Contagion in the Streets

June 29, 2012

He runs across the empty pavement to enter the townhouse nestled in the corner of the L-shaped building. The door is ajar. Most of the other suites have windows broken or missing. I follow, watching behind us and the perspiring on the warm suburban heated asphalt. Michael crashes through the doorway and I follow him into the living room.

He dropped his vomit-stained shirt in the streets as we ran scared, fearing the contagion. The man had seemed dead already, but lurched towards us in a silent jerking stumble to spill his wretched insides all over Michael.

He immediately strips down to his underwear, tossing his filth-covered pants and shoes onto the corner of the couch. We hurriedly search through the house and I find some clothing in the bedroom. I catch myself in the mirror, and I look like a dead man, the colour leached from my flesh. I hear him cursing and I return to the bathroom. He is standing outside the shower, holding the curtains open. There is a sickly-looking, naked girl huddled inside.

At first she just huddles there but then she turns her pale, clammy face up towards us to look at us. She tries to say something but it only comes out on a crackled gurgle. I grab Michael by the shoulders and I push the fresh clothes into his arms. He nods and sits back on the toilet to get dressed. I hold my hands up at the girl and her eyes focus on mine. Her eyes are empty.

Her body lurches upright, her grey, translucent skin peeling with a painful tearing sound off of the porcelain and she sways in an upright position. She gurgles something again and steps a wobbling foot out of the tub and onto the tile floor. I motion and yell at Michael and he gets up, still pulling on his shirt. He follows me at a stumbling run as we crash out of there and out the front door. We pile outside and pause, our hearts pounding, watching through the open door as her dark figure is silhouetted by the bathroom light, stumbling towards the door and outside.

We turn and run down the street, to get out of sight around the corner of the building and she begins to wail. Her voice lifts from a rough gurgling to erupt into a pure keening metallic scream. We put our hands over our ears and stumble away eagerly.

We see two people walking in the opposite direction as we rush past, both wearing hoodies. The man has his hoody up, and I cannot see his face, but the woman has hers down and their eyes follow us. As we pass them by, the woman turns away from us and gestures at the writing on the back of her hoody. It reads, in a bloody scrawl, “Come, Michael”.

I glance over at him, and his eyes widen with fear and confusion when he sees the words. He looks back at me and we keep running, skirting the edge of the building and then powering into a huge open parking lot, the dark mall looming ahead of us like a plinth in the middle of a graveyard. My heart is pounding, skipping in my heart and I feel as though I’m going to explode from the sensation. The fear consumes me and my legs keep pounding into the pavement, their energy sapped but fed on pure adrenaline and animal instinct. Each footstep explodes into my senses like a hot needle in the brain.

I glance back at Michael and he is spitting up blood onto the hot pavement. He looks at me, and doesn’t recognise me right away, then lurches painfully towards me. I grab his arm and we are about to sprint the last several hundred meters to the shadowed mall entrance when a figure detaches from one of the nearby parked cars.

He raises an arm in what I think is a hail, but then I notice the hatchet in his hand, the red-painted metal glinting in the dull sun as he walks calmly towards us. We freeze for a moment, the light blinding us until the man moves closer. His mouth is hanging open, and his eyes are a dull milky white and he says gutterally, “Come with me, Michael.”

Michael takes a step towards the man and I let go of him. I take a step back away and when the man raises the hatchet to bury it in Michael’s skull I give a violent start. I break into a steady run towards the mall doors and I stare back as Michael reaches up to tug the heavy weapon from his face, dropping it to the pavement with a clank. The two of them fix their gazes on my fleeing form and then turn away when I reach the doors, slamming them shut behind me. Watching them through the tinted glass, wandering away in the faded sunlight.

I sink to the floor and gasp, my body in flames, my heart racing, wanting to burst from my chest, and my mind just reels from the bombardment of emotions. Fear assaults me and then the feeling of complete alienation. Everyone is changed. Everyone is gone. I slump onto the floor, holding my twinging sides as my body is wracked with waves of pain, and my final thought is of envy and surrender.

