a human. for now.
The Fragmented Stranger of The Slaughterhouse Awakening
Life. This was it. Dragon Bordello was walking the city’s spine when his head fell off. For a moment, the busy sidewalk of pedestrians stood naked before the street. Dragon’s head tumbled onto the sidewalk and rolled through clouds of dust before coming to a stop. He watched as his body continued walking without a head down Labyrinth Street; just a rag amongst the spine. Dragon looked up at the soles of a thousand limbs stepping over his head. A flower, or a lady with high heels, was dangerously close to stepping on him when Winter, Red Winter, stopped to turn around. The pale, white skinned lady with blue eye shadow and hair redder than the magic sun, turned to face the man calling after her.
“Miss! You dropped this!” The man rushed toward her clutching a button in his hand.
Red Winter thanked the man and turned back in the direction she was heading. She opened her hand to look at the button, then lifted up her shirt and placed the button back on her stomach.
“I feel your pain,” Dragon Bordello said to her.
Red Winter aligned a look down at Dragon’s head. He carried hallowed stars for eyes as if he had lost something close to him. She reached down to Dragon’s loneliness and grabbed his left ear with her right hand and kissed the dangling planet. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m really just a head. I am for the common time.”
Red Winter stopped a cab with her mini skirt and slithered into the backseat with Dragon’s head. Paper raindrops softly began kissing the driver’s windshield. The door shut.
“Where to?” asked the driver.
“My place,” Red Winter replied.
She held Dragon’s head in her lap stroking his hair as she gazed out the window. The clouds had swallowed the sea and were washing away the Earth with its forceful rain. Red Winter took her hand from Dragon’s hair and held it to her nose. The smell of his hair rushed through her universe, opening a window releasing endorphins that blindly tumbled down to her arousal box.
The driver pulled up next to an apartment and Red Winter placed Dragon’s head under her shirt and exited the cab. She was trying to protect him from the weather as she removed her heels and ran inside her apartment. From the dark, a burning candle on a corner table gave off a soft glow. Blankets, far too old to protect the moods of the apartment, were piled on the sofa and armchairs. A maze of gardening books were stacked on the floor creating a nature trail for would-be travelers.
Red Winter stood in the doorway with her clothes soaked. Removing Dragon Bordello’s head from underneath her shirt, water began dripping onto her black and white colored cat who eagerly began rubbing against her legs. “Hey girl. Did you miss me?”
“Keep that thing away,” Dragon said.
“That thing is Purriah Carey. Don’t worry, she won’t bother you.” Red Winter set Dragon’s head down on the back of the couch. She brought him a glass of water with a straw and sat it on the table. “I’m going to get changed,” she said, her voice burning too like the candle and trailing off as she walked toward the bedroom. “I suppose you can just stay here for the night. I don’t really mind.”
The cat had jumped on the table and stuck its nose in the glass of water. Beyond the glass, there sparkled Red’s mini life in the bedroom mirror. Her wet clothes were slowly being removed from her body. Dragon Bordello watched as she unzipped her mini skirt and squirmed out of it. He stared in awe at the naked reflection in the mirror; the glass of used tender whore. Hidden drops of rain shimmered across her bare flesh. Dragon’s eyes were temporarily blinded by Purriah Carey splashing water out of the cup. When his vision cleared Red was sitting on a chaise lounge. Her legs were spread wide open and resting against a nearby dresser. She bit into her bottom lip with charm and stared into the mirror at Dragon’s eyes. Her hand slid between her legs as she began pleasuring herself in Dragon’s gaze. Purriah Carey knocked over the glass of water and paced back and forth. She finally decided to plop down and settle in for a nap on top of Dragon’s head. Removed from Red Winter’s moans of desire, Dragon’s world faded to black.
