My fallen teeth had already started replacing themselves with fang tips and the nails that dropped off were coming back in rough claws. Whatever I was turning into, I’d be less of a human being by the transformation’s end. I won’t bore you with my meditations on what it really means to be human. I have a brain and a heart – it’s the soul I’m not so sure about.
I could feel changes beyond anything physical. Something in my brain, within my genetic make-up evolving – governed by a new set of biological cues. Like bees – Protect and feed the queen and spend your life building honeycomb. Well I was driven by something carnal. Not just this, but I had a deep need to give in to impulse. To eat and feed myself seemed to have taken precedent. While I desired this freedom, I must admit the thought of losing control scared me. I hate losing control. I guess no one ever really has complete jurisdiction. If I were to commit suicide I might finally get complete control over my own life, right? It matters not how one dies – be it as noble as a soldier hit by an enemy bullet in battle or shameful as a junkie in the gutter, it just doesn’t matter. But I tried that once and failed miserably. I seem to be much better at surviving.
At a burst fire hydrant I dropped my clothes to my ankles. I got that buzz up the nape of my neck because I knew this was such a public display, or it would be had the public not been lying dead in the street. I let the foamy water spray into my face and run down my back until I was satisfied to have banished the stink. One glance at the rags I’d been wearing lying in a steaming bundle on the sidewalk indicated it was time for a new wardrobe. I crawled in and out of squats and shotgun shacks as if I were a haughty billionaire and I owned them all anyway. I entered through front doors, examined entire family’s-worth of corpses, plucking clothes I liked from washing lines. I trampled on bushes of vegetation and tenderly preened hedges under the wheels of my trolley cart on my way out of each yard. I stripped old alien women of their blouses and checked what it’s like underneath (it’s not that fascinating. If you’ve seen one of creatures nude you’ve seen ‘em all). I did the same to elderly men. I defecated in the middle of living rooms like an ill-trained dog.
I’d amassed quite a new collection. I took 3 pairs of acid-wash jeans, a pair of sneakers with a flame up the side, I got band shirts and designer polo necks, thick thermal stockings, and new blue coloured underwear. I stole some dresses, pretty frocks and pink panties, some huge 4 cupped bras to try out and a load of kids wear. I figured I might as well wear what I find most comfortable. Who’s going to judge me? You guys? I don’t really think you’re in that kind of position.
I peered down at my penis swaying in the wind. The false light of dawn cast a 5 o’clock shadow. It really felt like more of an inconvenience having it. I hated how it dangled so low, brushing my numb thigh when I walk. How the urge to fuck or touch myself stole my attention at least every 4 or 5 minutes.
A guy I used to talk to back in Phoenix told me a quite sensational story about his penis. He swore it was true story (as if there was such a thing). While getting a blowjob in the backseat of his secretary’s Lincoln, this guy claims that, mid act, a Coca Cola lorry rear-ended their car while it was sat in the parking lot. On impact, his secretary bit down so hard on his penis that she severed it from his body. The guy, whose name was Jeff or Jason or something yuppie like that, had to stumble around the lot looking for his own dick. When he found it he said it resembled a little chunk of pork. Apparently doctors re-attached it and added additional grafts of pig skin to enhance its girth. I don’t think I would’ve bothered with the corrective surgery. I could really use a girl like that secretary right now, would’ve killed two birds with one stone.
Night fell. In the absence of light the smog was practically invisible. Giant streetlights drew beams of light onto the decomposing bodies. I dreaded nightfall. At least I had my pick of shelter.
I wheeled into one with rotted plywood nailed over the front door because it gave me the impression of safety. Inside, I grabbed a blanket strewn across the sofa and huddle up tight into it. Across from where I was sitting there was a body half submerged in shadow. I could tell already that most of the flesh has completely rotted away so I had no desire to feed from him. There was a delicious hole in his stomach that bubbled blood like a foamy gorge, but no. My appetite had stalled rather suddenly. I wheeled over to the body – a young thing with no top on and some ridiculous self-inflicted tattoos all over him, tattoos of swastikas and one along his forearm that reads simply – SCUMFUK/CRIMSON SPHERE DIVISION. Half coming out of his pocket was a zip-lock baggie full of strange blue pills. The colours attracted me and I snatched out a handful and stuffed them in my mouth like M & M’s. They all stuck in my throat but there wass a can of something that I slug down and I felt each individual pill hit the bottom of my stomach. Nothing happened at first.
