Animal

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


What happens when our dualistic natures collide?

Submitted: June 08, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 08, 2018

A A A

A A A


Animal

 

The End

Fran had just finished blowing a hole in the right side of her middle aged head. Her motionless body was slumped to one side in the driver’s seat of her car, head lightly pressed against the tinted window. Her eyesight was still working because she could see out of the corner of one eye the butt of the service pistol sitting loosely in her right hand on her lap. From the other eye, she could see smears of hair, blood and skull on the interior lining of the roof of the car.

That must be the part of my brain that keeps me from wetting myself, she thought as she caught sight of a dark patch spreading across the crotch of her skirt.

It occurred to Fran that she was still capable of thought.

Two plus two equals four, her inner voice said.

Excellent. I can do simple arithmetic but bladder function is beyond my control.

Fran focused on her body, which was completely numb. She couldn’t feel the hand holding the pistol or the pistol itself. She tried to move it but it wouldn’t move. A thin line of white odourless smoke drifted upwards from the end of the pistols barrel and past her nose.  Fran tried to breathe in through her nose but the muscles in her face and chest would not move. She concentrated her mind onto where her heart should be. Nothing. No pulse, not a single beat. Silence.

I can’t feel any pain, was her next thought as her mind shifted to where the bullet had entered and exited her head. She felt nothing. No ache, no pins and needles.

Maybe I’m not dead? She thought.

Paralysed?

She could see her right leg twitching but she had no control over it.

That’s funny! Fran felt a sensation of wanting to laugh, but no laugh came.

An image of Gary on their wedding day, young and handsome came into her mind. He was wearing the black rent-a-tux and standing at the altar, head turned and smiling to watch her as she walked down the aisle towards him. She could remember how she felt that day – the closest thing to euphoria she had experienced before and since. She now wondered whether she had done the right thing by him and her.

Too late for second guessing Fran. Removing the contents of the inside of your head is not something you can go back on. Fran wondered where this internal voice was coming from.

Who speaks? She asked the voice.

Roses are red – so is the inside of your head!

Fran could hear laughter.

She could see someone out of the corner of her eye approach the car. It was a young policeman with his pistol drawn pointed at her. He was speaking into a radio on his shoulder. He moved in front of the windscreen and stayed there – weapon drawn.

Violets are blue -

The door of her car opened and a hand reached in and quickly took the pistol from her lap. The same hand pushed her gently upright into the seat of the car, presumably so she wouldn’t fall out.

-should’ve known this would happen to you!

 Another much older man’s face appeared in front of hers and looked into her eyes. He peered upwards to look at the roof of her car. His lips moved but she couldn’t hear him.

“That one over there. See it? The white one on the river with its own jetty. That’s the house I’m going to buy for us one day”, said Gary’s voice from next to her.

Fran turned her head and there was Gary. All twenty two years of him sitting in the passenger seat of her car staring out across the river.

“Yes. I love it”, she said to him.

Fran didn’t love the little white house with the jetty. Fran loved this man sitting next to her. The twenty two year old man who had wanted a house with a jetty. The twenty two year old man who could make love to her. The twenty two year old man who could yell at her when he was angry. That was what she loved.

Gary turned to her and she could see how young his face was.

“You prefer me like this don’t you?” He asked her.

“Yes.” Her answer was direct and it was the truth. There was no reason to lie to him.

Gary’s smile faded. He looked up at the roof of the car and then back at Fran.

“You have a hole in your head.” He said.

“No. It was just a bad dream. We’re okay now honey.”

“Maybe we are okay across the river.” He said pointing towards the little white house. She refused to look at what he was pointing at. He spoke again and she cringed at his words, “If only our hearts had not been separated from her?”

Fran knew she was there. Standing barefoot and wet on the banks of the river, watching her dead body being inspected by a policeman.

 “Can we go to Salut for dinner? I‘m so hungry-“Fran peeled her tongue of the roof of her mouth “-and my mouth is so dry.”

“You’ll never eat again my darling.” Gary said blankly. Fran recoiled as she saw a black hole in place of Gary’s left eye socket appear out of nowhere.

“I’m hungry! Please, let’s go –“

He was gone. Everything was gone. The river with the little white house, the boat with the water skier, the two police men with guns, the daylight, her eyesight, everything. It was all gone. There was only black.

It’s just you and I now Fran.

Fran shifted her concentration to her consciousness – a silhouette in the darkness which she now realised was slipping away from her. Panic now set in as death came to take her away.

Just you and I forever.

The concept of being able to witness her mind shutting down began to scare her. It was as if she had two minds - one that was dying and one that was watching the other die.

You and I forever in the deepest of the nowhere.

It was her last thought.

Fran was dead.

Ashes to Ashes

Fran butted her cigarette out in the console of her car, the ash staining the black plastic under the weight of her thumb. She picked up the cigarette packet containing the remaining twenty four, flipped the lid and wished she could sit here and smoke the rest of them one after another. She didn’t want to test the patience of the men waiting for her outside so she decided against it and tossed the packet back onto the passenger seat.

