Stranger at Table (Part II)

Posted: October 20, 2016 in chuck wendig challenge, horror
Tags: , , ,

This is my continuation to a chain story (and this week’s Chuck Wendig Challenge). And yes, I don’t write much horror, can’t you tell?

Here’s where you can find part I:

The first thing Viola noticed was just how damned cold it was. It felt like a blast from the arctic, chilling her to the bone. A few fluorescent lights shone down, casting the interior in deep shadows. The stench was even worse inside. She pulled her shirt up over her nose and mouth, took short, shallow breaths to keep the worst of the smell out. She still felt like gagging, but she held on to hope like a frayed rope, looking for the owner of the truck.

The second thing she noticed were the large carcasses hanging from meat hooks, row upon row. Her mind flashed to Rocky smacking the large slabs with his fists. None of it resembled a living animal anymore, and she couldn’t tell in the dark if it was pigs or cows slaughtered here. Not that it matter much.  She moved further into the building, clutching her arm around herself to ward off the chill, trying not to think about what she was stepping in when her tennis shoes squelched on the concrete floor.

“Hello?” she called out. Her voice echoed in the cold, stark space. Her eyes caught sight of butchering tools. Saws and hoses and clamps and pincers and vices. She shuddered again. She couldn’t stand horror movies, but sometimes her kids had watched them. The little glimpses she’d had left her with nightmares.

She moved further into the building, keeping track of where the door was, not wanting to get lost. “Hello?” she called again.  In the distance she thought she heard strains of music playing.

Coming around a row of meat, she saw a door leading to an office. She felt her heart thumping in her chest. The light was on behind the door. She stepped up, hoping at least there’d be a phone, though she had no idea who’d she call. She knocked.

The door opened, revealing the biggest man Viola had ever seen. He overflowed the space, having to duck his head down below the frame of the door. She took a step back, feeling threatened by the sheer size of him. He was dressed in an ill-fitting security uniform, a gun slung in a holster at his hip.

“You shouldn’t be here.” He grumbled, his jaw chewing through the words.

“M-my car broke down on the road. I wanted to know if I could borrow your phone. Please, I’ve been walking all night.” Viola’s voice trembled.

She saw the guard thinking it over, his small piggish eyes shining black in the dim light. “Ain’t no garage opened this time of night.”

Viola felt her heart sink a little further. “Anyway I can stay here until morning then? Do you know a garage nearby?”

The security guard scratched the back of his head. “I reckon you’ll want Geordie’s. He’ll be open tomorrow. What’s wrong with the car?”

“It ran out of gas.” Even as she said it, she felt like an idiot all over again.

The guard shook his head. “Not smart, pretty lady like you running out of gas out here.” He let out a sigh like a distant rumble of thunder. “I better call Pappy.”

Viola’s heart gave a small leap, but she held her tongue. Maybe this was the place she was looking for after all. That and she couldn’t remember the last time anyone had called her pretty. “That would be great, thanks.”

The guard took a step back, and Viola thought to follow him into the office.

“No, you wait out here.” That brought her up short. The way he said, like he might say it to a small child.

“O-okay,” she said. The door closed, leaving her still in the cold, feeling it seep into her bones. The smell seemed less intense somehow, though it was possible she was getting accustomed to it.

She heard the guard’s voice rumbling through the door, but the words were too indistinct for her to make out. Then there was silence, and the door opening back up.

“Pappy says he’ll come and pick you up.”


“My name’s Jim.”

“I’m Viola.” She stood there, staring at him for a while. “So can I come-”

“You better wait outside.”

Viola shuffled back through the warehouse, back to the door. The air outside felt like a relief from the bitter chill of the warehouse, and the drone of the exhaust fans sounded muted compared to their roar inside.

Her flashlight flickered, and she turned it off, not wanting it to die completely. She wasn’t sure how long she was waiting for Pappy, but the truck was practically on top of her before she even heard it. It was an old battered pick-up, mud spattered and dented. A man stepped out, looking little more than twigs tied to a body, a wisp of a beard clinging to his face and red hair erupting from underneath a red baseball cap.

“You must be the city girl my boy Jim called about,” the man said, spitting a wad of tobacco juice out between his front teeth.

“You’re Pappy?” she asked. The image fit better with what she was expecting. A flannel shirt, overalls, work boots.

“Name’s Sawney,” the man said. “Pappy to my family and some close friends.” He gave an overly familiar wink.

“So I uh, can get a ride?” she asked.

Sawney nodded. “Hop on in. Jim told me he told you Geordie’s won’t open up til the morning. So in the meantime, we’ve got a bed you can sleep on and some food if you’re hungry.”

Viola nodded, her stomach audibly growling at the mention of food. “That would be great, thanks. Uhm, I’ve got some money…”

“Won’t hear of it,” Sawney said with a gap-toothed grin. “There’s always room for a stranger at the table.”

(P.S.- to the person continuing this, it might help to google Sawney Bean. Or not. 🙂 )

  1. I love how you tapped into one of the two things that terrifies me. (Cannibalism). For reference, the following story was told frequently where I come from, with the addition of Matthias Schaumboch making the “freshest” sausages and feeding them to his other guests.


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