The New American Apocalypse, Pt. 3

(before we continue on our trek across modern apocalyptic America, I’d like to shamelessly plug No Grave, the second part in a book series I’m writing that you can now purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc…)

(The New American Apocalypse

Table of Contents: Part One; Part Two; Part Four; Part Five; Part Six; Part Seven; Part Eight; Part Nine; Part Ten; Part Eleven; Part Twelve; Part Thirteen; Part Fourteen; Part Fifteen; Part Sixteen;

Part Three:…)

 

I get off at my stop and make my way through deserted streets to my apartment.  People part their blinds to watch my progress, panicked eyes tracking me as I make my way to my front door.  Nobody steps outside.  I’ve never seen Queens so empty, not even in the pre-dawn darkness when all the bars have closed and everyone has crawled into bed.

The first thing I do is take a shower, possibly the longest one I’ve taken in my life.  It takes a while to wash off the fourteen-or-fifteen days of filth I accumulated during my blackout, and longer still to wipe clean the clinging sensation that the world is ending and the strange sense that I am, in part, responsible.  That my hands are dirty with more than just ink and mud and whatever else I’ve scraped off the world for the past two weeks.

Then I throw out my clothes (there’s no way to save them, now, no, they’ve been too long bathed in my excretions and given to the filth of the Earth) and put on something sensible but also (hopefully) attractive.  Sturdy boots, flexible jeans, and a plain gray t-shirt.  Not ideal for the baking summer sun, of course, but sturdy and reliable.

Next stop: gathering forces.  My friends have dealt with such Evils and Darknesses, before, and though I’ve usually served in the role of the scribe, accounting for events and writing them down as the bards of old might’ve done if they’d had amphetamines and whiskey and a smartphone and a handheld voice recorder, I get the sense that I’m playing much more of a leadership role in the new apocalypse.  To my great dismay.  So I pull myself up by my boot straps and start packing a man-bag.  A phial of powerful pills, a 24oz water bottle full of water, another 24oz bottle full of whiskey, a notebook, two pencils, two pens, a knife (the only actual weapon in my possession), my wallet, and a Ziploc full of multi-vitamins.  Yes, multi-vitamins.  That is not an euphemism.

I set out on foot, having, as I  mentioned, no other choice.  The atmosphere is heavy around me, yes, heavy with dread and fear.  Last week’s newspapers blow around like tumbleweeds and I catch a headline off of one: WAR IN THE MIDWEST.  For a second I don’t believe my eyes (surely they mean “the Middle East?”) but no, there it is, clear as day, in big, bold, Front Page lettering.  I pick up my pace, knowing things have just gotten much more serious.

Already I wish I had more room in my bag for additional whiskey.  Will there be liquor stores in the new apocalypse?  Will there be bars?

My first stop is to a female friend’s apartment, by name of Anna Bradbury (no relation, insofar as I know).  As I approach, I notice all her windows have been boarded shut and someone has constructed a barrier of furniture and barbed wire in front of the door.  It seems the spare key will not be terribly useful.

I buzz her apartment and wait, not sure what else I should do.  Time passes, and so I buzz, again.  More time passes, et cetera.  Eventually I find myself leaning against the buzzer, applying constant pressure.

Finally, she answers: “GET AWAY FROM THE BUZZER BEFORE I BLOW YOU TO PIECES YOU LITTLE SHIT!”

Not exactly the warm welcome I had hoped for.

“It’s me!” I yell back.

Something moves behind her door.  I hear more furniture scraping against tiled floor, the rattle of chains being undone, the clack of bolts being opened, and the tick of small locks.  The door opens and I see the top of her head over the defensive barrier, a flash of dyed silver with mouse-colored roots.  A small passage opens at the base of the barrier, just large enough to squeeze through on my belly.  “Hurry up,” she says.

So I do.  I pass my bag through, first, and slide my own way in after she’s taken it.

