In the Shower

We made love in the shower every morning

I loved the feeling of the hot water pouring down
His strong hands touching me
Caressing me
Holding me
Pushing my body against the tile of the wall

But then there was the accident
And so quickly he was gone
I cried every morning since
The salt of my tears mixing with the cold water
Disappearing down the drain
Forever

This morning I felt his presence behind the curtain with me
His invisible hands touching me
Grabbing me
Gripping me
I threw back my head and moaned

It was when I felt his hands around my throat
That my moans turned to choking screams
I realized he was back
Not because I missed him
But because he missed me

Richard

Before the first could even get his gun out I bounded onto the cushion of the armchair and then high above him. I came down onto him, his face alight in surprise, and slashed across his throat. Blood spurted violently against the wall, painting it in furious red streaks.

The other blasted his shotgun but it flew by me, detonating the lamp on the glass end table. I ran and uppercut the blade up into his throat and red spurted downward in a torrent, staining his white suit jacket and the blue shirt beneath.

The last one charged, swinging the crowbar he held. I threw the knife and it went over his right shoulder, then I pounced upon him and we were down on the ground and I was slamming his head against the white tile of the floor, and I heard his skull cracking, the bone splintering, and his dark red blood was spattering everywhere: onto the sofa, onto the plant, onto the mask over my face, until finally his lifeless eyes rolled back into his head and the cracking noises stopped.

I picked up the crowbar with my blood-soaked hand, and took off the rubber mask. I stared down at it. For a moment my mind slipped back to my hallucination, my dream – or had it even been a dream? – of those strange animal-headed people in my living room, and the flies buzzing all around, and the smell of rotting corpses, and I thought of the first question the rooster-headed man had asked me, the man whose likeness I now held in my hands – “Do you like hurting other people?”

 

Welcome to Crazyland

No one knows how it started; no one know why. A virus? Biological agent? Collective global psychosis? Or maybe one day half the world just woke up and said fuck it, I’m taking what’s mine.

Very soon two classes emerged. The Brawlers, the ones on top, and The Runners, most everyone else. Me, I’m a Runner. I’m no murderer.

I’ve had my fair share of scrapes. I’ve seen them roaming the streets during the day, weapons in hand. Watched them empty assault rifles and shotguns into men’s chests, sometimes for food or resources, sometimes just for the sick pleasure of it. I watched them beat the life out of a group of innocent women and children with aluminum baseball bats and crowbars; so brutal and merciless, so wanton, so bloodthirsty for no purpose or reason at all.

Sometimes they hunt in packs (never more than 3, as far as I’ve seen), but most often they hunt and kill alone. But always their identities are hidden. Balaclavas. Welding hoods. Animal masks. Motorcycle helmets. They never show their faces. And most frighteningly of all, they never speak. They are not an organized body, there is no ruler or order among them, but still somehow these rules, these common characteristics, emerged without ever being spoken and agreed upon.

All we can do is run. Run, and hide. But sooner a later a man has enough. Has enough of hiding in abandoned, decaying buildings between blood-soaked walls. Enough of eating scraps and what vermin he can catch. Enough of running. Sooner or later a man fights back.

I killed one of them the other day. I buried a fire ax deep into his chest and watched until his twitching limbs ceased their jerking. After the adrenaline faded, after my panting breath returned to normal, a strange feeling washed over me, one of elation.

Yesterday I found an old goalie mask in what used to be a sporting goods store. As I pulled it down over my face, suddenly I didn’t feel like talking anymore. Silence seemed a welcome natural state, one of which I’d been unaware of my whole life. No more talk. Just action. Just doing.

Anesthesia

Don’t let him drive. That was the last thing Kate had said to me when the two of us left the house, heading out to the local bar to knock back pint after pint and watch the Avalanches take on the Blackhawks.

But of course I had let him drive. When we’d stumbled out of the red light of neon signs advertising beer brands and into the sodium yellow of the parking lot, I knew Frank had had too much. I knew he was in no condition to drive. But I was drunk too, and the thought of waiting for a cab, of arguing with Frank long enough for him to give me the keys just seemed so difficult, so tiring, while heavily sliding into the passenger’s seat, as I found myself doing, just seemed so easy. So natural.

That was three months ago. Frank is gone now. Kate knows everything. Kate knows what I did. Or rather, what I didn’t do. I couldn’t make it to the funeral, but I wonder how much the tears she must’ve cried were of sadness and not rage. Anger at the senselessness of it all. Anger that the man she loved was gone. Anger at me, for breaking my promise. My only promise. My simple, simple promise I just couldn’t have been bothered to keep in my state.

The last surgery is today. After this it’s just one more month and I’m free to go, good as new.

“There’s a new anesthesiologist in the OR today,” the surgeon says as I stare up at white fluorescent tubes. I feel the mask come down on my face.

“Just count backwards from 100,” I hear a familiar voice say.

The doctor does not see my terrified eyes. I try to struggle, to call out, but already I am immobilized.

“Goodbye Michael,” Kate says, looking down at me.