Hi I'm a Social Disease: Horror Stories (3 page)

BOOK: Hi I'm a Social Disease: Horror Stories
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He crouched down in front of a sewer grate and took one last, longing look at the remainder of the hotdog before dropping it down. He rose and wiped his hands on his filthy pants, his stomach now gurgling pleasantly as it broke down the food.

He breathed in the crisp October air and turned onto Wall Street.

It was choked with panic. People shouting in disbelief, running hands through their hair, and clutching their pockets like something could reach in and take whatever was left right out. A palpable buzz binding everyone together.

Who were these captains of industry?

Materialistic money worshippers, Myron thought. No one knew which gods they worshipped anymore so these people had chosen to worship their bank accounts. They had built a house of cards and now, watching a man’s hat fly off as he kicked the tires of a nearby Nash with great fury, that house of cards had fallen. This was the aftermath.

Myron did his best not to smile. Not that anyone would have noticed.

Join me, he thought. Join me here at the bottom of the world.

A rain of glass exploded from above, followed by a heavy wooden office chair. The crowd gathered on the sidewalk backed out into the street and craned their heads upward.

A collective gasp. A man flying through the air, framed against the gorgeous blue sky, his jacket and pants flapping as he clawed at the empty space around him.

He hit the ground in an explosion of bone fragments and gore. Myron crossed his arms to shield his eyes. A woman to his right screamed. An eyeball had slapped against the lapel of her jacket, and she did a weird little dance as it sluggishly slid down before plopping onto the greasy asphalt.

Myron felt blood spattered against his palms. He held his hands out in front of him to examine them, the gesture of begging all too familiar.

A hundred dollar bill rested wetly in each palm.

He casually wrapped his hands around the bills and slid them into each of his pants pockets before disappearing down the nearest alley.

 

2.

 

The grimy alley smelled like piss. Behind him, savage screams and squealing tires. It was like a switch had been thrown and every siren in the city now roared around him. He looked up at the endless blue sky. A thick black cloud drifted over, sealing the entire financial district in shades of gray and black. No more blue sky.

Toward the end of the alley, he saw what he was hoping to see. A service entrance door. A place for the dirty people to enter. A place for the under people. A man staggered out of the door. He wasn’t an under person. He wore a dark pin-striped suit and looked slightly disheveled. He turned to his right, toward the hungry throng out on Wall Street and, noticing Myron, said, “Hey! Hey, buddy!” He threw out his right arm and grabbed Myron’s left, jostling it. Then he retracted his hand and wiped it on the thigh of his trousers.


I ain’t your buddy,” Myron said.

This didn’t seem to faze the man. He blinked his eyes and shook his head. “No hard feelings, buddy. Times are tough for everyone. You know, I got a boat. Docked in the harbor. It’s a fine boat. The
Black Swan
. You wanna see my boat?”


I don’t think I got time. I gotta get inside and do some things.”

The guy chuffed and straightened his lapels. Myron wondered if maybe he was drunk.


Fuck man. I’m gonna go get on my boat and sail it to… hell, anywhere but here. Then I’m gonna come back and everything’s gonna be over.” The man pulled a flask from his pocket and unscrewed the top, belting it back and answering Myron’s question. “This shit’s gonna blow over.” He brandished the still open flask at Myron. “Just you wait and see. But it’s gonna get real ugly before it does.”

Myron nodded and made for the door. The guy moved to stand in his way. Myron grabbed the flask and threw it toward the far end of the alley. It clanged as it skidded down the asphalt and the man ran after it. Myron opened the service entrance door and walked into the Chambers National Bank building.

 

3.

 

Not surprisingly, he didn’t run into any service workers as he took the stairs down to the basement. On the whole, they tended to be smarter than the people whose toilets they cleaned. They had probably taken off at the first sign of trouble. Sick kids. Sick relatives. Funerals. Viewings. Not feeling well. Appointment. The excuses were endless.

Once in the basement, he went immediately to the fuse box. It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for. The fuses for the forty-third floor. He wondered briefly why the building was named after the Chambers National Bank when they only occupied part of one floor. He hoped this was the floor he needed. That was where the checks had been addressed to, and later not addressed to.

Be best if it’s done in the dark.
Mama Hodap’s voice, sweet as sugar, rolled around in his head.

