Gene & Chance awaken
Miles away from the Pointe Coupee Hospital, the Sun still making an arc over the Louisiana horizon and the full Moon was now a distant memory as Gene and his son awoke refreshed and renewed despite the fact they were naked and huddled close together sleeping outside. Chance let out a lazy yawn his arms outstretched, seemingly unaware of the unspeakable acts perpetrated the previous night. Gene stretched as well his muscles sore but engorged and it felt miraculous.
Gene strutted around in his nakedness; the topography was such that a privacy fence between the houses obstructed any peeping toms. A start traveled through him, trying to remember what day it was until he remembered it was only Sunday. Thank goodness he thought. His job as a driver at Metro bus systems would not be in jeopardy. But lightheaded wooziness come over him, as he tried to walk calf muscles were wound up tight like compressed springs and every time he took a step it was as if he was walking on the moon.
Like a binge drinker without the headache his memory was fragmented pieces upon pieces lying on the floor like a hopelessly unfinished puzzle. He tried to recall the night’s events until remembering the crazed man foaming at the mouth. He found himself involuntarily rubbing at his wounded arm which miraculously healed. Then a forgotten thought renewed and ran loose through him, a wave of guilt as he remembered biting his son, he hysterically looked around for Chance.
A huge sigh of relief passed through him when he found his son alive and well, naked as a jaybird but safe and uninjured. On a closer examination, though, he had grown taller, definitely more meat on him. Chance’s perfectly manicured hair, had grown longer and somehow shaggier, if you didn’t know him you wouldn’t notice the difference, but his father did.
His son’s transformation to beast thing had obviously stopped, hair and fur receded, the arched spine straighten, shoulders popped back into place looking human again. But he observed his son more diligently because even his shoulders, a source of embarrassment for his son, had filled out too, had become rounder. If he squinted his eyes a bit he could even see the striations on the muscles. The arms were a strange sight somehow they stretched beyond normal. Gene marveled at the site.
He was distracted by his son’s nose, sniffing the air around him. His ears swiveled like a satellite turning for better reception. He watched his son and was mesmerized by his actions-reminding him of a stray dog as he sniffed for something he himself could not smell.
In truth, though, he was inundated by scents all around him too, sharper hearing too… the whole gambit of senses intertwining together translated to crisper senses. A bird sang somewhere nearby threatening to give him whiplash as his neck quickly lashed around homing in on the Cardinal midflight. In fact, every neuron exploded, an instinct to give chase grasped him, and it took all of his being to resist the sudden urge.
The cardinal now rested on a nearby branch and it shook his recollection… he saw a bird not of red feathers and full of organs, this cardinal was made of red ceramic, hollow and broken into several jagged pieces lying on his floor. Gene rested his shaky hands on his head as more and more fragments of memory flashed through him. He remembered his oblivious wife as the door opened, her smile ear to ear, her arms labored with hot bags of her husband and son’s favorite greasy fast food, exuding tempting aromas. He could recall vivid details of memories, the smells of fast food, a fit of sorts overtaking him when the hunger pangs set in.
Chance’s mom awoke to her normal life that morning and she return home only to find a bizarre sort of “twilight zone” or “tales from the dark side” episode in progress. Her son tore through the hallway like a bat out of hell, drool pooling around his jam-packed oversized ragged teeth that dripped off onto the carpeting. His growing nails scratching against the paneling as his misshapen muzzle sniffed out the sustenance. He had shed all the rest of his clothing, but you couldn’t tell because bunches of fur in strategic areas more than made up for it.
She gasped, stepping back, arm out stretched as if to protect the food from a ravenous stray dog. He swiped at his mother’s unbalanced frame until she staggered back and fell to her hands spilling double cheese burgers onto the floor, the bag bursting and spraying ketchup packets as she landed hard on her buttocks.
Her son reminded her of a wild rabid animal, eyes wild with rage, his face, especially the nose and the mouth somehow misshapen enough to remind her of a cheap Halloween prosthetic. She closed her eyes fearing her crazed son would crush the whole of her body…For a few moments her eyes remained tightly shut. The impact never happened, so she opened one eye at first, and then the other. She saw her son on all fours greedily scarfing down with his mouth the warm spillage. She gripped the paneling with shaking hands whipping her head around expecting to find her husband and his cooler head would prevail and give her some sort of normalcy to grasp. Her husband, Gene, stood pale and still as a statue-his cold dilated eyes staring at the spilled bag on the floor like it contained treasure.
