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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Death · #1283885
Don't you hate it when you see road kill? Here's a story a dead squirrel created...
Fixing the Dead Squirrel

    Johnny swatted at the gnats flying around his head. His twin brother, Nathan

was ahead of him, marching forward, not bothering to look beyond the path into the

brush. A few moments ago he stopped to listen to sounds only he could hear, but

Johnny only heard the wind, the birds, and the constant thumping of his own heart.

    All Johnny could do was keep pace with Nahan's retreating form until he found

what he honed into. Mom called finding things a blessing. In her eyes it meant a

person was gifted. Johnny found coins and keys. Nathan found dead stuff.

He was pretty sure their mom wouldn't consider finding dead animals a talent. But

Johnny thought Nathan's talent was better than his, especially when it was needed

to “fix” things.
    Nathan stopped. He turned right and cautiously stepped over a plant. “Oh man,”

he moaned, “Johnny, this ain't right.” Nathan pointed. “I told you there was one.”

    Johnny jogged to his brother. Nathan was bent over looking down at a dead

squirrel. “Don't touch it.” Johnny grabbed his brother's arm and pulled him back a


        “Why not? We-”

    “It could have germs or rabies.” He shuddered. “Rabies means shots in the


    Nathan considered the information for a second. “Yeh, Mom did say that.” He

searched the wooded area. “I'm getting a stick.” He walked around his twin brother

and the squirrel. He found a thick, two-foot long branch, dropped from a tree a long

time ago. Dead. “Now I won't be touching it.” He pushed his straight brown hair

away from his green eyes.

    Johnny smiled. “Good idea.” Johnny looked around. He couldn't find one. He

thought about asking for Nathan's help, then decided against it. He had to learn to

find those kind of things on his own. “Give me a second to search?”

    “Sure. Don't try so hard. Maybe one will make itself known to you.” Nathan


    "I know.” Johnny walked a few steps into the woods and closed his eyes. He

took a deep breath in and held it for a few seconds before releasing it. Not bothering

to look at the ground, he walked forward, occasionally he'd step to the left or right,

depending on where his instincts told him.

    When the pulling stopped, he looked down. A branch, the size of his 

brother's branch lay on the ground a few yards to his left. He smiled, he was getting

better. At least now he stopped where he could see the object.

    He picked up the branch. A quarter was underneath the wood. His joy

evaporated. He had honed into a coin.  Johnny picked up the branch and the coin.

He walked back to his brother.

    Nathan was leaning over the squirrel, studying it. The stiff creature's fur was

matted. Its black eyes were open, fixed on the trunk of the tree it lie beside. Flies

were hovering around its head. Its upper two teeth lapped over the lower jaw. To

Johnny it was sad, but he knew it was something else to his brother.

    “This is wrong, Johnny,” Nathan whispered. His voice was laced with a touch of

fear. “You've gotta fix it.”

    Johnny knew Nathan would ask. “You didn't touch it, did you?”


    “Good.” Johnny nodded. He squatted down. “It can't be fixed if we touch


    “I know.”

    Johnny didn't understand why it was true. Once, after Nathan accidentally

touched a dead rabbit, he tried to "fix" it. Nothing happened. Johnny suspected if he

touched a dead animal, it wouldn't fix the right way. He didn't want to find out if he

was right, so he avoided touching the dead animals Nathan found.

    Nathan turned his attention to Johnny. “Did Mom say how you get rabies?”

    “I think it has to with biting or scratching.” Johnny shrugged. “I'm thinking this

guy can't do either.”

    Nathan squatted next to his brother. “Look at all the flies.”

    “Yeh. Gross, huh?”

    “Yeh.” Nathan wiped his cheek with the sleeve of his t-shirt. It looked like he was

wiping traces of something nasty from his face. “I don't know if I could handle that

many around me.”

    “Dork. The squirrel's dead. It can't see the flies or feel them.”

    “How do you know that?” Nathan countered. “What if when you die,  you see?”

Nathan tilted his head, stuck out his tongue, and stared straight ahead. “You can't

move, just see,” he mumbled.

    Johnny pushed the morbid thought out of his mind. “That's gross.”

    “You didn't answer my question, Johnny. Let's say you die, and your eyes are

stuck open. Do you see everything?”


    “Then why, in the movies do they close dead people's eyes?”