I woke up and my new jeans were sodden with my own urine. I’d thrown up the pills. Apparently my body can’t ingest narcotics like a normal person.
I saw a figure on the opposite side of the pavement outside. Immediately I sensed a familiarity about him. His jeans were tight and shredded at the knees, a carnation poking out the back pocket. He wore a flowery shirt open to a bare chest. He was tall and skinny but with a strong jaw and pronounced forehead. There was the slightest overbite ruining his handsomeness. He didn’t seem to need a mask to protect himself from the poisonous vapour that wiped out the town. I knew him. It can’t be, I thought. Is that…Morrissey?
– Ah, Billy…
Even though I was distrustful, my voice came out humbled.
– I’m glad I bumped into you actually.
– You are?
A street bulb shone right above like a spotlight, making deep dark caves of his eye sockets.
– Mm, see I’m trying to organise a relief gig for victims of the nuclear holocaust.
– Yes, Johnny and I have become quite the philanthropists.
– You have?
– You haven’t spoken to Johnny Marr since 1987.
– Oh, that frightful mess has long since blown over.
He stumbled over his own words. Something didn’t add up. I gave him a suspicious glare.
– But I’m confused.
– How so?
The wax clay used masterfully to shape his face was beginning to sweat from the bone.
– Morrissey would never organise a gig for victims of a fall-out. He’s too much of a loner to care.
– I’m vegetarian Billy.
– But you’ve always hated people.
I narrow my eyes and can see the guilt and fear in him. His cover’s blown.
– I thought you were a fan of mine Billy?
– I am. I love you.
– Then you’ll help me?
– I would but you’re not Morrissey.
– Excuse me?
I reversed my trolley and noticed that this was all a fraud. With a face of contempt, I moved a step closer to the charlatan masquerading as my idol.
– You should be ashamed of yourself.
He looked at me indifferently.
– What is it you want? Who are you?
Anger twists inside of me like I’ve been gored by a bull. My fingers started to twitch and I felt how long and lethal my claws had grown. The fake Morrissey had been drained of blood. He seemed afraid now.
– I’ll give you 2 seconds to get out of my sight.
He began to reply but I cut him off
– That’s 2 seconds more than I usually give.
Slowly, I turned my back to fake Morrissey. When I turned back to face him he’s gone.
On the horn of the mountain I saw activity. Helicopters were making landings and armoured tanks parked in a long row outside the HQ. I wondered how long it’d be before they nuke what’s left of the town.
I helped myself to the fridge contents of a single mother’s home. I made a sandwich. Most of her meat was still fresh – some of it looked human. I didn’t care. The salad in the crisper was starting to smell a bit though. Her mutant child was in the cot, blue and swollen up under a farmyard mobile. The mother was sitting up wearing a pink house-robe which had fallen open a little, exposing her left breast. The way she sat, the position she was in when she died, made her look almost alive. As if she might lift her head up any minute now. Like a zombie or something. I refused to eat the woman or her dead baby. For some reason that seemed distasteful. All around the room are packed suitcases bulging with stuff. In her hand was a note. I decide against reading it but an open window blows a gentle, dusty breeze that frees the note from her fingers, and flew into my hands. It read
– APPLICATION: CRIMSON SPHERE HOUSING POJECT – REJECTED
I switched on my overhead lamp and cast the light onto my nail collection. Vertical ridges showed through and I heard this could be a sign of a kidney disorder. The little plates all looked the same – thin, transparent, and uncut at the edge like the talons of a cave-dwelling beast. The undernourishment of nutrients like vitamin D and calcium in my diet were evident. I heard they kept growing even once they’re detached from the fingertip.
I got a Swiss army knife and start filing the nails into jagged shapes.
Pierre once claimed that in 1987 he walked into a Denver radio station and held the DJ at gunpoint, demanding he play nothing but The Smiths on rotation. He said they played 5 hours of constant Smiths songs until the cops arrived. Members of the radio staff were discovered rocking back and forth and weeping uncontrollably, such is the profound effect of The Smiths. Five hour consumption would make me go crazy with depression.
