Post Robbery Bliss

The tin can man had been duped
Watches, pearls, cashmere scarves
This was it
This was the jackpot
That would become a golden stepping stone
He could ensure the security of his family forever
But did he need them anymore?

They were a convenient mythology during the act itself
Now they were faded sources of vague irritation
This salesman could be free
Maybe he would toss them a scarf or two
Even a watch
Generosity could expand the heart across oceans
No need for letters
They would know he cared

Maybe tin can man would receive a letter
After all, he paid the price for all this luxury
What a sweet heart

A rhythmic robbery

5:31am, part 15

“Yes, ma’am!” Zeke said, saluting Mrs. B after squirting more soap into the sudsy dish pile. Everything was humming like clockwork on that magical Sunday afternoon. Tommy tried to hide his happiness from the group. Lamarr was keeping herself occupied with a set of blocks, gurgling strangely but still content. Dad hid behind his exquisite wooden sculptures. He was enjoying a bout of confidence because a very affluent person had purchased an angel statue after receiving a splinter. The buyer said “it was a sign.” Apparently, his dad had two very influential fans. One heavenly, the other, a desperate mortal. Meanwhile, Tommy’s mom was on the phone with her accounting firm. Both of his parents had the entrepreneurial mindset, but in different ways.

Something was definitely up with Lamarr, though. Her gurgles seemed otherworldly, and she was a bit more detached than usual. Did the experience at the cemetery embed itself into her psyche? Tommy was scrutinizing her carefully. She looked at him sporadically, giving him an animalistic, almost cognizant look.

Zeke was glancing at him too, making sure that he wasn’t too disgruntled after being deceived.

Despite some of the underlying tension, it was a brilliant sunny day and a tenuous peace reigned. Commercials were in the background too, pumping a stream of color and ambition into them without anyone perceiving a malicious or destructive force. Everyone had their things, both in hand and in the future, and those things provided a warm blanket that allowed for a constant hazy bliss. Tommy realized then that he was willing to fight for a peace that was eternally ready to burst at the seams. He had taken it for granted before, but those lazy summer days seemed like they would never get here again. And even if they did, someone was trying to infuse chaos into everything.

But Tommy wasn’t ready, and after looking over at Zeke, he was sure that his friend wasn’t either. In fact, everyone was sensing a cruel change and wanted to seize this era with a strength that prior to the last couple of weeks seemed like it didn’t need to exist. Tommy even tried bargaining to some higher power. “I’ll take these slightly depressing changes if that means things won’t get worse.”

 

Everything Changed, Part 3

She wandered closer to the cluster of vehicles. Claw marks had tainted their once cheery exteriors. But what was their use in the past world? She wanted to say transport, but wasn’t sure. The word sounded alien and her tongue felt heavy as she prepared to speak it.

The moaning from somewhere behind the vehicles forced her tongue to remain inactive. These things were vicious when roused, and she had to be careful. Vicious and tenacious. One had followed her for four days once. She just didn’t have the strength to kill it. Something else presumably did.

But now there was more than one. At least two or three. And she was even weaker. She decided to shamble away, making her way to the grocery store. It was a greater risk, but the payoff could potentially be huge. She might even be able to get her mind back.

The sign said “O-Mart.” She saw too many shadows lingering behind the front door, so decided to try her luck with the rear entrance. The setting sun was still baking her skin as she made her way to the back of the store. Not as much moaning back here. Other sounds, but not moaning. Something strange was happening. It sounded like a tire was being stripped to its bald state.

She wasn’t scared, though. A different predator was preferable to the usual fare.

Everything Changed, Part 2

The grocery store still squatted. But the shadows seemed slower, which told her that night was on its way. She thought to herself that she was telling time more efficiently, using the cues the world gave her rather than that device with hands that now seemed unpredictable and chaotic. She always avoided them. They made people age, albeit slowly, and they eventually ended up as moaning husks. She wondered how long it would be until she turned into one, but avoiding their damning gazes would help slow the sprouting of grey hairs and rotting skin.

Her stomach rumbled in hunger. But she was nauseous too. The vaccine always killed her appetite.

Voices were close by. They bounced off the cars and fled the ground for the sky. She always fantasized about doing that. The steel blue being beckoned with loving arms. It would embrace you and wouldn’t expect you to survive.

But the voices continued, freeing themselves but selfishly anchoring her to reality.

 

 

Everything changed

She was standing on the pavement, vermin fleeing as she toyed with her wooden bat. It was quiet, but that wasn’t a good or a bad thing. Nope. Quiet just existed, only to be reinterpreted in moments of reflection on that never-ending lonely road.

A gutted store squatted up ahead, but she didn’t look away at the shadows or the hurtful things they were doing. Things were being eaten in there. Or maimed. Or something violent was happening to them.

The prospect of groceries inside made her mouth moist, but the thought of syringes dried it up again. The vaccine always came first. It had to. A couple hours without, and it was game over. Food always had to come second.

She was a gaunt person that scavenged the landscape for syringes. There was no lust for twinkies anymore.

Sleep was in her daydreams. At least, it had been to the best of her recollection.

5:31am, part 14

Tommy cradled Lamarr fiercely, expecting something godawful to burst through those aging doors. The slabs of metal, painted a solemn green, started to shake violently. Eventually they were flung open, revealing a dark hooded figure wielding a a bow. Beyond the doors, dark figures with arrows protruding from their flesh caught Tommy’s attention, and Zeke gave a polite gasp. Tommy got the impression that his friend wasn’t all that phased by the violence.

“Are you Ronald Reagan?” Zeke asked. Tommy couldn’t help but chuckle, and the hooded figure gave him the stink eye.

“No, I’d actually rather my name not go down in history. For the record. Anyway, you have a limited amount of time before Milton summons more of his henchmen.”

Before the hooded figure left, ┬áhe came closer to Tommy and stroked Lamarr’s cool scalp. “You’ll be fine,” he said. After that, he fled the mausoleum and a fog started to roll in.

“We should go. Can I crash at your place?” Zeke asked.

With Lamarr seemingly just fine, Tommy was feeling magnanimous if still a little suspicious of Zeke’s motives. They walked home quickly and quietly in the increasingly dense fog until Zeke grabbed his shoulder.

“I couldn’t handle those history lessons anymore,” Zeke said. “That’s why I had to leave. I mean, I almost pissed myself when he mentioned Ronald Reagan.”

“And now he’s running for POTUS. Yeah, I get it. Still sucks you lied to me though. We can’t get around that.”

Tommy started to walk again, anxious to show his mom and dad that Lamarr was okay. They wouldn’t believe it over the phone.

“Has your sister always felt this cold?” Zeke asked as they walked onto the screened in porch.

“She was in that mausoleum for god knows how long. That’s probably the reason why.”

Zeke didn’t respond to that. Tommy’s parents opened the front door, cradling Lamarr and Tommy and giving Zeke a curious look.

Tommy explained, exaggerating Zeke’s situation but leaving out the absurd details, which seemed like a contradiction, but it did the trick.

“You’ll stay in our spare bedroom. Oh, it’ll be nice to have a full house again!” Tommy’s mother said.

“Thanks, Mrs. B!” Zeke said, giving her a quick hug of gratitude. Mr. B offered his hand. Zeke shook it. And with a soft and awkward handshake, everything seemed to slide back to normality for awhile.