5:31am, part 7

Tommy woke at 5:31 am, feeling that somehow that he was entangled in his own limbs. Looking at the clock in a rush of anxiety, he witnessed the quick transition from 5:31 to 5:32. For some reason, that served to increase Tommy’s anxiousness. Every morning since the beginning of high school he began his day by waking up with the harsh sound of the alarm at precisely 5: 31. Now, having seen the almost imperceptible switch between minutes, everything seemed to be on the brink of disaster.

It took awhile for Tommy to realize that the peeling stars on the ceiling weren’t hypnopompic hallucinations. They were real and allowed him to recall the memories of last night. Seeing the headless rabbit in the fridge. Escaping the house by using the slopped cellar door. Biking over to Billy’s and wondering if he would think that Tommy was crazy. But his friend had believed him, and–another headless rabbit seemed like it was lurking on top of the storage bins! That familiar drooping of a limp sack of flesh compelled Tommy to get up and run from the room.

“I’m telling you, I didn’t sneak into your room to put a rabbit up there. Look, I was just fucking with you last night. You’re getting a little paranoid, to be honest,” Billy said.

Maybe Tommy was paranoid, but that didn’t stop that slack sack of flesh from existing right in front of his eyes. “Could you please just get rid of it?” he asked. It was an extreme effort to make that request a polite one.

Billy nodded curtly, and placed the rabbit in an old shoe box–the same one Tommy used last night to transport that other rabbit.

“So, I’m guessing if it’s this bad now, Halloween is going to be even worse,” Tommy said.

Billy shrugged and left without saying anything. Tommy decided to do the same. He went to his house and quickly did the basic hygiene stuff, because that was the thin dividing line between civilization and decay, as far as he was concerned. After that, he was off to school. It seemed like he was going to be late again. Even the stragglers were far ahead, their bobbing little heads mocking him with their advanced progress.

Tommy received the revised schedule from Brian.

“Looks like you have biology class first today. Fun fun!,” Brian said. “If you want a crash course in relevant science, just visit my blog!”

“Can science make it 2:30 already?”

“Or pay your electric bill automatically so you’re not taking a shower in the dark?”

Tommy didn’t know how to respond to that. Upon reflection, he didn’t know how to do a lot of things. But the future of technology made him feel hopeful.

So, Zhang’s class was first. He wondered if the old man would force him to complete that heart extraction assignment from yesterday. It was hard to tell. Zhang was very mercurial. Each class was meant to shock the students into a “learning state of mind.”

Zhang was scanning the students and smiling benignly at them as Tommy walked into the room, which of course was terrifying.

 

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