    “I don't know,” Johnny admitted.

    Nathan was quiet for a moment. “Should we close its eyes?” He took his stick

and nudged the squirrel's head. The flies swarmed then resettled on the matted fur.

    Johnny lowered his head closer to the squirrel. “How we gonna do that? We

can't touch it.”

    “Why can't you touch it? It's not gonna bite you.”

    Johnny thought of the ways a “fixing” could go wrong. He wanted to tell Nathan

why he thought he shouldn't touch the squirrel. But he knew Nathat would want to

test out his theory, and Johnny wasn't willing to learn if he was right. Instead, he

said, “Germs.”


    Johnny took a better look at the tiny corpse. He wondered how long ago it died.

He wasn't even sure if he could do what his brother asked.  “Maybe we should only

bury it.”

    Nathan seemed to mull it over. “Johnny, I don't want him to be looking at dirt

forever. I want him to think he's sleeping. Just in case-”

    “Dead things don't think.”

    “You don't know that.” Nathan stood up, rubbing his knees. “I've seen people

talk to dead people at the cemetery. Are you telling me that those people are

wasting their time?”

    Johnny looked at his brother. At his particular moment he felt years older

instead of an hour older.  “Nathan, when people die, everything quits on them.”

    “Whatever.” Nathan furrowed his brow, after a long pause he asked,  “How do

we know a dog can't see colors?”

    Johnny pushed himself up. “I'm not sure. Science?” He teased his brother. “Our

teachers tell us so?”

    “Some scientist somewhere, took a dead dog's eyeball, hooked it up to a

gadget and showed us pictures of what the eyeball saw. The eyeball didn't quit

because the dog was dead.”

    Johnny thought about it for a second. He hated it when Nathan used school to

argue his point. Eventually, he'd find himself agreeing with Nathan. “Fine," he

conceded, "you've made your point.”

    “Darned straight.” Nathan held up his stick. “Help me close it's eyes.”

    Johnny bit his lower lip. “But we can't touch it.”

    “That's what the sticks are for. Duh..”

    Johnny looked at the end of his branch. It was blunt and parts of it was jagged.

Nathan's was tapered. “I'd have to hold it. You'd have to try to close them.”

    “Okay.” Nathan bent down. He looked up at Johnny. “Go ahead.”

    Johnny slowly lowered his stick and pressed lightly against the squirrel's

abdomen. It gave slightly. “Sick.”


    “It's mushy.”

    “Really? Let me see.” Nathan poked the same area. “Yuck. Good thing it can't

feel this.” Nathan argued once that dead people didn't flinch when you hit them,

therefore they couldn't feel. Johnny didn't want to know how he learned that fact.

    Nathan took a closer look at the animal's head. “You know, Johnny, I don't

see any eyelids.”

    “No way.” Johnny walked around his brother to get a better view. “There's gotta 


    “Maybe, “ Nathan whispered, “the bugs ate them off.”

    Johnny shuddered. The flies were hovering around it's eyes. Thinking about bugs

chewing away it's eyelids was too much. He swallowed to keep from throwing

up. “Are you sure? I mean about the eyelids.” He lifted the squirrel's head, forcing

himself to search. He couldn't find any skin that may have been eyelids.

    For a split second he imagined he was the squirrel, dead but seeing. It was

terrifying. He wondered if that was how Nathan felt when he zoned into something

dead. Was that why he always wanted Johnny to fix things?

  When he zoned into coins, he felt hopeful. He felt like he could solve anything.

He felt like a rich man with power. Maybe Nathan felt the opposite; hopeless,

unable to do anything, powerless. “What do you want me to do?”

    “I don't know.” Nathan looked down the path they took to get to the squirrel. “We

just can't leave it here.”

    “Of course not.” Johnny sighed. His stomach was beginning to sour and it

reminded him of the squishy belly. He took a deep breath in.

    Nathan looked at his brother. “Johnny, you okay? Is it your stomach?”

    “Yeh.” Johnny wiped the dampness from his forehead. “We need to bury it 

before I get sick. This just isn't right.” As usual, his sense of  things not being right,

kicked in after Nathan's.

    Nathan took a step back. “But it can see.”

    Johnny wanted to yell at his brother. Who cared if it could see? The thing

needed to be buried, before he barfed. He closed his eyes. “I can't fix it, Nathan,

until it's buried.”

