Delia tried to move the tip of her finger, but it, too, refused to budge. The effort it took to simply keep her diaphragm moving up and down, up and down, required all of her focus.
“I can’t see…” Megan moaned next to her.
Struggling, Delia raised her eyelids, squinting against the harsh, late-afternoon sun. Once she saw Megan’s leathery skin, stretched gaunt over her cheekbones, putrefied fat oozing from the cracks, Delia wished she hadn’t bothered.
“It’s going to be okay,” Delia tried to reassure her friend, but Megan just sobbed, the tears sliding patches of skin off with them. Nothing was going to be okay. Ever again.
How had a stupid end-of-summer road trip ended like this? How could anything ever end like this?
Flies buzzed around them in a swarm, all giddy that they’d hit the human remains jackpot. One landed on Megan’s cheek, and then crawled up her face and onto her eyeball. Megan didn’t even blink.
Next to her “sat” Neko. Only with half the tissue gone from her face and jawbone protruding out, Delia didn’t think Neko really “did” much of anything anymore. Then, poor Roberto. The flies and maggots had nearly picked his skeleton clean.
“Yah, yah, yah!” Ruf chanted, clapping his big fat hands together as he skipped around the adult-sized “playpen.” He leaned over into the overgrown weeds and picked up a moldy soccer ball and threw it. At over six feet tall and three hundred pounds, Ruf sent the ball zinging toward them.
Delia tried to duck, but with her paralysis, she couldn’t even flinch as the ball hit her in the shoulder and then bounced against Neko’s skull, knocking Neko’s head from her shoulders. The ball and skull rolled around at Delia’s feet.
“Oopsy!” Ruf giggled as he leaned over the side of the playpen and grabbed Neko’s skull. “Bad, Neko, bad!”
He tossed the skull in the air, and then kicked it toward the squat and squalid house. The head tumbled under a truck up on blocks. Even out of gas, how had she and her friends not taken one look at this place and not realized that evil lived inside? They should have risked the walk in the dark down that long, lonely country road.
“Oh, God! oh, God!” Megan cried as she lifted up an arm and her fingers melted off.
Delia knew that she should be nauseated, but after five days of this? The torment had blurred into a black hole in her heart. If anything, Megan and the rest had been lucky to go out to the smoke shed when they did. Delia had been kept in the house. What Ruf and his sibling had done to her…
She squeezed her eyes shut against the memories. At least they’d tired of her and put her “out back” to tenderize. Soon, she too would melt away. It was probably better that way. Her hair already smelled of hickory chips and piss. After another night in the shack, she wouldn’t be able to smell anything or feel anything.
Like poor Megan simply dripping away.
Delia heard the porch door slam open. She pushed her eyeballs over as far as she could, catching only part of the thin, knobby-jointed brother, Cliver, that stepped out from the house. Her muscles rebelled against drugs in her system, vainly trying to get her legs moving, to run far, far away, but the most they could do was tremble.
“Ruf! A car’s comin’! Get yer mess cleaned up!”
As Ruf picked up Neko’s head and casually tossed it into the playpen, Delia’s mind screamed, “No!” but all that came out was a strand of spittle.