Death is not an easy thing, I think, and I know a few things about death, don’t I? But this, this horror is beyond the pale.
I find you beside the interstate, still clutching the wheel, as if somehow even in death you would keep going. But there is no ‘keep going’. For you there is nothing. Deathly gray, covered by oozing lesions, and sweat soaked with our own blood and urine, you sit there still and google-eyed.
In the passenger seat is evidence of another rider, a woman, perhaps your wife. She is, no doubt, one of those who insists on being made-up, even on the road. And there is evidence of it on the cup. Behind her are two child car seats and related flotsam strewn throughout the car. But the wife and kiddies are missing. They have, no doubt, run off to escape this terrible thing. They may have even left you to face your last minutes of life alone, abandoned except for the terrible thing growing inside you.
And what is growing inside you, I could see it almost as clearly as my own reflection in the mirror. It has yet to burrow through to the surface, but it won’t be long. I wonder if I should wait to greet it as a fellow death-bringer, or take the wiser course, which would be to leave before I, too, became infected.
I think I might wait, just a while, to see what happens. After all, it isn’t often I have the opportunity to see that which might mean the end of all, birthed. And by the end, I mean the end of the end. How fortunate it would be to see this first hand.
But how could I be so fortunate? I would have never expected it. After all, although I am very good at what I do, I can’t say that it has brought any particular praise from the public sector. I admit that there are those who have voiced a certain admiration for the planning and surgical precision of my work, but if I had earned some special affection in the hearts of my admirers, how is it that I am walking along the interstate with only the clothes on my back and a few dollars to my name?
Well, that doesn’t really matter now, does it? We are where we land and we’d best make the best of it. And where I’ve landed there is—oh, what’s that coming. In the distance, a police car, so I think I’ll just move off the road for a bit. I’ll let him deal with it. That should be fun to watch.
The state patrol vehicle pulls up behind your car. The man is big, tall and probably pushing two-fifty. With all his gear on he looks even heavier. He approaches your door. He taps on the window, then looks more closely. He steps back and I can clearly see the look of horror and disgust on his face. I wonder, have the police been warned that people are dying from this? That would be awkward. If so, it doesn’t appear that word got down to this man, because he walks around to the passenger door to peer inside.
If he had just backed off, gone to his car to call dispatch, and report what he had seen, things might have gone differently. Instead, he climbs into the passenger side to look the guy over and maybe get some an idea of who might have been with him. That’s all it takes to lure the thing out. It is still growing and it is hungry.
I watch intently, even moving a little closer to get a better look. I know that this is unwise, because if I was identified, my knife would be no match for his pistol. But I’m not concerned. I don’t think that this officer will be any threat to me. Not today. Not ever.
The man screams—a delightful and terrible scream. No, it not just a scream, a horrible gurgling fear-filled shriek. The car shakes as the officer tries to pull loose, to escape, but it is too late. The thing, the fellow death-bringer, has burst forth from with you, tearing through your abdomen and chest. It burrows deep into the officer’s chest. Blood covers the windows, making it impossible to see.
After a few minutes, the car no longer shakes. It is feeding, gathering its strength. I move even closer, for a better look. I think to myself, hardly an efficient way to kill. I can empathize with the violence, but it is far too messy and wasteful. On the other hand, it is only just born.
I am now standing beside the passenger door watching it as it feasts on the officer’s bones. I recognize it at once, it is like a child—small naked and hairless. But the eyes, the eyes betray a noble intent. The teeth are like razors and the hands like claws.
Oh, I think, you are a darling demon. You are what has been promised to me, what I’ve been waiting for. We shall make a wonderful team, you and I. It is no threat to me now. Its hunger is sated, for the moment. And there is a whole world to know the pleasure of pain in. And you, my little one, will I teach to be the great hunter. And together we shall usher in the end of the end, together.
Glorious, how glorious! But there is a greater revelation yet to come! The beast stares upwards into the sky and I realize that he is but the first. For from the sky like a cloud, bursting with rain come tiny parachutes, lighter than air, much like a dandelion’s plumed seed. From the cloud above floats down new life—and death. By the hundreds of thousands they come, enough to blot out the sun.
I open my arms and cry, welcome! I have taken so many lives, I think, but nothing like this. I offer my flesh to these, the rightful inheritors of the world of men. I only ask that I may live to join the terrible crusade against the horror that is man!
And I look into the first one’s eyes and understand, that the end of the end is now.
©Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh