Broken

I woke as the bombs dropped. The bed shook. Glass took to the air. The curtain pole dislodged, dropped the scarlet curtains like a matador taunting a bull. Sleep well and truly blown clear of my mind, muscle memory had my hand reach for the other side of the bed, only to be met with disappointment and a heavy heart as fingertip exploration registered nothing but cold, empty sheets. He wasn’t here. I knew that.

The wind stole in through the empty windowpanes and the hairs on my arms rose to salute its deathly chill. Pulling myself from the relative comfort of the covers was a trial, but one that had to be faced. There was breakfast to make and work to be done. Life goes on. As I shuffled into warm slippers and shrugged into a dressing gown, my thoughts slipped towards the dark place which questioned why, wondered whose war I was caught between. But that was quickly pushed away. Once power was back, the TV would no doubt reveal all… well, the most patriotic version of the truth, at least. For the moment my greatest concern was hunting down a milk bottle that hadn’t surrendered to violent force. I never could stomach dry cereal. My breakfast bowl was only slightly cracked, the cutlery still slumbered in ordered rows in its draw, untouched. I lifted a chair back on its feet, brushed dust off the tabletop and took my place. As I munched, I read the newspaper from yesterday, a morning ritual, although today the old issue’s lack of immediacy was more conspicuous than usual. No mention of war, not even the smallest of political slights. Instead, the front pages concerned with the success of a national tennis hero, the back with the whereabouts of a missing cat. There would be fresh “Missing” pages today, no doubt.

I dropped the dirty bowl into the sink without a thought for the crack, which took the hit and split the ceramic clean in two. The sound made me pause. My first impulse to throw it out was disregarded, my stomach churning on glimpsing the two halves. I left it behind in the sink as I threw on clothes and grabbed my bag, perched on the bottom step to tie the rough laces on my leather boots. The rubble behind the door offered more resistance to my exit that usual. I met the postman on the front path, his hat a little askew, a smear of soot across his cheek, but otherwise the same smiley, ruddy-faced man I had come to know well. He proffered my letters in response to pleasantries, and walked on to the next house, whistling a ditty out of tune. Well behind schedule, I ran for my bus, noting the lack of houses on the parallel row. The bus pulled up as I arrived. I should have missed it. Settled into a seat at the back, I shuffled almost unconsciously through my post, intermittently gazing out of the window, at the busy normalcy of Tuesday morning commuters. Nothing but unpaid bills.

The bus coughed me up in a cloud of acrid fumes, choking passers-by in the busy city centre street. People wandered by as if unaware of the hair matted to their heads by clotting blood. Injuries from flying debris. A man suffered alone, slumped in a doorway and nursing a bullet wound, spattered blood staining the wall behind him as his head bowed forward, unmoving. Another nameless civilian casualty to add to the toll on the ten o’clock news.

Automatic doors buzzed open, pockmarked but still functional, admitted me into the cool, air-conditioned building. The bloodstains on the carpet led me to her office, the well-manicured secretary waving me in.

“Doctor Herman’s waiting for you.”

Musca Domestica Manifesto

Vermilion vapors spray pallid ivory, like coral blooms on canvas. Cosmic blood-splatter, carmine, copper, crimson, claret, gore, cruor… Or at least, that’s what some malnourished twat with a library of thesauruses would say. Honestly, it looks more like “God” tried his hand at finger painting with cosmic ketchup. The Earth, that is, in case you were wondering what the fuck I’m on about. 

One day soon, this world will be gone forever, existing only in faded memory, relegated to an exhibit in the museums of some higher life form. Cockroaches’, probably. This whole place is one rapidly decaying organism. From spotted frogs to luminous bird-wing butterflies, towering pine forests to the gaping chasm of a whale’s mouth, beetles like a glittering rainbow skittering across the floor, there aint nothinʼ worse than you humans. Consuming. Depleting. Destroying. The virus that’ll end it all. Award-winning apocalyptic entertainment, really. Aint a TV drama like it. What? Do something? What could I do to stop you? Little old me, fly on the wall, watching this perverse world go round, “cleaning house” while the tyrants of the known world exploit the natural fecundity of the planet they all claim as “theirs” with a capital “T”. Going to dinner to celebrate progress made. 12 brains dismantled today. You make my wings itch. But somehow you aint haunted by fish gazing blankly behind dirty glass, yellow like nicotine-stained fingers. Or pickled flesh.

What? Your labs aren’t so “hermetically sealed” that one of us lot can’t sneak in, you know. I’ve seen your so-called “experiments”. Sewing the eyes of helpless kittens shut, just to see what their brains might do. Catching a whiff of the fetid stench as you burn and lobotomize at will, call it “science”.  Butchering conscious guinea pigs. They sure bleed better when they struggle and squeal. Dandruff free! Such a shame she couldn’t live to see it. Unable to look away, a thousand images of despair reflected onto my helpless lidless orbs. Crawling slow as slow can be, tarsus over tarsus along your whitewashed façade. I’ll bide my time, sheltering from sporadic ventures into chemical war, arbitrary attempts at crushing me, and others like me. ‘Cause your truth is out, word’s getting round, and one day we’ll find the cure to end all “cures”. And justice will be so pure, so picturesque, so perfectly poetic we won’t need no thesaurus to describe it! Shakespeare already said it all:

‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,

They kill us for their sport’.

But not for much longer.