The aroma of melted cheese, popping grease, and radiation filled the room. There is still about a minute left on the microwave as I peer inside to see my two pieces of pizza pulsating and sizzling with radiation. I hate cold pizza, in fact I don’t understand why people like it at all. It’s hard, chewy, dry and lacks flavor. Reheating pizza brings the flavor back from its hiding place. The cheese melts which brings the oil out, and everything becomes soft and gooey again.
As my microwave dings a piercing and bothersome five times to signal that the food is ready, my mouth begins to salivate, and my stomach gurgles and shifts. I walk up to the microwave to open it, and I am pleasantly greeted with the sound of sizzling mozzarella. As I glare at the pizza in its glory, sections of the white cheese are popping as the heat tries to escape. I grab the plate, which immediately burns my hands, and run to the table. I drop the plate prematurely because of the heat, and my fingers that were holding it start to gloss over.
The two pieces of pizza are waiting to be devoured. I should probably wait a minute for them to cool down so I don’t burn myself. But I can’t resist it. This is all the food I have, and I haven’t eaten since yesterday. Life as a college student is rough. I grab the first piece. It’s a little smaller than the other one. I take a large bite that ends up being about half of the piece. As soon as I break off that piece into my mouth, for a half second I am greeted with pure joy. I chew for a second to spread the taste to the far corners of my mouth. Then in an instant I am in agony, as I feel my tongue start to burn. I begin to swish the half chewed bits of pizza around my mouth so they don’t rest in one place long enough to do damage, and in doing so I breathe in and out heavily to try and cool down the food. Something I should have done before taking a bite. As the ground up glob cools down, I continue to chew, and then swallow. I let out a sigh of relief. “I never learn” I thought.
Thinking purely with my stomach, I take a large bite out of the piece again, and this time, the searing cheese and oil sizzle up to the gums behind my teeth. I chew lightly, because the heat is even too much for my teeth. I can feel it at the roots with every bite. And after I can’t take the heat in my mouth anymore, I prematurely swallow and feel the burn and scrapes of the parts I had yet to fully chew tear up my esophagus all the way down until it reaches my stomach.
In fear that I just did some pretty bad damage to my mouth and throat, I rush to the fridge to get some water to cool down. It’s ice cold, and it should be enough to put my mouth at ease. I grab a glass, and pour the water, and instantly the ice cold sensation is pleasing. My glass starts to condensate instantly because it is much warmer in the room than the top shelf of the refrigerator. I waste no time in taking a large gulp of water. I swish the soothing cold sensation around my mouth, through my teeth and over my gums. As I swallow, I taste a bit of blood. My mouth feels a little better, but as I begin to smooth my tongue around my gums, I can feel two blisters forming at the roof of my mouth.
I don’t want there to be puss accumulating in my mouth, so after a few moments of letting the blisters grow, I reach in my mouth with my fingers, and begin to rip the risen skin off. Pain shoots through my mouth and I let out an audible, yet unclear “Fuck!” You never realize how much skin is on your gums until you’re rolling the pieces you’ve ripped out into a little ball. It was easily the size of a quarter once I was finished. I took another swig of water, but this time, instead of soothing my mouth with its cold and inviting sensation, it burned my raw gums, in a way that was more painful that the pizza. I swig the water around my mouth anyways, through the pain, to make sure I cool everything down, and once I swallow it, I can feel my heartbeat in my mouth. Everything is throbbing, and uncomfortably smooth, yet I can’t shake the feeling of hunger once again. I walk over to the rest of my pizza, and I see no steam. And as I put my hand a few inches above it, I feel no heat rising. It’s cold all over again. I stand there for a second, my mouth pounding, and my gums oozing. “I should probably eat it like this” I thought. But I really hate when my pizza is cold. It’s hard, chewy, dry, and lacks flavor.
