I polish the wood. Sally does not understand why.
“It’s not like we’ll be having company any time soon.” She scoffs. Before I met her I had never heard anyone scoff. If there is one thing I can say about her it is that Sally is a good scoffer.
Still, this is our home and I want it to be clean. Putting things in order and keeping things tidy gives me a sense of control… a feeling that at least this, I am on top of. And even though the cyclical repetitive nature of cleaning guarantees that the job will never be finished; I still feel as if I am achieving something, that I am making forward progress. It makes me feel good. And I will take whatever good I can get these days.
‘These Days’… a phrase used so often and yet, up until four months ago, a phrase perhaps used to the point of malaise. Not so now. These days were definitely different. There was definitely a life before and a life after… a new B.C. / A.D. if you will. Ha! Funny thought that.
So I polish the wood. The library has an amazing stock of cleaning supplies. I have Pledge for years… but I choose not to think about that. I just polish. It is enough to occupy my time for now. And ‘now’ is the only place I can let my mind dwell.
The child watches me as I move my rag in a circular motion. I am fairly certain she is not a “fucking tard” as Sally seems to think but merely traumatized. She has not spoken one word since we found her four months ago. Poor thing probably saw her parents eaten alive. I wink at her and she looks away.
We stay on the top level of the library so they won’t see us. Even though this building is mostly windows they can’t see us up here. They never look up. They mostly shuffle their feet and stare at the ground. If movement catches their eye they look straight at it and run as fast as their decaying body can towards it. I once saw a group of them in a feeding frenzy. The eaters and the eaten became confused and soon they were eating each other in their fervor… like chickens pecking at blood. But up here we are out of the range of their sight. Up here we are safe.
I watch one out the window as I work. I watch it shuffle up the sidewalk, then turn around and shuffle back only to repeat the pattern again. It is missing its nose… most likely eaten off its face as it screamed. I imagine it singing, ‘Oh where, oh where, has my little nose gone. Oh where oh where could it be?’ and I grin. I have to grin or I will scream myself.
It is lost. They are all lost and without purpose… unless there is a ready meal available. I feel sorry for them but I will never let on to Sally. She would only laugh at me and then I have nowhere to go to escape it. I do not like being laughed at. And I do not handle confrontation very well.
Sally is mean. I choose not to attribute that to her being a lesbian. I have not known many lesbians up close and personal in my day so I refuse to believe meanness in the entire lot. She was a student at this university when ‘He’ returned. She and I reached the library at the same time, our hands virtually landing on the entrance handle simultaneously. We rushed inside, locked it, and watched as the world we knew crumbled around us. I often wonder if I had arrived a moment later…
It wasn’t until a week had passed that we found the child cowering in a bathroom. She was starving and scared but had not cried out for help. We found her quite by chance and had we not, I believe she would have died of malnutrition. Of course, dying of malnutrition ‘these days’ was not the worst way one could go.
I look at my watch and stop my work. It is time for food. I walk into the room we call ‘Moe’s Diner’ and grab a slim Jim and some trail mix. The library had eight fully stocked food machines and five fully stocked beverage machines when we claimed it. This is odd considering the ‘NO FOOD OR DRINK’ signs peppering the building. I pried open the doors and carried all the food to one location where we could catalog and ration it. Even after four months we easily have enough for another four. We have everything we need.
I walk back and hand the trail mix to the girl. Sally and I haven’t bothered to name her yet. To us she is simply ‘girl’. I think naming her might denote ownership and neither of us wants that. We are all just waiting to see what will happen. I have to give ‘girl’ food or she won’t eat. She just sits in a chair with her knees held to her chest and stares out the window. Sometimes I wonder what she saw that made her this way. Other times I am glad I do not know. I walk over to my ‘bed’ and plop down. As library sofas go it is actually quite comfortable. We each have our own sleeping area and we bundle up at night with blankets from the first aid center. Sally and I attempted to share a bed a couple of nights after we claimed the building. The need for simple human touch overcame us. The experiment lasted one night.
Sally woke up screaming when my morning wood brushed her ass in the wee hours. I tried to explain to her that morning wood just sort of happens and that it is nothing personal. She didn’t buy it. Since then we keep our own company at night. I guess when an erect penis is involved, everything is personal. That night her hair lay on the pillow near my nose. It still had that freshly shampooed smell at that point. I remember that smell when I am alone in the bathroom. I remember that smell and I cum.