Death. It’s always cold. The curved cattle corral was packed with one animal staring at the hind quarters of the one in front of it so as to prevent them from seeing what happens next. One after another they quietly entered the slaughterhouse where 300 volts of electricity to the back of the head left them incapacitated. Once unconscious, they were hung upside down by their hind legs and sent down the processing line where Red Winter awaited them with a knife. One animal. Its last breath. After cutting their carotid artery and jugular, she allowed gravity to finish draining the blood from their soon to be lifeless bodies. This process, when experienced for the first time, was described as cutting the angel’s eyes.
Murder causes hunger and Red Winter was starving as she sat down in the lunch room. Hicks, her coworker, sat across from her fetching the crumbs from her sandwich with his index finger. He licked his finger clean and sucked on it in an attempt to seduce her. Sunburn trickled off his beard into his bowl of soup.
“Human decay, why do you exist?” asked Francine who was sitting on the counter with a cigarette in her mouth staring in disgust at Hicks. Red Winter rolled her eyes, themselves convicted many times of seduction, and continued eating.
Hicks slurped his soup and complimented Red Winter’s dark, sensual eyes. She gave him a quick smile and returned to her sandwich.
“What?” Hicks asked.
“You’re a creep,” Francine said ashing her cigarette in the sink.
“Ignore her,” Hicks said as he reached across the table to hold Red Winter’s hand. “Will you marry me?”
Francine jumped off the counter and drove a steak knife into the table next to Hicks’ hand. She wasted a gaze on his face that, with all sincerity, told him to fuck off.
The door flew open and Stanley, the shift supervisor, walked in with the shadow of a headless man.
“This is the break room,” said Stanley to the headless man. Stanley scanned over the paper attached to his clipboard and looked up at Red Winter.
“Red, this is a new employee. Today’s his first day. He’s gonna be taking your place on the line. I’m moving you to head and foot.” There was nothing Red Winter disdained more than the colorless alleys of head and foot removal. “Francine,” Stanley continued, “you’ll be on skinning detail. If you need help with the down pullers I’m sure Hicks here can lend you a hand.” The door shut behind Dragon’s body as he exited the break room behind Stanley.
Francine pulled the knife out of the table and said to Hicks, “That freak almost makes you look normal.”
Red Winter was looking in her compact mirror applying lipstick. She tightened her ponytail, hung like a monument to her gushing beauty, and adjusted her bra when Francine realized what she was up to.
“That look. That look,” Francine said. “Today’s guy?”
Red slid her chair out and stood up. “What? He’s cute,” she replied causing Hicks to stop eating and slump down in his chair. His soup and a sediment of his affection had turned to leather.
Cattle throats, one after another, gone. Dragon’s most recent victim was being sent down the line with blood gushing from its jugular. The hooks holding the cattle’s hind legs began to shake and rattle on the line. The persistence of the sound was uncommon and drew Red Winter’s attention. She looked up to see the muscles twitching in the cattle’s legs. When the twitching ceased Red watched its stomach rise and fall back down. Its legs began jolting, trying to free itself from the hooks. The cattle’s spastic floundering commanded the attention of everyone on the line. Its mouth opened letting out a gurgled moo. Even in the absence of circulating blood, life still chose to return to this corpse. Born again was that which spoke with no logical explanation. With every subsequent cattle Dragon took a knife to, they each reacted in the same manner miraculously coming back from the dead. Slaughterhouse weeds. The hooks were rattling and echoing absurdly throughout the slaughterhouse due to reborn cattle seeking their freedom.
Sensing a reasonable amount of undead, Stanley rushed over and quickly pulled Dragon off the line. Red Winter watched from a distance as Stanley handed Dragon a bucket full of cleaning supplies and ushered him into the bathroom. It was unrealistic, not to mention bad for the slaughtering business, to allow him to remain on the processing line.