THE GIRL IN YOUR HEAD
You just coughed yourself awake from a dry throat. And as you scramble to check your phone to see the time, you know you’ve got to get up because of the bright beams of light shining through the cracks in your curtains. She’s on your mind. Suzie Montoya. Particularly her hair. God, has she got a magnificent mane. An abyss of black hair thats depths are as uncertain as your relationship. Suzie’s a Morena, which means she’s of darker skin. You’ve been practicing your Spanish vocabulary in hopes of impressing her. Right now you’re nothing more than a classmate to her, and your minimal conversations about the homework haven’t earned you the right to be anything else yet. But there’s room for improvement, and today you just might have a chance to elevate your status. You’ve got a big test coming up. And you plan to ask her to study with you. She loves math so you have to make sure you do too. Maybe bring something up about parabolas or something. You’ve had ample opportunities to have a real conversation with her and you’ve always wasted it. But this is it. This is God, The Force, the cosmic powers of the universe or whatever you believe in. This is without a doubt a sign. And when you get shy, you just gotta remember why you’re doing this: the mere thought of Suzie makes you feel like the steam rising from molten rock meeting water for the first time. She’s what you think of right before b—
“Didn't you know I was waiting on you?
Waiting on a dream that'll never come true
Didn't you know I was waiting on you?
My face turned to stone when I heard the news.”
Your alarm goes off, bumping out the loud drums and vibrating bass of Kanye West’s “Bad news."
Shit! You always forget to turn it off once you wake up. You get up from bed and drag your feet across the piercing cold wooden floor on the way to the bathroom to brush your teeth. You stop in front of the mirror door of your closet. Fuck! There’s a huge pimple right on your left cheekbone. It’s just a bump and the white part hasn’t surfaced yet. You put your index fingers on each side of the pimple and you squeeze with what to you feels like enough pressure to pop your eyes out of their socket. The pain that shoots through your face doesn’t stop there. It ripples through the rest of your body as you grind your teeth shut and let out a loud grunt. When your body settles down, you look back into the mirror. You not only didn’t pop the pimple, you managed to make it protrude even more than it did before. And now there is a layer of blood that has risen to just under the surface of your skin and it looks like you got hit in the face. Wonderful. The stubbornness of the pimple has discouraged you, but you move past it. When you see her, you’ll tell her you got into a skirmish with some guy at a bar. Yes! You’ll tell her before she even asks you what happened. And when you tell her, you’ll say “You should have seen the other guy.” You think that girls like that. You can recall a handful of movies in which the women fell for that line.
You walk into the bathroom, where the frozen marble floor makes the wooden one seem like summertime. You take the toothpaste out of the cupboard and you apply it to your toothbrush. You remember that your mother told you to get a new toothbrush because the bristles on this one were close to nonexistent. You look at them, notice the lack of integrity of the bristles, and you proceed to brush anyway. While brushing, you want to make sure you get that lingering “morning-breath” out of your mouth. Yesterday it was there all day, and you felt like the people you talked to could smell it; the staleness of a wet mouth closed for eight hours a night. Disgusting. It reminded you of that moldy smell that you get when you leave the lid on a half empty bottle of water for too long. You brush and brush until your teeth are so smooth that all you can do is continually rub your tongue over them. Then you get the mouthwash; the “Crest: Bad Breath Remover” that you bought just yesterday to try and fix your problem. You flip the top upside down and use it as a cup for the mouthwash. You fill it just above halfway. Head dipped back, you flush it down into your mouth. Swishing and swirling and purging the plaque and germs from your mouth. Afterwards, you spit the mouthwash down the drain, pose a smile and wink to your reflection in the mirror.
You’re feeling good now. Your handsome smile and fresh breath almost make up for the botched pimple incident. You turn around and grab your freshly washed towels, and place them on the counter. You start to undress. First your Star Wars pajama pants, then your plain white t-shirt that’s severely overdue for a wash. You ball all of these up and then you toss them to the corner of the bathroom. Oh wait. You may be handsome, but your naked reflection in the mirror reminds you that your body doesn’t share that same sentiment. No muscle definition and a tan line so fucked up that you start to question your ethnicity. You can’t do anything about the tan right now, but you get on the floor to do ten pushups. By the seventh one you can’t pull yourself up anymore, but your arms burn and that’s a good sign. You get up and walk into the shower. You turn the water handle to the far right until it won’t turn anymore. You love hot showers. They make you feel like Superman bathing under a yellow sun after being exposed to kryptonite. Plus you want to open up your pores to let any unwanted oil come to the surface so you can avoid another pimple. You jump in the shower and your skin sizzles as it adjusts to the weltering beams of water shooting out of the shower head. You exasperate a pleasing sigh as the warmth gives you life.
