Blackie’s Fur Farm

In the pitch darkness, his adrenaline was pumping his blood loudly in his ears. The dumpster in front of the tree line they emerged from stunk with the smell of death. Mink corpses stripped of their skin, tossed with careless hands, lay lifeless and decomposing inside. The long cheerless metal building was positioned at the end of an industrial cul de sac. The handful of the warehouses and factories didn’t run 3rd shift, so they sat darkened & vacant. Across from the fur farm, down a small slope, was a plastics warehouse that ran two shifts, the parking lot empty. The front of the fur farm was flooded with dim iridescent lighting from tall poles. Five days a week, people apathetically punched a clock right across a street from hell. The back of the building, and entire right side, was saturated in blest accommodating darkness.
He ran, hunkered down, quickly shuffling behind Joe. The smell of the cooling asphalt was similar to a field of wildflower, compared to the dumpster They were quietly making their way to the back side of the fur farm. The muffled sounds of metal on metal chimed in his backpack in cadence with his thick, rubber soled boots on the pavement. Carla was already around 25 feet ahead of them, pressed into a corner of the building, all in black. Her silhouette giving the illusion that the steel siding rose and fell with each deep breath she took. They hurried to catch up with her.
Their plan was to enter the building using prybars, dislodging the battered door that the parking lot lights failed to reach. One by one, once they were inside, they would open the cages, freeing the imprisoned death row mink. They were here to liberate. More than a thousand minks, were being held captive inside, slated for a horrific fate of anal electrocution. Their crime? Born mink; their fur a hugely coveted luxury item of the blood fashion industry. Rob felt homicidal just thinking about it. His internal temperature continued rising. He wanted to get inside, free the prisoners.
All three of them had previously liberated animals on multiple direct action operations. They all knew the score, knew that there were risks involved. Carla had been on her own since 2008. Her fiancée, Tad, had been charged and imprisoned in North Carolina after a bobcat liberation bust. Along with two other unlucky bastards, they’d thrown the book at him, and tossed his compassionate ass in jail.
As the reached the yellow parking blocks, a loud cracking sound stopped Rob in his tracks. Joe slowed, turning as he shouted, “Someone’s shooting.”
Rob turned toward the dark tree line, squinting his eyes, trying to make out any human shapes in the shadows. His bated breath caught in his throat as his eyes quickly darted from tree to tree.
Another flash and more crackling noise came from the dark tree line.
Robs shoulder was on fire as he felt an impact that knocked him off balance. He staggered several steps backwards, everything seeming to stand still. He heard muffled shouting.
Another bright flash from the trees, Rob clutched his shoulder and looked toward the building for Carla. He couldn’t see her.
The fire in his shoulder was fervent and spreading. He gripped it, wincing, he could feel a hot slick wetness running through his fingers.
He looked at his hand in the glow cast by the pole light. A shiny and dark liquid was covering his palm. He turned his hand over slowly, his brows furrowed as he inspected the dark syrup covering his hand, seeping through his fingers.
“Joe…I, I’m shot.” He rasped, his breath was quick and shallow. He felt like he couldn’t get enough oxygen, as his legs began to numb.
Rob suddenly felt a dizziness, he collapsed to the pavement sitting. His mouth was dry, he felt as though he was trying to swallow a napkin.
“Joe, the mother fuckers shot me.”
Rob grimaced as he laid back onto the pavement of the unforgiving parking lot. him. His body felt like it was falling through a cloud as he stared up at the night sky.
He swore that he could hear sirens in the distance.
With each jagged exhalation, he felt as though he was sinking further and further into the pavement.
“I can’t feel my arm.” He breathed.
His heartbeat was thrashing in his head in tandem with his shoulder. He rolled onto his side, as he tried to get up. Searing pain brought a wave of nausea. He tried to ignored it. The sirens were getting louder.
He laid back again, frustrated at his inability to get up. He rotated his head toward Joe, stopping when he saw the body.
He fell thirty stories inside of himself, shattering into a million pieces.
The air escaped his lungs slow and steady like a innertube deflating. His eyes were locked in place, fixed on the hole in Joe’s forehead.
Suddenly, as though disturbing an ant hill, he was surrounded by many moving bodies. One was talking to him, though Rob couldn’t seem to make his jaw move. Another was shouting over their shoulder.
The body.
He heard engines idling as he watched red and white lights reflecting over the trees. Two people knelt beside him on the pavement. He looked up at their faces and saw maggots swarming over their bulging eyes, boring into their mouths. He saw a large, faceless man pick one of them up by their leg, he watched them thrashing, trying to free themselves. It was no use. The faceless man was stronger. He tasted the burn of bile in his throat, bubbling and threatening to erupt from his mouth. It wasn’t real. The EMTs faces were normal. There was no faceless man. The shock of the body, and the pain from the bullet caused the break in reality.
He felt a pinch in his arm as one of the ambulance workers slid a needle into his vein. His eyes closed. He heard the rattle of wheels before he felt himself being lifted onto the gurney. He was covered with a warm blanket as the injection barreled through his veins.
He opened his mouth, trying to eject his heavy tongue.
He wasn’t answered.
He felt like he was floating as he was pushed toward the ambulance. His brain felt like warm, wet cotton. The clouds had dissipated, and he laid watching the stars moving. He felt his body being jerked, then lifted. It was suddenly very bright.
I’m dying. There’s life after death. He thought, grimacing from the glare as his eyes squinted.
The noise and garbled radio voice assured him he wasn’t dead.
“white male. Gunshot.”
He felt pressure against his chest as he tried to sit up and couldn’t, his eyes widened in panic as he struggled to free himself.
“Sir? Sir. You’re going to be ok.”
Rob turned toward the voice, he could see maggots falling out of a gaping mouth. He closed his eyes, head shaking, as he tried to dislodge the vision. The loud tear of Velcro being ripped open and the hiss of high pressurized air invaded his ears. He thrashed his head side to side desperate to shake the noises from his head. He felt slight pressure surrounding his nose and mouth, as if a giant cupped their hand over his face. The sound of his own breathing inside of the oxygen mask created a trancelike state. He focused on the rhythm. The moist warm air filled his lungs as he felt himself slipping into unconsciousness.

The distinct smell of hospital filled his lungs. He heard beeping, in the distance, that would have been grating had it not been so perfectly spaced. He exhaled deeply, relaxing into the soft give of the hospital bed. He felt a hand touch his, and he smiled.
Rob opened his eyes, Joe was sitting cross legged on the matress beside him. He looked strange against the sterile setting in a t shirt, jeans, and converse. He felt a wave of relief when he looked at Joe’s smooth forehead.
“I had the worst dream ever.” Rob whispered, his voice hoarse.
“I know.” Joe smiled slightly, his eyes downcast.
Rob knew that smile. “Why are you sad?”
Joe lifted his eyes, shaking his head softly.
“You just rest, Rob. Just rest & heal… the war is coming.”
Rob nodded as his eyes closed, he reached his hand toward Joe, his fingers only touching blanket, as the wave of sleep pulled him under. As he sank into unconsciousness, the beeping faded into static nothingness like being inside a cocoon.