by Sean M. Thompson
Scott had gone missing the day after they’d gone bar-hopping downtown. In the first week, Cort had walked around feeling like someone had injected acid in his veins. His heart hurt, like he was having some sort of cardiac event. His anxiety was a palpable thing, a coyote snapping at him.
He’d gone to the police station after work every day for that first week, and begged anyone within ear shot to tell him if they’d heard anything about Scott. The police had been understanding, to a certain degree, but by the second week, they were escorting him off the property, not quite by force.
After the first month, it was as if Scott had never been around in the first place. The absence was a physical pain, like a part of him had been amputated, and the memories of the fun times they’d had were the phantom itch, which longed to be scratched.
He’d caught himself reaching for his cell to call Scott one night to hang out, maybe watch a movie, before he remembered Scott was gone, and threw the phone to the couch with disgust.
Cort had experienced loss before. His grandmother had passed two years ago, and they’d been very close. The funeral was hard, and the grieving process took a few months. He still missed her, sometimes.
This was different. Cort had no idea if Scott was still alive, or if Scott had simply lit out for parts unknown.
He’d checked Scott’s Facebook and Twitter, but both had been deactivated. Cort remembered checking Scott’s Facebook a few days after their night drinking, to see the simple grey avatar indicating his friend had shut down his account. The same was true of Scott’s Twitter account, which he’d checked minutes later. The picture of Scott smiling was replaced with a little white egg. He’d never figured out what the little egg avatar was about.
Cort found himself dialing Janet’s number. With all the stuff going on, he’d not spoken to her in a while. She’d gone on a vacation to the Grand Canyon with friends, and after Scott’s disappearance, Cort had needed some time alone to process things. Admittedly, he wasn’t sure if he was ready to go on a date. The phone to his ear, Cort heard Janet answer, ask who was calling.
“It’s Cort,” he said.
“It’s been a couple of months, Cort,” she replied coldly.
“Oh. Are you busy?”
“What? No, just…”
“Why didn’t you call me?”
What was he supposed to tell her? The truth? That his best friend had disappeared, and might be dead, and if anyone had been around him in the last few months he would have taken all his fear and anger out on them? That it was all he could do to get out of the bed the last few months, let alone put on a happy face for anyone else? That he still might take out his frustrations on her, that he might not even be able to help it?
“I – I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I think I should hang up – ”
“Wait, Cort…what are you doing Friday?”
“You heard me, what are you doing Friday?”
“Uh – um – nothing, I think – ”
“Good, we’re having dinner at your place.”
“But – ”
“No buts! I’ll be over around eight. Make something tasty.”
“But I – ”
She hung up on him.
He smiled, couldn’t help it. He still felt like hammered dog shit, but the thought of Janet coming by brightened his spirits a bit.
He went over to his laptop, planning to open Facebook, and, admittedly, creep on Janet’s profile. Maybe he’d look at some pictures of her in a bikini…again.
The red flashed in his eyes, a mushroom cloud – the explosion so monumental everything was decimated in the wake of the debris, the force of angry gods seeking revenge for the folly of humanity; the radiation of the crimson onscreen crippled him, and he was on the floor, fire in his mind, searing nerve endings, scalding away everything in one white hot touch. A terror only the damned can know assaulted him, a burning only the doomed could feel made him scream out in agony. All was madness, all was pain.
All was apocalypse made paramount.
The voice in his head told him: We will remake this world in our image, Cort. We will eat the pious, and shit them out on the street. We will burn their buildings down, stomp them to death, rip their flesh off the bone with our teeth. The age of man is at its end.
He kicked and thrashed on the floor, an epileptic in a fit; he bit his tongue, and blood dripped from his mouth onto the linoleum.
Dance with us, child. Sing with us. Fuck with us. Eat with us. Kill with us.
The age of man is at its end.
He lost consciousness, everything fading to dark, arterial red.
To be continued
December 13th, 2016.
Note: this was posted five days late due to business, stress, and politics.