Fury

June 28, 2012

Today was a windy day, full of violence. The heat was unbearable, and the winds blew it in hot waves, channeled down downtown streets. Lurking behind corners to leap out at you as a turn a corner, the sun burning your flesh as the wind strips the flesh from your bones. I’ve never experienced an angry planet like this.

The Vaguest of Pains

June 26, 2012

There is a twinging in my heart. It feels as though my body is being drawn into a hole there, taut and pulling in on itself. On the verge of disappearing through a tiny black hole to flee this universe. I put my hand to my chest, but the sensation is purely internal. However, my heart has been severed from all the nerves that attach it to the rest of my body, specifically to the nerves which lead to my brain and inform me of sensation. Thus, I know that this sensation is entirely psychological. Why do I feel this? Can a body feel the absence of something?

Sunrise Conflagration

June 24, 2012

It said on the news that the mistake had been done in some research facility out in the middle of Ohio. Some well-meaning farming operation wanted their plants to grow during the night as well as the day. They wanted to capture the power of the daylight for the nighttime, to pump out twice as many genetically-modified tomatoes as before. Huge, swollen, prehistoric tomatoes that should maybe never have been places on a plate in front of a person.

The little nanobots they crafted so carefully ended up out of control. They were supposed to self-repair, but the self-repair ended up in self-replication. Given the power to fix each other, they collectively suddenly decided that the best way to fix each other was to create another just like it. Taking the basic elements of mineral and oxygen that lay suspended in the air, they had all they required to evolve and spread. Cloning away, these little sunlight-nanites spread like a bacterial mist into the atmosphere, breaking from the compound in the middle of the night easily, to spew up and out in an invisible swarm. They spread in a digital instant throughout the world, replicating faster than we ever thought possible.

However, once they hit the other side of the world, the air was so heavy with nanites that it instantly burst into a wicked flame as the sun hit them. They grew too thick and strong and the heat of the sun was too much for their fragile exoskeletons. They were like grain dust in a grain elevator, miniscule and volatile, flashing into flames at the slightest spark. And so the rest of the world lit up like tinder, billions burned to cinders in an instant.

The world turns slowly on it’s access and with each sunrise rising in the face of a new person, their screams were quickly quenched by the lack of oxygen as it is instantly consumed by the wall of flames travelling over the earth, following the curve of the sunrise in a fierce and vicious line of burning death. Hopelessly standing, their bodies were seared then quickly charred to a crisp until all the air had been consumed. The east coast of the USA watched the shimmering on the horizon light up into a deep blue then crawl closer and closer as a wall of vivid, swirling flames.

It hit the seaboard in a wave of death and destruction, every city filled with screams and agony before flashing beyond. A devastating swath of fast flames followed by smoke and ash and then black, crumbling silence.

I see the skies lighten and look around at others stepping out into the streets to see the oncoming calamity for themselves. Suddenly, the horizon shimmers here as well, and then flashes over my face, and before I know it, I am aflame, screaming. I fall to the ground but the world is suddenly like hell. I cannot escape and screams choke out of my throat before the flames push down through my throat and into my lungs, consuming the oxygen as my body exhales it’s last flaming breath before turning to ash.

My death rattle never arrives, and neither does anyone elses. We all die, painfully, horrifically. The last swath of this earth falls to the flames. The world burns on for a brief moment before falling into silence.

We are done. It’s over.

Final Exposition

June 21, 2012

I step sleeplessly out into the cool, primeval, midnight air. The door shuts and buzzes shrilly behind me as the locks slam home, the noise echoing off the brick walls of the brick building across the street. The street lamps flicker and moan their dejected electric grumble, the lone guardians over empty, broken streets.

I button up my jacket and affect a calm, collected walk over the cracked concrete to my waiting car. I glance around but do not see anyone, so I stop pretending and walk normally. The machine sits there in a row with its brothers. But, for this one, I hold the magic key to the lock that says it is mine to use and abuse and destroy.

