Alone during another long and empty night, Dexi’s mind raced in a hypnagogic bubble of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Secretly, she was terrified to leave level fifteen. Rape and kidnaping (to either become a sex slave or a rape puppet, really one and the same) had become commonplace in the new lawlessness. Twice before in her life, she had to suffer that indignity and private humiliation. Once, in her teens, at the hands of a drunken stepfather, and again in her early twenties, at the hands of a drunken lover. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to deal with that a third time, in this climate of hostility and free-for-all violence. Most people had reverted back to base instinct animal tendencies as it was. If that were to happen again, she might end up dead. Or worse yet, as the aforementioned “rape puppet”.
That was how she had met Ward. He saw her there that night in the campus courtyard, her clothing ripped and tattered, leaving her unable to move because she was exposed. Her thick eyeliner had run in teary globs down her overheated, trauma-shocked face. He was the only one who helped. Others walked by, of course, checking her out, thinking that she was just some drunken and confused freshman taking her clothes off for attention, or whatever the case may be. Maybe she’d be a quick, easy lay. They all leered at her, males and females alike. But Ward was the only one to ask what the hell had happened, who had done this to her. From that moment on, she and Ward had become best friends, and remained that way for years. She eventually moved into his apartment. New Beginnings. Level fifteen.
Looking out the window, she could see orange-blue fires in the darkness licking up to the sky, billowing black plumes between the spires. On the ground below, she could see the mysterious black trucks that the night always seemed to bring with it. Government issue, unmarked tank-trucks with giant spotlights on the top and sides. With these trucks came the imposing kevlar suited, gas masked men who coldly threw dozens of N.E.C.R.O. ravaged bodies into the backs of these rolling incinerators. Once a dozen or so plague corpses had been tossed into the vehicle, a pair of heavy titanium doors in the back would automatically shut and lock. A sun-bright, vaporizing heat lamp would sear the bodies into ash. An intense, radioactive beam decimated the bodies to nothingness. The trucks would then open up and dump piles of beige ash down onto the blood and sorrow-caked streets. They would then move on to the next grid.
Black "eye-in-the-sky" choppers would spotlight the ground to assist the body burners, as well as to look for dissenters, looters, or the homeless. With eerily silenced machine gun fire, the undesirables would be taken out quickly and quietly. These soldiers, or police, or whatever they were--they weren’t beyond occasionally scoping out the buildings, either; taking out anyone that they deemed “unfit”.
“Dexi, you okay?” Ward's gentle whisper came from the darkness unexpectedly, startling her slightly.
She replied with a weary voice, “No, I’m pretty far from okay. Its all gone, its all down the shitter. All of it. I mean, why are we even trying? I don’t want to live in this world. No one is coming. We used to joke, remember, about how it would be when it all went down. Cocky, artsy-fartsy, anarchist punks...so ironic. But, it really all came to pass.” She exhaled a sad, fed-up giggle. “The Dead Kennedys were right, you know that? Christ, it’s like Jello Biafra was the Nostradamus of punk.”
Ward laughed, quietly, with a slight wheeze. “Stop worrying, as much as you can, about everything. Try to live in the moment, even though most of these moments suck. There is no reason to get your panties bunched until there is a reason, follow?”
“I can still hear that girl.”
“When was the last time you slept?”
“Proper? A couple days I guess. I’m fine...”
“No, you're not.” Ward handed her couple of little blue pills. “These will help you sleep.”
She smiled, and told him thank you with a hug. Alprazolam was just what the doctor ordered, she thought.
“Just don’t tell Chas. I have a feeling that he is about to lose it. And it's not just cabin fever. It's everything. No drugs, no sex, no parties, no rules to break. No one to offend. Hell, we haven’t even left the floor in like a month or two, I don’t even remember.”
“He scares the hell out of me.” Her tone was drop dead serious.
“We both need to very badly get laid, you know that?” Ward’s deadpan blanket-statement seemed like the only truth she had heard in months. Still, she smirked a little bit.
“I hate these lonely, loveless nights, Ward. I really do.”
“So melodramatic. You’re funny. Hey, if I weren’t queer as a three dollar bill with a dire case of the HIV, I’d take your sexy ass right here, right now.”
“Oh, how romantic,” she cooed, and they both had a good laugh.
During their brief, stress-relieving revery it seemed the wailing from down the hall had ceased, if only for a moment. But their slight reprieve from the sounds of childhood terror would be short-lived, as from the deathlike silence came a loud, hollow thud, a sound of rattling steel, followed finally by more howls of agony and more foreign yelling.
Dexi was furiously concerned. “That has to stop, Ward, do you hear that? I came from a house like that.”
“Yes, Dexi, I do hear it, and I don’t like it anymore than you do,” his tone sounded more appalled, with himself, than annoyed. “We both know in our own ways. I guess we just gotta ignore it. I’m sorry to say it, sounds cold, but it’s not our problem.”
Knowing this was certainly not the Ward she knew, Dexi was taken aback, and a bit perplexed. “You know you don’t mean that. Ward, you had it just as bad as I did.”
“I know. But maybe I should.” Detachment was not one of his natural talents, but the silence of understanding spoke louder than any words.
In that silence, just below the new bout of wailing, they could hear the strange vines doing their night slithering outside, up the building's walls. Digging into the red brick with long, thorned feet and glue-sticky, veggie-slug secretions. These vines of madness, with their pinkish-purple vulva heads and sweet she-cum nectar. Flowers that telekinetically implanted subliminal sex scenarios, using the victim's own will and olfactory senses to involuntarily draw him in to the sweet, virginal musk. Drawn in and devoured by the ivory thorn-toothed vulvic smirk, a vertical second mouth hidden away by the innocent labia-leaf and honey dripping pout. It was almost like they were transmitting the subsonic, suicide sex song of the Siren directly into one's mind.
Return tomorrow to this LAND OF TREASON