A TASTE FOR LIFE
Trotty Wilde rides her bicycle (named) Kardashian up and down the slopes of the Coyote Hills trails at night. In these wee hours, Trotty enjoys being the only bicyclist, illuminating her own path with that 400-lumen LED headlight.
Trotty swoops out of the trail head and onto the public street that circumvents Coyote Hills. She pedals furiously up the incline in a triumphant finale to her workout, focusing only ahead, savoring the deep muscle burn, the rapidly chilling sweat, and the bicyclist’s endorphin high.
Suddenly a large dark automobile, without headlights, comes up from behind Trotty and side-swipes her. Trotty is flung away sideways onto the sidewalk, bouncing off of her helmeted head and rolling like a rag doll.
Trotty can feel as she impacts and tumbles but the sensation is not yet pain, only knowledge of what pain must come.
She faints as the deluge of pain now quickly engulfs her.
Trotty awakens. The pain closes upon her consciousness like water upon a hole in water. She sees a blurry figure above herself.
Trotty hears a man saying down to her, “I have called for an ambulance. Can you hear me? You’re going to be fine.”
Trotty faints again.
When she again awakens, her first conscious thoughts are of dread at being conscious. Her jagged world is pulsing with a red light. She realizes there are now other figures above her.
Another voice is saying, close to her face, “We’re going to lift you into the ambulance. We’ll give you something for the pain when we stabilize you.”
Trotty faints as she is lifted onto a gurney.
She awakens laying inside an ambulance with two medical technicians moving around her, touching her, prodding her, pulling her, saying, “We’re leaving your helmet on for a little while longer, just in case….”
Trotty cries out from the pain. One technician says, “OK, here you go. You’re going to feel something in one second…”
The pain now falls away like a robe. Trotty exhales. Her vision is still blurry as if under water. She watches the two pale young technicians.
One of the technicians says to her, soothingly, “Welcome back. You were a hit.”
Trotty giggles at the bad joke.
The other technician says, “She’ll be marinating in happy juice now.”
Trotty is sentient enough to realize that she is now strapped naked under a blanket. She drawls with effort, “Where are my clothes?”
One technician says, “He knocked the shit out of you. Understand?”
Trotty mumbles, “Yessir.”
The technician continues, “We’re leaving your helmet on until we are sure.”
His partner mutters, “These bicyclists. How stupid are they to insist on sharing the road with automobiles? That’s like swimming with sharks.”
Trotty begins to mouth the movie JAWS’ ominous theme music, “Dun-dun-Dun-dun-Dun-dun…” and she splutters, giggling.
One of the technicians says, “Don’t marinate her too much. She’ll be bitter.”
The ambulance stops. The technicians throw the back doors open.
They are not at a hospital.
As they lift Trotty out of the ambulance she has a disconnected observation that they are in a dark park. Her gurney is bumping over uneven grass.
Trotty becomes aware of a small crowd around her. She tries to focus on them. They seem to be a mix of young and old.
One of the ambulance technicians lifts her head tenderly and removes her helmet. At that moment she realizes that all of the different people seem to have the same pale face with sunken eyes.
The ambulance technician snatches Trotty’s blanket away. The cold night air is sobering upon her nakedness. The pain medication is diluted with a fierce shock of adrenaline but she can’t make her throat scream. She squirms desperately in her straps upon the gurney.
The ghouls now surround her closely and begin to press their hands and lips upon her flesh, murmuring with lust and craving.
For all ghouls have a taste for life.
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