Horror Bites #1: A Bag of Heads

I don’t normally write horror, though I must admit it makes for a mighty fun time! Fellow author Laura Jamez has started a horror-writing challenge. For the first run, she presented us with this picture:

Bag of Heads

You can find the rules for the challenge, as well as the other entries, here:

And so I present my flash fiction horror piece:

“Barbacoa”

The aromas weigh heavy in the nostrils: bleach and the inert yet unmistakable fragrance of raw meat. Fresh, it’s not yet sickeningly sweet from decay. Nor does it tantalize the senses as fat drips from tender fibers of muscle, pooling back on the plate flecked with spice.

*
That happens in the front of the store. Customers prefer to buy the finished product. Lengua and sesos sound cultured and adventurous. Once they taste the pungent product within their fresh tortillas, they brag about the cross-cultural butcher shop at the edge of town. They love barbacoa, the tender meat flaking away beneath the braised exterior. Some know it’s cheek. They don’t care. The reviews glow from the Sunday paper, beside succulent photos.

*
Beside the restaurant, customers can buy their meat. We use international names. They eat barbacoa, but they don’t want to see its original form. Food gurus warn consumers to know their food, instead of accepting meat in an innocuous plastic wrapper. They recommend consumers build relationships with the people producing it. Visit the farm, they say. See the animals. Few actually do. They just don’t want to know. So we slice the tongue, cheek, and brains, and package it within plastic wrappers. Once it gleams under storefront lights, consumers ignore where it came from. They take it home, hoping to reproduce the cuisine they ate here.

*
We have two rooms behind the store: one beneath the other. Sometimes customers want to know. We tell them tours violate health code. But when reporters arrive, or the health department, we close the door and drag the rubber mat atop.

*
Humans taste just like pork. Fat drips from cheek meat, pooling back on the plate flecked with spice. But few customers want to know where their food comes from. Perhaps they should.

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