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Chapter 7: The Pile

 

 

Upstairs Mr. Benson peeked suspiciously through the window at the drenched and mud spattered woman at his door. Blood dripped off her fingers as she waited stolidly for admittance. When no one appeared, Janet reached for the door handle and let herself in, leaving a scarlet palm print. Mr. Benson barked frantically at the intruder. Janet paused in the foyer, waiting for him to acknowledge her presence. Mr. Benson put his tail between his legs and fled up the stairs where he hid under the bed. Janet shook her head and walked down to the basement.

The spectacle there woke Janet from her apathy. She gagged at the stench. The floor seemed to pulsate and her feet stuck to pools of partially evaporated body fluids. She gawked at the carnage. The room was nearly filled with a giant heap of debris topped with a naked, middleaged female body. Beneath it lay an assortment of smashed recording equipment, a television, a phone, an overturned can of gasoline. Bloodstained clothing, papers and trash were heaped everywhere. A deflated basketball slid down the edge of the pile and landed at Janet's feet. It, too, was covered with bloodstains. John, Ben and Rob, all nude and glistening with gore, formed a triangle around the pile. Ben removed his headphones and dropped them onto his mom.

Ben passed John the digital master tape. John deflected it to Rob. Rob offered it to Janet. Ben spoke, "It's finished. I don't need it any more."

Janet toyed nervously with the tape. "I don't understand. You've destroyed everything. Please, someone explain to me what's happening here."

"I'll just explain to you what I explain to you. Everything is simple to me. It is what it is because that is what it is. It doesn't go any farther. What? That is all there is. Why? Why? Why comes from your mother. Your mother teaches you why, why, why. You go around asking your mother why and she keeps telling you, `Because.' And you don't know any different. If you had two mothers, one to tell you, `yes' and another to tell you, `no,' if you had a dozen parents that you went around with and you couldn't believe anything you were told then you couldn't disbelieve anything you were told, then your mind might be where mine is. What? Why? Mind? I don't need it. I am."

Rob took his now limp penis in his hand. "I don't need this any more either," he said. Ben picked up the garden shears and lopped Rob's exhausted genitalia off at the base. Blood spurted joyously onto the floor toward the pile. John screamed in agony as Ben smiled and Rob dropped his offering onto the heap.

A thick, glutinous mist began to rise off the pile, congealing into a haze near the ceiling. As the blood from Rob's mutilated manhood reached its base, the entire massive structure shifted and began to heave.

John spoke. "What happens," he demanded, "when there's no one left to manipulate? What happens when I become you?" He stepped to Janet's side, kissed her tenderly, and lit a match.

The flame of the match expanded into a ring of fire and surrounded Janet's face, burning coldly. "There never was a time when I was not you. There is no you. There is only I." John grasped her by the waist and threw her violently onto the pile. Janet opened her arms in an unconditional embrace and burst into flames.

"There is no I. There is only it."

"My eyes and saw nothing but fire. I felt no pain, no fear. Only a great sense of peace and accomplishment. I saw horrible things, but they didn't frighten me. I saw John and Ben and Rob fall on one another like wild animals and devour each other. I saw my flesh melt and run off the bones like wax. Then I saw darkness and I was ready to die. But it was not for me. Not yet.

"Instead, Bill came running in and grabbed my hand. The pain was unbelievable, incredible. I fought against him, choking in the heat and smoke. He was stronger, though. In the end, he won, and he pulled me out of the fire. He dragged me up the stairs and out into the street. I heard a roar. I saw the house explode in a pillar of fire. I thought I saw Meg and Mr. Benson dancing together as their bones smoked and sparked. And then, I know this sounds crazy, but I saw the rain stop, and the sun came out. John walked up to me and handed me a tiny flower. As I took it, the petals opened and I seemed to fall into it. After that I don't remember anything for a long time."



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