Gene came to, on his knees, food strewn out in all directions on the floor. Unfinished fries still in his mouth. Chance had jumped up on the couch and held his mom tightly, leisurely licking her on the face.
He found his wife wild-eyed with a traumatized look on her face, as if to say help me in some way! The wife submitted to lick after slobbering lick from her grateful but demented son. Her arms outstretched as if to give her son a hug but in Gene’s eyes she looked like a person drowning, a last ditch effort her arms out raised until sinking to the depths of the sea. Instead of helping however, he turned his back to her staggering into the kitchen. Demanding hunger rocked him again, his first and only necessity to feed.
The earlier raid on the kitchen left the cabinets and refrigerator bare but it didn’t discourage Gene as he ravaged through the remainders of the picked through barbecue. He finished off a speck of bone from the rib until it shone bright white; a sudden realization hit him like an aluminum baseball bat. If he was nowhere near placated then his son, most assuredly, would not be pacified either.
“Hel…” Gene’s wife tried to plead but the words could not leave her throat.
Gene heard the distinct sounds of snarling, the warning before the strike then a blood gurgling scream. He felt his heart racing, cold perspiration spreading all over his body. He made his way into the living room one picked-over rib in his left hand and a chicken drum in his right-hand before quickly devouring the chicken drum, bones and all. He suddenly froze, lightheaded then dizzy, now he braced his unoccupied hand on the chair near a desk to give him some stability.
Starving with hunger the fast food had pacified for a moment and Chance had gratefully licked his mother in love and admiration but the infection spread through his veins. Now Gene’s wife’s had fended off Chance’s spontaneous attack. The wife suffered attack after attack by powerful teeth trying to consume tender flesh. Her son’s claws trying to grab hold of any bony surface that would give him stability. He clawed at his mother’s blouse until suddenly the breast pocket ripped away. The sudden instability of a torn pocket fluttering away had Chance’s claws frantically grasping about before smashing through a glass coffee table and hitting roughly onto the floor. Gene’s wife unrestrained for the first time ran for her life. She hurdled through the demolished coffee table and her son to get to her purse, which she had dropped beside the door as she had been ambushed.
“Pepper spray,” the wife said aloud as she fumbled around in her deep purse pockets, trying to find the key/aerosol combination, “Gene!” Gene stumbled to his wife’s aid as a bizarre, potent rush of adrenaline ran through his entire body the neurons in his muscles firing simultaneously. Finding the pepper spray his wife sprayed the entire contents in her son’s direction. Chance protected his face and curled up in the fetal position as the pepper spray fell down on him like rain.
Gene could see the frustration and vulnerability in her demeanor, the pleading for help in his wife’s eyes. However, instead of saving his wife he looked around to find Chance’s shaking body. He couldn’t help himself as he regarded his son’s pleading eyes. Gene’s heart began to flutter and race, like an engine Tachometer running on red line but the racecar drivers’ boot stomping on the petal and burying the needle to go so much faster. He could see his heart beating out of his chest, his cognizance no longer in control and his hands involuntarily seizing up. He could visualize a dazzling white ring that can best be described as an almost transparent halo brightening as it constricted in his mind. He suddenly found himself somehow out-of-body. He could see his wife and his son, his hearing muffled as time seemed to be slowing down. Both were in distress, but somehow he heard the calling of his son like someone shouting in a bullhorn. Every sense he had responding, an overwhelming need to protect his still fragile son from an assault. He heard himself growling as a wide circle of darkness overtook his sight, the circle shrinking until he could see no more.
The darkness had subsided and Gene awoke to find a bloody broken rib bone in his hand; his son’s arms clung tight to his buttocks. Chance hugged his father tightly, his stringy, wet hair dripping from the pepper spray, clinging to Gene’s bloody stomach. His head swimming, still delirious he tried to get his bearings from the confusion that such a sudden awakening always brings. As if sleepwalking and now unaware of his surroundings and a sizable chunk of time gone he stumbled with shaking knees, wobbly as if he just got off his stationary bike. His son leeching on to his leg he tracked the blood stains on the new laminate flooring until finding his wife. The broken bone fell to the floor as Gene cupped his palms to his mouth in a desperate attempt to keep down the rising bile in his stomach as sudden shock overcame him.