The town itself had begun to decay. It became like one of those ghost towns ravaged by asbestos and plumes of Agent Orange. From the centre I felt like I could almost see the planets history. Windswept sand was everywhere, glazing the pavements with sparkling particles. I imagined the main city would be much worse. The sheer scale of devastation there would be significantly greater – like a modern day Kowloon – you know that old walled-in city that neither the Brits nor the Chinese would take responsibility for? In the city, should some people have survived, it would still inevitably go to shit. The place would be lawless, more so than usual. Trash would mount high and whores and heroin and dog meat would flourish. At least the outskirts seemed relatively small scale. They seemed peaceful in a way, like a little mining town destined to be named as a World Heritage site in years to come. This town could well be preserved to show a more condensed image of the nuclear holocausts effect. I don’t know what it is but there’s something about a place frozen in time and disinherited of life that’s fascinating to me.
I was so hungry but I’d had an attack of conscience and struggled to come to terms with eating corpses. All the animals appeared to have evacuated the town entirely. I guess they sense these things better than humanoids do.
Feeling lonely and starving I entered detached homes, trying my best to locate an individual with substantial body fat on them. I eventually came across a huge creature lying on his back in the kitchen floor with his face eaten away by the toxins. I lay down beside him and threw one of his huge, meaty arms over me while nestling into the bulk of his torso. His excessively hairy knuckles and forearms didn’t bother me too much either. It had been days since I last slept. At least this way the nightmares were kept at bay. Huddled in a spoon position on the kitchen tiles, my eye lids grew heavier. The weight of sleep felt dangerous. I felt like I was succumbing to it. After so long staving it off, I just wanted to give in. I warmed my feet in the rolls of fat. I dug my toes deeper (were he alive this would’ve been very uncomfortable for the faceless fat organism) then buried my head under his armpit. He smelled of something stale. I drifted off, feeling nostalgic and safe.
I felt dazed, like I’ve just been clobbered over the head with a hardback edition of War and Peace. I stepped back outside and I’m struck by an incredible sense of de ja-vu. The houses in a row across the street look similar to the ones further up the road, because they ARE the same ones. Somehow I’ve gone in a circle. I’ve wound up back at the beginning. I travelled for what felt like miles, away from the Matterhorn, away from the town with only three stores, so how can I be back? I crawled back inside and looked around.
Both suns become insufferably hot all of a sudden. On the pavement I saw a cassette player. I picked it up, popped in the headphones and clicked the PLAY button. A frantic voice echoed through my head as the tape started –
THE SKY IS FIERCE RED. THE PICKET FENCES SURROUNDING ME SMELL OF WET PAINT AND THE FRONT YARDS ARE STREWN WITH KIDS, TOYS, AND BALDING GRASS. THE LITTER IS SWIRLING AROUND BECAUSE THE DEVIL WIND HAS RETURNED TO TAKE ME AWAY. IT HAS TO FINISH ITS BUSINESS. PLASTIC BAGS AND BRITTLE LEAVES EVERYWHERE, TRYING TO ENTER MY BODY, IN MY MOUTH, THROUGH MY EARS. CREATURES ARE SMASHING FOURESCENT LIGHTBULBS IN A PARKINGLOT. CRUMPLED NEWSPAPERS AND CANDY WRAPPERS RUSTLE BY AND THE NOISE SOUNDS HARSH. THE SMELL OF FIRECRACKERS RETURNS AND THE AIR SEEMS FILLED WITH DANGER. I CAN HEAR MUSIC COMING FROM A CAR STEREO – TWO ORGANISMS IN WHITE T-SHIRTS ARE LAUGHING AND PAINTING A WHITE STRIPE ALONG THE SIDE OF THEIR TRUCK. BOTH THEIR HEADS ARE SHAVEN BALD. I CAN SMELL THE MOUNTAIN BEER. THE SUN IS DYING, BURNING OUT FROM RED TO BROWN. THE TRASH IS STILL SWIRLING ABOVE MY HEAD. THE SHARP TASTE OF BLOOD IS DIFFICULT TO SWALLOW AND STICKS IN MY THROAT. MY EYES ARE GROWING HEAVY EVEN THOUGH I NEED TO BE ALERT. 5 MINUTES OUT HERE AND I’M ALREADY DRAINED. THE COLD RUNS THROUGH ME AND TICKLES MY SPINE LIKE A PERVERT TOUCHING YOUR KNEE. MY MOUTH IS DRY. I HAVE AN URGE FOR SOMETHING – MEAT.
