The March of the Dead

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21

I awoke to a sound in the hallway ... something tingling, and knew it was the Deajii. I saw the knife lying on the bedside table.

Finally, my chance had arrived.

I rose from the bed, clutched the knife, and headed for the bedroom door.

Tonight, it would finish.

*

’No ... no, babe. I’m not going. Okay? I’ll stay with you. I don’t care if all my mates go.’

Kel, looking over her Dad in the hospital, shook her head.

She gazed at me. ’There is nothing, nothing you can do,’ she said, staring me in the eyes. She remained like that for a moment, then leant forwards. Her soft cool lips pressed against mine. ’Don’t talk to any other girls at the party, okay?’

Come Saturday night, I stood there in the corner of the Henry Ferguson’s lounge room.

I messaged Kehlani.

Has he woken yet sweety xxxx?

Aisha emerged beside me on the dance floor, spinning about. ‘Wanna come for a dance?’

I smiled, shaking my head. ‘Not if I want my balls to remain on my body,’ I told her in a voice I doubt she even heard over the thumping music, but she had swivelled off anyway and now twirled about on the dance floor friends.

Smiling, I looked away and went back over to the drinks bench. I stood listening to music for some time, before deciding to go out the back of the house. There I sat on the back of a Ute. Music thumped from inside the house behind me.

‘Nice out here,’ came Aisha’s voice. I thought it weird that she kept popping up ... it was only until later I realised the Deajii probably meant for her to pop up all along.

Aisha sat on the Ute tray beside me.

‘What ...? What’s happening?’ I said.

Aisha gestured over her shoulder to where her friends had come outside, one of her friends currently talking on the mobile. The other girls giggled, as though this particular girl had a crush on whoever she talked to.

I looked back out to that dim night sky, and the many, many stars.

Sitting on the Ute I said, ‘Do you ever wonder what’s out there ... if there’s more to this world than what we see?’ I gazed.

At this moment, a long grey cloud slunk beneath the moon and the night became darker and now murky, the hills growing black in the distance. It was like some curtain had pulled down around Aisha and myself. I felt that swirling of emotions once more, and so went to stand.

Aisha grasped my arm.

‘I wanna know,’ she said, gazing at me.

And oh my, those eyes lit up.

‘What ... whatta you mean?’

Her legs hung over the edge of the old grainy Ute, the truck a rusted white. The grass in the long back yard stood tall and unkept. Wide paddocks stretched out behind the wooden back fence, reaching into the blackness. Music thumped against the closed windows of the house.

Aisha frowned. ‘I wanna know what’s out there, silly ... to see if there’s anything but us out there in this big old world.’

When I went to take her hand off my shoulder, a light flashed from behind us.

Those butterflies still swirled inside my stomach.

Aisha pulled her hand back as she smiled back up to those endless paddocks. I gazed behind me to see what that flashing light had been. Nothing was there, so I stared back out at those paddocks like Aisha.

‘I think so long as I have my Kehlani, things are going to be just perfect.’

*

A perfect blue sky sat above as I walked to school Monday morning following the party.

I saw Kehlani’s face as I waited near the front gates. There was a flat look her face.

‘Hey, babe ... how’s your dad?’

My voice felt weak, as though I knew, on some subconscious level, things were wrong.

On that cool morning, Kehlani gazed at me.

’Don’t you ever, ever talk to me again.’

Her eyes were stone cold, an evil glare to her gaze. She looked like someone totally different, a sort of monster.

Once more, I felt the intensity of my heart rate increase.

I frowned. ‘Babe? Everything oka—’

Chuckling from behind.

People held up mobiles to faces.

Kel’s friend Lily arched forwards, saying, ‘We’ve seen the frickin pictures, you lying, cheating, snipe.’ Lily shoved me twice in the chest.

‘You speak to my girl again, I’ll put your little pecker there right down that dunny with me pads when I flush it, I will.’ She pushed me hard in the chest twice more. ‘And when I’m done with that, I’ll take a crap and flush it down too, just for the sake of it.’

She shoved me once more.

‘Stay. Away. From my girl,’ she finished with a heavy shove that put me on my arse.

*

A few people had laughed out the front of school that morning. I let them. Didn’t really care.

At recess, I went to go up to Kel.

‘Kel ... Kel...? What ... what’s the problem?’

Kehlani gazed up at me.

She was with another friend, one not as outspoken as Lily. The friend didn’t really know where to look.

On the playground behind Kel, a game of netball took place, Mr Sid lunging at the ball in the girls’ hands, accidently scraping the boob of one at the same time.

Mrs Knight walked past, taking a bite from a chicken salad sandwich, yellow jacket shining.

‘Blinky. I don’t wish to talk to you anymore,’ Kel said. Her voice was flat, cold, lifeless. ‘I have no boyfriend, no boyfriend,’ she added, and turned around.

I stepped forwards.

Jarrod Mervin emerged, holding a footy, stepping between Kel and I. He placed that toned footballer’s hand on my shoulder. ‘She just said what she wants, Blinky.’ He leant forwards, bringing his big, dumb footy head a centimetre from mine, his nose bent on an odd angle. ‘Give her some time, bro, you know what woman are like.’ He gave me a little tap on the butt.

Later in the day, I tried to walk over to her in Geography.

‘Blinky. Sit down. Or you’ll be in detention.’

Mrs Langon gazed at me.

‘But ... but,’ I muttered.

‘Now!’

There I was in the gym after school.

Oomph, thump, swat, went my fist into the bag. ‘Give her some time? Give her some time?’ Thump. I smacked the bag with my right and heard a pop in my hand. ‘Fuck!’ I shouted. Four teachers—the principal, and three deputies—sat on treadmills, peddling away, staring over at me.

I sat in detention in one of the deputies’ office Tuesday morning.

The deputy was typing his fiction book on the school computer, and kept saying, ’This is all so freakin; illogical. Damn this bloody book.’

At lunch I tried finding Kehlani again.

’Kel ... please ... speak to me ... what is the problem?’

She peered at me.

She put her hand in her bag. n

Took out her mobile.

‘Here, Blinky ... I’ve seen it all.’

I stared at the phone as midday light reflected off its screen. There gleamed a picture of Aisha and me. The picture showed me smiling as I touched her hand on that Ute. Glowing hearts flashed beneath the Instagram photo.

She put the phone back in her pocket.

‘I’m sorry, Blinky, it’s over,’ she said.

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