The end is nigh Frannie, sang the inner voice.

Taking in a deep breath, she exhaled slowly. Her breath seemed to break into little packets instead of being one continuous smooth stream as she had been taught to do. Mindfulness and meditation were the buzzwords that flew in and out from her lips at a point in time after Gary’s accident, but now they were merely a distant representation of an empty promise that never came to be.

Trying to connect with your inner self Frannie? Toyed the voice.

“Fuck you. I hope you die first.” She spat.

Fran picked up the pistol, closed her eyes and put it to her temple. Her heart began racing and she could feel a pulse in the soft pad of her index finger pressing against the metal trigger.

She could hear one of the men outside muffle something on a speaker phone but she cared not for what was said.

If I die first, then so do you.

“Then so be it.” She said.

As she jerked her finger back on the pistols trigger, she opened her eyes. In what felt like an eternity, but was less than a fraction of second, Fran looked out across the river and saw the endless possibility of an alternative lived existence.

The beginning of a smile found its way to the corner of her mouth as the small leaded projectile began its short journey down the length of the pistols barrel towards Fran’s fractured mind.

The Bridge

Fran drove down to the river and parked under the bridge. It was the perfect place to spend her last afternoon, down by the banks of the George. It was where she and Gary had come when they were younger - before he became a vegetable. In the last few years since his accident, it was the place she always came to get ‘Fran’ time. Usually she would buy an iced coffee and a slice of cake after the days she worked and just sit in her car and stare at the suns reflections dancing across the glassy river’s surface. Occasionally she would indulge in a sympathy cry but usually she just sat there in numbed silence.

Before the accident she and Gary were thinking of starting a family. Gary was thinking but it had been Fran that was planning. She had stopped taking the pill without him knowing in the hope she would fall pregnant. But she never did. Not with Gary anyway.

Fran had not stopped for her iced coffee and cake today. She had taken a slight detour from her plan and decided at the last minute to buy something she hadn’t since she was a teenager– a packet of cigarettes.

The pistol had been sitting in her lap for an hour now. She picked it up and pulled back on the slide opening the chamber. She pressed the magazine release and loaded a single round into the top of the magazine then cautiously pushed it back into the butt of the pistol. Fran pressed the slide release and sat in her car staring at the pistol. How many times had her father loaded this weapon?

The only thing the man ever accomplished in life, she thought.

A boat sped past on the river in front of her and she looked up to see a young woman water skiing behind the boat.

Such a lovely way to spend the afternoon – she thought.

Behind the boat she noticed the little white house with the jetty. She felt a pang in her stomach and remembered how much Gary had wanted to buy it one day. She had never told him that she didn’t like the house but now that everything had changed, she saw the house in a different light.

A beautiful young girl came out of the house in a loose fitting white summer dress and skipped down to the jetty. Fran watched her as she danced on the old wooden planks over the river to a song that nobody could hear but her.

Emily.

Behind the girl, Fran and Gary came down from the house, hand in hand and sat down on the river’s edge to one side of the jetty. Gary lent across to give Fran a kiss on the cheek. She smiled and they both fell back to lay in the thick green grass under the late afternoon sun.

It was a vision that Fran had had many times before, but this would be her last. Fran realised in that moment that the things she would miss the most when she was gone, were the things she had never had.

A calmness had come over her in the last hour or so. She had come down from the hyper-elevated state of mind from earlier today. It was all very surreal and if she thought about it with any degree of comprehension, the events played back like a movie she had watched rather than participated in. It was now difficult to believe she had done what she had over the last twenty four hours and she supposed that if she had to live any longer than the current day, she would surely enter a state of insanity at the onset of clarity.

The water skier turned to look at what was happening on the banks of the river. Three police cars surrounding a small Ford with a middle aged woman in the driver’s seat was apt to raise curiosity.

None of the six police officers had advanced towards her car. Quick thinking had caused Fran to write ‘I HAVE A BOMB’ on a piece of paper and hold it up to the window. Fran didn’t have a bomb but it bought her some time while they waited for the bomb squad to arrive.

Fran opened the packet of cigarettes and put one in her mouth. She lit it up and drew back long and hard. The smoke hit her throat like a hammer and she coughed hard, tears running down her cheeks as she fought the urge to throw up. She had heard of smokers who had been known to give up smoking on their death bed announcing their regret at not having done it earlier. Fran found herself on the other side of the coin and regretted not having taken up smoking again long before this day. Having clean and healthy lungs seemed like a completely useless asset to her right now.

Such is the nature of not knowing your own destiny, she thought.

By the time she took her second drag the cigarette was almost out.

The Cigarette

Fran could see the sign for the smoke mart up ahead as she cruised along the main road towards the river. Usually she ignored it, but today it was lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Fuck it”, she said under her breath.

Fran suddenly steered the car into the carpark and stopped her car. She hadn’t smoked in years, but the need for one now was like a burning in her. Her palms were sweaty and her heart raced at the thought of lighting one up. Never mind that she had just committed a terrible crime – it was the thought of smoking again that was giving her immense anxiety.