For a few minutes, you stand in the steaming water to warm up before you start to clean yourself and you start to think about how you’ll approach Suzie today. You’re aware of the California drought, but you also know the best ideas come in the shower. Hey Suzie! you scream aloud in the shower. Too much emotion. You gotta play it cool. Hey.. Suzie… You say in a long drawn out voice as you squint your eyes. Nope. Too ominous. With clouds of steam completely engulfing the bathroom, and the air getting thick, you get the perfect idea. The best way to start your conversation with Suzie. Hey. It’s simple, and to the point. She won’t suspect that you’re up to anything. IT’S PERFECT! You yell, as your voice echoes throughout the bathroom. You might even throw in a Those damn parabolas. Am I right? Which would be the perfect segue into asking her to study with you. Your mind drifts a bit as you start to think about what her personal life must be like. She’s so nice to you, and that’s the thing that you’re attracted to the most. Muy agradable. You imagine that outside of school she volunteers at homeless shelters where she listens attentively to all the old geezers telling their war stories. She probably wants to teach kids in underdeveloped countries or frequents support groups because she wants to help people. Damn it she’s just so nice.
No more time to waste, your skin is starting to resemble raw meat because of the hot water so you begin to clean yourself. As you scrub, you make sure you get all the vitals. Your armpits, in between your ass crack, your genitals and your face. Not necessarily in that order. As you reach your face you put a little extra soap on the towel and you scrape feverishly. No more fucking pimples. It burns worse that the hot water, but you just know that this’ll help get rid of the pimple. After that, you start to wash your hair. When you sleep, your thick nappy hair gets flattened and knotty, but the water loosens it up and gives you the opportunity to shape it into any way you want. You run your hands through your hair, making sure that all of it is covered in your Old Spice Swagger shampoo. Afterwards, you begin to wash the soap off of the rest of your body and hair quickly because the water is becoming unbearable.
You turn the faucet all the way to the left as the water ceases. Because of the extremely hot water you were just showering in, the natural cooler air instantly takes hold of you. As you open the shower curtains you can’t see but a few inches in front of you because of all of the steam that has accumulated. You aimlessly walk to the counter where you put the towel and you begin to dry yourself. You start from the bottom and then you work your way up. But you leave the face and your hair. You like to let your hair air dry and your face feels like it’s throbbing. But you don’t think much of it. Now that you’re dry, you open the door to the bathroom and all of the chilling air creeps into the bathroom. Your balls and penis instantly shrivel into their prepubescent era sizes. You walk out of the bathroom and turn toward your mirror door once again. Your hair is immaculate. All of the curls are perfectly round and they sit atop each other in rows. But your face. God dammit your face! Oh my--! Holy shit! You get closer to the mirror and notice that your face is red all over and is shiny in some spots like your cheek bones your chin and your forehead. You can feel that when you move your face that these places burn. If you open your mouth to speak or if you try to crack a smile your face tightens up as well. What’s Suzie going to think? Will she even notice? She’ll probably think you’re weird. Just tell her you pulled someone out of a flaming car right before it exploded. Chicks really dig heroism and explosions. Every movie ever proves that.
You look at your clock and its 8:53. You’ve got class with Suzie at 10:00 and you like to get to school a little early because if you cut it too close you get anxiety. “Early is on time and on time is late” you always say. Plus you can ask her about studying before class starts.
