Peter’s stomach gave an audible gurgle. He clutched at his sides and moaned.
“Seriously, why you insist on eating those things?” Wendy, his wife, said. “Food stand dogs are probably the worst thing ever. They always make you sick.”
“I’m not sick,” he insisted. “I just need to…” He swallowed hard and jerked a thumb toward a row of green Portaloos running the edge of the festival area. The gurgling gave way to the first ripple of cramps and Peter was moving, not even pausing to catch his wife’s reply.
While he’d never admit that Wendy was right, it was true festival hot dogs never failed to give him a terrible stomach, though it hadn’t been as bad as this before.
But they’re so goddamn tasty.
He crossed the field at close to a sprint, rounded the side of the chemical toilet…and ran straight into the biggest line he’d seen in all his years of attending the event. How had he not noticed it before? Sixteen deep at its shortest point and every face in it as creased and contorted with pain as his.
Another groan — half in exasperation, half in response to the twisting pain — escaped him. Doubting his ability to hold himself together long enough to take his turn, he checked around for ‘alternatives’. The closest option, some distance away to his right, was a small copse of trees just inside the perimeter fence. The next set of toilets, however, were back at the gate where he’d entered nearly an hour earlier.
Why did I eat that dog?
His stomach muscles tightened like someone had flicked him hard in the gut with a gigantic rubber band. He wouldn’t make it anywhere else, better to wait in line and hope it moved quickly.
Trying to ignore the sharp pains growing in intensity and frequency, he joined the queue behind a teenage girl. The girl — nineteen, blonde, and wearing a pair of Daisy Dukes — fidgeted awkwardly in place, swaying gently side-to-side. Like Peter, she too held her stomach.
“Did you…did you have the hot dogs too?” he asked her, trying to keep his voice light and his mind off the growing dread at the seemingly stalled line.
She nodded her head but didn’t face him. Peter could hear the churning contents in her guts. She gave a little sob.
“Not sure they were all that fresh this year,” he continued, playing down the sudden, rotting smell that filled the air between them.
She whirled around as though struck. Her eyes streaked with bloodshot veins. Black blood oozed over thin parted lips and down the front of her t-shirt.
Behind the girl, others turned to face his way. Teeth bared, eyes dark with ruptured capillaries. Peter saw one, a guy with a top knot, snatch at a young woman passing by and bite her cheek, tearing away a lump of flesh.
Christ, what was in those dogs? he thought…and felt blood rise up his throat.