Day 15

They didn’t stick around long enough to see what came out of those skin sacks nor did Amara waste anymore bullets. Instead that shifted and jumped until they landed in a line that was vibrating a lot slower than the rest. They could feel the deep extending pulse of the thing from far away and though none of them could explain why, the sound seemed that it made the right place to be there.

They appeared in an empty seven-eleven parking lot. The windows were dusty and there were trash tumbling across the parking lot in a dry wind. The gas pumps looked untouched and rusted. There was a single car parked at the pumps rumbling with the windows down. There was music that sounded like Led Zeppelin being played in a step down. The owner of the car was not in it.

“This place is trashed,” Liam sighed. “I would have been fired back in the day.”

“Maybe this is like the place we just left Amara said,” Pulling her gun.

“No,” Perdita took a step forward. “This feels different.”

The gas station door opened slowly and out stepped a man with a shaved head with a red cap turned backwards. He had a rolled up cigarette between his lips while smoke came out of the corner of his lips. He pulled up his pants as he scratched his boots over the sidewalk. There as bottle of Pepsi shoved in his side pocket and in his back was a folded porno mag. He was trying to pull open a bag of pork rinds.

“I want to go back,” Liam said. “This is worse.”

Amara holstered her gun and stepped forward with Perdita following her.

The man looked up from his bag to the two women coming toward him. His face was slack, and his eyes were dull. He continued to work the bag as they stopped in front of him and started to ask him questions.

“This place open,” Perdita asked.

“Course it is,” the man said.

“Do you live close by,” Amara asked.

“Close enough,” he mumbled.

“Is there a car dealership around,” Perdita asked.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged.

He was still working with the bag and Amara grabbed it from him, pulled it open and handed it back. He nodded more to himself, stuck his hand in the bag, and ate a rind. He chewed lazily and stared above their heads and took a deep breath. He cleared his throat looking content to be perched on the sidewalk eating one rind at a time until the bag was all gone.

Content wasn’t the word, Perdita thought.

“You feeling okay?” She asked.

“I am not feeling nothing,” he frowned. “You are feeling something?”

“Curious,” Perdita said walking closer to him.

He backed away.

“The hell does curious mean?” He asked his fingers covered in rind remains.

“I don’t think,” Amara started to say but Perdita interrupted her.

“Excited at something new,” Perdita said.

The man’s eyes grew wider, and he dropped the bag. It hit the ground and rolled to the side as the pork rinds fell out of the top. He took another step back and banged against the glass door. His hand went to the door handle.

“I don’t know,” he mumbled. “I don’t…”

Amara grabbed Perdita’s arm and pulled her back a bit while the man continued to say he didn’t know. They watched him as he rubbed his eyes and as he calmed down he looked down at the bag, picked it up, and began eating again while he shuffled to the car. They watched him get in and drive a slow twenty-five down the empty highway.

“What the fuck was that?” Liam asked.

“I’m not sure,” Amara said. “Let’s hope that others are more receptive.”

“To what,” Perdita asked. “Words?”

They walked along the road until they came to a sign with the name Greensville. It displayed a happy family of four at a picnic. There was salad, sandwiches, and the father had what looked like a beer in his hand.

WELCOME TO THE SAFEST TOWN IN THE COLONIES it said.

They walked a little while longer until they came upon a small town that was forty houses huddled around a few streets and stores. All of this was placed in the middle of a forest of trees that were bright green leaves that shuddered in the summer sun. Birds call out and the forest animal life seems to be bursting at the seams. Deer, squirrels, fox, and birds move between the trees without fear of the three of them.

“What the hell is this,” Liam asked. “It’s like fucking cartoon.”

“There are places where the animal life is friendly,” Amara said.

“But nothing is ever normal,” Liam said.

They walk into the town, and they noticed that all the shops were open with bored looking owners standing behind counters. There’s trash on the floor and in the streets. A few cars trundle by with brakes squeaking and fan belts squealing. The windows are dusty, and the trashcans are full.

