When he woke up, he had no idea that the world around him had changed. Or did he?
As the first rays hit the blinds, he felt a stitch on his arm snap in defiance. A gaping wound was a gaping wound; it seemed to devour his appetite for anything that wasn’t a make-do surgical instrument. A gust of breathless wind crashed against the faded blue curtains, billowing into his.
Those curtains; Aunt Betty may have been gone for a good 10 years now, but her ‘abstract wedding gift’ never made it out of the carton into the sticky metal trash can parked by their backyard. His lungs sunk faster than an elevator as flashes of his old life beat against his hung over head. Melanie, we were happy. Had we been planning this murd—
His monologue on mute was rudely interrupted by a young twenty-something looking for Malcolm’s son’s place. Teenage seemed so distant…
He had been buried under the weight of his retribution; he was a dung beetle stuck inside a ball of dung, with no hope of getting its shiny hard back out of that dung, because hey, it was dry now.
Toeing back to his mattress on the other side of the roach-infested one-room apartment on rent, the obnoxious brick of a phone rang. Devastating images of the newly released iPhone played with his head as he nodded and muttered insignificant syllables to express his consent over ‘if you wanted to do another shift. The janitor on the second floor passed out while clearing lockers. At 8.’
The Supervisor hung up with a clean click, leaving Matthew to deal with a monstrous silence running to bite his head.
Mel’s blue, blue eyes. She loved to call them smurfs. That was the movie she last saw before she dispappeared?
Matt’s jaw hung open. Saliva leaked from the corner of his lip, onto his shirt with yellow patches that screamed Doritos and mustard sauce.
His eyes bounced off one thing in the room, landing on another and back. M&M. He smiled. No more.
The neighbor’s kid whipped the plate off his door once again on his way to school (… teenaged), braking his grey cells scooting around in a kaleidoscope; there were blood stains on the floor that marked the young boy’s steps.
He sank down to the wooden floor, biting his fingers in a frenzied fashion. His head made no noise and it worried him. Everything seemed like a part of some sinister cacophony he could not understand. Like an outsider to some naughty private joke, he decided two hours late to work was late enough.
The receptionist lolled her head out of boredom. Office seldom had visitors, apart from the odd delivery boy. When she was a young woman, she would put on some powder and lipstick to impress the handsome young men who would work here. She was past her prime and so was flirting. They were all married with a beer belly that hung on to their torsos for dear life. The only young man here could have been her kind, but another world, another time. He was too busy smelling bad and upsetting the photocopier.
As Matt made his way in, Ella slapped a good morning out of sick amusement. ‘Gosh you’re early.’
To Matthew Blair, she probably did not even exist.
Ella’s narrow eyes followed his crazy cold shoulders and her chipped nails dug deeper into her temple. She sighed with relief as she pulled at tiny chunks of flesh; she dug her fingers deeper. It felt so much better.
A thick, bloody tributary flowed over her wrinkled cheek.
The fan whirred to a slow life as the Supervisor lifted his eyes to check on his slaves. No, Slaves.
There were another few hours before they would all break free of the shackles they’d grown to love; society, eh?
He traced his dirty finger back to the keyboard with a broken t-key and cracked screen. The LCD was looking to break free too.
Quite often will you find the world around you as a result of the sum total of a million revolts, trivial and mega. There have been revolutionary acts that singlehandedly defined every freedom you park your brakes on. There have been mortals who coalesced for common purposes and threw the train called humanity off its rusty tracks because it was fun. Others claimed to bring peace. The rich have swum in money, the poor in their own vermin. While the latter had not much to lose save for streaks of grime down their faces, staining there hardworking chests that breathed in cheap cigarettes, the rich stood to lose all the fancy words they’d been brought up with: prestige, status, honor, integrity and call girls.
And sometimes, an unintended poke or a sneeze can set off a chain of events so cathartic, you wouldn’t wanna stop the chain.
The doorbell chimed as old Mehmoud bent down to scratch his bad knee. His Style brand pants from when he was young and nigh were now blotted with urine and caked wounds stuck to the fabric. With much difficulty did Abeer manage to pull apart the cloth. Snot dribbled over her lips as she saw fat worms in her Uncle’s knee: they twisted and turned with the grace of a ballet dancer; seemingly, it was Uncle’s flesh that had kept them alive. This would not be the last of firsts for little Abeer.
Even as the two struggled to run shop, Islam was why they’d shut it down. No flower had survived from the previous day, save for some Saharan cacti. Abeer had longed for one from when she was much smaller than even now… Mehmoud felt tired. His head was on an inertial high. Not moving, not talking, bleeding- he spent the last days of summer smelling in the stench of his bodily fluids and foul wilted flowers.
Those single quotes were bugging her now. Nevertheless, Alice gave it one last shot.
Who would walk into Mehmoud’s door? What could he possibly say?
Random kid? Nope.
All those hours of SpongeBob Square pants were telling on her.
She leaned back and stretched for a good one minute. It is writers’ block, alright.
‘Writers’ Retreat’, the flyer exclaimed. Eying it with a sick, morbid curiosity as if she had never heard of them before, she imagined quiet creeks and bountiful trees whispering into her ears as ideas and characters spread themselves apart proportionately with effortless ease. The good, good life.
A typewriter with letters stamped in fuchsia, maybe a scarecrow out in the backyard and an endless supply of coffee: Holy Lord yes.
Just as Alice slipped into another late night daydream, her agent pinged her on her personal number.
‘Final transcript by the day after?’
How would she know? The Chardonnay leaked into the battery compartment and switched the cell phone off like a mother would all the lights in the room after she tucks her baby in. Baby Alice was picking her poisons already; after her son was dragged for over a mile by a pickup truck, sleep was especially hard to come by.
Come morning came the garbage guy who made quite the spectacle of his garbage retrieval ritual (or GRR, like all Wessonette people called it) with the grace of a piranha. The screech of metal on tar and metal on metal topped with a three-day old sushi bonanza was the cure to all hangovers.
There was a sudden massive weight thrust upon her chest; she kicked the bed in helpless defiance, each blow lighter than the last. And then, there was silence.
Officer Castle titled his head in a sparrow-like manner. None of the evidence on the scene seemed to connect. They were random pieces picked and thrown in a quarry. Alice Je Delabourne was dead, and the city would soon know.
The Wessonette Police Department Headquarters was a neat glass building with a fancy design that only an architect claiming to be modern could implement in cement.
‘This thing ruins every possibility of a good morning I might ever have.’
Agent Yana Millman clicked her shoes onto the waiting area’s marble floor with those words ringing in her sleep deprived head.
Her perfectly manicured nails pressed a host of buttons before she gained access to Room ZZ67. Three years, and not a single day was she flawed; there wasn’t a nail Rosie saw was chipped. Ever. She was a nail artist at heart, Millman her holy grail.
‘Delabourne’s dead, huh?’
She only saw a 40 year old wildly swinging his office chair in response. Geez.
It was at this juncture that a foreign god-shaming meteor scrunched the earth’s abused face; had you been there, you would have seen destruction spread its miserable wings over land that had only been asking for some.
Finally, the Supervisor smiled.