Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Conductivity Ep 1 (Pt. 6)

The funeral was on a Tuesday. Such an odd day for a funeral, but that’s what his mother had wanted. It was a closed casket funeral. Everyone knew how Ted had died, but no one spoke of it. The air around the casket smelled of chemicals and burnt flesh, no matter how much fragrance they put on his cadaver.

The funeral consisted of about fifty parties of couples and families; a few single people here and there. Each payed their respects and sat for the eulogy. Ted’s mother, Frida, stood at the podium and broke down. She fell to her knees and asked God why he had chosen her son. She had had notes prepared for the perfect eulogy—not that she ever expected to be giving her son’s—but failed in the long run. Two women and a man had to help her to her seat. She was quite large in stature and weak in the knees.

Hanna and Hayley sat next to each other, twiddling their thumbs. Henry blankly stared at the casket, thinking. Stewart and Rebecca sat hand in hand next to their children, eyes red and puffy. Frank was seated beside the Canin Family, still sniveling.

A priest took over the eulogy and finished it well. Afterwards, everyone went to the patio to eat and grieve. Frank sat with the Canin family out there as well. Silence had taken over their table, so, to lighten the mood, Rebecca decided to share some news she had been holding in for a while.

“I’m pregnant,” she clumsily blurted. Frank and Stewart abruptly looked at her. Henry kept his usual blank stare, and Hanna and Hayley smirked at each other.

“What?” Stewart asked.

Rebecca smiled and repeated, “I’m pregnant.” Stewart shook his head in happy disbelief. He smiled and hugged her, thankful for the good news. Frank congratulated them while the triplets sat quiet.

“How far along do you think?” Stewart asked her.

“About eight weeks. I waited because I wanted to be sure.”

“Wow,” Stewart sighed.

Rebecca reclined in her chair. The sun felt nice on her tan skin. Her belly protruded out, barely noticeable. Henry, Hanna, and Hayley were splashing around the pool. Stewart had gone to work that morning, off to design the color schemes for the latest home tech.

Henry floated on his back in the deep end of the pool. Rebecca had turned on the radio, and he zoned out as he listened to the jazzy music. He felt movement and opened his eyes. Hanna and Hayley were on each side of him. Their eyes looked at him coldly, as if he were just an experiment. His eyes widened, but before he could say anything, they shoved him underwater. Hanna shoved his legs down while Hayley pushed downward on his chest.

Henry gasped for air, inhaling water.

Rebecca sat oblivious, unable to hear the splashing water over the speaker next to her.

Henry exhaled water from his lungs as his sisters held him down. His brain burned as he tried to think of what to do.

Hanna and Hayley confidently held their brother down. Hayley bared her teeth in a smile as she watched Henry writhe under her weight.

Henry saw his sisters’ faces through the blur of the water. He twisted and fought to get back to air. A thought provoked him. He wondered why he was fighting. Death would do him no harm.

Henry stopped fighting and went limp. Hanna noticed first and got wide eyed. Hayley took a few seconds to realize. She fell from her manic state quickly and let go of Henry. He sunk down and the two pulled him to the surface of the water.

Henry gasped for air. He coughed into his fist, spraying it with warm water. He looked at his sisters. Tears crept out of his eyes, mixing with the water on his face. He paid no attention to it. Hanna looked back at Henry, stunned. Hayley showed no emotion. Her dark eyes pierced into his light ones.

Henry swam to the shallow end of the pool. He stood up and caught his breath. Hanna and Hayley coldly stared at him.

Henry looked to the water then up to his mother. Rebecca sat, reclined with her eyes closed. Her sundress glowed in the sunlight. Henry squinted and got out of the pool.

The song changed, and Rebecca heard Henry’s feet slap on the wet concrete.

“Already getting out?” she asked, eyes still closed behind sunglasses.

“Yes,” Henry answered as he grabbed his towel.

The summer heat infiltrated the grey school. Children sat poised even through the demanding temperatures. Sweat gleamed on every brow and stained the grey uniforms they wore.

Henry paid full attention to the teacher at the front of the classroom. The boy in front of him, only distinguishable by the color of his hair, swayed in his seat. This caught Henry’s attention. His eyes moved from the teacher to the boy in front of him just as the boy fell out of his seat. His head connected with the concrete floor with a loud slap.