    “There's gotta be a way.” Nathan looked around. “Maybe we can cover it's head


    “With what?”

    “I don't know. Paper. A bag. Something.” Nathan paced the area, not really 

looking, just hoping something would appear.

    Johnny looked at his feet. He needed to calm his brother down before he

started to draw down the thing that made Johnny able to fix stuff. Nathan did that

once and couldn't stop pulling it in. Eventually, Nathan passed out. Johnny got sick

to his stomach and puked non-stop until Nathan came to. ““I've got something.

Mom will just throw these away anyway.”

    Nathan stopped pacing. “Throw what away?”

    Sitting down, Johnny removed his left tennis shoe. He lifted his foot, showing his

brother the gaping hole his big toe stuck out of. “This.”

    Nathan stared at the thread bare sock. He opened his mouth, took a slow

breath in and asked, "Are you sure? Mom will get mad if she catches you not

wearing socks.”

    Johnny looked at the squirrel a bubble of trapped air rolled around in his

stomach. “She can only yell for so long.”

    Nathan wrinkled his forehead. “What if she grounds you?”

    Johnny shrugged, then looked at Nathan. He took off his other shoe. “We best

use both of them.” He peeled off the socks and slipped his shoes back on. “Let's

get to work”

    Johnny and Nathan worked together, scraping a hole in the loose dirt. When it

was deep enough, Nathan took one of the socks to the squirrel. Johnny watched as

Nathan maneuvered the tube sock around the squirrel's head, using only the stick.

Together, they pushed the body into the grave. Johnny tossed his second sock into

the hole.

    Nathan removed his shoes. He wadded his socks into tight balls and tossed

them into the hole. “If you get in trouble, so do I.” Nathan covered the squirrel with

dirt. “Ashes to ashes.” He murmured as he worked.

    Johnny closed his eyes. It was almost time to try to fix it. He hoped they did

everything right. He hoped Nathan was telling him the truth when he said he didn't

touch it. 

    Nathan stood next his brother. “Do you think it feels better?”

    Johnny focused on the mound of dirt. If he was dead and he could see...he

shuddered. “Yeh, I think so.”

    Nathan nodded. “It's time to try, Johnny.”

    Nathan couldn't use it to fix things. He could only summon it. Johnny took his

brother's hand Johnny couldn't summon it. All he could do was use it to fix

things.. “Call it, I'm ready” He closed his eyes.

    Johnny heard Nathan inhale. He felt the pressure inside his chest, like his lungs

were inflating, but they weren't. It was the fixing entering him. He knew Nathan

would keep summoning it until Johnny had enough to use to fix the squirrel.

When he felt Nathan squeeze his hand, he blew out toward the grave. Nathan kept

sucking in air. Johnny kept blowing, pushing the "fix" out toward the squirrel.

    They could do this for a real long time. It was as if Nathan and Johnny's lungs

were connected. One breathing in, the other breathing out continuously. Johnny

liked to think of  it as a wind machine only they could create. A wind that they

called "fixing."

    Nathan stopped inhaling and held his breath. Johnny continued to blow until his

lungs deflated and he couldn't push any more air out. This time, Johnny squeezed

his brother's hand, signalling he was done. They let go of each other. Johnny

inhaled, Nathan exhaled.

    “Do you think you fixed it?” Nathan panted.

    “I don't know.” Johnny bent over, taking in as much air as he could without 

passing out.

    They watched silently as the loose dirt shifted and moved. A small claw

scratched its way upward and the squirrel's head poked through the soil. It didn't

take long before the squirrel exited the grave, leaving their socks behind. 

    It scampered up the tree, fading with every step it climbed.

    “It's free.” Nathan sighed.

    “Yeh.” Johnny shook off fear he suddenly felt. “You won't say anything to Mom,

will you?”

    “Are you kidding?” Nathan tossed his stick away. “She wouldn't understand

what we can do. All she would understand is that we buried a squirrel. Then she'd

lecture us about dead animals. Everything else would be lie. Oh and then we'd be

grounded for not wearing our socks.”

    “Yeh. I suppose your right.” He dropped his stick. “I don't think anyone really will

understand.” Johnny knew he didn't. All he really understood was the squirrel was


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