So this, tragically, is probably the best part of what I have so far of “Finer Points.” The excerpt is completely unedited, with only a cursory spellcheck to try to salvage my middle-school level typing ability. As I begin the revisions in earnest, I’ll post excerpts of the parts that entertained me the most. That, or just straight rip something off from David Wong (http://www.johndiesattheend.com/) and claim his genius for my own.
I’m liking Option #2 the more I think about it.
The smell of the ground becomes sweeter, mustier, less like that of earth and more like the spoiled life the sixteen year old kid packed inside.
The moon is obscured by a sudden billowing cloud, diffusing a scattering of light over the whole of the yard. All detail but general shape is obscured, so I just stab into the black with my shovel. Deeper. Deeper. Deeper.
I hear a solid thud, and another, and when I finally realize I’m not going any deeper, I begin to scrape the soil away.
The coffin is a normal enough one. Pearl grey, from what I can see, though it could be blue for all the light I have. I was once a pall bearer, long ago when an uncle I never knew shot himself, and the memory of hoisting that dead box blows strong when I reach to the side and unlatch the lid.
There is no ominous creaking, no horror movie sounds to greet the macabre figure robbing graves. There is just a smooth motion, and a rush of a rancid odor.
There lies Steven, browning, shriveling, peeling his way off of his own bones.
He is the most hideous thing of beauty I have even now yet to see. Besides Stephanie, of course. Freshly golden Stephanie.
I take my glinting, sharpened little brother out of my sock, and lift it to my eyes. My heart begins to race, and I exalt in the molding of my hand over its bone handle.
Let us work. Diligently and exactly.
I bend down. Cutting edge meets moldering flesh. And my work begins.
The drive back home is dark, but no darker than the void behind my eyes.
I pull into the driveway at eight o’clock, seeing that my parents still haven’t gotten back. The little Cool Whip tub of chemicals sloshes when I pick it up out of the passenger seat.
The house is soundless and without echo as I walk through it. Each footstep is eaten by its empty bulk. I make my way up to my room, and place the tub on my dresser. From under my bathroom sink I pull out a baggie and a jug of bleach. I fill the baggie, pull a tightly wrapped towel from my pocket, and stuff the wad inside. Almost immediately the fibers begin to fade in color, and I imagine the chemicals caustically bubbling against the sides of the knife tucked deep inside.
I imagine little bits of skin being eaten away, little chains of proteins breaking down as their electrons are snatched away.
I seal the baggie, walk across my room, and tuck it in the back of my underwear drawer. I bring the Cool Whip tub into the bathroom, pop it open, and slowly pour the liquid contents down the drain. I am careful not to splash; this is a highly concentrated mixture, and it would sting if wet drops of it hit my skin.
When the tub is drained I pull out its stretchy, skinny prize and lay it gingerly across the drain. I will need to let it dry for a bit.
To aid it I bring in a desktop fan, point it into the sink, and turn it on high. I bring out a small space heater from my closet, plug it in, and set it behind the fan. A constant stream of blistering air floods the little porcelain sink bowl.
I turn off the bathroom light, so that only the red glow of the heater is visible, and walk to my window. I throw open the window, and lean against the sill.
The air freezes my lungs, and I gasp it in.
“Hello, you beautiful chill,” I say out loud to the friendly freeze.
The moon, I will greet later.
Thirty minutes later, I turn off the fan and heater, and reach into the sink.
Dry, and sterilized from its caustic bath. Good.
I take the mass and hold it up. Derek’s empty face stares back at me. Clumps of it are gone, of course, parts I couldn’t save – molding areas around the eyes and cheeks that stayed stuck to his skull, sodden, rotten spots that peppered his scalp, but it is as good a starting point as any.
It isn’t like it won’t be added onto.
I carefully hold open the widest space I can find, roughly where the skull would have met his neck, and work it over my own head. I stretch bits of the skin over my own, strapping what is left of the boy’s lower lip under my chin.
I am horrendous, a freak of the manufactured kind. The bastardization of the boy’s face sits skewed and lopsided, the right socket sinking below one eye, the left socket stretching a little above my eyebrow. My hair sticks out at every angle. The recent loss of my mind has even stolen my hair of its reason.
My bedroom window looks over a section of roof that I can easily scale onto. I climb out on all fours, and stand to face the moon.
You hungry, burning moon.
I feel it eating away at my insides, chewing through every lump of fat and nibbling its way into my belly.
I am empty, and thus, whole.
Hello, dead moon.
– From “Finer Points.” © Copyright 2010, Sean Ganus. All rights reserved.