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Tuesday, 29 May 2012 01:15

Tomorrow, Now

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Five days before it happens my nephew says this: “My Dad says I should tell you to go to church; if you don’t you’ll go to hell.” And that pretty much summed up Rick; that my brother would come at me from all angles because he knew it was the only chance he had at saving me. They’re dead now, both he and my nephew, and it kills me knowing I could not save them the only way I knew how.

Six of us survived; our number since Day Four. Nance was already in the church and Tom I had met while running towards it. I sometimes find it strange that I continue to think of the cigarette he had tucked behind his ear---I mean, seriously, of all things to be concentrating on at that point in time? Jeff is next, coming a day later, and the day after that it’s the twins who complete what we become. The twins are sisters, Jennifer and Johanne, and from the onset seemed worse off than the rest of us.

Low, off to the side, Jeff makes this known: Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Johanne came to us injured as well, and it was Nance who first stepped up to address the leg wound. It wasn’t until the second bandage change in as many hours that I noticed what Jeff had already seen. Standing, stroking the back of her sister’s head, Jennifer seemed in control of herself, or at least coping as well as the rest of us. At this time, as Nance re-wrapped the wound, is when I was given pause; vacant eyes, mumbling lips---all this through thick strands of hair no longer being bothered with. The difference between sisters was striking, worrisome, but then so was the situation we found ourselves in. This is not an excuse, but then again, maybe it is; why else had I done nothing when clearly the woman was beyond functional? I cannot speak for the rest of them, but I at least have to be honest with myself, so yes, more likely than not, this is why I chose the weakest route available. We had survived, you see, and disturbed or not, each of us was now all we had left.

Day Six we relocate to the basement and this is when Tom finds the boy---what I have come to believe is a boy. Silent, each of us takes our turn looking at him from the corner window of the rectory. It was an odd angle but still you could see how the skin of his fingers and face flowed and stretched towards the street below. As the cigarette tucked in Tom’s ear would forever connect me with the image I have of him, I was reminded of my childhood as I stared up at the boy, to a time when Rick and I would throw old shoes up and over telephone lines in hopes of getting them caught.

“It’s not right,” Jeff says, and he’s more than a little indignant in the way he professes this. From what little I knew of him, this was new for Jeff, and not at all in line with the sarcasm he used as a shield. Heated now, he adds that it’s crazy, the entire situation, and that we’re all just as insane if we think for a moment we might survive. This is answered by Johanne, who very quick takes a butter knife up and into the man’s right eye before any of us can move. Neither warning nor scream accompanied this, and Jeff’s fall is so immediate, so weighted, it has become an image I cannot displace.

“He wanted crazy. I showed him crazy.” Is what she finally said, and each of us heard it even though it came out from under her breath. After that, silence---and the world seemed to change yet again.

“There’s the AV room in back.” Tom suggests, and Jennifer is the only one who protests, saying that her sister had been though a lot, that we weren’t there the moment their parents succumbed. “You aren’t the only ones going through this,” Nance says matter-of-fact. The two of them then acknowledge each other from opposite sides of the room, and then they stare, ten seconds, fifteen, and it is in this time that I realize how defeated each woman looks, how worn. She continued, yes, but Jennifer’s objections came to hold less conviction as the days wore on. We were not foolish enough to believe this was her coming round to our way of thinking, though. We couldn’t, not after what had been done. They were sisters is all, and twins on top of the fact. In hindsight we were wrong. I have to accept that. We all do.

At night is when they feed, and they are far from quiet as they do. We use no light from six p.m. until dawn, none, each of us together in one room. Precautionary, it’s the way we’ve lived since coming together, but things might soon have to change---Tom and Nance try, but the room we share is only so big. “And what you’re doing---this is a good thing?” I ask when the time comes. “Does it matter, mate? Really, with what’s going on out there, can you blame me?” I couldn’t, not remotely, which pretty much summed up the man’s entire point. Perhaps I’m secretly jealous, or perhaps I only miss my wife. Either way, our living arrangement was meant to change.

Day Fifteen is when the food runs out. Day fifteen/night is when Nance finds Jennifer at the base of the Christ statue, her wrists now open to the bone. Woman had a plan, she says, woman followed through. She is right but neither Tom nor I give comment; we only stare. He offers me a cigarette. I somehow accept.

Outside, the boy who is hanging continues to hang but the skin which remains has become greyish in colour, dry and mummified. I peg him at being four or five years old and then inside I die a little bit more.

I offer to inform Johanne about her sister and when I do there is no reaction, none that I can discern. She only stares directly ahead, her eyes wet and vacant, like understated paint. I re-lock the door. Later, as we discuss our options, there are tears and then cries towards the injustice of what we have been reduced to. I tell them we must move; that I feel the church is no longer safe. Tom agrees, stating we’d be fools not to include some type of contingency plan once a new place is found. With Nance it takes some doing but in the end her fear of dying pulls her from the fog. I’ll go, I say, and neither of them speaks up when I suggest this. Backpack on, I leave by the back of the church, going past the room which holds Johanne. I hear her singing as I pass and then suddenly there are screams. She calls for an Angie, a T, and suddenly I pause, my confidence gone, but soon the singing starts again. It is here I remind myself about tomorrow; that the choices we make now mean more than they ever did before.

Outside I move slow, careful even though it’s the middle of the day. Rounding the corner I look up at the boy as I knew I would. His hands and feet almost touch as they dangle and reach for something they will never again grasp.

He is not my nephew, no, and I can’t quite bring irony to my lips, but most assuredly I have found myself in hell.

Cautious, I run.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 29 May 2012 21:56
Beau Johnson

Beau Johnson lives in Canada with his Canadian wife.  She is very understanding and allows him to write even though they have three small monsters who do their very best at keeping them on the go.  Unfortunately, all three boys have inherited their father's hair--poor kids.  It will now be a much tougher life.  Only once, over at the Carnage Conservatory, Beau continues his dream of being published.

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