Mist swirled around the wrought iron gate, the intricate design inviting it to play. The movement was almost mischievous, disappearing and re-forming like magic.
Pauline stared at it, hypnotised. A shiver startled her awake.
‘Staring at fences while you’re freezing. Well done, Pauline.’
With a grunt, she opened the lock, wondering why they’d bothered to put in a new fence. Probably to keep out trespassers. Did it have to be so fancy?
She grumbled while walking toward the building’s entrance. No one else had wanted to come along. Her employer had given her full responsibility of quoting the demolition of this abattoir. Damned vegans were really taking over the world. Even the owner of this slaughterhouse! He didn’t want to set foot in this place anymore, giving Pauline’s boss all the keys and instructions.
Once inside, she tried the light switch. Nothing happened, as expected. She turned on her flashlight. She swung the strong beam to the left as she saw movement. Nothing but a sad concrete wall. She snorted and took notes, taking photos as she progressed deeper in the building.
She kept her breath shallow. This was where the animals had been kept to await their fate. Their fate to be on my plate, she thought. The joke didn’t amuse her.
She looked back at the last photo she’d taken of the pens.
There was a shadow in one of them. When she looked at the real pen, she couldn’t find the cause. Must’ve been a camera error.
In the next room, the beam of light emphasised the discolouration on the floor. Various large spots in shades of rusty brown overlapped each other. She swallowed, and almost choked at a sound behind her.
She shook her head, determined to finish this and get the hell out. All of the equipment still stood where it had been left. One device looked like a large tube with a smaller opening. Her heart stopped. The light beam trembled. There was a cow in the device. The body in the tube, the head poking through the smaller opening. Those eyes. She had never seen eyes more frightened. Wide with terror, tears dripping down. The tube moved until the cow was upside down, neck outstretched. A cut appeared on the neck, opening wide, a gush of blood flooding out. The cow thrashed but was held by the device.
Pauline stumbled back. The sound had multiplied. She pointed her light back to the device. The cow was back in the starting position. The spilled blood went from red to rusty brown in a second. Something nudged her leg. A chicken. Headless, blood pumping out in spurts. Pauline cried out.
Everywhere she looked, there were animals. There, a pig screaming in a corner as it died from suffocation, over and over again. Beside it, a calf crumbling by an unseen bullet to the head.
Her own screams as she ran to the exit competed with the cacophony of the ghosts’ wails of death.