Thursday, June 19, 2008

Snow, chapters 16 & 17

Chapter 16
Fog was watching the body from his apartment window for nearly an hour. Where the hell are the wild animals? Why aren’t they eating the bastard already? Fog still had the taste in his mouth.
He wiped an entire bottle of that toxic resin on the man’s face, and nothing. Lots of animals came and went, but they ran off as soon as they got close to the body. Mostly it was dogs, but even rats started avoiding it. Is that what the broadcasts were for? To perfect a city-wide contamination?
The radio was droning on in the background as he sat, chin resting on his palm. Fog was almost ready to call it a day, when he saw something down the street. Fog moved to the side of the window slowly to avoid the person’s gaze.
It was holding a... a what? A dog? Marching slowly, it suddenly stopped. Did he see my handiwork? Fog couldn’t tell what manner of person it was until it had run under the streetlamp below to examine the corpse.
The person was heavily armed, all right. Examining the body, it stooped down over it, and touched it. Hmmm, maybe that toxin is good for something after all. Now Fog wished he hadn’t used so much: it might become too obvious. Damn, the policeman was wearing gloves. Oh well, the poison will be effective for a few more days, probably, and hopefully he’ll handle those gloves again.
The policeman must not have been a soldier. If he had been, he would’ve known not to touch anything that the animals wouldn’t. He obviously hadn’t been in the jungle like Fog had. Suddenly, the policeman looked up, and his gaze almost caught Fog’s directly.
Fog dropped to the floor before that could happen. Outside, he heard barking. Peeking over the window’s edge, the policeman was gone, but from up the street came eight or nine dogs, foaming and snarling. One of them had a blue handkerchief in its mouth. At the back of the pack was a human shape, as though it was leading them on. Fog had time to see that it was human, wrapped in tattered clothes, except for a left arm that didn’t end in a hand... it ended in a...?
Fog didn’t have time to study it. He knew that the heavily armed policeman was inside the building, possibly hunting for him with a bullet-proof vest. Quickly, Fog scribbled onto a note pad, tore off the page, and strapped his climbing bracers to his knuckles. Without hesitation, he went into the hallway, and shoved the note into his pocket.
He had already closed all the doors, and knew that it would look suspicious, but he had no time. At the end of the hallway opposite the stairwell was a window. Fog was almost positive his bracers were strong enough to crunch through the building’s exterior. He didn’t like being almost positive.
He climbed down to the street and nervously looked around the side of the building. The pack and whatever was leading it was gone now. Fog snuck carefully into the lobby of his apartment.
Boots? Why are there boots here? Fog took them, as they were high quality, and snuck out the front again. He prayed to god that the mysterious figure leading the diseased animals was not waiting for him outside. When he was outside, he had time to pin the letter to the body, so that it would be right in the face of whomever had invaded his apartment.
As he was getting ready to climb the building again, Fog was thinking about those mysterious bottles of poison he got outside his door right before the riots broke out. He noticed he didn’t get any antidote, and he hoped it was because they hadn’t made any yet.

Chapter 17
Merky was broken. His socked feet crunched on the hard gravel. He was in the worst section of town, now. There were a few corpses around a smashed shop window, with some pigeons feeding on them. Merky was still thinking about the body. He was still wondering about the note.
“Why did you run from the dogs, Mr. Policeman? Why did you save that dog? Who are you protecting now? When you return to the apartments, I will be gone. Your city will ache and groan under my weight.”
The mysterious writer didn’t know that Merky didn’t try to bash the apartment door down. Damn it! Why was he such a sheep? If he had barged into the apartment room, he could have at least found out what he was doing in there.
Was the writer responsible for all this? How was that possible? Merky kept walking down the dark road, his courage returning. This time, though, he didn’t see the roving band of rabid dogs.
Rabid. Rabid dogs... The corpse in front of the building flashed in his mind. Dogs understood the city, just like the mystery writer. If the humans didn’t, that was their fault, and nature just took its course.
Another thing... why didn’t the killer try and confront him? Was he scared just as much, or unarmed? He knew that the man had made a mistake: he wrote a letter to an enemy.
Merky had ten miles left. His walk back was lit sporadically by light poles. Blackouts had hit the city. Merky decided that tomorrow night, he would check the power plant.
Merky stopped beneath a pole, gripping his shotgun. Why was it so slippery? He looked at his gloves, and saw a sort of slime covering them. Merky was careful to take them off very carefully, after throwing his shotgun in a nearby dumpster. So the writer gave some evidence, too?
But this evidence wasn’t like the note. He wasn’t even sure where it came from. Carefully, Merky used a stick to lower the contaminated gloves into the same dumpster as the shotgun.
Merky sat down again. He looked left to right, and held his taser tight. Down the street, from the direction he just came, he could faintly hear barking. Could he walk and read at the same time? No. Moonless.
Merky’s mind stopped thinking in complete sentences as he eyed the handwriting. Capitals. Slanted downward. Rigid, heavy pressure. Red pen. Very angry writing, but not jagged. Good flow, consistant distance between letters and words.
He could see a vague picture: someone organized, who flit in and out of social situations like a leaf on a river.
So angry. So bitter. So clever. Why didn’t you hunt me down? Why did you leave evidence for me to find? Are you not careful or just cocky?
The barking sounded clearer. It was time to leave. Merky disappeared, leaving only his gloves and his gun in an unused dumpster. Oh, more bodies. Where were they coming from?
Shivers were sent up Merky’s spine as he wondered what was happening to the environment he had just left behind.
Cold, filthy animals ravaged by disease were there now: a literal swarm. Suffering, smelling, their vision rounded at the edges by darkness. Their target had just vanished. Sniffing the air for clues of their prey, they directed their terrifying new alpha male to their newest discovery in the dumpster. Their master was pleased. They slowly raised their reddened eyes into the wrenching freeze of darkness in front of them: hungry.

1 comment:

orian57 said...

Can I ask how long this is going to be? Or do you not know yet? Also, wow. Again. It's just brilliant!