When fighting zombies, avoid moving in herds.
Sara startles awake before her alarm. 2:03 AM; something brushed against her leg hard enough to wake her.
“Dammit Zak,” she mumbles blowing what she knows is morning breath in his face. He doesn’t wake up.
She starts to role over, preferring the look of a blank and darkened wall to the slow movement of Zak’s chest. Halfway — on her back — she freezes staring at rotations of the ceiling fan. Something moved against her leg again.
Thoughts race over causes. Zak’s out; there’s a foot between them. Not a spider: too big, too warm. No noticeable fur, so probably not the cat either.
“Zak,” she says in a whisper.
“Zak?” Louder this time — rigid, shaking. Tears begin forming in her eyes.
“Zak!” A scream. Zak twitches, readjusts himself but doesn’t wake up. “God-dammit Zak,” she says reaching her leg across the bed, kicking Zak as hard she can. The movement sparked rustling beneath the sheets.
Freaking, screaming, crawling over Zak out of bed, purposefully driving knee to gut in the process.
“… What the fuck?!…” Zak says, now awake, exasperated and slowly reaching to turn on his bedside lamp. “Dammit woman… what the Hell’s your problem?”
“In bed… under blankets…. against my…. leg…. animal or some….thing…. Get out!” she screams, eyes squeezed shut, sobbing and gasping for air.
Silence; no movement.
“Zak! Get out of the bed!” she screams again.
“… Zak?” Sara slowly opens her eyes imagining whatever’s in bed having already hurt Zak. Eyes open, she sees Zak sitting up with his head cocked and jaw partially dropped, staring at her. “Zak? What’s wrong?!”
“You have a penis…” he says.
“You have a penis, a dick. Look…”
Sara tilts her head down. Between the concave in her chest she sees the dangling member draping down her legs like a piece of useless, out of date computer cable.
“…it’s bigger than mine…” Zak says.
No words come. Sara just stares down without a thought.
“…what did you eat last night?” Zak asks. Sara’s head jerks up.
“Seriously? What the Hell is wrong with you? How would anything I’ve eaten make me sporadically grow a penis over night? Dumbass.”
“I don’t know. Maybe the jelly beans.”
“The jelly beans and peanut butter dumplings you ate last night.”
“…what are you talking about?”
“Regardless, your mother’s on her way.”
“What? It’s like two in the morning.”
“You’re mother’s coming so we can go fix the computers at Best Buy. I think she’s bringing Justin.”
“…my ex? Best Buy? No way. Are you fucking with me right now? When was all this decid….” Sara pauses mid word and looks over at the window, which is now outlined by daylight. She looks back at Zak, who has blond hair opposed to his normal brown, and then again looks down the length of her body.
“Why am I naked?” she asks. “I never sleep naked.”
“Because of the jelly beans,” Zak says in response as he crawls out of bed. The bedside lamp is no longer on; the room’s instead illuminated by the window.
“…Okay,” Sara says. “I got this. I know what’s going on.”
“We need to hurry if we’re going to make the train to Chicago,” Zak says.
Sara looks down her body at the thing between her legs again and grins. Still looking down, she says, “Get back into bed Zak.”
“We really need to meet your mom,” he says climbing onto the bed.
“We will sweetie. Get on your hands and knees first.”
“Do we have anymore jelly beans and dumplings?” He positions himself on his hands and knees.
“Yes we do, honey. I’m about to give you some. Just pop your cute little butt in the air for me and I’ll give them to you.”
“What flavors? I don’t like the orange ones,” He obeys the orders.
“Payback,” Sara says crawling onto the bed behind him. “It’s the best kind.”
Zak starts singing.
“I’m your Boogie Man — That’s what I am,” he sings.
Sara freezes. “…no…”
“I’m here to do — Whatever I can.”
“Stop it Zak. Stop singing.”
“Be it early morning — late afternoon.”
“Or at mid-night — it’s never too…”
Sara jerks up in bed. The lights are off and only darkness outlines the window. She quickly feels between her legs. The penis is gone; everything feels normal. She looks over at Zak, who’s sleeping through his KC and The Sunshine Band alarm again.
“…dammit Zak,” she says shaking him awake.
Assholes and psychopaths both innately lack empathy — but only one is fetishized for intelligence.
“Zak?!” she called, shrieking with false fear and intensity, quickly adjusting her mouth and eyes to feign seriousness. Zak came running though the hallway, slipping on his feet entering the room.
“oww…,” he mumbled slamming into the door. Sara ignored his clumsiness.
“What’s up darlin’? Is everything okay?” he asked while straightening himself in the doorway. Sara jerked the laptop resting on her thighs, rotating it to face him.