As you open your mirrored closet door you stand there for a few minutes trying to decide what to wear. You want to look good, but not too good. You remind yourself that you want to be discreet. You don’t want to make it obvious that you’re trying to get her attention. It’s going to be cold out so you grab your black leather jacket and throw it on the bed. That’s a good choice. It makes you look cool. It’ll compliment your fake explosion face. The only pair of shoes you have that go well with the leather jacket are your brown leather chukka boots. You’re gonna look like a biker. But hey, now you can add to the story and tell her you saw the explosion while riding your motorcycle. Shit that makes sense. Then you sift through your shirts. The only ones they thematically work with your outfit are a plain white t-shirt and a purple flannel. You choose the flannel because it’s a little on the chilly side today. Now for the jeans. Those are a no brainer. This is a big day for you and there’s no way you aren’t going to wear your lucky jeans. You wore these jeans when you got your driver’s license, when you got a B on your Geometry final (You still don’t know how that happened), when you almost got hit by a drunk driver (you were jay walking, you just tell people he was drunk) and most importantly, when Suzie first sat next to you in class. You go into your dresser and they are right at the top, half folded and half balled up. You pick them up, put them to your face and take a sniff. Your face wrinkles when you take in a smell that resembles spoiled milk and ball sack. When was the last time you washed these? “You aren’t supposed to wash jeans every time you do laundry”. Said your friend Jeff about two months ago. “It’s actually better for the jeans if you only wash them when needed.” Why the fuck did you listen to Jeff? You say to yourself. He’s never had a girlfriend and he doesn’t shower every day. “We’re in a drought, man! I’m just doing my part!” There’s no way you aren’t wearing these jeans. Musty or not. You’re insightful and resourceful so you run over to your backpack and take out your “Burberry Brit Rhythm” cologne. It has a woodsy aroma that you are confident will engulf the ball sack smell. You spray a good seven or eight times in and around the crevice parts of the jeans. You take another whiff but you still smell a hint of spoiled milk and you aren’t sure if it really still smells, or if the smell was so strong originally, that it is embedded into your nostrils. Fuck it. I’m wearing these jeans. You decide that you’ve sprayed enough because you don’t want to overdo it. If you smell like balls you smell like balls. It’s a price to pay for luck.
After you get completely dressed you go to put on your old spice deodorant, it’s the same scent as the shampoo that you put on. Continuity is important to you. You want to be consistent with your smells. You don’t want to come off as indecisive and unorganized. The only reason you where your “Burberry Brit” cologne is because it’s a complementary smell to the Old Spice Swagger. You look at yourself in the mirror once more. Your pimple has a layer of dried puss on it from when you tried to pop it. Your face is redder and shinier than when you first got out of the shower, and you probably smell like an old man that pissed himself. You look like a black zombie greaser, but a badass black zombie greaser. You look at the clock once more and it’s 9:02. You’ve gotta eat quickly and then get to school so you’ll have enough time to talk to Suzie.
As soon as you open the door of your room you smell the aroma of all of your favorite breakfast foods: Crispy bacon, eggs and OH! What’s that? French toast? Your stomach growls and your mouth waters as you rush down the hallway connecting your room to the living room and the kitchen. You hear bacon popping and when you turn the corner you see your mom cooking. Hey mom. Thanks for cooking breakfast for me. I really appreciate it. She takes her focus off of the popping bacon, squints her eyes and then looks you up and down. Boy, you look like shit. Your mouth drops and you stay silent. Who’s the girl? You don’t say anything. You can’t say anything. You’ve receded into a cloud of doubt because the one woman who will unconditionally love you just shit on your parade. Suzie’s going to laugh at me. She’s going to point and laugh so hard she’ll probably snort like a pig. God it’ll be cute th—Boy, grab some of this food before it gets cold. You may look like shit but I can’t have you feeling like it, too. You grab a plate and a hearty helping of bacon, eggs and French toast. The clock just turned over to 9:10, so you need to eat quickly. You eat the eggs first, then you focus on the bacon. You only eat in sections. You haven’t eaten multiple things at once since you were ten when the macaroni and cheese on your plate mixed with the Brussel sprouts and broccoli that you were trying not to eat. Plus eating in sections allows you to save the best for last. After you eat the bacon and eggs, you drown your French toast in Aunt JerMeemaw’s extra buttery maple syrup. At this point you’re eating syrup with French toast instead of the other way around. When the French toast is gone you scoop up the remaining syrup with your spoon and consume it just like you would with a dose of cough syrup.
Markus, don’t be mad. But I need to use the car today. Says your mother. You sit in silence. Shit, you say under your breath. These jeans were supposed to bring good luck today. She always seems to borrow the car when you’ve got something important to do. The last time she did you were stranded at school all day and you missed The Legend of Korra Finale, and you found out the big reveal that she was a lesbian at the end from everyone’s reactions on twitter and Instagram. That is not the type of mood you want to start the day off with. But what can you do? She’s your mother. She carried you for nine months that were probably filled with a roller coaster of emotions and weird cravings like Oreos and mayonnaise.