Sally walks by on her way to the Anne Rice section again. I don’t know how many times she can read the same books over and over.
“Finished cleaning yet Mary?”
This is her pet name for me… Mary Poppins.
“For the moment.”
“Well isn’t that just supercalifragilisticexpidalifanfuckintastic!”
I wave acknowledgement of her presence as she passes and dive into my own book. I am reading ‘Red Mantis Mother In-Law’ by some cat named Mathias Bledsoe. It is a quirky surreal serio-com in the vein of Vonnegut. I like what I have read so far. I think it is important to keep one’s sense of humor in tact. I used to read authors like King, Wilson, and Straub. But what’s the sense of reading horror when I live it every day? I read to escape… not to remember…
The Strubbins’ had much pain with smaller marsupials, so they were not strong for GINDOG which was still in the blueprint stage. Any choirboy or supply clerk above fifth grade will tell you that the mathematics of modern mammalian warfare is far beyond the prideful minds of mere townsfolk. The larger the ruckus, the larger the scientific solution needed to deliver. GINDOG was, as far as anyone in this parish knows, the largest coon dog in the known lands; too large, in fact, for even Van Hammerstein to completely wrap his eyes around. I won’t pour much molasses when it comes to the description of GINDOG save to say that you would release its genetically created perfection and soon your critter problem would be solved complete. It would smell the air with its genetically altered nostrils and soon the tendons in its near perfect haunches would lock and prepare. The ensuing spring would put every Lassie known to man to shame. You would turn to your dog after witnessing GINDOG in action and say “Bad Dog” in your sternest ‘I am the master – you are the cur.’ voice. The marsupials were as good as extinct.
Still, the Strubbins’ had much pain.)
I look over at the child. She is looking closer to the base of the building than usual. Sally walks between us and tousles her hair in passing. I don’t think the kid likes this, but Sally does it every time. Probably out of spite. She might be trying to get her to speak, I don’t know. Whatever the reason I don’t like it. We all have enough grief without piling on new aggravation. ‘Girl’ usually pulls her head away evoking a smirk from our resident lesbian, but something below has caught her attention. She lets this one slide.
“Later Mary.” Sally quips throwing me a wink as she saunters into Moe’s Diner with an extremely dog-eared copy of ‘The Witching Hour.’ I never know if her winks are acts of kindness or torment.
“Hey! Who ate the last of the trail mix?”
It is my turn to smirk. I look back at ‘Girl’, hoping for a shared smile. But something else has her glued to the window. Still, I smile for the both of us and pick up my other book. I try to read 2 books at once. It keeps me from getting bored and gives me the feeling of flipping channels. Up until 2 months ago the electricity held out. We could watch DVDs, even surf the internet. I watched YouTube until I couldn’t take the new posts anymore. Sally had more of a stomach for it but eventually she turned it off to.
A group of college kids somewhere in Ohio discovered that the creatures liked to eat hot poo. They would secure a camera over a stall and lure one of those things into the crapper where it would proceed to tear into whatever freshly laid feces lie floating in the water. Then the pranksters would shout until it looked up so the camera could catch its full shit stained face as it jumped up to get them. You could hear them giggling in the background. Several of these clips appeared. Then they suddenly stopped. The kids’ luck must have run out, probably eaten alive by lips smothered in steaming bowel droppings.
I shake off a chill and dive back into my second book… ‘Beverly Hills Attorney’ by DeLonda Gibbens… anywhere but here…
“He’ll see you soon,” Jantice volunteered. “Have a seat.”
“Of all things!” Candice muttered crossly. “I came over here specifically.”
“There’s a ‘People’ on the table,” Jantice tried to placate. “Why don’t we have a seat and take a load off?” .
Why don’t you shove it up your stinky cunt missy, Candice wanted to say, but she didn’t. That would have been rude and crude, and one thing she was always careful about was presenting a proper public image.
I’m nervous, she thought. I’m nervous because even though I know for certain that Frank is balling around town, it’s still difficult to deal with. At least Jarvon — big, black, reliable Jarvon — would have stroked her fingers and said, “Hey baby, this is something you’re not gonna want to hear, but hey it is what it is.”
Now she had to hear it from his gum chewing receptionist.