Fran decided if the last thing she did was have a smoke, she would die with some sort of dreary fulfilment.

No cake today Frannie. Today is the day for teenage follies.

As Fran exited the smoke mart, she looked across the road and noticed the modest Anglican Church nestled in between a liquor shop and a mechanic’s workshop. Atop the church was a cross with a statue of Christ in crucified pose. It was an image she had seen a million times before, but until now she had actually never looked at it with any interest. While Fran stood in the car park of the smoke mart, staring up at the crucifix of the Anglican Messiah, she briefly understood how people suddenly found it in them to convert to religion in moments of extreme stress. There was something in the image alone that yearned for her to cross the road and ask the minister for his blessings, that maybe this simple act could make all her wrongs go away.

Fuck Jesus. The guy is overrated! The voice in her head spat.

“I guess we’ll see about that”, she said up at the cross.

Fran’s thoughts returned to the square cigarette box in her left hand.

Let’s go down to the river Frannie.

Fran got into her car and as she left the car park, she noticed a police car perform a U-turn from the opposite side of the road. It pulled in behind her and flashed its lights for her to pull over. Fran was only a few kilometres from the river, so she kept driving.

By the time she got to the river, there were three police cars in pursuit.

Resignation

Fran exited the inner city office building via the rear stairwell and walked quickly to her car on the second level of the undercover carpark. Her feather light feet seemed to be at least an inch or two above the ground. Fran was surprised at how strange and unfamiliar the outside world suddenly appeared to her. The air was lighter and she had a heightened sense of self awareness. Fran felt like she could feel the entire universe opening up and offering its energy to her. Killing somebody changed you. Killing multiple people was surreal and difficult to comprehend. Nothing would ever be the same again. Her senses were not the same – sight, sounds and smells were all heightened. Fran had once taken Ecstasy when she was in her early twenties. Gary would sometimes take it now and then when they went out for the night and one night he convinced her to take some. This is what it felt like. Yes, killing someone made her feel like she was on drugs.

Drugs has nothing on this Frannie. Everyone needs a little murder here and there to make them feel alive!

The next life she would take would be her own although she was beginning to wonder if she should go on a murder spree after all. She had pondered this for some time before today but her concern was that she would be caught and spend the rest of her life in prison. The satisfaction of a few random killings would not be worth the next thirty years rotting away in a prison cell. She had made the decision to only kill three people – the first was one that she had used to love and the second was one that she had wanted to love. The third she had never loved and had been dead for a long time anyway.

The other, was a bonus.

Derrick

Derrick stared blankly at Fran. He didn’t blink. Fran supposed that dead people had no reason to blink, but she found Derrick’s open eyed gaze a little odd nonetheless. Fran removed the knife from Derrick’s skull for no other reason than she wanted to see how deep the blade had gone into his temple. She was impressed with the ease at which the blade had gone into Derricks head – the thick backside and razor sharp knife edge which she had purchased from the hunting shop had proven to be well worth the money she had spent on it.

“This one will cut the head off a Great White Shark like its jelly!” the salesman had informed her with childlike joy.

“Fascinating,” She had said in response. “– because that’s exactly what I want to do with it.”

A small stream of darkened blood oozed from the left side of Derricks head as she withdrew the blade. Fran wiped the knife on a napkin and put it back into her bag.

You’re a god dammed lunatic Frannie!

She had watched him die. It had taken longer than she anticipated, but she found the experience fascinating. At one point during Derrick’s slow death she felt like a third grader who discovers the act of burning ants with a magnifying glass. She found herself studying him with that childish curiosity one gets when they watch the suffering of another’s life as the result of ones actions. A kind of sadness washed over her as he drew in short gasps of breath yet the animated power she felt was like electricity through her veins. She had felt a connection between them both as he looked into her eyes with boy like confusion. His eyes seemed to ask her “Why Fran? Why?” She had hugged him and given him a kiss on the cheek while she rubbed her hand through his hair. “Sshhh” she had whispered in his ear. As she sat back to look at him, an incredible desire came over her for another ant to burn and she was sad that it was over.

Cheeky Girl

Fran stared at the side of Derrick’s red face as he angrily spoke. She lunged for him. Derrick screamed as her teeth sank into the left side of his face. She bit harder to tear away the flesh and as she did he jerked backwards. Blood flew across the keys on his open laptop, some of his cheek coming to rest on the folder next to it. She chewed slowly, gagging at first – it was tough and sickly sour. She spat a chunk of his raw, stubbled cheek onto the boardroom table. She didn’t care for the taste and the texture was unpleasant. Fran reached casually into her handbag at her side, took out the hunting knife she had purchased the day before and sat it on the table in front of her. She then reached down and took out a pistol and pointed it at Derrick. Derrick sat and screamed while blood ran through the hand clutching his cheek.

“Don’t fucking move Derrick, or I will deposit the rest of your face into your lap.” She calmly said.

