Barbecue by ff_b

Roger Link had somehow never sent down roots. He hadn't married, and worked a meaningless middle management job in an eastern state, his existence brightened only by a rich fantasy life. Roger loved the lore of the old west, so much in fact that he visited Texas in search of it. In his secret soul, he fancied himself a cowboy, a destroyer of evil at one with the land. Once he visited the Alamo and discovered that people really did wear cowboy hats and bolo ties in the west, however, Roger felt strangely unfulfilled. Towards the end of his vacation, he voiced his frustrations to a sympathetic Texan he met by chance in a bar.

"Son," declared the Texan, "what you need is to come to an authentic Texan barbecue! I reckon that you'll find what you're after there." Somewhat reluctantly, Roger decided to accept the genial man's invitation, and went to the man's ranch the following night.

Flames chased the shadows of night from the roaring barbecue pit as Roger joined his host, accepting the first of many beers that followed. When he had a pleasant buzz on, Roger only distantly heard his new acquaintance order meat brought to the fire from the freezer. A whole animal carcass was roasted, something that was unlike anything which Roger had ever seen. The meat sputtered in the flames, and a thick slice was presented to Roger, generously embellished with Texas-style barbecue sauce. When Roger tasted the meat, it was not as tasty as he had expected; rather, it seemed tough and leathery. Not wishing to offend his host, however, Roger choked down several more bites before setting the plate aside. He was beginning to sweat.

"Don't you care much for that meat, Son?," the Texan asked Roger with a peculiar grin. Dark motes were starting to dance before Roger's eyes, and his raised his hand to his face in an effort to clear his vision.

"What have you fed me?," Roger demanded to know.

"Well, Son," his host replied, "we've got more than just beef cattle here in Texas, 'ya know. Some things are here that aren't even known much outside of these parts.- - Have you ever heard of the 'Chupacabra?'"

Shaking badly, Roger staggered to his feet as his host continued. "I caught this...thing in my barn some time ago, and it put up quite a fight.- - It's been in my freezer since that time, and I just now served you some!"

"Damn you!," cursed Roger, struggling to remain conscious.

"As you prissy boys in the east might say, you are what you eat," declared the Texan as he lit a cigarette, the smoke circling his head demonically.

Unable to retain his footing, Roger fell to the earth where he writhed in the throes of a terrible transformation, his flesh reconfiguring itself into a gargoyle- like creature with claws, large canine teeth, and hairless, leathery skin. Bones in his face cracked as his skull extended itself into a muzzle. Gradually his ragged breathing steadied as the reborn creature regarded the Texan with newly-constituted red eyes.

"Ain't you a sight?," enthused the Texan. It was the last comment that he would ever make, as the Chupacabra which had been Roger jumped upon the man, easily puncturing his jugular with vicious incisors and feasting upon the pumping blood. The man's heart slowed and then stopped as the Chupacabra fed his voracious appetite, a hungry newborn.

His muzzle slick with blood, the human consciousness which remained within Roger considered that he had at last found his destiny.- - How though, he pondered, would he fight evil while living within the belly of the beast, and not be devoured by it?