We buried it behind the furnace and now it's really angry.
Last night, I asked Sarah to make sure it hadn't escaped but she couldn't move. She was too scared. She takes sleeping pills. Little red sleeping pills. She talks in her sleep. Just letters, really, that stick to the pillow and the corners of her mouth.
Mrs Clemens in room 408 was thrown down the elevator shaft last week. There are no leads.
Things have really started to fall apart since the news reports flooded in. A gentleman in Cambridge contracted the Sin Nombre virus last week. A young female graduate was kidnapped by a man in a red ski-mask. He drove his victim to a secluded location, coughed on her, and let her go. She died three days later. She had Lassa fever. A family of three were found dead in their home. A biochemist, a photojournalist and their thirteen year old daughter. Neighbours complained of mail left uncollected. Television sets blaring at ungodly hours. Funny smells. Traces of the Marburg virus, the Nipah virus and the Hendra virus were found in their systems.
Police are dusting for prints.
Sarah heard a news broadcast about nuclear war this morning. The television man in the thick woolen suit told her that scientists from around the globe were speculating on possible outcomes of such an event. There was mention of a possible nuclear attack on London and Bristol. No one seems quite sure why Bristol would be targeted for attack but Sarah was assured that all sources are in the process of being verified.
The broadcast was less concerned with the initial bombardments as it was with the after-effects. Sarah has since started keeping water in pots and bowls and will only buy food that has a shelf-life of more than five years. She tells me that for three days and three nights following the blast, radioactive particles will rain down in a radius several hundred kilometers around the impact sites. She tells me that we would be better off staying inside for anywhere up to a year. She tells me to buy a thick woolen suit.
I tell her that there is cyanide in apple pips.
She dreams about nuclear winter, about the storms and hurricanes that are sure to ravage coastal areas. She mumbles aloud the case-markings from warheads and defense consoles. I have come to understand that X41-7U holds her as she sleeps.
That morning I fuck her on the mattress she has leant up against the inside of our front door.
There will be huge outbreaks of disease. The radioactivity will speed up the mutation rate of viruses and bacteria in the dead bodies left strewn and twisted along the streets and canals. This much is certain.
We have sex beside the elevator for the second time that month. Our landlord watches us from his apartment.
I wake hours before I need to and walk down to the furnace. There, amongst the baby clothes and rattles, I find a small tooth.
I read in the paper that a fetus develops fingerprints at eighteen weeks. Just below it, in a small article that Sarah has spilt coffee on, I read that some ribbon worms will eat themselves when unable to find any other food.
Something crawls around in the loft space once the lights are turned out. Sarah says that she hears it scuttling back and forth behind the wall in the bathroom whenever she cries. I tell her that this is nothing but ridiculous urban paranoia.
For six days running I fail to read the entries in her journal.
At work, I sit and stare at my monitor and try not to blink. A woman called me today asking if I knew where she could find her son. He had gone missing a month earlier, she said, and his whereabouts were a mystery to us all. She advised me that any information regarding his disappearance should be lodged before the first of the month. She failed to tell me which month and I neglected to ask. Once she had hung up I wrote three words in red ink on the underside of my desk.
Upon returning home, I made a point of explaining to Sarah that she should use white tape, not black, to cover the windows. She ran into the bathroom and stayed there all night.
I spend more and more time by the furnace. The shovel is still resting against the lost property cabinet. Tiny droplets of blood have turned brown on the cement. I pretend not to hear Sarah crying from upstairs and I also pretend not to hear something moving behind me in the dark.
At night I roll away from her and watch the rain drag itself down the window. I find blunt razors in the waste basket. I sleepwalk through the kitchen. I drop cutlery and plates. She leaves lipstick on my neck that I scrub and scratch at for hours. I consider surgery. I want to tear my face off and burn it and watch the flames reach upward, and the smoke roll from the ceiling until all the alarms in the building are raised and people run screaming from their rooms and down fire escapes and out into the cold blue sunrise.
I want I want I
Sar1ah whispers something I don't catch right awayn.
There is an office party scheduled for the sixteenth. I ask Sarah if she would like to go but she can't hear me anymore. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that the woman who I find sleeping naked in the bath isn't Sarah at al l. Her hair has changed and her lips don’t move when shee speaks. I stop people on their way home and try to tell them this but they pass through me like ghosts.
The walls are very thin here and I could break though them if I wasn't tied up. If I wasn't tied up I could kiss her above the part in her fringe and
yesterday on the way to work I stroll with my hands locked behind me and nod and smile and don't think about what might be crawling and screaming if I ever opened that door. ksd skshe kissed me goodinght before she disappeared and I woke to find an envelope and a glass of water where she should have been.
Whatever paperwork I might have done has been handed down through the ducts n dt ddndand piping and falls like a dead leaf in autumn o
nly white and when the sun hits it will reflect the rays better ,tt than blac k ever could. . I dra
I drag all the linen and pillows and cosmetics and food and reminders
and magnets to the furnace. I burn and shovel and burn and and clean the black stuff from under my fingernails. Pe ople lea n sideways and look so I nod and smilesmile
Last night I sang myself to sleep. From down there, underneath, I could hear all the people who were trapped in the walls. All the dead and dying. I could hear words pressed against glass, sweating and streaking and running like wet ink. Words seeping under doorways. Words trapped in ice. In ccocktail glasses. Words caught behind teeth, hanging in the air. Words lost at sea. Words stapled to telephone poles. Monochromatic apology notes. Tidalll waves and earthquakes. Famine and disease. Hunger and loss.
Long before the sunset.
I touched her back and she turned until her hair covered everything and I drowned in the room around her.
And she and I and Anna fell asleep to a song of waves and traffic.