The Accumulator

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

The light has gone out of Guthrie's busy days working for the International Parasitic Society. Can a mysterious traveler and his pet goose make it all better?

 

“In all my 50 years of serving the International Parasitic Society, there has never been an incident…” Morgan seized his chest and fell to the floor. The wise founder, one Elder Cone, approached the same podium an hour later from behind a red curtain. The congregation wore row after row of black. 

“It was samimella,” he said mournfully. 

“What can we do?” asked a penitent in the back. Cone clicked his pen and breathed back tears.

“I will arrange a special meeting on Thursday covering everything we need to know to keep our families safe.”

“E-excuse me, s-sir?” a man asked as he rose from his seat. His coreligionists  stared in disbelief. “I-I have work then. I can’t miss my Thursday shift, not for the world.”
“It may cost you that much,” Cone replied. “What’s your name?” he asked.

“Guthrie, sir,” he replied, hanging his head in shame.

“Typical,” muttered Cone. That was all he said. He walked off. Someone in middle management stumbled hurriedly onto the stage. 

He said, “No more questions for today. You all came here to learn. If we progress, it’s because we do it together. If you want to compromise with the world, there’s the door.”

---

Jimmy Bob, stone faced and diligently studying one of a thousand textbooks assigned to him by the publishing company that owned the International Parasitic Society, sipped his coffee and waited for the end. His roommate Johann rolled out of bed. 

safety questionnaire?” he asked. Jimmy Bob swiveled to face him.

“Brother. You’re to address me as brother, brother.”

“Oh, right brother. Sorry brother. Brother, would you bother bothering with a brother’s bothers, brother?” asked Johann.

“Every answer key is in the back of the New Millenium Parasitics Standard Field Guide, 2nd Edition. I’m assuming you haven’t lost your copy.”

“Who’re you saying this to?”

“You,” said Jimmy Bob.

“You... who?”

“You… Brother.” 

“Doesn’t feel too good to be high-roaded all the time, does it brother?” asked Johann. Jimmy Bob scoffed.

“We are to receive correction with a satisfied heart, brother,”he said.

“Like that correction I got last week not to play soccer? Listen, Morgan told me that samimellawas attracted to astroturf right? That’s what the old fart died from, so the wise man says. Can you imagine Morgan playing on fucking astroturf?”

“Language!”

“It’s ridiculous!”

“I’m reporting your unbecoming behavior to Cone.”

---

Guthrie set his suitcase down and cried. Not a one. No one wanted to swing their door open wide and welcome him in. He turned onto his side and let a few fat tears slide down his cheeks as he remembered his first time doing public outreach. From childhood, Elder Cone had held him by the hand and showed him the ropes. That day alone the founder had saved three households from the parasitic menace. Cone never failed to remind Guthrie that all of the Society’s successes were in spite of him, who found his lines so trite and boring he couldn’t remember them. 

Cone was a fortress of a man, bald except for a fuzz of white hairs around his crown. The New Millenium Parasitics Standard Field Guide, 12th Edition  looked like a wafer in his hand. He went from door to door offering salvific communion, and watched with sorry satisfaction as house after house chose damnation. He jammed the book  in the door if they tried to slam it on him, at 750 pages it did the job. It accreted with his paranoia over the years. His voice boomed with the knowledge that their very souls were being offered a final chance. If rejected, he would lift a hairy finger, commanding them to count their remaining days a precious mercy from God. If someone gave him an inch, he took it all. Cone advanced and encircled every householder he could  to elucidate for them the whole of truth.

 That morning, Cone threatened to pull Guthrie out of public ministry for good and set him up as a janitor for the local congregation. A humble and fastidious scion of his insular community, he had no choice but to comply. He remembered the look of profound contempt on Cone’s face when he accepted punishment time and again for honest failings.

Cone was a man of great passion, a loving husband, a skilled carpenter, a generous father of 12 children, a congregation leader and a devoted enemy of the hidden parasitic menace gripping the world, causing all unexplained deaths from disappearance to spontaneous combustion. Guthrie was a disappointment, neither learned nor assiduous enough to garner power. Guthrie got up and studied his aging features in the mirror. He was declining before he could ever hit his prime. A knock came at the door. There stood a shriveled specter of a man who slouched in without a word. Guthrie, knowing the pain of the door to door line of work, let the shadow in. His clothes smelled of months of accumulated odors and formaldehyde in particular.

“Best of mornings to ya, might I interest you in a new lease on life?” Guthrie nodded as the light of the setting sun bloomed over their features. “It’s a hard world Guthrie boy,” the stranger said as he pulled out a small goose and sat it on his knee, “and there’s no shortage of bloodsuckers looking to squeeze every last drop of life out of you. That’s where ol’ Friedrich can come in handy for you.” The goose honked. “You, my friend, are possessed by an excess of ayomes.”

“Ayomes?”

“Don’t you lemmings read? Anyomes, the anti-entropic organizing principle of these here seven skies, though you prolly just know about the one. We call ‘em ‘sign-pumps’ in the industry.” Guthrie blinked. “You, my friend, have been locked into a mold, your life is defined, your future predetermined by others. Control is your pain, your life, and it will be your death until you allow Friedrich the goose here to help you.” Guthrie blinked again. The stranger held the bird aloft and proclaimed, “I have here the one true ayome accumulator, the greatest waterfowl what come from mother earth’s voluptuous bosom.” Guthrie blinked.