“Is this you?!” she asked, still shrieking.
“Hahaha… what?” Zak furrowed his brow and leaned closer to the illuminated screen. “That’s a dick… a hairy dick… what are watching? — and is it any good?”
“Oh, my mistake,” she replied in her bubbly voice, turning the computer screen to face her again. Zak stared motionless next to the bed, and Sara watched all the features of his face fall in annoyance through her peripherals as she clicked on Candy Crush.
A few seconds passed as Zak stood motionless.
“Zak, stop hovering. It’s annoying,” she said in a hushed monotone.
“Really?” Zak said, shouting with exaggerated and vague hand gestures.
“You can go now, Zak… but, since you are already here… will you get me a Coke first?”
Sara watched Zak suck in his bottom lip and bite it lightly as he turned to leave the room. He paused in the doorway and looked back at her as she smiled, blew a kiss and mouthed “I love you.” Sara laughed to herself as she heard him mumble something like, “God dammit, woman,” as he walked in light stomps to the kitchen.
Happiness is walking through the fire with …
Public displays of affection clear rooms like dog farts.
Freedom lies in routine.
Professional creativity is a paradox.
The sterility of the clinic seemed a foreboding sign, Sara thought, as she and Zak waited patiently in the doctor’s office. She knew the office would be sterile regardless of the circumstances, but she couldn’t overlook the ironic symbolism in the moment. Zak sat transfixed by the giant, illustrated penis diagram hanging on the wall near the doctor’s desk.
They hadn’t talked much about the testing since the sample was given. Sara had tried bringing it up, but Zak naturally deflected the discussion with dick jokes. But Sara still watched him, concerned, even as he studied the diagram. Zak’s head slowly started turning in Sara’s direction, double-taking on the diagram before resting his gaze on her. She smiled reassuringly.
“Big dick,” Zak said, grinning as he pointed with his thumb toward either the diagram, or the picture of the doctor hanging beside it. Either way, Sara chuckled.
“How’re you doing?” she asked lightly.
“Oh, I’m fine,” he said. “I’m just, kind of, thinking about the regrets I’ll have if the results go toward the negative.”
“Like what?” Sara asked, a little too quickly, she realized a second too late. Zak smiled.
“Well, it’s just stuff like…” he began as the doctor knocked on the office door and then entered without waiting for a response. God damn her, Sara thought as she purposefully neglected to return the doctor’s greeting, straight faced. The doctor excused herself of the niceties.
“I’m sorry to say this Zak, but the results came back for the worst. Your sperm count was low, well below average; for all practical purposes, you’re sterile.”
The room fell into a brief, uncomfortable silence before the doctor began rambling about possible causes and options. Something about estrogen, pesticide and herbicide exposure. Maybe flouride? Sara wasn’t listening. She tuned out the doctor’s rambling, instead focusing on Zak, who had returned his gaze to the dick diagram. The doctor continued as Sara reached out placing a hand on Zak’s shoulder. Zak snapped back to the moment.
“So you’re telling me I’m infertile?” Zak asked, now looking at the doctor.
“So if I were to have sex right now, unprotected, it would be impossible for me to make a baby… fertilize the egg?” Zak was becoming increasingly agitated, Sara noticed, but she kept silent.
“How long have I been this way?”
“Well, we would need to do more testing to be sure but, as I was saying, possible causes range from environmental— exposure to toxins in the environment —to something genetic.”
Zak was quiet for a minute; Sara watched him hesitate, fumble his words as he began yelling.
“So your… I could’ve been fucking without condoms since I was a teenager? You’re saying I’ve been wasting my god damn money on fucking condoms for fifteen god damn years? Fuck!” Zak slammed his fist into the armrest. Sara’s jaw dropped as she processed Zak’s tantrum, gapping mouth slowly turning to a smile. She looked at the doctor, silent, paperwork now flaccid in her fingers.
“I…” the doctor cleared her throat, “I’m sorry. I’m not used to this response…” she said, straightening her own slowly forming grin. “But, I suppose, yes…”
“What? Should I be mad there won’t be a genetically mutated me running around? Fuck that shit. I prefer an intellectually mutated me, which I can get through adoption just as well. Better even; I can skip the fat, alien-looking stage where the baby shits itself and wakes me up at three in the morning. But the fucking condoms! Do you know how much money I’ve spent on that shit? I could’ve bought a house with that god damned money!”
“Protected sex has other benefits besides preventing conception. STD’s, for example.”
“I’ve only ever fucked her!” Zak screamed pointing at Sara. Sara blushed, looking to the hands folded in her lap.