Red Winter took advantage of the chaos on the processing line and snuck into the bathroom. Dragon’s arms were elbow deep in the toilet before he stood up covered in a reeking yellow slime. In life people see and people dream, now Red Winter would look for the value in one who did neither. Red Winter kicked the bucket of cleaning supplies across the bathroom floor and removed her pants. She yanked Dragon’s pants off of his body and pushed him onto the toilet. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head as she straddled his legs and forced Dragon inside her body. His headless body was her long sought after fantasy. Under no condition would it be plausible for her to analyze his thoughts or fancies.
The slaughterhouse walls were surrounded by the media from multiple news outlets. News had spread of a headless miracle worker and reporters were banging down the doors racing to be the first to break the story. One female reporter standing outside the building looked into her camera and said, “This slaughterhouse behind me may soon be out of business due to cattle returning from the dead by the hands of a mysterious headless man. Not much is known at the moment such as why he would bring them back to life. Several other questions are also unanswered at the moment. Is this a political statement? Was he hired from someone on the outside in an attempt to have this slaughterhouse shut down? Is this a hoax? Or is this mystery man actually capable of performing miracles and bringing the dead back to life? And most importantly, who is he? Stay tuned as we uncover the answers to what is currently being regarded as, the slaughterhouse awakening.”
Over the next several hours, Dragon’s head watched the television waiting for reporters to gain access to the headless man inside the slaughterhouse. Red Winter came home and gave a calm, detailed report to Dragon’s head of her sexual encounter with his body. She watched the anger boil over in his eyes, and with her sweet, gentle voice said, “Something about being in control really turns me on.” Quietly she continued, “Without me you’ll never return to your body. I control that now. I guess we have some decisions to make here, don’t we?”
“I should slap you,” said Dragon’s head.
Red Winter relaxed in a worn out armchair and covered herself with a blanket. “You can’t. And you should really behave if you ever want to see your body again.”
“Please. I don’t know how much longer I can bear the pain and loneliness of being separated from myself. I feel like I’m losing my whole identity. Every trace of what makes me, me.” Sadness was washing away the anger in his face with tears of despair. “You need to bring me to my body,” he pleaded. “This can’t wait.”
Red Winter began curling up under the blanket searching for a comfortable position. With a yawn and a tone that disregarded the immediacy of the situation and his solitude, she explained, “Maybe you just need to be rid of that part of you now. Your body discarded you. Maybe that happened for a reason. You should no longer concern yourself with such silly things like a body anymore, my dear.”
“I don’t think you understand what it’s like,” Dragon said, his voice trembling, “to want to sleep your life away to experience a world in which you aren’t helpless.” His time spent dreaming to escape his helplessness was only matched by his time spent imagining his own demise. He wore out many thousand great cliffs inside his head plunging to his death.
“I’m doing you a favor,” Red Winter said as she turned her words to the corner table to blow out a candle and gently shut her eyes. “You should be thankful that there’s anything to feel in the abyss. Even if it is only helplessness.”
Red Winter’s discreet encounters in the bathroom with Dragon’s body continued. She even found herself co-hosting a unique event alongside Dragon’s body. It was by far the one event which brought the most media attention to Dragon’s body, and saw his popularity expand across an entire nation. It began with the long, curving line outside the slaughterhouse. The line once reserved for the herd of ignorant cattle was overcrowded with humans. Many of whom were holding in their arms a small animal that ceased to make a sound or move. Stiff, cold, and dead they laid in their owner’s arms. A quarter mile away, a white sign hammered into the roadside with the sun beaming upon it read, “Dead Pets Brought To Life. Headless Mystery Man Performs Miracles.” This garnered the attention of not just those who recently lost a fluffy beloved one, but curious locals out to investigate whether or not there was an authentic miracle worker living amongst them. Their doubts were soon put to rest as the dead continued to rise with no explanation. The slaughterhouse was transformed into a carnival with Red Winter shouting into a megaphone, “Step right up! Watch your dead pet come to life!” Many entered the slaughterhouse not knowing what to expect and left believing in a new divine being. News spread like wildfire when these new converts rushed to any reporter with a microphone and camera.