The teacher stopped, looked at the boy with her dead eyes, and continued her lesson. The other children in the classroom didn’t seem to notice the boy’s unconscious state, but Henry did. Despite his soon to be failing grades, he felt that he needed to help the boy.

Henry hopped out of his seat and picked up the boy’s head. His skin was hot but dry.

“Ms. Jenkins! We have to help him!” Henry’s heart pulsed fast in his chest.

The teacher slowly turned away from the board. She aimed her cold eyes at Henry and spoke, “Get back in your seat, young man, or else you’ll face the consequences.”

Henry gasped. He had heard about the consequences, but no one ever returned to tell the true story.

“But he needs help.” Henry’s voice came out meagerly. The boy lightly breathed on his arm, reassuring him that he wasn’t dead.

The teacher’s hand hit her desk. The sound reverberated through the room, rocking Henry’s head.

Scared, he looked to the teacher.

She approached him, her legs jerkily moving forward. She pointed at him. “The consequences!” Her voice was shrill, like she was shrieking at him.

Henry panicked. He set the boy’s head down gently as his own head buzzed. The boy lying on the floor was much smaller than him, even though Henry was one of the more petite boys at the school. He bent down and picked up the boy. He lifted him and set his limp body over his shoulder.

The other children still stared at the board. Their attention was taken up by the half drawn equation on the board.

The teacher opened her mouth again, “The consequences!” Her scream came out at a higher pitch than before, ringing in Henry’s ears.

Henry’s whole body shook. Sweat glazed his skin. The teacher blocked his only way out. Henry looked at his desk. He hopped onto his chair and then on top of the assignment he had just been given. Side-stepping, he landed on top of a girl’s desk. She had no reaction when his body weight shook her. Jumping to the floor, Henry felt a jolt of pain from his feet, up his spine. He ran to the front of the classroom, where the teacher tried to block his exit. Her jerky legs couldn’t carry her fast enough.

Henry busted through the door. He ran through the grey halls, passing the NO RUNNING signs.

A siren sounded from above him. Red beacons lit up the grey halls. The most color Henry had ever seen there.

He bounded for the front doors. His grey shoes were slick against the linoleum below him. He wished he had been wearing his gym shoes. The boy on his shoulder got no lighter as he ran. His shoulder hurt with the effort of keeping the boy there.

Henry reached the front door just as he felt a hand on his arm. He yanked his arm free of the cold hand and plunged out into the sunlight. It felt cooler outside than it did in the humid halls.

Henry faintly heard voices screaming at him to come back, but most prevalent in his ears was his heart. He ran through the fenced in field surrounding the school and dodged the automatic lawn mower.

He looked past the chain link and spotted a yard with sprinklers on. Pushing his legs hard, Henry lost feeling in one of them. The boy on his shoulder did not wake, making him nervous.

He heard people running after him but paid them no mind. Henry reached the six foot fence and looked up to the top, where barbed wire sat.

Spinning his head around, Henry finally saw the crowd of people behind him. He gasped and ran along the fence.

The heat ate at him, but he knew he had to help this boy. Henry ran as fast as his aching body would let him, finally realizing that there was no escape.

Days seemed to pass. The crowd following him could not catch up on their rigid legs.

Henry’s throat burned. He felt his lungs struggle for air.

A janitor drove a truck into the gate leading to the blacktop where the kids did outdoor classroom activities. Henry ran toward the small opening between the truck and the gate. Barely fitting, he squeezed through, and dodged the rapidly closing gate.

Once through, Henry didn’t look back. He sprinted past the first house with sprinklers on and opted for a house further from the school. A few minutes of lightheaded running and Henry was outside a rundown home. The sprinklers were running and Henry set down the boy’s body in them, letting the water mist him.

Henry knelt by him and checked his pulse. It was still there. He tried to wake the boy up. He shook him by the shoulders until he finally opened his eyes.

The boy screamed, a high pitch noise similar to the beacons most likely still screeching at the school. He backed away from Henry and looked around.

The consequences!” he shrieked at Henry. “What have you done?!” The boy got up and stumbled away. His stumble turned into a run as an armored truck rounded the corner. The boy shrieked as two men jumped out of the back and snatched him up. They threw him in the back and one of them ran for Henry.

Henry quickly got up and ran. His shoes slipped on the wet concrete, and he slammed onto the unforgiving sidewalk. His face made full contact, throwing black into his vision. He felt very tired suddenly and he closed his eyes.

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