Across the board room table, two men sat in shock staring at her.

“This meeting is over. Leave quietly.” Blood dripped from her mouth as she spoke.

One of the men threw up a yellow, brown liquid onto the table. Fran supposed it was the coffee he had been drinking.

The other man jumped out of his seat and ran out of the room.

Fran turned the pistol towards the man who threw up. He put his hands up.

“Please, I have kids”, he pleaded with her.

“Such a cliché,” she moaned. “You also have a weak stomach. I’m going to call you Throw Up Guy.”

He squinted and turned his head away from the pistol, putting his hand up in front.

“What do your children think you do here all day?” she asked him.

 “You crazy fucking bitch!” Derrick yelled at her.

Fran turned to Derrick who was still clutching at his bloody torn cheek.

She picked up the knife in her left hand, blade facing out and quickly drove it into Derrick’s chest, never taking her eyes off the man sitting across from her.

Derrick screamed and grabbed onto the knife’s handle. He tried to stand but he couldn’t get up.

“What do your children think you do here all day I asked?” she said turning back to the throw up guy.

“I don’t know. They think I work.” He mumbled. “Can I leave now?” he asked.

“Do you want to know what I think? I think you come here and you steal oxygen. You’re a thief. A filthy fucking thief, who comes here every day to pilfer the air that could be very well consumed by much better human beings than yourself. Then you go home, wreaking of smug fuck and backslap and you utilise the very air that you stole to pollute your kids and your wife about the useless contribution you made to humanity that day. It’s the only reason you exist, so day after day you can steal and lie to keep yourself from dying so you can continue telling the same lies to your kids thus perpetuating the incredible fucking nothingness that is your life!”

“Are you going to kill me?” he asked her.

“Tell me I’m wrong Throw up guy.” She barked at him.

“You’re wrong.” He said quietly.

Fran was a little surprised by his answer.

“I am huh? Tell me how?” She was interested to know his response.

“My life is not an incredible nothingness. I have a family and they give me a reason to keep living.” He said.

“Bullshit! You’re a fucking liar!” she spat.

“How would you know, you don’t even have any kids.” He said.

Fran felt a tight pain in her chest when she heard what he said. It was true, she didn’t have kids and she also didn’t know how much his own children meant to him.

“Fuck Fran, I’m sorry about what happened to Greg. I understand your upset, but...”

Show him the Wolf.

Fran put the pistol down.

No. I should let him go home. He’s not part of the plan.

“Get this fucking thing out of my chest!” Derrick screamed.

She turned to Derrick.

“Move your hands”, she said.

Derrick rolled his eyes towards her in agony. He dropped his hands away from the handle. Fran grabbed onto the knife, twisted and pulled it out. Blood poured out onto his white business shirt.

“I don’t think you’ll be able to wear that shirt again Derrick.”

Show him the Wolf!

Fran climbed up into the middle of the table and got on her hands and knees, sweat dripping from her brow onto the solid wooden boardroom table.

Don’t do it Fran. He has a family.

She crawled through the vomit and up to the face of the throw up guy. His pupils growing in wide eyed panic.

Who cares? You never had that luxury Frannie. Fuck this prick!

She let out a low growl from her belly and she could see the change in colour in the throw up guy’s cheeks. Fran’s canine teeth lengthened as thick grey hair grew across the backs of her hands and arms. A tail moved out from the bottom of her skirt as her hind legs arched–

The throw up guy involuntarily displayed terror on his face as he watched Fran transform into a wolf in the middle of the boardroom on the seventh floor of a Monday afternoon sales meeting.

Fran lunged at the man’s neck and tore his throat apart with ease, her teeth slicing through his colourless flesh. His brief scream quickly turned to a gargle whilst his body writhed and his hands hit out painlessly against Fran’s snout. She was locked on and there was nothing that could make her let go.

“Holy fucking Jesus!” she heard Derrick scream from behind her. Fran bit harder until the throw up guy stopped moving. She let go of the throw up guy’s neck and turned to Derrick, grinning her bloody grin. She could hear the throw up guy’s body slump off his oversized leather chair to the floor with a thud. Fran smiled.

“What the fuck are you Fran?” Derrick asked as though he genuinely couldn’t figure it out.

Fran got down from the table and took her seat next to Derrick.

“I could be God Derrick.” She said as she picked up the knife. “After all, I did play God and get rid of it for you didn’t I?”

She could see Derrick understood what she was referring to. His look of concern turned to a wry smile.

“Well, then we have God to thank for the decision that was made.” He said laughing, “The only shame being, that your mother didn’t make the same one!”  He said, spitting a mouthful of blood at her as he finished speaking.

Derrick only had time to see a shimmer of the blade in the corner of his eye before he felt a burning sensation ripping through the side of his head.

Coffee

Derrick wanted a coffee.

“Fran, could you organise some coffee for the room?” smirked Derrick.

“Sure sweetheart” she said.

He shot her a serious look. His eyes darted briefly around the room.

“Thank you” he said dryly but his eyes said - You bitch!