“…that is unfortunate…”
” Not to mention that condoms fucking suck. I swear that ninety nine percent of every intimate moment I’ve ever had has been ruined by a fucking condom!… ‘No, Zak, wait. Get a condom,'” Zak mimicked, inserting air quotes. “And then there’s the pleasure aspect. You can hardly feel a fucking thing through a condom. It’s like fondling a teddy bear— sex twice removed through an inanimate object… and then the smell. I can’t even start on that without crying… fuck me. I just… I need to think about this. I need to be alone to process this.” Zak stood and started moving toward the door. “I feel like half my life’s been a lie,” he said before leaving the room.
It took thirty seconds before Sara snapped back to awareness, and then another minute before either Sara or the doctor said anything. Sara wondered if Zak had planned his outburst, if he was outside laughing in the car, or if she’d find him half crying, half enraged. She figured that she’d find out soon enough, or that she may never know. Zak could easily be messing with her head as much as the doctor’s. After deciding that she’d never know what was going on in Zak’s head, Sara decided to break the silence.
“Well,” she whispered, “I don’t think Zak’s issue is an overload of estrogen.”
Unobservant summarizes stupid.
Men are disgusting, but ladies surprise like periods.
Jack sat on the platform watching the sole headlight inch its way up the rails. One other passenger was waiting with him; a kid, probably early twenties, looking his age. With a large backpack, a slight shadow beard that hadn’t completely filled out yet, a disheveled rag of hair and a cigarette in hand, the kid was leaning against a support beam to the covered, open air platform staring off into the wooded area across the tracks. He would periodically glance at the coming train, then the night sky before resuming his stoic stare into the trees. Jack figured he was on his way to sleep on the floor of a high school friend’s Chicago apartment.
Jack looked back at the still inching train. He thought it strange that he now thought of and referred to himself as Jack, even in his thoughts. The change from his childhood name of Jackson had been fairly recent, only a few months, and had only really been an effort make himself seem more professional at his office. Since the change, he’d received a promotion, a raise and was now the lone representative from the agency heading to the Chicago conference. So it worked, he supposed, but the speed of the change surprised him. He was glad that Jeanette still called him Jackson, never Jack.
Jack fidgeted on the bench and felt for the bag next to him. It was still there, and Jack silently criticized himself for the paranoia: there’s nobody around, he thought, where would it have gone? Stupid. Jeanette frequently laughed at him for his more trivial anxieties, like this one. He missed that.
Jeanette had been gone a month with the Peace Corps. She had wanted to join when they first started dating five years before, but they were both just out of college and didn’t have the money for it. Jack didn’t want her to go now, so many years later, but he didn’t tell her and tried his best not to show it; he even helped pay her way. He was just invested in her now, and that coupled with a year apart scared him. He had considered proposing before she left, bought an old ring from an antique shop and everything like she would’ve wanted, but he knew that would’ve just been a last minute act of desperation. She didn’t need that before she left, and they didn’t need it either, he thought.
The train was closer now, but it was still at least 300 yards away from reaching the platform. Jack noticed that the kid had stamped out his cigarette and then momentarily thought that the stretch of track must be longer than what it looks before his mind receded into its previous focus. He would’ve gone with her, but they couldn’t afford the cost or stability. Someone would have to stay back and make sure they weren’t homeless by the time the year was up. Jack knew that the Dr. Phil wannabes everywhere would tell him that he should’ve told Jeanette how he felt, that he still should. That her leaving for a year was unfair this far into the relationship. Jack wanted to tell them all to blow him— that they teach people to be selfish, that Jeanette is off in fucking Cameroon teaching kids— that he’s not about to act on his selfishness and tell her that his American needs are somehow more important than educating children of impoverished nations. Fuck ’em, he thought. Besides, if he’s lucky, he gets to speak to Jeanette once every two weeks. And he’s sure as hell not going to ruin those moments by… Jack’s thoughts were interrupted by the crash of nylon on wood.
Jack looked over. The had kid dropped his backpack next the bench and sat himself on the opposite end, a few feet away, and started digging in his pockets for something. Jack watched from the corner of his eye as the kid pulled out his pack of cigarettes, a lighter and then sat still and silent for a second. Jack stared into his lap as the train inched its way closer in his peripherals.
“Slow train,” the kid said. Jack turned and looked, watching the headlight still a hundred feet out make its way.
“Yup,” Jack replied, staring off into the light. The kid reached over, pack in hand, and silently offered a cigarette. Jack looked at the pack for a second, and then nodded and took one. Jeanette hates it when I smoke, he thought, as he leaned over letting the kid light him.