From the Department of Varmits and Road Safety

If you drive over a hedgehog, can it puncture your tyre?

I was looking out the window this morning, thinking how busy roads have an apocalyptic feel in the wee hours, four lanes and no cars, just the wind and the dark. You half-expect a zombie to slouch by.

Anyway, there was a fog down, not much of one, but a few wisps, and that got me thinking of Cambridge. The day we left, oh, I must’ve been about twelve. We were headed for Aberdeen, and we left before dawn to get a jump on the driving. It was a foggy day, just like today, and the hedgehogs were out in force, dozens of them crossing the road. My father had to go at a crawl to keep from squashing any, and I wondered…if you drive over a hedgehog, can it puncture your tyre?

I never learned to drive, so I still don’t know. I’d imagine not. Their quills are quite soft, and a tyre is quite sturdy. But maybe one could work its way in, slowly let your air out….

It’s been a busy month, this. I’ve been writing two books at once. My brain has a hard limit, when it comes to spitting out words, and that limit is four thousand per day. Anything further, and I’m on about roadkill, which reminds me of the worst roadkill I ever saw. It was a dog, but just half of one, and that half was alive. It was squashed flat where it was bisected, and stuck to the tarmac, and its flatness had sealed it, I guess. Kept its organs in. Its front paws were still going, trying to move it along. It saw me and yipped, then it lay down and whined. Its eyes drooped but didn’t close. Its back legs were twenty feet up the road.

Anyway, I looked at this dog, and I thought about killing it. But it was big, about my size, and it didn’t seem to be in pain. I thought it wiser to let it spend its last moments thinking help had arrived than to frighten it trying to crush its head. I doubt I even could have. I was wearing jellybean shoes. (Anyone remember those from the eighties, sort of…plastic mesh ballet slippers? Every little girl had a pair.)

About a year after that, some guy died on the field behind my school. He rode his snowmobile into the fence. Everyone said his head came off, but when we went down to look at his blood, there wasn’t enough for that. That was a bad roadkill too, though. The guy was only twenty.

Jesus fuck. How’d I get there from hedgehogs?

Like I said. Four thousand words. Hard limit.

…the universe is only hospitable to life during a brief period in its infancy. We’re just toys for a baby reality, to be outgrown and forgotten.

Do hedgehogs bite?

7 thoughts on “From the Department of Varmits and Road Safety

  1. Yes, they can bite like bastards!

    That dog story is pretty horrific, I would imagine that was something that took a while to get over. The worst I ever saw was a horse – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much blood since.

    How the hell do you keep track of two stories at once – I’d be worried about getting the two stories mixed up…

    Gloria look deeply into Chad eyes, ”I love you’ She said,
    ”I love you too Steve” he said, whilst reaching out and gently plucking one of her annoying nose hairs.
    ”…Who the hell is Steve?”
    ”Ah sorry, wrong book…”


    1. Well, one’s romance and the other’s sci-fi, so they’re not too easy to confuse. But it is difficult to switch from one to the other, as the styles are very different, not to mention the general atmosphere. I have to be vigilant about that. I’ll be glad when one of them’s done and dusted, though. I hate doing two books at once.

      The dog, yeah, it was horrible. I was probably seven or eight when I found it, and I still remember it in detail at forty. You didn’t see a lot of that in my neighbourhood, as it was quite rural, and the speed limits were low. Someone must really have been speeding to do that to a dog.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Probably not. I write the kind of stuff you’d pick up at the end of the supermarket aisle, impulse purchase books. I can’t own up to the ones I’ve written, of course, owing to the “ghost” bit in “ghostwriter.” I suppose the best way to describe what I do is…whenever a big trend comes along, we jump on the bandwagon. So, when a new Marvel movie comes out, we write about superhuman mutants. When a new “Star Wars” hits, we push space operas with a military bent. We also follow Amazon trends, so we do a lot of doomsday prepper stuff and sci-fi lite (basically, take any old story and put it…IN SPACE!).

          I’d like to do something with a bit more substance, one of these days, but first I need to find someone to pay me to do it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. lol! I might have read some then 😀 (some of those free books on ebay- man they’re bad).

            I don’t know how you write one than one book at a time – I’d struggle with one.

            I hope you find someone – it’d be good to see a book with your name on it. Whatever happen to ‘Giant Mutant Rats’ or whatever it was?


            1. Oh, that was a tragedy. I found a publisher for it, and they told me they were sending me a $6,000 advance, so I bought a bunch of food on credit. A month later, my advance hadn’t arrived, so I called my editor, and she said she’d get back to me by the following day. A week later, I found out the publisher had gone bankrupt and laid everyone off. So, yeah. No giant rats. I never did find anyone else who wanted that (which is as it should be: as books about giant rats went, there were surprisingly few giant rats in it).

              Liked by 1 person

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