Balloon Man

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Chapter 18

Remy lay in his bed and slowly opened his eyes. A wave of dizziness hit him and he nearly puked. His head felt like it was exploding every time he moved a little, even if it was simply opening his eyes. His head would bang and explode so he could only lay still and breathe shallow. As he inhaled, he smelled a stench that made him nauseous again, falling in and out of consciousness.

The day turned into evening, and the evening brought darkness. Remy was awake again and aware of the dark. The sickening smell overpowered every breath, so he tried to take shallow breaths so the stench wasn’t as strong.

Remy heard a noise sort of like an airplane in the sky. He heard crickets and night bugs of various types. The sound of the roaring engine grew louder. “Is that an airplane by my window?”

Remy fell unconscious again.

Morning came and so did the swamp humidity. Everything steamed as if cooking in a big crawfish pot.

Remy lay there, fighting off the pain in his head. He forced his hand to move and touched his head. A shudder of fear made him shiver when his fingers touched an open area on his skull. He could put two fingers inside the gash.

Remy felt something on his face, and it didn’t take long to realize it was flies. The disgusting feeling was too much to take.

“What is wrong with my head?” Remy thought in half conscious state.

He wanted to look in the mirror and see, but his body refused to move. Forcing himself to fully wake up, Remy tried to sit, ignoring the waves of dizziness.

He tried to just open his eyes and wasn’t sure if he succeeded. It was so dark he couldn’t tell. Touching his face again, Remy felt more sticky blood and realized his eyes were sealed shut from dried blood.

Remy tried to regain his senses. He knew he had to make the effort to get up because nobody would be coming help him. The thought made him sad and his eyes teared up. The warm liquid loosened the stuck eyelids. Remy was able to open his eyes.

He grabbed his head as pain seared through it. Every movement caused more intense pain. He could still hear the buzzing of an airplane, low and unchanging. He looked from side to side without moving his head, making out what looked like a person in the bed next to his.

The sheet was all brown, and on the other side of him, he just saw sheets. He scanned the rest of the room. Remy was able to see what appeared to be everyone in bed, not moving, and brown looking sheets.

Remy tried talking to his roommate on the left. “What happened?”

No answer.

Remy turned to the right and spoke a little louder. “Hey! What happened?”

Still no answer.

Remy forced himself upright, ignoring the intense pain. Once on his feet, a wave of nausea hit him and he vomited all over the floor.

Remy didn’t care. He focused all his concentration on putting one foot in front of the other. He had to escape!

Remy made it to the doorway. Turning around to see the whole room, he noticed a swarm of flies covered the faces and pillows of his roommates.

“It wasn’t an airplane,” Remy whimpered.

Holding onto the walls, he made his way out to the hallway, stopping at the top of the stairs to listen. Remy heard nothing but the same buzzing noise of the flies in the bedroom. No usual morning sounds of pots, pans, or water running. No Jo Bob singing the Atchafalaya Crawfish song while he hammered a nail or fixed a chair. No Elaine or Alma telling Jo Bob why he needed to get a new dishwasher that worked because the old one needed to be run twice to get the dishes clean.

Creeping down the stairs one by one, Remy’s heart pounded in his small chest. A few steps away from the bottom, he noticed a set of legs. Bracing himself for the worst, Remy continued down the steps and over to the body on the floor.

Shocked by seeing Jo Bob’s dead body with a mass of flies wriggling on his face, Remy gasped, clamping his hand over his mouth to stifle a scream.

He stumbled past the body to the front door. Remy wanted to run but couldn’t. Instead, he walked down the driveway to the road. The fresh air helped him a little, even though his head still hurt. Adrenaline took over and gave him the stamina to move and he quickened his pace. His thoughts turned to getting on the side of the road into the bushes just in case the person who killed Jo Bob was still around.

Remy stayed far enough in the bushes so he could peek out without being seen. A few minutes later he heard a car coming and froze.

He recognized the car when it stopped in front of the house. It belonged to Elaine Emmet. A wave of excitement made his heart pound. Elaine could help!

Just as he stood from the cover of the brush, a heavy sense of dread slammed into Remy’s chest. A man stepped out of the car, too far away to make out his face, yet close enough to see he was covered in blood.

Remy went to all fours and scurried toward the swamp. Instincts told him the bloody man wouldn’t help him.

Once in the safety of the swamps, Remy slowed his pace. He tried to remember who he saw standing over his bed, but the memory wouldn’t come. The only thing he recalled was the eyes of the man. They were black and had no soul.

He wished he knew who they belonged to but Remy couldn’t remember. Something told him he’d seen them before and that made him shudder.

As he walked deeper into the swamp, Remy felt cold fear settle over him. “They’re all dead, all my friends and Jo Bob! Guess I’m lucky I survived.”

Looking around at the dank, unfamiliar surroundings, terrified to continue forward yet knowing he had no choice, Remy muttered, “Yeah, the lucky one.”

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