Cunt! Her eyes said to him.

They had been playing this game for a while now. Derrick thought he had the upper hand as her boss, but that would all change today. Today, Fran would take charge and she would be the boss.

Fran went to the table at the back of the room which had a pot of brewing percolated coffee. She poured four cups of black coffee and returned to the table.

“Milk?” asked Derrick.

“It’s not good for your waist you know.” said Fran.

“I’ll be the judge of that.”

“Clearly your judgements need realigning.”  She shot back. The two men sniggered.

Fran placed the milk on the table and took her seat.

“Once again gentlemen and ‘lady’, the theme for today’s monthly meeting is Animal theme day” said Derrick.

Once a month Derrick would have ‘Animal Theme Day’. Each of them had to choose an Animal they would be for that day. The idea was that Derrick would make them research an animal and one of its traits and he would ask each one of them to champion that trait for the rest of the month. Last month Fran had chosen a Piranha because of their razor sharp bite. It was lost on Derrick, but she supposed he would understand in time. There was once a time when Fran liked Animal theme day because she had liked Derrick. It was fun and she looked forward to it.

“What Animal do you have for us today Fran?” he asked. ”A gazelle?”

“Aren’t I one already?” said Fran. The men all laughed in chorus and a moment later Fran feigned laughter and joined in.

“That settles it then. Fran is a gazelle. The most beautiful gazelle in the room I might add”, boasted Derrick. A few sniggles murmured.

“But not just this room huh Derrick? How about the bed – room? Am I the most beautiful gazelle in the bedroom? In your bedroom?” she shot at him.

A seriousness came over Derrick and he glared at her. She could see his face turning red in front of her.

“I have no idea what you’re referring to Fran. If you don’t want a harassment charge coming across your bow, then I would suggest you refrain from making ridiculous accusations. Particularly in this forum!” He was angry and his attempt at innocence was pathetic.

“My apologies Derrick. That was out of line.”

“Yes it was. May I continue your Gazelleness?”

“Yes. Carry the fuck on.”

Derrick glared at her, his face turning deep red.

“Tony, what Animal –“

“I’m not sure that I want to be a Gazelle Derrick?” Fran said cutting him off.

Derrick looked back at her with a furrowed brow.

“Okay Fran. Well what Animal do you want to be?” he asked with obvious annoyance.

“I mean I have nothing against the Gazelle, but I don’t know any of its traits.”

“Well do you have another in mind then?”

“Yes I do.”

Derrick looked at her questiongly.

“Well what is it?”

“A Candiru.”

“A Candiru? What the hell is that?”

“It’s a small fish in South America –“

“You certainly have a thing for fish Fran –“

“- it crawls into the urethra of swimming men and women and sticks in there with hooks. When you leave the water, it dies and eventually you die from infection.”

“Jesus Fran, that’s disgusting.” Said Tony from across the table.

“Why the hell do you want to be a...”

“A Candiru.”

“-a Candiru.” Derrick finished.

“You miss the point Derrick. It’s not me that wants to crawl into your genitals, put my hooks out and die. It’s you.”

“Wha -

Fran couldn’t wait any longer. She opened her mouth and lunged at his face.

The Meeting

Fran took her seat at the board room table amongst the living dead. Male corpses barely passing as poor imitations of living beings slumped in chairs sat at an oversized polished wooden table. Cheap suits and discount aftershave were the trademark of these guys. They thought they were special people and that they were doing special things because the business told them they were special people who did special things. They had spent the last however many years justifying their meaningless lives by convincing each other that they were making the world a better place - that they were innovators and problem solvers. They were nothing but piss weak chauvinistic men that sold products that were not needed to the idiots of the world.

Once upon a time Fran believed in the product because she believed in Derrick. The product and Derrick were the only things that made sense and she was as keen to see the latest month’s sales figures as anyone else.

“A record month team!” Derrick would boast when they beat last month’s numbers. Everybody knew that Derrick would be getting a nice little kicker for their hard work. Fran didn’t mind, often Derrick would give her a kicker of his own.

Now days it all smelt like bullshit to her. The product was a steaming turd that made her physically ill. The only joy she had lately was when they had a record low last month. That made her satisfied – that and the obvious display of discomfort Derrick showed before his “Please explain” meeting with the seniors.

Fran was the token female, middle aged and attractive. She was educated enough to have her ideas considered, many a nod and smile thrown in her direction, but nonetheless never the one whose idea it was to pass into action. Fran was never a subscriber to the feminist movement, she believed in earning her place at the table but in the day of ‘quotas’ she felt that some now saw her as an executive equal rights example. Unfortunately because Fran could no longer work full time, it was easier to come to the conclusion that she was another ‘dumb female’ who didn’t really belong where she was.

“Smile and nod at her boys”, she overheard Tony saying one day when he thought she wasn’t around.

“These fucking women belong in the kitchen – not in board rooms. What the hell would she know about the business anyway.” agreed another.