The wife’s head turned unnaturally, accusing eyes and unexpected grimace staring up at him. She lay motionless on her back with broken rib bones protruding out of her chest. The amount of blood spreading on the floor he assumed the entire vascular system had been shredded. That would explain the broken rib gene thought in horror. NO it was just a pig bone, wasn’t it? He stared at a torn blouse and her pale complexion. The bruising throughout the face and several bite marks throughout her neck and back suggested she put up a hell of a fight, but he didn’t remember anything. The strangest thing of all, he felt no remorse as he stared at the broken spine beneath the throat that violated the muscles and the tendons protruding beneath her skin. They were High school sweethearts, married young and had been faithful ever since. But he felt a strange obligation toward his son, his descendant. Somehow he knew this and now the blood flowing through them had a special blood bond. His son had been fighting for his life and he would kill for his safety.
Gene peered down at Chance’s eyes, still ravenous, his son drooling at his lifeless mother’s body. Determined to do something about Chance’s ceaseless starvation he grabbed hold of his wife’s body unlocked Chance’s tight embrace and quickly headed off toward the kitchen. No thought whatsoever when he selected a carving knife out of the knife block. Last night, fileting his wife like a fish would have sickened him but the fact of the matter was his whole biological makeup had changed. The parasites passing through his system like the speed of light. The infection changing Gene from the inside out starting with the brain, the very thought processes that defined humanity’s ideals. Unseen changes in Gene’s makeup that would stay with him even if there was no moon in sight; changing his personality as if he had long ignored a case of syphilis that had burrowed into his brain.
He flipped on the dial to medium heat and set a pan on the burner. Opening the refrigerator he emerged with his homemade barbecue sauce in hand. His dead wife no more than a hollow shell now, opportunistic meat bag for his son’s survival. He makes short work of her arm and thigh and throwing a slice of each in the skillet. A pleasant bittersweet aroma began to fill the air. Though a taboo, the smell of warming meat on the skillet made Gene’s mouth water in anticipation. The noise of pots and pans clanging about piqued the curiosity of the famished and irrational son. He peeped out of the corner and moved his head side to side in curiosity, his new longer hair dancing on his now plump and full shoulders as he crept forward timidly.
“Come here, son.” Gene said meekly gesturing to come this way.
The steak turned a tender auburn color and sizzled as Gene slathered barbecue sauce about the whole of it. Then he carefully split the steak into two halves so two starving mouths could devour the juicy steak whole. As hunger racked Gene again he went on with the tedious process of dismembering and removing flesh.
Chance’s hungry eyes met his father yet again as a quiet grumbling started in the center of the belly. Now hunger pains racked the both of them. He tossed the brown meat to his boy who promptly caught it in his mouth and swallowed. Gene stared at the other juicy steak then at Chance’s still hungry eyes. Gene reluctantly tossed his son the other carved steak meant to satisfy his hunger. Now he would have to carve more of his wife’s body up into pieces, but he had come to grips with that as he blacked out.
When he came to again he found himself outside with his son grasping the corpse and his stomach full. A revelation struck him as his hands rubbed his swollen belly, when he yearned for meat he felt himself losing control but when he ate some sort of protein the blackouts subsided. He saw his son chewing on the remnants of a thigh his eyes still animalistic. His wife was reduced to just a skeleton now.
“Z, y, x, w, v…” Human again, his human self, capable of logical thought. Gene said the alphabet backwards. Gene could not help but expose a toothy smile, “1, 2, 3, 4…”
Elation crept in as his brain slowly regained the full ability to reason. No more of his slow intellect, like moving molasses on a freezing day. However he missed the pure animalistic instinct that came from losing his humanity. But the ordinary world, his reality, would never be the same. He relished all of the unique sights, sounds and scents that he could never sense before, as he looked around the garage to find a shovel to bury what remained of his beloved wife.
Chance growled a warning when Gene grabbed hold of the skeleton that had been his wife. Gene encountered some resistance at first then slowly he slid her body across the grass not daring to take his eyes off Chance until his son lost interest and turned away.
Gene went about the tedious digging as if he lost a tolerated family pet, no emotion creeping in. He dug a five foot shallow hole, without breaking a sweat and with one hand threw his wife into the ground as Chance all but forgot the memories of last night, now off playing with a trapped squirrel.
“Where’s mom?” Chance asked finally, innocently strolling up to meet his dad while he wiped the barbecue from his mouth. It was now plainly obvious he didn’t remember the horrors.
“I don’t know.” Gene answered, lying, while staring at the fresh grave and the shovel with moist dirt caked on it.
They stood upon the very ground that the mother and wife lie rotting underneath, Gene and Chance put their arms around one another. They knew in their hearts that Jeanette, wife and mother of one, would not be returning home but they were strangely unaffected by this. An instinct older than mankind had come over them. They felt part of a new family, a growing family and they were overjoyed.