Quotes quickly found their way to newspapers and television screens from coast to coast. They all agreed that this headless man must be more than human; however, another interesting discovery was revealed when discussing his lack of a head. “There was something – growing,” observed one female spectator. Yet another confused member of the audience echoed a similar observation, “There was a very distinct difference in his appearance by the end of the night. His neck. It was growing something.” Reporters ran with the story and tempted the public with news of the headless miracle man’s new head. Everyone, from the mayor to the workers in the sausage factory, gave their thoughts on how the head would look once fully manifested. Some were wildly throwing their predictions around while others based their predictions on the single photo that had made it into the press. It was the clearest depiction of that lump of flesh sprouting from its neck revealing skin that was hairless and tight with brown veins protruding through the skull. Also visible were signs showing the top half of the eyes breaking the surface of the neck. Anticipation built for the first ever interview of the nameless miracle man. Soon he would speak, and the world would be watching.
Dragon’s head began to feel obsolete with the news of another head growing from his body. Not only had he lost any chance of reclaiming his body, but also the fame that accompanied it . It was clear by now that his body was becoming the most revered figure in recent history, and it would be another head that would receive the nod of recognition from a world hungry to worship those who may grant immortality. All that was left of Dragon were these torturous thoughts that made him scream. His scream and his loneliness stretched over the course of several days, until Red Winter stormed through the front door in a panic with her makeup smeared and blood dripping from her face. With trembling hands, she picked Dragon’s head up by his hair and dropped him into her purse. “Shut up,” she said through clenched teeth. Her purse banged against the door frame as she exited her apartment in a hurry.
Moments before Red Winter had rushed into her apartment to retrieve Dragon’s head, she was in a slaughterhouse waiting for the show to begin. The show was to begin with an announcement. Red Winter had earned the right to unveil the headless miracle man’s new head. Thousands were scheduled to be in attendance that night to finally put a face to the miracle man, and to witness the first human corpse brought back from the dead. Prior to the event, while the slaughterhouse still remained empty, Dragon’s body was in the bathroom awaiting Red Winter’s arrival. When she did arrive, he extended a bouquet of flowers to her in a show of devotion.
Red Winter with her delicate voice asked, “For me?” After accepting the flowers she said, “You love me. Don’t you?”
Dragon confirmed by nodding his new head.
“That’s so sweet of you,” she said with a near whisper, “but I absolutely despise flowers and your feelings for me.” Red Winter shoved the flowers in the trash can and, showing no emotion at all, said, “I liked you better without a head.”
She stood behind Dragon, staring over his shoulder into the mirror. “Look at you,” she said. “You have to live with this grotesque thing growing out of you now. You’re a mishap. Just a disgusting little monster.” She placed her hand on his head, feeling it as if to see if it were actually real. He pulled away from her. “You’re my little monster now,” she assured him with her sweet, calming tone.
Dragon stared at Red Winter in the mirror and smashed the back of his head into her nose. After removing her hands from her nose and seeing them smothered in her own blood, she grabbed the back of Dragon’s head and put his new face through the mirror. He swung his arm around, landing the back of his fist on Red Winter’s cheek. He wrapped his hands around her neck and began to squeeze. Red Winter managed to free herself with kicks and send Dragon’s body stumbling backwards. His head crashed against the toilet. He collapsed onto the ground and didn’t move. A thin crack appeared down the middle of his bald skull. Even if he did regain consciousness, Red Winter knew she couldn’t unveil this beaten and battered head to the world. She left Dragon’s body on the bathroom floor when she fled to her apartment to retrieve Dragon’s head that was still screaming the moment she arrived.
Red Winter closed the bathroom door behind her and removed Dragon’s head from her purse and sat it on the counter. “I screwed up. I need to get you back on your body,” she said.
Dragon’s head was speechless at the sight of his body and the head attached to it, but he did manage to mutter a simple, “You should hurry.”