“Come on guys, Fran’s been with the business for many years. She knows her way around.” It was Derrick.

“Knows her way around the bedroom hey Derrick!” said Tony. The three of them laughed.

“That old duck knows how to fuck. I’m telling you. Since her old man ended up in a wheelchair, she’s up for anything!” laughed Derrick.

“Maybe she’ll share it round” sneered another of the pathetic voices.

Fran sat across from Tony. He was a fat, balding sweaty little man that had been single for years. The guy wore his desperation as a tattoo on his forehead – always making sexual jokes at every opportunity. He thought it was funny, but not even Derrick seemed to laugh anymore.

Fran didn’t hate men, she just hated these men. In particular, she hated one man – Derrick.

She made a point to sit next to Derrick today. He looked at her with that stupid confused look in his eye as she took a seat next to him. The look that she once thought was cute. Now it just made her angry. She put her bag down next to her feet and waited for Derrick to say something to her. He didn’t.

Shower

Standing in the shower, wet hair hanging down over her face, Fran enjoyed the hot water running down her back. It was the time of day that she enjoyed any peace. The night had borne little sleep and she thought of coffee but saw little need for caffeine. She had no intentions of being professionally productive today.

The dried blood ran down the shower drain in the floor underneath her feet. She hadn’t showered last night, instead falling asleep next to Gary in their bed. She had moved him to the bedroom and put him into the bed and had laid next to him, going in and out of sleep most of the night.

She studied her hands as the hot water ran over them, washing the last bits of dried blood away. They were older than she had realised, wrinkles now covering the entire backs of her hands. She studied the rest of her body, another act she had refused to do for some time. She believed that Derrick had made her feel young again and she forgot in the process that her body was anything but young. Her breasts sagged and she noticed the dimples on her upper thighs. Blue veins stood out around her pasty white knees. When she was younger, her legs were olive brown and there was not a vein to be seen. Now they looked like a roadmap and twice as large.

How did this happen to me? She thought.

When did this happen?

Fran stepped out of the shower and studied her naked body in the large bathroom mirror. She was glad that she would never get any older than she was right now.

This is as bad as it gets, she thought.

A calmness came over her knowing that she would not have to endure the task of watching her flesh decay for the rest of her life. She would not have to witness the slow incumbent end that many an elderly citizen had to live through. The loss of mobility, the loss of independence followed by the loss of coherence and dignity. At least she would go out before the beginning of the end. She would skip the worst that life had to offer.

Fran dressed in her plain black skirt and grey business shirt. She tied her hair back into a tight ponytail and applied some light red lipstick.

She walked over to Gary, who was lying on his back in their bed. Fran drew the covers up over his body. She stood there for a moment looking down at him.

“I loved you Gary.” She said to him.

She picked up the black case on the bedside table, left the curtains drawn and shut the bedroom door on her way out.

Daddy’s Gun

Fran had been raised by her father. Her mother died when she was three. Her father never told her how she died, all she knew was that she was sick for quite some time. Before she died, her father was a policeman. Afterwards he became a full time father and a drunk. He was never abusive towards her, he was a kind man, but he was incapable of caring for her. Fran replaced her mother and took care of them both as best as a child could do.

Her father’s only parenting skill had been to teach Fran how to shoot his service pistol. It seemed to be the only thing he knew how to do well and it was in teaching her to shoot that she had learned to love him the most. His attention was undivided when it came to firearms and marksmanship, his passion for weapons handling radiating through his every careful instruction to her. He taught her to shoot well and for that he was proud. For Fran, she grew out of it when he passed away and she stored his service pistol away in her closet and hadn’t the urge to fire it since.

Fran sat on the edge of her bed holding her father’s gun for the first time in about ten years. It felt heavier than she remembered but maybe she had simply grown weaker in her arm. The cool barrel brushed against her upper thigh as she picked it up and dry cocked it. She held it up and aimed it at a photo of her and Gary on their honeymoon. She gently squeezed the trigger and was startled by the ‘snap’ of the hammer as it released forward. She instantly re-cocked the gun, released the magazine and loaded a round into it. She inserted the magazine back into the butt of the pistol, stood and walked out into the dining room of their home.

Gary was seated motionless in his wheel chair watching the T.V. His head was tilted to the left side as it always did, his untidy hair matted on top. Even though she couldn’t see his face, she knew that a line of drool would be running from the corner of his mouth down onto his shirt. She could see his back heavily rising up and down as he breathed.

She walked slowly up behind him taking a cushion from the kitchen chair next to Gary and held it near the back of his head. Fran stood behind her husband and raised the pistol until the barrel was sitting against the small flower cushion. Fran noticed her hand trembling and her heart beating out of her chest. She lowered the pistol, placed it on the table and sat down next to him.

A sitcom was playing on the TV that she had never seen. She guessed that Gary didn’t care what he watched and doubted whether he knew it was even on. She looked at him.

“Gary?” she asked.

He snorted.

“Why didn’t you put the harness on that day at work?”

He just sat there breathing heavy.