Candice sat down, picked up the ‘People’, and flipped the pages abstractly. Some woman prettier than her was being dumped by someone not as attractive as Frank. Happened every day in this town. She read the article getting madder and madder until suddenly the door was pushed open and a broad shouldered man strode in.
“Brandon,” Jantice said, jumping up. “Mrs. Karavello is here.”
He walked right over to Candice. “Sorry to have kept you waiting,” he said. “Jarvon insisted I shouldn’t make you wait, but it was unavoidable. I’m really sorry,” he added, giving her a long, sincere stare.)
The sound of shattering glass comes from below accompanied by a lunatic’s war cry.
“Die you fucking fuckers!”
I fall off my sofa.
Something sounding like a sawed off unleashes its load and the sound reverberates throughout the normally quiet building. Sally races around the corner. She is about to launch into a tirade so I hold my finger to my lips. I run over, and look out the window. Three of those things are racing across the courtyard towards the library fast. Our new guest has a following.
I hear the owner of the gun racing up the stairs. Before I can stop her Sally shouts,
The other barrel propels its shell of tiny lead pellets at breakneck speed down the shaft and in an ever spreading pattern straight at my lesbian. There is enough distance between the gun and her to not completely cut her in half but her body is peppered with buckshot and she flies back sliding on the freshly cleaned wood floor a good 3 feet. I race to her side.
“Well goddamn! Why didn’t y’all say somethin?”
I ignore the stranger with the big gun and drop down to Sally. Her face is extra white against the bright red stuff pulsing out of her mouth. Her eyes hold a wide expression of pure shock. She grabs my hand as I lean over her.
“He shoth me…”
“Shhhh, everything is going to be O.K…. shhhh.”
I hear those things crashing through the broken door below and swarming into the building.
“Everything’s going to be O.K.”
I stroke her hair… not so sweet now.
“Everything’s going to be just fine.”
I grab both of her arms tight and stand up with great effort. I drag her fast towards the banister. The things are barreling up the stairs.
Without second thought or inner voice; I reach down and, grabbing her by the waist, launch her over the side into the open space beyond.
“Poppiiiiiiiiiiiiiins” she shouts as she falls. I don’t wait for her to hit. I run over to ‘Girl’ and snatch her by the waist. She shuts her eyes tight. I am fairly certain she expects to be thrown over the railing as well. I hear the creatures racing back down toward Sally. I motion for the new stunned man to follow me into Mel’s Diner and together the three of us rush into the room. I set the child down and shut the door, locking it.
It is dark in the room with just a sliver of light coming in from under the crack. The door is the only way in or out. We sit in the dark and listen to the pandemonium below. I wish Sally had died upon hitting the floor but the sounds of her screams tell me otherwise. The screams come for a long time. It seems impossible to me that she still has air in her lungs… impossible that she still has lungs at all. The screams turn into whimpers. They are worse. The whimpers let me know that she is still alive, but has no strength to scream… alive and being eaten.
Soon though, I hear Sally no more. All I can hear is smacking. We all hold our breath.
Would she have done the same?
I remember the day four months ago. Everyone I knew was huddled around a television set somewhere. It had come to this. The grand reveal… the truth.
‘All this for the truth.’
Every major news network, every channel, turning the eyes of the world to one place… one room.
We all wanted to know.
We all needed to know.
The cameras were on as the tomb was opened. Would it be empty? Would there be a body?
Would it be Him?
I remember it being dark and the reporter on CNN, that’s the coverage I trusted, made some glib remark. Then, out of the darkness He came. And I could hear the world gasp as He came, remarkably well preserved after 2000 years…locked away from the world… hidden. And He came with a vengeance. We all would know his name.
For all I know he could be among them now, feasting on Sally’s corpse. He could be out there, thorny crown and all, squeezing the shit out of her intestines like a tube of toothpaste… squeezing it right down his throat. And if enough of Sally were left for her to rise again she would. She would stand, born again… a child of God.
I reach out in the darkness and find ‘Girl’s hand. She lets me hold it and gives me a little squeeze. She understands.
We sit in the darkness. The smacking stopped a while ago. As night comes the light under the crack diminishes. I want to talk to our new friend but I don’t dare. I hear shuffling outside, just beyond the door. How long must we wait? How long can we wait?
How long before we are saved?
Four months tops.
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