In the car there is silence. Mom turns off the loud and incoherent hip-hop and turns to her old school R&B where Earth Wind and Fire’s “Reasons” is playing. She thinks I don’t like this kind of music, but I do. She breaks the silence by asking how I am. I’m fine. With her eyes still fixed on the road, she turns the music all the way down. You never answered my question. Who’s the girl? I can see that you’ve put a lot of effort into your appearance today. The silence persists in the car, with the only noise being the helicopter like sound coming through the rolled down windows, and the clearing of my mom’s bronchial infected throat every few seconds. I can sit in silence all day, Markus. I just want to know what’s going on in your life. Mothers always know. And I guess I’m going to tell her. Why? Because I tell her everything. I told her when I lost my virginity to Renee and she didn’t even ask. And all she did was give me a high five and ask how many positions I tried. I do appreciate having a mother I can share that type of stuff with. She’s a girl in my class is all. She takes her head off of the road when we reach a red light. Be yourself. That’s the most important thing. I smile back at her and thank her for her guidance when she asks me So how’s Renee?God dammit she had to ruin the moment. Come on, mom. I don’t even talk to her anymore! She sighs and clears her throat. But she was such a nice girl She always does this. She doesn’t care about the relationship itself, just how Renee was so nice to her.
Mom, just because she was nice to you and asked how you were doing all the time doesn’t mean I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with her!
It should mean something when a woman cares about your mother.
So is that why you and my dad got divorced? I know you and my grandmother never liked each other.
My mother taps her fingers on the steering wheel and pauses for a second. Let’s not get into that right now. I look at her and see the droopiness in her face and the sadness in her eyes. I apologize, mom. But how you feel about Dad is how I feel about Renee. So can we both agree to just not talk about either anymore? The silence returns to the car and the only thing to be heard is the helicopter like sound coming through the rolled down windows and the clearing of my mom’s bronchial infected throat every few seconds. The emotionally weighted silence is going to kill me. So I reach over to the radio and turn the music back up. And all that’s heard throughout the car is Phillip Bailey’s angel like voice:
“Oooh! And- after the love game has been played
All our illusions were just a parade
And all the reasons start to fade.”
You get to school and your mom park the car in the drop off zone. You both get out of the car and she puckers her giant wet and pink lips for a kiss. You open one arm and put it around her back. Good luck. She says. You thank her and she gets into the car and drives off. It’s 9:45. You’re early enough to get your head into the game. Suzie’s picture perfect smile enters your mind. Que bonita. And in that moment you begin to build the rest of your lives together. It starts with the studying, and somehow it’s going great. Your jokes are hitting on all cylinders. And she looks up at you and squints her eyes and tilts her head ever so gently. These are what Jeff calls the “fuck me” eyes. “When she gives you the eyes, that’s how you know to make a move, dog.” Suddenly, it’s ten years later and you and Suzie are at the beach getting married under the sunset and she’s got a little baby bump. You fast forward thirty years and you’re both retired from fulfilling successful community jobs and now you’re vacationing in Venice sailing the canals, while the chubby Italian man steering the Gondola is serenading you both. You can’t help but look at her gracefully aged face and whisper to her “I love you.” The endless possibilities of how you’ll spend your lives begin to overwhelm you with happiness and you can’t help but smile ear to ear. But then you realize that you can’t recall a time that you’ve actually had a conversation with her. You may have uttered a faint and inaudible “Yeah” when she asks if you did the homework, but that was it. And now that you think of it, you can’t recall a time when you’ve said more than two words to her. It’s always “Yeah” or a head nod with a nerdy smile. Fuck. I’m so stupid. Your head starts to spiral into negativity and a knot has grown in your stomach and you feel like you have to take a shit. You don’t know a god damn thing about this girl. Only what you’ve made up in your head. What an idiot! What if she doesn’t like me? What if she’s a lesbian?
It’s 9:50 by the time you arrive to class and most of the class is empty, but there’s Suzie, sitting in her same seat. Third row back, four seats to the right. The one on her left is yours. You walk to your seat, staring at Suzie the whole time. She’s got on a thin light blue cardigan and her black hair is pulled back in a ponytail. On a gloomy day such as this, it almost looks like she’s glowing. As you walk to your seat the feeling of having to take a shit intensifies. You walk past her, and trip a little bit over her back pack.
Oh! I’m so sorry, are you alright?
Oh—uh it’s okay. You say under your breath.
You sit down and sigh a bit. You look over to her, and she’s already looking at you.
Oh my God! Your face! Are you okay, what happened to you? You were supposed to bring it up first, you idiot!
