by Joel Bignell
Josh and Lindsey stared with their mouths
wide open, horrified, as the nanny goat spread her jaws like a nutcracker and bit into Roger’s skull. The goat’s
square, yellow teeth crunched through bone and then tore away the brown mop top to expose the gray meat in its glistening
sac. Roger’s shrieks stopped very suddenly as the goat’s snout burrowed into his brain, and his body went limp
under the thin ropes of goat-web.
At some point in its meal, the goat looked
up at the gaping honors students with big, black eyes, and Josh and Lindsey ran half-screaming and half-breathless from the
cabin. They didn’t stop at the foot of the hill outside or at the old plantation house at the top. Josh followed Lindsey
to her car where he pounded on the passenger-side door until she let him in.
“Go! We need to get out NOW!”
Josh panted. “Hurry!”
Lindsey didn’t start the ignition.
“Where’s the class? Where’s the group?” she asked. She scanned the surrounding farmland. “I
can’t see anything through all those trees…”
“They’re in hell for all I care!
GO!” Josh yelled. Lindsey snapped her head around and pointed a shaking finger at his face.
“Don’t say that, EVER! I don’t
even want to HEAR that word! You understand?” Josh looked blank.
She turned back towards the steering wheel.
“Call the police,” she said as she put the car in reverse.
“Hello!” Josh said. “Our
phones don’t work out here in the sticks!” Lindsey wheeled the car around on the gravel.
“Then we’re going to the nearest
gas station. Oh my lord… Oh no.” The path through the trees that led down to the highway was blocked, about a
hundred yards in, by a red pickup. The pickup only had its rear wheels in the gravel; the front end was high off the ground,
tangled in what looked like grayish, sticky rope. Lindsey stomped the brake and Josh, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt,
flew forward. The little sports car lurched to a stop just behind the pickup.
“Jesus, what’s going on?”
Josh asked in a panicky voice. Lindsey shot him a hateful look, but only for a moment. Then something fell from the trees
to the top of the pickup and rolled down the truck bed, knocking open the loose tailgate. Before the object plopped to the
ground, the two in the car had time to see what it was, and they screamed until they couldn’t breathe. Lindsey threw
the car back into reverse and hit the gas hard. The two found their breath and screamed even louder when a spindly black goat
with its eight legs sticking out to its sides dropped from the treetops and hung right where the car had been a moment before.
The goat bleated, turned upside down, and shimmied back up its rope like a spider with Professor Morton’s severed head
in its teeth.
For a minute, Josh and Lindsey sat in silence
at the hilltop. Then Lindsey spoke in a quavering voice. “We’re trapped. That’s the only road out.”
“Then take it off-road!” Josh
“This thing? Off road on this hill?
Don’t be stupid, Josh. The bottom of this car is six inches off the ground. We’re gonna crash, and then those…
THINGS are gonna get us,” Lindsey snapped with white knuckles on the steering wheel.
“They’re goats.” Josh
“Right, goats. Whatever, Josh. They
have eight legs and they ate our teacher. They spin WEBS.”
“They’re genetically spliced
with spiders. It’s to turn their milk into spider web because it’s super strong. It’ll make good bulletproof
vests. I didn’t think that it was making the goats look like this… or that USF was making them right here in Brooksville.”
Lindsey trembled with anger. “I KNEW
they shouldn’t be toying with God’s creatures. I said it OVER AND OVER!” Josh didn’t say anything.
He was sick of Lindsey’s God bullshit. Somehow, even after seeing two people get eaten by mutant goats, he could still
feel annoyed. “We’re going to a phone,” Lindsey said. “There’s one in the cafeteria.”
“You’re crazy!” Josh yelled.
“The cafeteria’s way the hell down…”
“DON’T say that WORD!”
Lindsey yelled back. “We’ll take the car down there real slow. I’m not going to sit here and wait for help!
Dr. Armand and everybody are out there.”
“So we’re gonna die with them,
huh? Oh, you’re REAL smart! I saw the grade on your last paper, Lindsey, and I’m not impressed. Why don’t
you just kill me now?” Lindsey didn’t stop turning the car around and Josh didn’t get out of the car. He
slumped down in his seat and watched the trees nervously. “I never wanted to come on this dumb trip,” he mumbled.
Lindsey kept the car at a crawl right up
to the cafeteria door, where she yanked the parking brake and took the keys out of the ignition, which made Josh glare at
her. She glared back and stepped out. Josh stayed back for a moment and then cautiously followed her up the short stairs and
into the trailer that served as a breakfast and lunch room for USF field trip groups like theirs. Somewhere in the empty kitchen,
a radio played hip-hop softly.
Lindsey was already on the phone. “Send
help! Two people are dead! …Ah, no, I don’t know what happened. …At the USF compound up on the really big
hill… you know, with the farm? … In the cafeteria. We need ambulances, cops… lots of cops! Please hurry!”
She listened for a moment and hung up. “They’re coming. What are you doing?”
“Looking for knives,” said Josh.
“Here they are… just in case the cops don’t come soon enough.”
“I’m taking that long one. No
wait, the thick one. We can tie them to the ends of those broomsticks. I saw some twine.” Josh held up a roll of duct
tape in reply.
With their makeshift spears in hand, Josh
and Lindsey went back into the dining room to wait for the police. The screen door was ajar, and a big, brown, horned head
with flared nostrils was holding it open. A bulky male body with eight heavy legs followed it into the room, snorting. He
let out a menacing bleat.
“Get him!” Lindsey screamed.
Josh stood petrified as Lindsey charged, spearpoint first, at the surprised billy goat. With a twist of his head, the goat
took the spear in a two-horned scissorlock and sent Lindsey flying to the corner with a broken piece of broom in her hand.
All eight legs went into action at once, and the goat crossed the room before Josh realized that he’d started. The goat
plunged his horns into Lindsey’s chest and then silenced her screams with a savage bite to the throat.
Josh heard gunshots, and the goat stumbled
to the floor. Through the trailer window he could see a lone policeman holding his pistol in both hands. “Police!”
the man yelled. “Anyone in there?”
“Help!” Josh croaked.
“The ambulance and my backup are on
their way. Are you hurt- OH MY GOD!” The fallen billy goat rose to its feet and turned towards the officer.
“Ba-a-a-a-a!” it said.
The goat went through the door
like a brown battering ram to the tune of two more futile gunshots and one more piercing scream, and Josh saw the irony in
the idea of making bulletproof vests out of milk from mutant goats. It made sense that they would armor themselves with their
own webbing. He slumped to the ground and cried as the sound of hooves grew near.
Copyright Joel Bignell 2005