“You owe me an answer Gary. You must have a reason for not wearing it?” she asked him.

Gary didn’t respond. The drool ran down his chin onto his shirt as she had pictured.

“You ruined our lives.”

Gary was unresponsive to her. She slapped him across the face. His face turned and he grunted. She slapped him harder again.

“You ruined our lives because you were fucking careless!”

He made a choking sound as he breathed in. It was just some of the saliva that had pooled in his mouth. It was the most he ever communicated.

“You’ve never even said sorry!” she cried at him.

“I was going to have a child Gary, but instead I got you to look after. This was not the way it was supposed to be! I’m not doing it anymore.”

He sat motionless, staring at the TV and breathing.

“I said I’m not doing it anymore. I’m going to kill you Gary, then I’m going to kill myself. It sounds bad but it’s nowhere near as bad as living like this.”

Gary snorted.

Fran grabbed the TV remote and turned it up all the way. She moved around and stood behind Gary and picked up the pistol. Fran lent forward and kissed the top of his head.

“Maybe things will be better across the river.” She whispered to him.

Picking up the cushion, she held the pistol in one outstretched hand, and looked down over the iron sights. Her index finger gently pulled back on the trigger as her father had taught her many years ago until the hammer released forward.

The Blade

Fran skipped her lunch today. The girl at the clinic had asked if there was somebody to take her home. She had said no. When she left, she was thinking of the things she needed to get from the grocer on the way home. It was a default way to block out what she had just gone through. They had told her that everybody deals with it differently and that no matter how much somebody wanted the procedure, everyone suffered post-traumatic stress to some extent.

As Fran drove to the store, she believed she would be one of the ones who suffered very little if at all. She had come to despise Derrick, in fact she hated him with pure disgust and had envisioned herself killing him.

Fran stopped at a set of lights and noticed a fishing shop on the opposite corner. It gave her an idea.

“This one will cut the head off a Great White Shark!” the young fisherman said to her with kind of silly glee. Fran studied the blade of the long and thick stainless steel fishing knife. She grasped the blade with the fingers of her left hand and attempted to bend it.

“Careful there Miss, that’s very sharp.” He said with a little concern, “And strong as hell.”

“I’ll take it,” she said.

“Is this for you?” he asked.

“No, it’s for my boss. He’s a very keen fisherman.” She said.

“Must be a good boss. I’m going to need to see your licence before I can sell this to you.”

Fran left the shop with the knife in a bag and sat in her car. She realised she had just bought a murder weapon.

Fran supposed after all that she was going to be one of the majority who actually suffered greatly. She would make sure that those responsible suffered more.

The Rejection

Fran traced the outline of Derrick’s bare shoulders against the bedroom wall of his inner city apartment. She was amused by his taste in décor, finding it both unusual and arousing at the same time. She had, in the few times she had spent in his bed come to quickly find herself just as much wanting to be inside his apartment as she did wanting him inside her. She felt something for him. She loved his youth, his handsomeness and innocence. He rolled over to look at her.

“What?” he asked her.

“Nothing.” She smiled back.

Derrick looked at his watch as if to make sure she saw him do it.

“Am I overstaying my welcome?” she asked playfully.

“Well…” he raised his hands openly.

“What does that mean? Am I not welcome?” she asked. She could feel a knot in her stomach.

“Yes –of course you are Fran.” He said rolling back over.

She ran a finger lightly across his back.

“You know, we’ve fucked a few times now and you haven’t asked me to stay the night yet.” She threw it out there.

“What about Gary?” he asked.

“What about him?” she laughed.

He rolled over to face her and he took her hand.

“Fran, we work together. You’re married and I’m half your age.” He said it like she had no idea that these things were true. She knew they were true but she didn’t know they were an issue.

“And?”

“And…that’s it. We fuck. That’s it.”

“That’s it?” she moved back from him letting go of his hand.

“Yes.” He said without hesitation.

“But I thought –‘

“What? That I wanted something more?”

“Well yes. Maybe?”

“Fran, you’re twenty years older than me. I fuck lots of women. Mainly younger women, but you have a kind of mum thing going on that turns me on.”

“A mum thing?”

“Yeah, you know –“

“You fuck lots of women?”

“Of course. Fran, I’m twenty five.”

She could feel the tears in her eyes and she turned her head away from him.

“Fran, you didn’t think this was serious did you? I mean we work together. It’s just a bit of fun – you know an office romance.”

“I’m just a bit of fun for you?”

She stood up to get dressed.

“You’re kidding right? I’ve never led you to believe this was anything other than a sex thing right?”

“Right. Yes. Right. Just a sex thing. I’m just a sex thing.”

“Fran –“

“Well at least that’s something right? A sex thing is better than a no thing.” She said angrily.

“Are you serious? What world do you live in? In what reality would we ever live happily ever after? You’re old and you’re married to a vegetable for fuck’s sake!”

Fran stared at Derrick, shocked at what he had just said to her. He rolled onto his back and stared at the bedroom ceiling. After a moment she spoke -

“I wish Gary was dead.”

