Zechariah Borden | Grease Stains

Blinded by fragments, confused by back-to-back near-misses, and hastened by his triple-digit speedometer reading, Frederick Millard never noticed the T-junction with the reinforced guardrail—designed to stop an eighteen-wheeler—blocking would-be strays from catapulting into Interstate 80—lying in wait ahead of him. The Impala hit the rail like a high-speed wrecking ball tearing through a derelict structure. This structure didn’t give way to the wrecking ball like it was supposed to, though. Instead it firmly resisted the notion, refusing to bend more than a little, forcing the wrecking ball to stop outside the front door and wait for permission to enter.

The contents of the car compressed as if a black hole was created in the cabin. Frederick was unbuckled, which allowed him to be thrown clear, clear of his car and of the restraints of gravity. Unfortunately for him, his car was not designed with free-throws in mind, so when his body went forward, his legs became wedged between the steering wheel and his bucket seat, a situation that presented an incredible strain for his legs. They quickly succumbed to the pressures and broke at the knees, allowing his body to carry on its path. His mind told his lungs to scream in pain; they worked desperately to respond.

Frederick was quickly met by his next obstacle: his windshield. His turtle-like, drug-depressed reflexes told his arms to fly forward to protect his head from weapons that were sure to assault him. Too late for his head; he hit his windshield and glass exploded outward, and he with it, like a zit erupting; just a quick spurt and it was done, the contents sent flying to who-knows-where, just away.

Flying forward over the rail that caused it all, Frederick saw a strong-trunked palm tree coming at him. He instinctively swerved to miss it but of course had no control in this weightless flight—it’s amazing how helpful gravity really is. His arms were still flying forward, thanks to his pitiful reflexes, to protect his head from the windshield. As he passed the tree he looked at his left arm as it smashed into the trunk, shattering the bones of the forearm. Palm trees aren’t as girly and weak as most assume. Frederick’s brain told his body to pull back; his arm attempted a response.

Passing over the grassy knoll completely, Frederick was able to see his fate ahead of him. He flew like a rocket, lifting up, up, up until his thrusters disengaged and like a meteor he fell down, down, down and crashed into the pavement of Interstate 80. His face may have been vaporized by the blast if it wasn’t lost on the way over. Perhaps he was on fire from traveling through Earth’s atmosphere at such speeds; he heard these things happened sometimes: a heavy object burning up in the atmosphere before even touching the ground. All he knew was that he felt fire all around. He swore he was ablaze.

As he continued his flight, Frederick remembered key things. It was hard to tell what was real and what was an illusion drummed up by acid in his system. He recalled a pig wearing a black uniform and carrying a gun. It drove a vehicle, or perhaps it was a spaceship; there were flashing lights—reds, blues, whites—emitting from its top and front, and they were chasing him prior to his current predicament. There was a turtle; a little turtle; a flattened turtle. He remembered swerving to hit it, and hit it he did. All that was left of it was a grease stain. There was also a shark with steel jaws. It was faint but he recalled a blare. Perhaps it was a lion: an angry lioness warning him that he was too close to her cubs. That could have been it.

Frederick didn’t have time to figure it out. He was quickly accosted by his next obstacle: the road, the great black ocean with streams of sharks of varying sizes prowling its waters.

He never blushed as he kissed the pavement. He bounced.

His mind told him to curl into a ball; his body never responded. Frederick never heard the approaching Great White moving in for the kill. He never felt its steel head bite into his fragile flesh. He never worried as part of him disappeared into the mouth of the Great White and part of him was lost in the ocean.

All that was left of Frederick Millard was a grease stain.

* * *

“Here rests Walter,” said Jack. “He was a good turtle. He didn’t do much but he was strong.”

“I’m gonna miss him, Jack,” said Nick. “We had him forever.” Forever wasn’t quite right. They had kept him for five years, but to a ten-year-old and a twelve-year-old, five years was forever.

“I know. Me too. I wish he didn’t escape.”

“Think Dad will let us get a dog now?” asked Nick, after a moment of silence.

“I don’t know. That would be great though. My friend from school, Mike, says his dog is big and fluffy and wrestles with him all the time.”

“That sure sounds awesome,” said Nick.

“Yeah, but Walter was good too.”

“Yeah, he was, but he never wrestled.”

“No, he didn’t. I wish he did.”

“Come inside now kids,” their mother called from the house. She was wary of letting her children play near the road after the dangerous high-speed pursuit that ended in a brutal accident earlier that day.

The two wandered back into their house, away from the oak tree, which shaded the freshly moved earth that held the remains of Walter.


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