“So if I let your duck--”

“Friedrich is a goose, now. He’s very particular about that.”

“...If I let your goose stay with me, I’ll have the will to say no to Elder Cone?”

“I wouldn’t say that. But you wouldn’t be his footstool anymore. Oh, sonny boy, that’s for certain.” Guthrie thanked the man profusely and accepted some basic instructions on what not to say around Friedrich. “Baby talk him and he’ll shit in your sink, just a warning from experience. He’ll be well fed by your presence alone, so don’t go tossing seeds his way because he wouldn’t know what to do with them.” The man tipped his hat and went for the door. 

“What’s your name?”

“Gunther. Gunther Price. We’ll be seeing each other very soon.”

As Guthrie emerged from his bathroom brushed, washed, and ready for bed, he found the snowy goose perched quietly on top of his television set. He made no attempt to remove the bird. Clearly, he was in the presence of a creature far beyond his understanding. He watched commercials for a few minutes and soon forgot the goose was even there. He slept sitting up in the lamplight. 

Guthrie woke up. Friedrich stared down at him from on top of his chest. His feathers were more radiant than before. The goose calmly disembarked. At that moment Guthrie realized he was late for public outreach. He went to his front door in a cold sweat before realizing he needed his suit. He turned to find Friedrich perched by the whole outfit, pressed and perfectly clean. He thanked the goose, kissed his little feet and geared up for a horrible day. 

The moment he shut his front door he felt a tight fist around his collar dragging him across the sidewalk. Hands strongarmed him into the car and slammed the door as hard as humanly possible. The truck whined and sagged as Elder Cone’s incredible structural frame squeezed into the driver’s seat. As he gripped the steering wheel his knuckles turned whiter than chalk. The car was silent for thirty minutes except for the sound of Cone’s simmering rage. 

“You’re going to be speaking before the congregation today. I hope you have your presentation prepared.”

“P-presentation?” Cone turned to look at him. The old man seemed a hair trigger away from removing Guthrie’s face with a clean blow from the back of his hand. 

Instead, he shoved a century old tome on the Brotherhood’s labyrinthine system of hermeneutics and said “Study, or I will personally take it upon myself to ensure that you are run out of your town and your family shielded from your carelessness.” So Guthrie read, but the words crashed and jumbled together. He broke down crying at the podium. Finally, after hours of fear and trembling, Cone relented to give him another chance. 

Guthrie went home a broken wreck. He didn’t watch television, eat, or sleep. He sat half awake as Friedrich the goose slept on his chest, perched just the same way above his heart.

When he got up in the morning, Guthrie noticed that he had new gray hairs. Blood seeped from his gums when he touched them. His face sagged, perhaps more than a human face is meant to. He sighed and accepted his pressed and immaculate suit from Friedrich at the door. 

He tried as hard as he could to lift up his thoughts to the lord, to remember the words or carry the tone, but somehow even this he could no longer manage. He went home early, sagging and sad. Tomorrow he had more field work. He shivered at the thought all night as sleep avoided him. His only companion was the goose. 

As he trailed behind Cone the old man became more and more indignant, despairing that a man so blessed as Guthrie could feel such ingratitude for all he had done for him. Guthrie slid onto the ground and found himself unable to get up.

“I worry about you. Look at you, you’re a mess!” He grabbed Guthrie’s wrist and tried to pull him up, but wrench his hand away when he heard a snap that made his lip tremble. They both went home early that day. 

The next morning, Cone called Guthrie before the congregation to be cast out of the community. Among his family there wasn’t a single dry eye, but they loved Elder Cone and trusted that this was best for the health of the collective body. 

Guthrie wept on stage, attempting to explain himself in his final moments before the congregation. He could barely get out of bed that morning, only achieving such a feat with the help of Friedrich, his constant companion. As he began to explain his plan to repent in the desert and one day rejoin the community, his teeth slid out with his gums. His mother screamed. Cone ran up to the stage to try and do something, hollering about nihilocarids. Gunther smiled knowingly from the back of the room. Guthrie’s legs fell apart. He slithered off the stage to try and comfort his mother. He reached out and screamed, but she picked up her bag and ran as far and fast as she could. Gunther caught his eye from across the room. He tapped his temple. While the rest of the congregation stormed out of the church he stayed to watch. 

“WHY?” cried Gunther. Cone, once the congregation had completely fled, pulled out a pistol with a blessed bullet in the chamber. 

“I should have known you’d  sold your soul to the invaders,” Guthrie wept and plead incomprehensibly for his life, a puddle of flesh. 

“Sure you can hit the boy from 3 feet?” called Gunther, appearing from behind the stage curtain. Cone went pale as a glacier. 

“You…!” he screamed. He turned the gun on the disheveled salesman and pulled the trigger. The gun exploded in his hand. He screamed and screamed and screamed. Gunther laughed and laughed and laughed, approaching slowly. When he was standing over him, he threw Friedrich into the air, who dissolved into a great ball of light and burned through the roof. A star ascended into the heavens. Guthrie felt wings sprouting from his liquid flesh. Their feeble membranes waxed at the sound of Cone’s cries, swelling with the blood that covered the ground. He flapped once, and twice, and followed Friedrich into the sky to a chorus of rapture and woe.

 


Submitted: December 19, 2020

© Copyright 2021 william edge. All rights reserved.

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