Red Winter stood over Dragon’s body and pulled on his head with all her might. She drove her foot into his chest for more leverage as she continued to pull. What sounded like fabric being torn in two was Dragon’s head being removed from his body. She placed the head in her purse and reattached the head on the counter to Dragon’s body.
He stood up and stared at himself in a broken shard of glass, “I feel different,” he said with a hint of bewilderment.
Red Winter placed a hood over his head and whispered in his ear, “It’s time to make history.” She grabbed her purse and escorted Dragon out to the thousands waiting in the slaughterhouse.
While climbing the stairs to the platform where the miracle would be performed, memories began flashing through Dragon’s mind that he didn’t recognize. At the top of the platform, Red Winter stopped next to a steel table which held the corpse of a dead man. Underneath the hood, Dragon was reliving the memories his body had acquired in his absence. The last memory he experienced, before the hood was removed, was of Red Winter calling him a monster and smashing the mirror with his face. As the hood came off she was the first thing he saw. He tried to look past her and observe his new surroundings. The slaughterhouse was lit up by a display of candles and lanterns better suited for a funeral parlor. Thousands filled the room but made not a sound. Once they were done gawking at Dragon, they began to whisper amongst themselves. “He looks so…average,” one onlooker noticed. Another doubted his authenticity stating, “There’s no way that’s him.” And yet another expected a far more fantastic exhibit to be displayed that evening, noting, “He looks just like us.” One member from the crowded audience yelled up to the platform, “What’s your name?”
Confident that his name would forever be remembered throughout history, he shouted, “Dragon Bordello!”
The crowd began chanting his name as Red Winter placed the knife in his hand, and with her bruised cheek said, “Don’t you mess this up.”
She faced the audience and spoke into a microphone, “After tonight you will all be able to attest to the miraculous powers of Dragon Bordello as you experience the first human body to ever be brought back from the dead.” Excitement spread through the crowd stirring up cheers for what would be an historical event. Red Winter turned to Dragon and asked, “Who is this lucky person you’re bringing back from the dead tonight?”
She held the microphone to his face and as the audience awaited the identity of the dead man on the table, Dragon said with a mouthful of vengeance, “You.”
Before Red Winter could offer a reaction, Dragon had already ran the blade of his knife across her throat. He stood behind her holding her head back while the blood from her throat sprayed the platform. Thousands watched not knowing what to expect, but simply waiting for a miracle. The muscles in Red Winter’s legs began to twitch. Dragon dropped her to the platform where her body laid motionless after knocking over her purse and spilling the secrets that hid inside. As the crowd waited for Red Winter’s body to return from the dead, they stared in horror at the head rolling across the platform. Dragon attempted to chase after it. The audience fell silent and doubts again rose about the nature of this “miracle man”. When the head came to a stop, the audience members were convinced they had seen that bald head with brownish veins popping through its flesh once before. Lanterns turned to torches and chants of, “Impostor” echoed throughout the slaughterhouse.
The angry mob of spectators chased Dragon out of the building and into the night. The hunt continued down endless streets that reached the countryside where they spotted him fleeing into the safety of a new darkness in an overgrown cornfield. Dragon hoped that the thickness and disorienting nature of the field would deter them from following after him. This proved to be the case as they positioned themselves along the perimeter of the cornfield screaming for his head. Terrifying voices riding through the darkness of the night haunted Dragon as he stood frozen in the middle of the field. There was no escape from their crackling taunts surrounding him. There would be no fame for Dragon Bordello. No recognition for miracles performed prior to the evening’s terrible turn of events. He thought about what could have been had Red Winter returned from the dead. He realized he was never meant to feel the warm embrace of a society in which he felt so alone, just as he realized Red Winter was never meant to experience the unthinkable depths of immortality. Looking around now at the flames burning the very cornfield he stood in the middle of, he was, at least, relieved to die with his body. He waited; a stranger on the avenue of death with nothing but vistas of deadly light to bring him peace.