like someone who’d recently lost a lot of weight: slack, drooping skin. “Sure thing.”
They were here to talk about the incident at the Decatur meat processing plant.
An incident to which Chapman was the lone witness.
All those raw bodies—
kneeling and crawling, reaching up their arms to that fucking thing in the sky…
“Tell me again when you first saw it.”
“Had to be past midnight. I’d gone out for a smoke.”
“Anyone else outside?”
“And you called your floor supervisor?”
“Uh-huh. Over the radio. I said to him, ‘Oddest thing, Joe, but there’s a cow out here in the fucking yard.’”
“When he came out, that’s when the—transformation started?”
“Yeah. I mean the cow looked up at me when I was making the call, but it wasn’t till Joe got there it sprouted those goddamn wings.”
Cartilage spearing flesh—
weaving itself into giant filmy wings like an insect’s…
“Did it fly?”
“More like hovered. Lifted itself off the ground and hung there in the night sky.”
from inside the plant—
sickening smell of spoiled blood, of decomposing guts—
“That’s when people started running out, one after the other, some covered in slime, yelling about the animals going nuts inside. Cadavers coming back to life, stuff like that. Then seeing this floating cow and stopping dead in their tracks, dropping to their knees. Joe had a handgun and he was pointing it at the fucking thing, but he couldn’t fire. All the while this thump-thumping was coming from inside the plant, and the people started praying.”
“To the floating cow. Begging for forgiveness.”
Bovine head beginning to spin—
cracking of bone—
a distension of the skull; a ballooning out and an elongation of the face into a goddamn flesh trumpet!
“I guess they were all outside by now, the ones who weren’t dead. Kneeling, begging. It floated above them, casting this black shadow. There was this girl, Karen. She looked up at it and said, ‘I don’t deserve to live,’ and it extended its—”
“Proboscis,” the investigator said.
“Yeah, and just…”
Chapman didn’t want to say: didn’t want to remember.
“It sucked the skin right off her fucking body, like some kind of freak vacuum. Came off in one piece, leaving her looking like an anatomical drawing—but still fucking praying, thanking it—until what was left of her just fell apart, lost its shape and collapsed into a pile of steaming innards. Then it did the others the same, and I swear to God all I heard was this deep voice repeating the same three words: delicious human nectar.”
“Yes,” said the investigator. His voice deep, his cheeks impossibly loose. Like a puppet made from human skin—
“You shall be our prophet.”