Hundreds of hermit crabs wearing toothpaste caps as shells shuffled through the dirt at the construction site, dirt so full of broken glass that it sparkled even at night, even with no light. Aref knew probably only he saw that seemingly infinite sparkle, just like he knew the hundreds of hermit crabs were really only one because you’d never find that many crabs wearing toothpaste caps for shells.
I’d lost a brother and remember the headlines, newsreels, songs of bond-selling, gas-griping, and movies too true to hate, the settings of World War II. Those days found the whole Earth bent inwards, imploding bombs, bullets, blood, shrieking terrible bird cries in my ears only deepest sleep could lose if it ventured close.
Jock’s folding his pyjamas back under his pillow when he hears it. A low, growling hiss. His twin daughters are elsewhere, probably playing in the walls, so it’s just him and the mannequin dressed as his wife in the bedroom. He’s searching for the source of the noise when the duvet shifts on the bed. It’s a slight movement, like wind-ruffled marram grass, but it’s something. Carefully, he pulls back the covers, revealing the green and yellow-chevroned scales of a king cobra.
That night was still. I heard the silence of all those lost souls. I considered myself being one. I dismissed the idea very quickly and drank another gin. Straight gin was allegedly, the drink of alcoholics. Specifics for some reason outweighed quantity. The gin wasn’t really a choice, it was simply what was there.
The entire world had gone mad. Completely bat-shit crazy which was really saying something in this over-sexed, social-media crazed, smartphone obsessed cesspool that made up modern life. Douglas Garuder had long been a man whose time had passed him by. Hell, he still had an ancient flip phone with a long, spidery crack up the screen. Not that he ever used it. Since Joan had passed away some five years ago, there really wasn’t anyone he cared to talk to. Most of the time if he even remembered to look at the damn thing, he always expected her to call, reminding him to pick up eggs or some other mundane item at the grocery store. That feeling was always followed by the crushing, black sadness that he would never hear his wife’s voice again. At least not in this life anyway.
She knew why he hung himself.
Holly had just returned home when she heard her her mother’s screams. She ran upstairs and into her brother’s room.
“Here. We’ve got to get some sleep.” Bob hands his wife a pill and takes one himself.
Elaine pretends to put it in her mouth.