If waking to find a decaying bird on the corner of your bed isn’t a bad omen, it should be.
Just how it came to be precariously balancing on Robert’s quilted bedspread this snowy
December morning is unknown. It is a dead bird and it has been dead for quite a while.
He would have let out a shriek, however the shock sucked all the breath from his lungs. He would have woken his girlfriend, but her throat is missing, and the flesh on her face is mutilated, causing her jaw to drop down – way down – opening her mouth wide. What is left of her skin and bones are glued to the remains of her spinal cord by drying blood.
Fumbling from the sheets, he tumbles out of bed face first onto the floor. The initial pain is excruciating: he is sure he had broken a toe or maybe an ankle. Then he opens his eyes. He is lying sprawled in her disemboweled stomach, oozing with last night’s dinner and her small intestine coiled around. Pushing himself up, he realizes he has slipped on her large intestine which had been carefully draped from headboard to footboard like bunting, just touching the floor.
He scrambles, slipping and sliding across the floor, tripping on her liver, then her spleen, trying to escape the souvenirs of death until he crashes headlong into a wall. There, wedged in a corner, curled up in a ball like a fetus, his knees tucked close to his cheekbones, he wails and screams for his mother, his father, or anyone else who might hear.
His bare feet are cut, bruised and cold. His breathing outpaces his heartbeat. No level of logic or reason runs through his thoughts; his synapses are firing erratically and he knows very well that he is not dreaming. His screams gradually cease. Heartbeats now pound through his brain, as Robert melts into a catatonic trance.
Daylight is struggling to overtake the night, and begins to bleed through the curtains. Slender, focused rays search the contours of the room. They spotlight the once dripping blood, now coagulated under the dangling left arm of Robert’s girlfriend. This is where the blood from her throat traveled – down her shoulder, trickling down her arm and tap, tap, tap from her fingertips onto the wood floor.
With the exception of the man wedged in the corner, the room is undisturbed. In time, there is a knock at the bedroom door: curious since Robert lives alone. His girlfriend only spends three to four nights a week, depending upon the demands of her job. The knocking persists: one rap, two raps, never three, with neither cadence nor insistence.
Whether Robert actually hears the knocking is not known, but after a few minutes it stops. Blood oozes from under the bottom of the door, spreading into the room within a couple of feet from the fetal man.
Slowly, elegantly the red fluid rises in a slender and tall column, shifting and shaping, reaching and stretching, to form a man. A man made of blood that continually flows and swirls from the top of his head to the pool below and back. Two large, blazing white eyes fix upon the fetal sole. Robert’s head is lifted upward to face this being by a force not his own, so that he cannot help but stare into those eyes. He presses his own palms into his own eyes, but he never loses sight of those white eyes – white eyes that never blink or move, that do not have pupils, that just blaze through his hands into his brain.
Slowly, a mouth forms below the eyes and even slower a blood arm emerges from the front of the body, reaching for Robert’s gaping mouth and falling tears. There, in its hand, it holds a beating heart.
“She said this belongs to you.”
By Joseph J. Patchen