The vehicle starts up with a gasoline cough and I flip on the headlights. My purported path is illuminated through sheets of ubiquitous mesh fence, the base overgrown with tired weeds oozing up through the cracks in the carelessly-laid asphalt. The clock blinks a digital-green 1:40 AM at me. I hit reverse and pull out, then drive down to the end of the street. I idle at the intersection, looking down the empty streets and sidewalks. The buildings are dark, and the forlorn trees motionless, as if even the inanimate are exhausted of this daily struggle.

I pull into the street and roll slowly down it. The occasional flicker of a shadowed figure hurrying by in the distance tickles my peripheral vision, but when I try to focus, they have already turned the corner. The streets lie dormant and I marvel at the absence of revelry and despair. The silence is impregnated with shame, people unwilling to go out to face one another fully. Unable to face the reality of the situation before us.

I cruise through the barren city, through flashing red lights ticking away into the night, passing the rare car passing in the opposite direction. Small eyes stare at me from back-seats and I envy them. I am jealous of their safety, in their positions as passengers, not understanding, or not knowing, but trusting their drivers, the panicky ones at the wheel. I nod to them but they don’t see me, they fly by without any acknowledgement, their eyes clouded by the light and the dust and the mechanical noise of steel trains on rubber wheels.

Passing through the last intersection at the city limits, I turn on the radio. The tinny voice of the late-night radio personality announces the next song, speaking inanely over the lead-in about last-minute precautions before being muted suddenly when the first lyrics glide into the air in a hushed echoing whisper. “Fugue. State.

Prairies are all the same, vast and unfathomable beasts. I have a day full of them ahead. I breathe in shallow gasps of a rumbling night storm, the air heavy with rain and immense hidden pressure. The black night sky stretches down on every side to meet with the black earth, my existence sheathed in a cone projected from my headlights. The center-line whips by steadily, each little strip of glimmering warning-yellow combining to form a steadily increasing beat as I accelerate. I need more time.

The sun rises slowly as my car flits over the earth, the dark sky above shifting from the deepest of black navies to a deep purple to a warming red that leads into the last sunrise I will ever witness. The clouds lie passively above, limned in liquid gold. The world expands and blossoms to encompass a wide, empty expanse of fields and trees in a dull greenish-yellow. All these unnecessary locales pass me by, although I wonder about their internal dialogues, of the importance contained within each farmhouse that I will never know, of worlds alien to mine, each one home to scared, small people.

Each stop at a gas station is an angering delay, the seconds and minutes ticking by before I throw down bills on the glass counters inside. I stare at the attendants ringing up my bills, wondering why they are there, what could possibly keep them here, doing this. The last refuge of a soul with no hope and no idea of what to do now. Never mind next. Why do we even bother continuing with this charade of social behaviour? Some things remain eternal and undying. Essential.

The sun reaches it’s zenith then reaches down towards the opposite end of the dome of the earth and still I drive. I no longer pass anyone on the highways, they seem to have all settled down for the evening. The sunrise from this morning plays out in reverse, and the rain still hasn’t fallen. The sky darkens and I flip my headlights on once more, the universe dwindling into my shallow little pocket of light.

I slow down to approach the city and watch the glittering houselights emerge from behind mountain trees. I slide into the quiescent city and look at the note on my dash, checking the address with the map lying atop the debris of the day’s drive on the passenger seat. I find the street I’m looking for and take a deep, shuddering breath before easing onto it.

I stop to park the car on the street out front. 11:47 PM. I get out and stretch my sore legs, rubbing my pants down with my hands as I look around at the houses nearby. People inside, holding each other, leaning against each other, whispering secrets, some faces lit by flickering televisions, some not. I check the address and the first drops of midnight rain begin to paint the pavement black.

It lies there, dark and ominous. I can’t see the house while standing in the orange glare of the street light so I step closer, onto the grass, into the yard, suddenly feeling a shivering sense of my displacement and not-belonging. My eyes adjust and the dark house fades into grainy view through the glistening raindrops.