“It’s like no one wants to do or fix anything,” Liam said.

“Or feel anything apparently,” Perdita said.

They picked a store that just said Blue’s Pants and Boots. Inside there were shelves with pants half folded and hanging off racks. There were boots that didn’t match or laying on the floor. The owner sighed when they came in and stood up from his chair but didn’t do anything else.

“How are you today,” Liam asked.

“What?” The man asked.

His button up shirt was crooked and untucked from his jeans that were stained with oil and some type of food.

“I said how are you today?” Liam repeated.

“I don’t know,” he said looking confused. “You are howing today?”

“What the fuck does that even mean,” Liam asked.

“What do you mean?” The man frowned.

“I am asking how you are,” Liam was halfway into the store.

Amara and Perdita had moved into the store and were watching.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” the man frowned deeper. “But stop asking that.”

“Why?” Liam got close to the man. “How are you?”

The man walked toward Liam and took a deep breath and his face turned red. His eyes looked surprised and angry. There was a hunger rising in the man that Amara didn’t like so she pulled her weapon, but the man didn’t stop walking.

“I think I’m fast,” he said. “I’m thinking fast and I’m moving fast.”

“You want to fucking hit me,” Liam shouted.

“Yeah,” the man said, and he smiled but it looked more like a scream.

“That’s called being angry,” Liam said. “You fucking bald moron.”

“Fucking bald moron,” the man repeated and wildly swung.

Liam had never been a fighter in his life, but this man had never even thought of striking someone until today, so he punched him in the face knocking him back onto the ground. The man laughed and raised back up with a bloody lip.

“What is this?” He shouted. “What am I doing?”

“I don’t know,” Liam said starting to get a little scared.

“Let’s keep at it,” the man said. “Let’s keep it at.”

“I’m going to shoot him if he comes at you,” Amara said.

The man came at him, and she sent a single bullet through his skull spraying the walls with his blood and brains. Liam screamed and covered his eyes. The man’s body walked forward a few steps with the fists swinging, but they stopped finally, and he fell over on top of a table full of unfolded jeans. His blood staining them dark red.

“We don’t talk about feeling,” Perdita said. “To anyone else.”

“Good idea,” Amara said.

“I knew this wasn’t fucking normal,” Liam said. “What the hell is this place?”

They walked along and watched the people as they moved along. They visited houses to find that most people were laying on their sides watching reruns or on their phones. No one ran, no one laughed, no one did anything other than that.

They walked around the town feeling bored until a large van pulled up with loud music blaring. A woman stepped out and Amara whistled letting them know she was wreathed in golden light. She had cut her mouth wide to that they could see all her teeth when she smiled. Before she made it to them, she had smiled, screamed, and howled. She danced to them as the music beat into the air. She even did a cartwheel.

“Welcome welcome welcome,” she said.

“Who are you?” Perdita asked.

“You and him and her,” she said. “I’m everyone and everything.”

“What’s wrong with everyone here,” Perdita asked.

“Nothing,” the woman said sixed times. “They’re fine now.”

“They’re nothings,” Liam said. “Empty.”

“I fixed them” she said tapping there heads. “Removed all that serotonin.”

“That’s impossible,” Perdita said. “The body makes it.”

The woman smiled and they could see that her teeth were sharp.

“We need it,” she said. “It’s all the rage.”

“We?” Perdita asked.

“Sure sure sure sure sure sure sure sure,” she sang. “Want to meet us?”

“Nah,” Liam said. “I got a bad feeling about this.”

The woman looked at him and frowned. “You feeling bad? I can fix that.”

“No thank you,” he said holding up his hands.

“I insist,” she said.

“I want to see,” Perdita said.

“This is fucked,” Amara said. “I’m going to have to shoot someone.”

“That’d be wild to see,” the woman said pulling the door open. “Get in.”

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