For thirty years, the butcher carried on his family’s business, not with pride but with a sense of responsibility. He understood his place in the world even though he didn’t necessarily cherish it. He was…comfortable. And that was good enough for him.
As per usual, the butcher opened the door to the freezer behind the storefront and was immediately met with a blast of cold air. He did not flinch, nor did he think twice about the coldness that pinched his skin. Instead, he meandered through the freezer, meat cleaver in hand, and ready to start the day’s work. However, he stopped in his tracks upon hearing a high-pitched shriek that sent chills through his body.
The butcher held his breath.
Did I hear that?
His eyebrows furrowed. Perhaps he had imagined it.
The butcher took a deep breath and stepped forward, only to halt again as soon as he heard a second cry. He whirled around, his eyes frantically searching for the source of the noise, before his gaze landed on the half-empty hide of a slaughtered hog hanging from the rafters of the freezer. It did not move, but each squeal racked its lifeless body as if the noise itself was threatening to burst through the hog’s skin.
Panicked and confused, the butcher dropped his meat cleaver and backed away into a bloodied container full of freshly packed meat. His heart pounded loudly, but not loud enough for him to hear it over the sudden uproar of screams and cries that exploded from the container. The butcher regretfully turned to look into the container, and to his horror, found the sealed packages of meat thrashing within.
The butcher released a scream of his own and covered his ears in a desperate attempt to block out the animalistic bellows coming from all directions of the freezer. Spinning on his heel, the butcher fled for the door, but when he tried the handle, he discovered that it was stuck.