vagrants and plagues

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


It had been a couple of years since I moved to a small town in the Klein Karoo. Nothing much ever happened in my new town, it is like the gods and the devils of the world have abandoned us. To my great fortune it was here that I made a dear friend. We relied on the simple pleasures of life, like late morning brunches and simply having ice cream dates, just to escape the monotony of everyday life.

When the plague of 2020 rolled around, we figured we were safe. With our unique ability to miss out on nearly everything else, it seemed only logical that the likeliness of the apocalypse coming to our small town was almost non-existent. We don’t need a lockdown to avoid a virus, right? Wrong. We were forced to stay indoors, eating copious amounts of food to ward off the boredom.

Suddenly Millennials became TikTok masters, Boomer humour flooded the internet, we paraded the house in nothing but pyjamas with unwashed hair and Netflix kept asking “Are you still watching?”. Sadly, we were still watching and did not appreciate the constant interruption. It became a lawless time.

My house drove me mad. One neighbour had a love for home renovations whilst the other had an odd obsession with folk music. Once I’ve scrubbed just about every surface, polished every window and repacked every cupboard, my inability to block out these grating sounds turned me into a vicious, snarling little gremlin.

By the fortieth day of the national lockdown I was desperate to see my friend, share a glass of wine and drone on about the horrors I’ve been forced to endure. The need to escape started off as an itch but, like any itch left unscratched, it became violent in its constant assault on my mind.

I spent hours working on my plan. Searching the recesses of my mind for the perfect plan to escape my personal Azkaban. Finally, I had it all figured out.

I’d wait for Tuesday evening. You see, Wednesdays were garbage collection days but because the pickup times were always unreliable the residence on my street would put their trash out on a Tuesday evening.

My plan was to disguise myself as in a garbage bag, wait amongst the trash bags till the cover of darkness and then slowly duck-walk to my friend’s house. Completely inconspicuous. A terrible plan in retrospect, but a plan nonetheless.

She lived quite a distance from me, so I knew this would be a challenge unlike any I’ve faced before but after the rigorous training I’ve had over the past year, I figured I would be able to make it.

So when Tuesday evening came around I set my plan into motion. I cut holes in the bag, big enough for just my feet to fit through, and after a great struggle I finally managed to tie the bag.

Armed with nothing but a cheap bottle of wine and my trash bag I sat in my driveway waiting for nightfall.

The other trash bags gave off an atrocious smell, I was clammy with sweat and breathing was a little harder than expected.

Finally it was time. I started my duck waddle. I could only see only a small portion of the pavement though the holes in the bottom of the bag and as a result I tripped over pebbles, roots and uneven spots in the paving - but I was determined.

Every little sound made me fall flat on my ass to remain unseen.

I figured I was about halfway to my destination when the aching set in. My muscles were on fire. They were begging for reprieve. Burning. Staying still hurt and moving hurt. But I was halfway there… So, either way I chose to go, I had to keep going.

I became deaf to my surroundings. Hearing nothing but the pounding of my own heart, my labouring breaths and a scraping sound – which I was sure was my muscles scraping against one another.

Suddenly I was roughly hoisted into the air. Police? Army? Have I been caught?

My back made impact with a hard grid-like structure, winding me in the process. Wheezing and clutching my bottle of wine, I saw my life flash before my eyes. I felt my skeleton rattle in fear at my current predicament.

My teeth violently clattering.

An eerie screech penetrated my momentary daze.

I soon realised that the shaking wasn’t entirely me, well not as much as it was a result of whatever contraption I was now on.

Up. Down. Left. Right. Forward. Back.

All sorts of medieval torture devices flashed through my mind, igniting a fear deep within the pit of my stomach.

What kind of police vehicle is this? Why haven’t they questioned me? Certainly, that would be the protocol.

I moved to sit up and the contraption came to a halt.

Odd, maybe now I’ll be questioned…

I heard some sort of shuffling and then I felt the impact to my skull.

Even in the darkness of my bag, I saw the brightest lights dancing across my vision. Pinpricks and explosions, alike.

What the hell? Is this the famed police brutality?

Anger momentarily overpowered the fear and I was ready to fight. I made a foolish choice, but I’ll be damned if I allow some unknown cop or soldier to knock me about.

Then the contraption started moving again.

What the hell is happening?

Did I get hit because I sat up?

A foul smell slowly crept into the bag making me cringe.

Maybe I’m on a serial killer’s wagon?

Am I amongst dead bodies?

The thought alone sent chills down my spine.

Slowly I manoeuvred my hand out of my bag to explore my surroundings. Blindly flinging my hand about to find any sort of clue.

Finding another bag was not one of the many scenarios rushing through my mind, but there it was. The unmistakable plastic of a bag.

As quietly as possible I tore open the bag to explore it further.

Inhaling deeply and closing my eyes, I plunged my hand deep into the bag. It felt warm and moist. I grabbed hold of the first thing my hand met. I grabbed hold of something slimy and worm-like.

Maggots! Fighting my instinct to drop them and begging my stomach to stay down I brought the hand full of maggots towards my bag for closer inspection.

My body - cold and numb with horror. My skin - tight and crawling.

Once the maggots were safely inside my bag, I exhaled and slowly opened one eye.

Noodles? Not maggots, just plain old noodles. Well, not plain, judging by the stench coming off of them but noodles all the same.

So, the other bag had to be a bag full of trash? I was on some sort of small, noisy cart with real trash…

The vagrant!

It had to be him.

You see, we had many vagrants who’d roam the streets. Tuesday evening and Wednesday mornings, they’d search the trash bags, take whatever they wanted from them and then neatly place all the bags on a street corner - every block or so. And I, a certified idiot, was now on a vagrant’s cart being wheeled off to some street corner.

Armed with my new information I jumped up, ripping my plastic bag and victoriously holding my bottle of wine above my head with an exclamation of joy.

With a yelp of horror, the vagrant spun around - his momentum knocking him over.

His crack-addled mind failing to comprehend the situation.

My heart ached for him; his vacant eyes staring up at me as terror danced in them, but a crazed cackle erupted from me as I noticed that he had unknowingly brought me back home, to the place where it all started.

Defeated, aching and utterly exhausted I trudged back indoors where I remained till the end; safe from vagrants and plagues.

 


Submitted: May 07, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Monique Barnard. All rights reserved.

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