Derrick turned to face her.

“Don’t say that.”

“Would you love me if he was dead?”

“Jesus Fran. You need help.”

“I love you.”

Derrick began to laugh. It was a laugh she had never heard before. It was a laugh that was directed at her. It was the laugh of someone who was laughing at an idiot, an imbecile, a sad married middle aged woman who had thought a young man had wanted more than sex.

“That’s funny –“he said shaking his head and laughing.  “You’re serious. Poor Frannie.”

“I don’t love him Derrick. He’s not even human anymore. He just grunts and drools –“

“Go home Fran.”

Fran felt like a small child who had just been told her by a parent that they didn’t love her anymore. An immediate deep ache pulled at her chest and she wanted to run but her legs were weak. She had been waiting to tell him the news, the news that she imagined would make him sweep her off her feet and they would dance the night away in celebratory prose. She didn’t want to tell him like this, but it was her only chance.

“Please, I have something to tell you –“

Derrick stopped laughing and gave her a serious look.

“I know what it is. Get rid of it. I don’t love you Fran and I never will.”

Gary

Fran wiped her husband’s chin with a dirty dishcloth. She was sure that Gary didn’t care one way or another if she used a clean cloth. He was a vegetable after all. A quadriplegic. Mentally and physically he was a man no more than she was a hot air balloon.

Gary had made the stupid decision to not wear a harness one day when he was at work. He fell three storeys from a roof and broke his spinal cord.

“Your husband is extremely lucky to be alive,” the doctors had told her when Gary woke up from his coma.

At first she believed them. At first there was hope. Miracles were always a possibility. He had in fact cheated death, so why too could he not learn to walk and talk again. Anything was possible she thought.

After time, Fran realised that these things would never happen and her hopes disappeared. He was a vegetable who dribbled his spoon fed food paste and made grunting sounds. They hadn’t spoken for 8 years. Her only sanity was that she was able to work two shifts a week at the firm where she had worked for 10 years before Gary’s accident. That was her saving grace. That and Derrick.

Today she would tell Derrick the news. She would tell him that she was going to keep it and that she loved him. Today was going to be the beginning of her new life.

 

The Beginning

Fran put the tester onto the bathroom sink. She was sure without looking at it that a small blue line was going to appear on it in the next few minutes. She had been feeling sick and had missed her last two periods.

She finished dressing herself, washed her hands and then picked up the tester. A faint blue line was beginning to appear in the middle of the tester.

Oh my god, she thought. Her heart raced in her chest.

I’m going to be a mother!

Emily

Fran walked down to the edge of the river in the late afternoon sun to watch Emily dance on the little wooden jetty to a song that nobody but Emily could hear. As Fran watched her, she could not believe it had been eight years already.

“My God she’s growing up fast.” It was Gary who spoke from behind her. He took her hand and stood beside her to watch their daughter.

“She’s an angel isn’t she?” he dotingly said.

Gary lent over and gave Fran a gentle kiss on the cheek.

“Want to lay down in the grass with me?” he whispered to her. She did. They laid down next to each other and watched the clouds.

“Would you like to go out for dinner tonight?” Gary asked her.

“Let’s go to Salut. I like it there.” Fran said.

“Ok. How was your monthly today?” asked Gary.

“It was fine. Derrick was his usual self.” She said.

A siren sounded from across the river. Fran sat up to see what was happening.

“Mummy – why is there police over there?” Emily asked from the jetty.

“I don’t know honey” said Fran. Her mouth was dry.

Three police cars followed a small Ford into the parking lot across the river. The car stopped directly facing them.

“Animal theme day?” he asked seemingly oblivious to what was happening across the river. She turned to him.

“Do you see that?”

“Yes. I’m sure it’s nothing. Let me guess,” he paused in thought. “You were a Gazelle.” A smug grin coming across his face as he said it.

Fran hardly heard him as she looked across at the small Ford surrounded by police cars. She thought it looked like a woman who was in the driver’s seat but she couldn’t be sure from here.

Just you and me now Frannie.

“Am I right?” Gary asked, interrupting her thoughts.

Fran had what she thought was an urge to have a cigarette.

That’s strange. Haven’t had one of those since I was a teenager.

“Well?” asked Gary again.

“No. I was a wolf.”

Fran began walking down towards the river. She strode along the wooden jetty, eyes fixed on the windscreen of the small Ford car.

“Mummy? Is everything okay?” asked Emily nervously. Fran didn’t answer her. She walked to the edge of the jetty and removed her shoes.

“Fran? What are you doing?” said Gary from behind her on the river bank.

Fran breathed deeply as she stood barefoot on the edge of the jetty, heart pounding in her bosom as she looked down at the glassy water’s surface.

Before Fran jumped into the water, she looked up across at the small Ford one more time and she saw what it was behind the wheel, its long grey snout and pointy ears were easily identifiable for the creature it was.

What frightened her most of all, was its bloody canine grin.


© Copyright 2018 Jobe Myers. All rights reserved.

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