The tape stops. I flip over the cassette and play the other side –
A FEMALE CREATURE ON HER PORCH CHASES ME WITH A BROOM HANDLE YELLING AT ME TO GET OUT OF HER GARBAGE. SOME BROKEN FENCE PANELS APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN KICKED IN BY HOOLIGANS. THE LEECHES ARE EVERYWHERE, STRUNG UP AND SOLD AS MEAT IN STALLS. HOW CAN THEY EAT SUCH A HIDEOUS THING? THEY ARE NO LESS HIDEOUS. THIS PLANET. THIS AWFUL PLANET…I SEE MY SHADOW UNDER THE STREETLAMP. DOGS BARK IN THE DISTANCE. I NEED TO SLEEP. I WANT TO GO HOME BUT I DON’T KNOW WHERE HOME IS. I’LL TRY RESTING IN AN AREA OUT OF VIEW. A PATCH OF DESERTED LAND, TYPICAL BOONDOCK TERRITORY WITH WAVING FERRNS IS THE BEST I CAN FIND. THERE’S A KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN BEHIND ME WHICH I SERIOUSLY CONSIDER ROBBING BEFORE SLEEP TIGHTENS ITS GRIP AROUND MY BRAIN SQUASHING ALL MY ENERGY OUT LIKE A SPONGE…
I saw a large crowd of zombified humanoids heading for the town. The suns were back with a vengeance, searing in bright contrast against the dark canvas. They were heading this way.
Where had they come from? How were they able to survive the fog? Were they undead rednecks? No. These creatures looked like a different species entirely.
A tall, brutish boy wearing a football jersey barged his way through the crowd, clutching a can of Raid for some reason. His features were classically jock – his nose squashed from repeated breaks on the field and his four eyes and four ears were swollen to twice their normal size. There was a zombie cheerleader beside him, but in her dead state seemed uninterested in the slobbering frat boy. I discovered that Zombie women are like cyborg woman (gynoids) – they can’t reproduce, don’t have any ambition, don’t worry about insensitivity, feminism or sexual convention, they have no morals or sense of individuality, they were designed specifically to remain servile to one male controller, they don’t care about looks or talent, they don’t think for themselves and don’t need to, they can be made and moulded to suit. The girl watched me through her patchwork of wasted skin. I couldn’t tell if she desired my flesh or my heart. Her Stepford wife stare led me to believe the former. But I was a cripple, who’d desire someone like me? There was nothing going on up there in that head that needed intimacy or anything other than food. But, if she didn’t think then she could be used as a sex object. I was drawn to her little fringe dress and the area of exposed thigh with a trickle of blood running down to her knee. Her burly ex-boyfriend could provide muscle.
Suddenly, I’d allocated all the zombies a role in my empire. These poor guys had such a horrific rep because of movies and comic books depicting them as brainless monsters. Granted they’d behaved as the stereotype predicted, but then everyone responds to the outside worlds preconceived notions of how they’re meant to behave. After all, we’re all sort of like vampires, we need to feed from each other to survive. It saves us feeding from ourselves. I knew I ought to quit daydreaming.
When I snapped back to attention I see that the zombie hoard had stopped advancing on me. The yellow smog remained in the air and the zombies dispersed, hobbling off in their own directions. I tried to gather them back up, crawling around madly, tugging at tattered shirts and trying to guide arms of green rigor that snapped off in my hands. I was left standing in the middle of the town, alone again. I screamed at the sky and punched myself in the face until my two front teeth fall out like red skittles. When I looked down at my hands the only blood I’m covered in is my own. My palms were streaked with it, my cloths stained and crusted. I swore I could hear one of them sniggering in the distance.
– WHERE ARE YOU ALL GOING, HUH? YOU GUYS ARE LEAVING ME TOO, IS THAT IT?
A heavy sense of loss overwhelmed me again. Normally, when life got me down like this, I lost my sexual appetite, but I think I needed something to take my mind away from the harsh nature of my reality.
I saw a woman’s corpse hunched against the side of a brick wall and went over to her. I could tell she was quite attractive and immediately found that a turn off. Her hair was braided and I could tell she wore a lot of make-up. I figured people who had to wear that much of a mask must be hiding something, more than just profound physical flaws. Like the man-made beeches of Dubai, she was beautiful but faked. For some reason she hadn’t been resurrected. However I was well aware that she could burst into life like the others at any given time. I slid my thick fingers into her top and searched for the breast. When my hand found the lip of her brassiere I cupped it and tweaked the nipple. I half considered masturbating over the woman but then I saw something that I found more astonishing. The sight of which erupted my back and neck in gooseflesh.
It was the kid. The ugly kid…