Short Story: Groan
Restraining the Purge
Devoid of happiness
Not that I care…
Everybody has the same solution – eat well, exercise – like it’s some panacea for mortality. Then someone close dies, or you contract emphysema, and all that delayed sadness shatters the windows of that health food store; it gives you cramps while you’re out jogging.
I have never been an active man. Collecting disability, and without a mate, I keep to myself, watching hour after hour of daytime court TV followed by the same old belabored crawl to the kitchen, where I would scoff back doughnuts, dipping them in Guinness, and retire to bed at eight at night, to find my other TV set glaring hard towards the headboard, where the wave of searing apathy overtook me. Infomercials. Fucking Bowflex. Show me the Magic Bullet.
The wave will come. It will.
It will plow us over and drag us gasping and clutching, pleading as it heaves our bodies, retched and overtaxed, into watery abyss. There is a pressure on my temple and dust in my eyes. When I look up I see the floor. Now where was I? Oh yes…
Yesterday there was an itch on my right forearm. I gave it a hardy scratch and the skin just sloughed off, collecting in folded mounds at my wrist, exposing tendons and bone. Greenish-yellow pus oozed out. I jabbed my left forefinger into the ulna and a fragment broke off with a powdery mist, like chalk. The worst of it – I didn’t feel a thing.
Phased, horrified – either/or – emotions were still persistent, just hard to tell intensity; if anger was grief, if fear was confusion. My jaw keeps clamping shut and the back of my head went bald, all over the course of one hour. This morning I went to brush my teeth and the stiff bristles were all that was needed to knock out three of my teeth. Regrettable. Something tells me I am really going to miss those.
Symptoms like these have been occurring, gradually exacerbating, ever since I ate that green bacon one morning after a couple shots of Kahlua. I figured, I’m cooking it; the green parts will burn off. A few hours after breakfast, I got a nasty cramp in my stomach. I inhaled, and when I went to push the air out again, my diaphragm didn’t return to position. I vomited green blood.
The tide changes and a powerful new wave crashes on the shore. Sand displaces like shattering bones.
It is steady. It is implacable. It is undead.
Back in front of the sink, I thought it unwise to attempt using floss. I stepped into the shower. The hot water felt curiously cool on my skin, frigid actually. Each droplet sent my spine into micro spasms. Click – Click – Click. Unable to tolerate it, I ended my shower and crept back into bed. My breathing became shallow and hoarse. When I tried to swallow, my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and drool gushed out between my lips. Unable to lie there any longer, I made a trek outside.
Stumbling down the sidewalk, the first person I encountered was a man in his mid-thirties, in jogging shorts and a sweatband around his head. He saw the bandage around my shriveled arm and noticed my languid stupor. He came up to me and after observing my puzzling predicament for a few moments, pulled out his cell-phone and said he was calling an ambulance. When I tried to verbalize a response all that came out was a long, weary, throaty errrrrrrrrr. Then I got angry. And this time I was sure it was anger I was feeling, or was it lust, or gratitude? Swiftly, I grabbed his arm and plunged my teeth into his meaty bicep. He shrieked in horrible agony. A small boy riding his tricycle across the street jolted from his seat and bolted into a backyard. The shriek attracted neighbors. They began to gather, puzzled by the hectic screams, more puzzled by beholding a man clenched on another man’s arm, tearing savagely. I took a couple more bites before he could get loose.
Neighbors drew nearer. Eventually a crowd had formed. Several men pulled me off the jogger and pushed me back. I looked around in a daze. Too much flesh to handle alone. The crowd began accosting me.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Are you crazy?”
I responded, “ERRRRR!”
An ambulance siren sounded a dim echo far away. A man in the crowd tore off his shirt and wrapped it around the jogger’s arm. People were shouting. Chastising me for what I’d done. Appalling, savage. Covering their mouths, shrieking out of terror. My eyes rolled, as I swayed, surveying the multitude encircling me.
A woman in the crowd grabbed a stick on the side of the street and commenced beating me with it. She initiated an unrelenting stoning. A man kicked my legs out from under me. Another proceeded to stomp my chest. A few attackers had left the crowd in search of stronger weapons.
“What is he? Why is his blood that color? A young girl exclaimed.
One of the attackers had returned with a spade shovel and smacked my jaw off kilter. Another shattered my arm with his boot. The masses heaved and hustled about me. I sank into black gloom.
The siren of the ambulance hailed to a short dying buzz as it pulled up to the crowd surrounding the corpse in the middle of the street.
You might ask me how I can tell you this story if it ends with my death. The short answer is that I’m undead and that this is a un-story.
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