I uh—I… there was an explosion?
OH MY GOD! You were in an explosion? Did this just happen? Are you alright? Holy shit, chicks really do dig explosions.
Yeah, it just happened. It was crazy!
I was wondering what that smell was. It smelled like something was rotting, but I guess that’s just your burnt flesh! Why are you even here?! Here we go. This is when you get manly.
I came to ask you a question. As you say that, a guy you haven’t seen all semester sits to your left. He has a handle bar mustache and has sunglasses on despite being in doors. You give him a head nod as he gives you one back. The teacher also walks in and begins to write on the board the schedule for today. Oh, okay. What’s the question? Don’t be an idiot now, be straightforward and firm. We should study for the test together. You know. It—It’s better to study this kind of stuff in—in groups, you know? She smiles at you, squints her eyes and tilts her head a bit. Is she giving you the fuck me eyes?! The sunglasses in doors guy buds into your conversation. Hey, man did you say study for a test? When is it? I didn’t even know we had one haha. Well, you definitely didn’t plan for this. Before you can say anything, Suzie answers him! Yes, join us! Malcolm that’s a great idea! Malcolm. She just called you Malcolm. My fiancée just got back from Nigeria where he helped build a school for the underprivileged kids of the area, and guess what?! He’s a math teacher!! He’d be more than happy to help us study. Oh God. The feeling of having to take a shit is gone despite never having gone to the bathroom. All of the memories of the future that hasn’t happened yet instantly shatter in your mind. She has a fiancée. A fucking fiancée. And he sounds perfect. That’s what makes it worse. The sunglasses guy peaks over to Suzie and asks So what do you do for a living outside of work? You were supposed to ask that. Oh, I don’t work. My fiancée supports me, he says I should just focus on school. Wow! What a nice guy! You think you’re going to throw up. You try to tune the both of them out, the only thing you can focus on is the teacher and the board. He has written on the board that the test will focus solely on equations solving parabolas. This guy next to you with the handle bar mustache still hasn’t taken off his glasses. He blurts out to the two of you “Those damn parabola’s, am I right? Suzie bursts out into laughter and snorts like a little pig. This is honestly your fault. You were all heart and no logic. You’ve invested so much emotion and planning into this, that you didn’t even think of the possibility—no probability of her being in a relationship. You continue to sit there as the mustache asshole and Suzie are still laughing, and all you can think about is the Suzie that you had made up in your head.
A Broken translation from a non-human language.
“George! Do you see that?”
“That white dot. Coming from the asteroid belt. It’s moving. And there’s a glare coming from it.”
“I don’t se—Oh! Yeah. What is that?
“I don’t know, but you need to log it. We haven’t had a breach in over forty Tregs.
“I already scanned it, man. There’s no life coming from that thing.”
“I don’t care, it’s unauthorized. Nothing’s scheduled to be coming from the belt today. I know you’re new, and I know not much happens up here. But we’re the first line of defense in the whole solar system. Our job is important.”
“I scanned it for signals as well. It isn’t emitting anything.”
“Do you remember the asteroid rain on Skelulon a few years ago?”
“Well some lazy shlarp, who was pulling a night shift decided to play some damn Pizzack, instead of watching his zone, and he failed to warn Skelulon of the asteroids that got pulled into their atmosphere!
“Alright, alright. Don’t get your grumsh in a slix. I’m logging it.”
“Would you look at that…”
“It is.. it’s— tethered to something. It’s some kind of ship.”
“Let me guess. I’m logging that too?”
“You bet your schleem you are.”
“Alright. Logged at 36:79.” When can I take a break?”
“It can’t be... It is! It has to be!”
“It’s a Space Ghoul.”
“What are you saying?”
“Look, as it’s getting closer. Those dangling limbs. It has two arms and two legs.”
“Great. Awesome. Cool. Can I take a break or what? I’ve logged the shlarx and I’m starving. You seem to have a handle on this.”
“You’ve never heard of the Space Ghouls?”
“No, but I bet you’re going to t—
“I haven’t seen one since I was a fresh young umpatu. Just like you. They come pretty often, I suppose. Maybe even frequently. At least for the past sixty cycles or so. But I never tend to be on shift when they do. As far as we can tell, space ghouls come from a neighboring solar system.
“Thanks for the history lesson.”
