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By: Andrew Dunn
Faster faster we need another master. Slide the abacus bead over and carry the one then slide a finger across the
screen and compare encyclopedia A with encyclopedia B. Choosier moms choose brand A over brand B in national taste tests. Mom called, she said your cousin Sam was into the bath salts again, at least that’s what your uncle told her. Don’t you remember your cousin Sam anymore?
Sucker for temptation. So many temptations, papa was a rolling stone where ever he laid his hat was his home and when he died? Never getting laid but always wanting to by one of those temptations in the dairy section wondering if the frozen temptations on sale would make their rear ends look big.
Ring around the rosie a pocket full of posies. You can’t get penicillin over the counter and you can’t get it from behind
the counter anymore. Not after it grew in the culture. In the penicillin cultures and a hundred others they handed out like candy after it began. To try and make everybody feel better but not to heal. Then it seeped into the social culture.
Yellow cake used to be right there on aisle 4 where all the shelves are empty always. Aisle 1 and 2 and so on and every shelf is bare. The authorities talked about using yellowcake uranium against it. Milling it and refining it and making it so they could spray it like a cloud. There used to be clouds.
Ashes ashes we all fall down. Mom called and said your cousin “what was his name?” was into the bath salts and
they had made him do horrible things. Everybody was doing horrible things. Roaming all creation in swarms looking to
spread it around because Earth was their nest and they wanted everybody to be part of their hive. Even those scared eyes peering out behind the blinds from the second-story bedroom.
All those buy one get one free temptations didn’t make her rear end look big and even if they had it wouldn’t have
mattered. She laid her hat down one afternoon after she said she had spent three days trying to stay one step ahead of the swarm and there was plenty of room upstairs. There was still nogetting laid but always wanting to while she was there. Those horrible things could smell human sex.
Faster faster we need another master. Slide down the embankment behind the school and carry each other with
encouragement up the other side and compare option A versus option B with no time to choose either. Mom called, she wanted to know what you were running away from when everything was just fine, except you. Sam had come by and told her so. Don’t you remember your cousin Sam anymore?
“Mom I thought Sam was doing horrible things?”
Mom had taken the penicillin from day one. When that ran out she took everything else the authorities handed out. Mom followed their instructions to the letter and let the clouds blow through her apartment because the authorities told her they had to kill the Optodom infestation and that the clouds would kill the Optodom better than anything else. Her voice sounded like Mom’s when she called but it had been a sucker move to pretend that the low hum when she wasn’t talking was electronic noise or a bad connection. The hive hummed low.
Ring around the rosie a pocket full of posies. In Sunday school they taught how Herod’s daughter demanded John’s head on a platter and Salome got it delivered to her too. Were you John in blue jeans and a t-shirt or just some scared to death teenager? Did it matter? Someone wanted your head delivered to the hive.
Some were born with natural immunity to the Optodom. Nobody knew why. The human species was coded to accept it integrate it and become it. They never should have had to turn it into a cloud they pretended was yellowcake to make sure it diseased even the most hardened immunities but even that wasn’t enough to infect everyone. The only real weapon the immune had against the swarm was each other.
Ashes ashes we all fall down. The brush along I-40 was dense and hard to move through. She led the way and it was hard not to want to get laid with her especially when you’d never been with a woman other than the ones in dad’s magazines and that girl at school that let you feel and touch but nothing else. She was tempting like Salome was to Herod when she danced the seven veils. No wonder he gave her the head of John the Baptist. Was she someone’s Salome and if she was who was she taking us to? Or was she just dirty blonde and brown eyes and a tank top and a tan and her sex the warm summer air carried straight into the soul.
Yellow-green puffed up from the carpet of the yellowcake-stained motel. Mom called and said your cousin Sam was staying in a motel now, trying to get his life together and won’t youcome see him he’s been asking for you lately. No, you didn’t remember Sam. Ever. In sixteen years there had never been acousin Sam. Never. Was she calling to ramble on and on about Sam or was she watching and somebody else was listening in and you were codenamed Sam and now the swarm knew you were staying in a motel off Exit 41.
Faster faster we need another master. We’d be on the run again soon but we could rest in the motel and if the water
still worked we could splash it on our faces and smear the grit off our fingers. As long as they didn’t show up we could stay in Room 27 and eat whatever was left in the diner downstairs. We could lay down our hat and call it home at least for a little while. It was tempting.
She was more tempting than ever as the room turned into the color of sunset. She danced the seven veils and didn’t laugh or turn away when it was awkward for a guy that had never been with a woman before. She didn’t mind how quick it was over the first time then she helped make it better the next time and the times after that. When we finally slept it was late and quiet outside.
Ring around the rosie a pocket full of posies. Dad used to pick up his master at the liquor store most nights until it
drove him and mom apart. Before the Optodom they had talked about getting back together if not for each other for their kid. Our master was to always stay ahead of the swarm. It wasn’t the kind of master anyone wanted but we don’t always get to pick our masters in life.
With any luck there would be a kid on the way after we’d slept together. There had to be more of us immunes to outnumber the swarm if we wanted any chance at all of saving our species. If we could make it to Gresham we might be able to find a doctor that could tell us for sure. Gresham was supposed to be a safe zone. If we could make it there we’d be free and we’d never be alone again.