“What’s up with the Great Wall?” I ask.

“Get inside, quick.”

She claps the barricade entry shut  and ushers me into the apartment, closing the door behind us.  She has a shotgun and four knives.  I don’t question this fact: it seems like a good time to be armed.  I watch as she hooks chains up along the door’s width and seals it with four deadbolts.  A secondary barrier made of desks and antique chairs blocks the foyer, which requires another feat of maneuvering and agility to navigate after she’s done.

“So, uh…what’s up with the Great Wall?” I repeat, hoping she’ll chuckle at my incisive humor.

She doesn’t.  “Where have you been?”

“I dunno.”

“You asshole.”

“No, I mean it, I don’t know.  I’ve been out for two weeks, give or take, and have no memory of anything.  I like to think of it as romantic, like pulp fiction amnesia, but mostly it’s been problematic, as the Apocalypse seems to have kicked off without me.”

“It’s full-scale evil,” she replies, and when she speaks I realize we are in near-darkness, with only one pale light bulb buzzing in her whole apartment and the rest lit by candles.  “A Lovecraft-scale emergency.”

“It’s dark in here.”

“It’s dark everywhere.”

“I meant literally.”

“I had to turn off all the lights.  And my phone.”

What she tells me next harrows me: she had to turn off her cellphone and disconnect her laptop because they were coming for her.  It started a week and a half ago with full Twitter outrage, a sudden tsunami of bile-spewing tweeters (or Twitterers or whatever) flooding the internet with viscous hatred.  It only escalated from there.

They’d sent her a thousand Snapchat dick pics and then someone had dug up her private number and started texting them.  The texts became so constant she couldn’t even answer a phone call from one of her fellow Fighters of Evil, so constant she couldn’t even touch her screen without summoning a veiny, baby’s-arm-sized cock.  So she turned off her phone…and they started to come through her computer screen.  Her laptop bulged with penises and hands and dark, angry-browed faces, all of them pressed against the screen trying to birth themselves into the physical world.  They tried to crawl out and rape her and kill her in ways too vile to describe and then rape her again in the eyes afterward.  One of them got a hand through before she pulled the plug and now the severed appendage twitches and spurts blood on her floor, somehow still bleeding even as I sit there listening.

She tells me there’s a cult, worshipers of the Great Phallus M’Ra who hunt women down across the country in great, violent mobs.  By the time I showed up on her doorstep (given, that is five minutes before she tells me the tale), they’d already hit Jezebel headquarters and left a trail of butchered corpses in their neckbearded wake.

That’s why she’s carrying a shotgun and four knives.  That’s why her doors and windows are barricaded shut and all the lights are off.

“But you fought Evil, before!  I know!  I wrote about it!” I wave my hands to emphasize the point.

“This is too big for us,” she replies, shaking her head, “it’s too big for anyone.”

I stare at her, slackjawed.

How has this happened?  How has this been allowed to happen?  This isn’t the world I know, certainly not the America I know.  Certainly not.  And even Anna Bradbury, heroic Fighter of Evil and icon of many of my tales, seems disheartened?  Has she given up!?  This is the work of something vile, vile, vile–yes, this is a Lovecraft-scale emergency!  Some dark, foul thing has awoken, I’m sure of it, some abysmal creature that has spent the last two decades chewing at the broken, desiccated heart of our country, growing strong on all our despair and insecurity and secret secret hatreds…

“No, no!” I declare, grabbing up my bag, “I know just the thing!  You can’t be hopeless, not you!”

I fish out the whiskey, a strong enough magic to get the fire coursing through anyone’s veins.  “Drink this,” I prescribe, handing her the bottle, “drink this potion and we’ll have you back on your feet and doing battle in no time!”

I pray I am right, because I have already seen and heard too much to do it alone.

And, I might mention, I am something of a coward.

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thesrhughes

I'm a writer of horror, dark sci-fi, and dark fantasy.