I see her figure nestled in a chair on the porch, still and silent. Her dark hair cascades in curled waves over her shoulders. I smile at the thought of her, the sudden overwhelming remiscence of the smell of her, the feel of her, the taste of her on my lips. I stumble over the wet grass and I try to catch her gaze, but she does not see me. I make it to the wooden steps and I look closer at her form. She does not look up at me. She sits there.

I move towards the balustrade to lean against it, but something stops me from placing my hand on it. I feel tainted and wrong. I rest my hands on my knees and bend over to exhale, looking up at her through the railing, waiting for her to say something, to move towards me, but she doesn’t. She sits and waits. I stare as the last plumes of smoke curl up from the cigarette at her fingertips wash away in the rain air. The last traces of her vanish with it, taking with it her soul, her essence, her memory.

My memories extinguish one by one, flicking into raw detail in my mind before vanishing like smoke, my life, my childhood, each second of each day suddenly flashing through my brain to etch it raw and pulsing before turning off like a switch. I remember everything and didn’t know it. And finally, the moment, the moment that brought me here, the moment I had to remember, that I had to return to. That I had to share again with her. That memory that I tried to recreate.

That same spray of light in the deepest night, illuminating the trees on each side, ours the only place in existence. The feel of her mouth on mine, the hot ticking of the car cooling down from its labour behind us, my arms around her soft, warm body, like the clicking of a key into a lock. The sound of her voice ringing pure and unhindered for the first time. Each sweet moment afterwards lost into the pleasure of each other.

And then the memory is gone, my mind blanking out in my last moments, the final seconds dragging out like a taut wire before snapping, my body falling into the soaking grass with it’s last gasp. The foretold ruin of our doomed species gnaws at the chemicals of my brain until my neurons slow down to a sluggish churn then stop abruptly. The warm summer rain falls against my blank, unfeeling face and I finally join the rest of us in our embrace of death.

The radio plays on in the car. Rain drums violently against the metal roof and from the radio, the singing spills out into the forever-after, unhearing night.

… Dark star, just an eye that’s closing…

Wean

June 21, 2012

It’s been six months since the operation.

As of this week I have been taken off of the following:

– Prednisone (steroids)
– Valganciclovir (immunosuppressant / anti-infection)
– Chlorhexidine (anti-infection swallowed mouth-rinse)
– Nystatin (anti-infection spit mouth-rinse)
– Sulfamethoxazole (anti-bacterial)
– Insulin N and R

Movie Review: RockNRolla

June 21, 2012

“You see that pack of Virginia killing sticks on the end of the piano?”

“All you need to know about life is retained in those four walls. You will notice that one of your personalities is seduced by the illusions of grandeur – the gold packet of king size with a regal insignia, an attractive implication towards grandeur and wealth, the subtle suggestion that cigarettes are indeed your royal and loyal friends, and that, is a lie.”

“Your other personality is trying to draw your attention to the flip side of the discussion, written in boring bold black and white, it’s a statement that these neat little soldiers of death and in fact trying to kill you and that, is the truth.”

“Oh, beauty is a beguiling call to death and I’m addicted to the sweet pitch of its siren.”

– Johnny Quid

(The movie is not good.)

Excerpt 1

June 19, 2012

“I’m sad. I’m the saddest woman alive.”

She looks down at her hands and continues, “I live my life dreaming of the future, but when tomorrow becomes today, tomorrow is another day.”

I nod. “Tomorrow could kill you.”

“I want to live now.” She shakes her head, “Today.”

“Then you need to be prepared to die.”

“I’m scared of tomorrow – of death.”

“So am I.”

Veritas lux mea.

June 19, 2012

I’ve got issues. I’ve got no direction. I’ve got no process. I’ve got no destination. I’m just whirlin’ in the wind. Great Storm, blow me down or blow me away.

Five minutes of gut-wrenching, almost unendurable social gore which then became actually unwatchable. A must see.