Billy Janson likes to tell a story about the night he found a monster in a pothole outside of Cactus Flats, Texas.
The first thing Billy’ll tell you is that he used to be known as “Wild Bill,” back in the day. Anyway, Billy says he’d stopped at the Bull-Wash Truck Stop on his way home from the slaughterhouse. His truck didn’t need fuel, but he needed a hamburger steak, and he figured, as long as he was there, he might as well wash the manure out of his cattle trailer. The truck stop had a couple of big bays in the back, equipped with pressure-washer hoses and drainage grates. Gotta get that sludge out of there sometimes, Billy says, or else it builds.
It was sometime after moonfall when he met the monster. At first, he thought it was a sheen of spilled fuel glimmering under the security light. That parking lot was more pothole than pavement. But the iridescent swirl grew thicker, meatier—and then a blazing longhorn bull coalesced, charging out of the hole on hooves sharp as galvanized steel, bellowing bonesaw fury loud enough to burst Billy’s eardrums.
It might spoil your appetite, but if you’ll listen, Billy’ll tell you about the wave of nausea that struck him, how he puked hamburger steak and Coca-Cola and ketchup all over the cracked asphalt, how his vomit seethed as it drained away with the soapsuds and the filth.
If you’ll listen, in the keen of the night, you might hear the echo of the monster. You might still hear the sizzle.
Myna Chang (she/her) is the author of The Potential of Radio and Rain. Her writing has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W. W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction. She hosts the Electric Sheep speculative fiction reading series. See more at MynaChang.com or @MynaChang.