Monday, 5 December 2011

88) The Plague

    I sat down at my tiny breakfast nook in my tiny apartment with my bowl of Capt’n Crunch in rice milk and flicked on the little black and white television I have there. The morning news talking heads prattled on into comfortable noise and I dug into the treacherous meal. A successful breakfast of Capt’n Crunch requires that one take every jaw movement with mindfulness. It’s very zen that way. Several missteps in a row and their sugary deliciousness will rub your gums or pallet raw.
    It wasn’t until I’d nearly finished my bowl that I noticed the talking heads had been blathering about the same thing the whole time. It was a subtle change from the usual political debacles and local news interest. In their place were interviews with scientists, sanitation workers, and concerned citizens talking about cockroaches.
    Now I’m not a bugophobe, hell I’ll catch spiders and let them out my window with a reprimand, but I had a roach crawl between my legs one balmy summer and I loathe the things. I’m impressed with their survivability, but they’re so damn nasty.
    Since my cheep little TV only got one channel I clicked it off and ate the rest of my breakfast in uncomfortable silence, listening to myself think.
    Would I get that build out on time? Do I need groceries? Did I pay rent this month? I think I did…
    Later, out on the street and well on my way to work I noticed something strange. Every third or fourth person was walking in a daze with snot dripping out of their nose. With the first few people I thought it was allergies and that they were particularly uninterested in personal hygiene. It’s a big city so it’s not like I would point that out to strangers. But after the tenth person with gleaming clear snot coming out their nose I was concerned and began to walk with my arm over my nose. It wasn’t until I saw that every other person needed to blow their nose that I noticed this glazed over look in their eyes and a strangely erect posture like they were proud of their runny noses.
    I double timed it to work at that point and was careful to hide my skin under my shirt when opening doors. Safely inside the building I breathed a sigh of relief. At my desk I logged into my terminal. I had a project that was due before lunch so I jumped into it and ignored my usual loafing around news websites. I slipped on my headphones and rocked out to some tracks from the band CSS, a friend had sent me them. The music and the code shoved everything else in my head out into the aether. I was in a serious groove, it was my art, there’s a reason I’m paid the big bucks.
    I finished the code and passed it off to the Q&A for testing. I was on fire and there was another tasty project in my inbox. I jumped on it and was coding until well past 1pm. Lucky for me the tea cart lady was trollying by. I flagged her down and got myself a prawn sandwich, a bag of crisps, and a soda then I was quickly back into the world of semicolons and recursive functions as I shoveled fuel into my face.
    Time passed and I made a significant dent into the project, a controller driver for a class of medical equipment, dry, but a good challenge. The day came and went, but I didn’t really notice. 
    Close to the end of the work day someone touched me. The shock nearly set me into a fit. People at work know not to interrupt me without some warning. I turned around, ready to deal out some severe nerd rage, but it was my supervisors boss, Alice, a tough big city woman everyone knows not to mess with. I tamped down my anger and instantly noticed two things, one she was smiling like she was in love and two that she was still holding the naked skin on my arm.
    I deftly slid out of her grip and rolled back in my chair. Edged into my cubical I didn’t have space to run away, but it was instinctual.
    She said in the sweetest voice that was equally music to my ears and eerily out of character, “Hey, come on, you gotta check this out.” She took a step back and motioned for me to follow her.
    Instead of running like I should have I followed her to the full wall glass windows at the end of the floor. Usually it’s a meeting area but the chairs and tables had been moved out into the hallway or pushed against the wall. Everyone in the office was there in various states of undress cuddling on the floor or holding each other. It was too much for me but I couldn’t look away at the horror of their naked flesh, these previously sane people that I had shared polite office space with for the last five years. But now that whole pretense of boundaries and personal space was gone. I hadn’t noticed it before, but Alice hadn’t been wearing anything below her austere business jacket and she was a big woman.
    I slowly backed up into the hallway until I noticed what they were looking at. It was well pass sunset, but up in the sky a orange red and purple luminous trail of clouds was dancing in the sky. It started well behind the city’s skyline. It continued up and over us and I assumed it continued past the horizon behind us. My skin crawled as the clouds literally danced like spastics. These huge diffuse collections of water vapor, brightly colored against the black sky danced and twisted, betraying their size and all reasonable expectations.
    I stood there, rooted to the floor, my logical brain flip flopping. I sneezed and someone laughed. I wiped a trail of mucus from my nose and it felt really good. That ecstasy of slight friction continued to grow from my nose and face and spread out to my whole body until I was a warm sack of pleasure in a human form.
    I looked back out the window and the moving clouds echoed the waves of warmth in my body, here then there, wave after endless wave.
    Someone from on the floor reached up and held my hand and a bolt of pure white love shot through my arm and straight to my brain. I looked down and it was the normally be-speckled and aesthetically repulsive Barry from accounting. But now he was another divine human, another child of the goddess and pure. He was smiling and I knew exactly why. I crumpled down to the floor and embraced him.

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