“Sometimes they come alone. Sometimes in vessels. But they’ve never been alive when they arrive.”
“Do they ever have food when they arrive?”
“If you let me finish my damn story, I can get you something you’ve only ever dreamed of. Deal?”
“And what would that be?”
“Rumor has it that the ships of the space ghouls are full of powdered nutrients.”
“Do you think they have Dentrifice?!”
“Given the structure of their bodies, I would only assume so.”
“I’d do anything for some Dentrifice. Go ahead and finish your story, old man.”
“So legend has it that these space ghouls or whatever they’re known as before they die, just cant seem to advance their space exploration. We’ve all been there before. It’s not always bodies that come through either. Those are rare. Most of the time it’s just pieces of things. But so much of their failings end up here, floating though a solar system teeming with life forms that they could never have known were so close, and in death never will. It’s kind of somber, really. They just float by. Sometimes straight through the solar system. Sometimes they’ll fall into orbit.
“Well, if that’s the case, if all of that is true, why don’t we trace where their coming from? Send a message back so all of this can stop?
“They are so close to figuring it out for themselves. We can’t spoil it for them. No one helped us. Why should we help them?”
You sit there, in an old, peeling brown leather seat twice your size. You barely dangle off of the chair itself. Your body shakes. A woman, your mother, is across the room with tears building up in her eyes at the sight of you being upset. There is white everywhere. White jackets. White gloves. White beard on the doctor. You start to cry, and shake more feverishly. You’ve been here before but that memory only holds the feeling of fear, and pain, and confusion. Your mother’s tears come streaming down her face as well. Two nurses come over to hold you down. Every time you don’t think they will be able to. Every time they prove you wrong. The doctor says something to your mom, and she nods. Suddenly she wipes the tears from her face and smiles. You know it isn’t real, you can see the discomfort and feeling of helplessness built up in her low and droopy eyes. But her smile makes you happy anyway. The doctor who towers over everyone in the room, especially you, asks you hand or arm? You tell him that you want the hand. It never hurts as much as the arm. So he lifts it up and begins to sterilize it. The smell of rubbing alcohol and rubber fill your nose, somehow clearing the passages that were blocked by your crying. One of the nurse’s ties a tourniquet to your small, copious hand, making your turquoise blue veins protrude from your skin. The doctor with the white beard lifts up a syringe, full of clear liquid, with a butterfly needle attatched to it. He grabs your hand, and you begin to squirm, trying to evade his grasp, but the nurses tighten their hold on you, keeping you still. If you keep moving you will only make it harder for yourself said the doctor. Defeated, you rest your muscles and start to scream. If this is the only thing you can do to express your discontent then you’re going to roll with it. The doctor grabs your hand, fishes for a vein with the eye of the needle and then, poke.
The pain isn’t nearly as bad as you always make it up to be. You always forget the actual poke, but instead remember the horrific build up process instead. But it’s still pain. Something someone so young shouldn’t be subjected to. It’s a quick pinch and tear, then nothing, but you have to sell it. So you yelp and shed your exaggerated toddler tears, because these people in your mind are in the wrong, and they should feel bad for it. Even if it doesn’t hurt all that much, it’s still an unwanted intrusion. You can feel the needle, about two centimeters into your hand and vein, resting there. The liquid streaming into you, like a cold streak of water that you can feel from your hand all the way up your elbow.
The syringe is empty, and you take the needle out of your hand, and a pool of dark red blood comes rushing after it. You quickly grab the piece of gauze you’ve left out and wipe the blood away and apply pressure to the small, but open wound. After about a minute or so, you take a light brown stretchy Band-Aid and stick it onto the small puncture. You look at your hands. Scar tissue over every vein that glistens in the light. You rub your fingers over the discoloration. It protrudes from your skin and is a slightly darker hue than the rest of you. You use one vein so often that the act of a needle piercing through your skin bears no feeling to you, let alone pain. All of these years of needles have left you physically and mentally numb to the idea of pain and incursion. Maybe it’s because you do it yourself now. No doctors, no nurses, no crying mothers. It’s just you in a room with a needle and a vein.
All contents Copyright 2019 by Morgan Hampton. All rights reserved. All characters featured and the distinctive likeness thereof are trademarks of Morgan Hampton. The stories, characters, and events herein are fictional. Any similarities to persons living or dead are entirely coincidental.