Unscrewing the fuses, he thought about the two hundred dollars in his pockets and wondered if that would have changed anything.

Maybe some things were inevitable. Maybe everyone built his own house of cards. He unscrewed the final fuse and, because he was alone and because he didn’t think anyone would hear him, he screamed.

He quit when he tasted blood on the back of his tongue.

 

4.

 

He took the stairs back up to the lobby. He supposed he could have taken the elevator all the way up to 43 but he didn’t want to go up there as an under man. He wanted to go up there the same as everybody else. In the brightly lighted, scrubbed clean lobby he looked toward the elevator and decided he wanted to look outside again. He had been told this was going to be a monumental day and he wanted to see just how monumental it was to be.

For him, he knew it was going to be huge. But what about for everyone else?

He wandered over to the front of the lobby. It was hard to look casual. Through the glass he saw the storm dimmed street.

There were even more people out there now.

The man who had been kicking his car was still kicking his car. His shoe had deteriorated, his foot a red pulp.

A crowd of people stood around the remains of the jumper. The ambulance and police had arrived and were busy trying to shoo some enterprising dogs away. The medics looked at the remains like it was a very complicated puzzle. People parted quickly as a car came roaring down the street and continued out of Myron’s view.

Myron watched with interest. Their god was dead, at least temporarily, and it would take them a while before they learned to move on. Maybe they would look for a new god. Mama Hodap had introduced him to a couple of new gods and told him about a whole lot more.

Did he believe in them?

Sure. Mama was an under person. She had no reason to lie. Did he
worship
them? Well, he didn’t think he’d ever worship a god again.

He moved toward the elevator so he didn’t rouse any suspicion from the dumpy receptionist sitting wide-eyed behind the gleaming counter. He made eye contact with her and nodded. She was lost to the brisk voice of the broadcaster on the radio.

The broadcaster was talking crash.

He was talking bad times.

He was talking depression.

Myron pressed the up button and the elevator opened immediately. He stepped inside and hit the button for 43. He took a deep and shaky breath and ran his hand through his greasy hair. Sometimes to get to the very bottom of things you had to go to the top.

Breathing in the greasy mechanical air of the elevator, he thought about Melinda and Joanie. It had been nearly a year since they had lost their house. But even after that, he had still had
them
. He had still had his family. Six months ago he lost Melinda to TB in a government funded hospital for the poor. Less than a month later he had lost little Joanie to pneumonia. He had been alone and on the street ever since. Even when he went to bed with another woman it was only for the comfort of a bed and a roof over his head. He thought Melinda would understand. Sometime after losing Joanie, he had searched desperately for a purpose since his American dream had become a very cruel nightmare. Those other women, the lifestyle of a carefree tramp, quickly wore on him. Their beds of sweat and perfume, their need and greed and desperation and loneliness could not help him find his purpose.

He blinked the bad memories away before they could sting his eyes with tears and the elevator opened onto a darkened floor.

Before he found his purpose, he’d found the Enclave. And the Enclave had introduced him to Mama Hodap. And she had given him his purpose.

And now the days were getting shorter, and the nights were getting longer, and the god of the new world was dying right in front of him.

 

5.

 

He stepped into the wide hallway and left all shreds of a rational world behind.

He didn’t mind. It was rationality, cold and clinical, that had gotten him where he was, which was nowhere.

 

6.

 

And maybe this was nowhere.
The
Nowhere.

Residual light from the window to his left illuminated the hallway. The elevator closed behind him, sealing him from any impulse to turn back. He knew he could just hit the down button and he also knew he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did that. He couldn’t let the rest of the Enclave down.

A shape moaned to his right and Myron looked down to focus on it.

A man dragged himself along the floor. He wore a dark suit. It was rumpled and torn. His face was swollen and bloodstained. The left leg of his trousers had been ripped away and his leg was severed at the knee. Blood trailed away into the murk behind him.

Myron covered his mouth and fought the urge to throw up. He had prepared himself for this. The black woman in the sewers beneath Harlem had touched him. Mama Hodap. She had looked into him. Amidst thick incense smoke in an unused utility room, Mama held his hand. Alternately grim and smiling, she had gently folded her hands over his and, in those brief moments, Myron had seen things he begged Mama to take back.

No, sir.
She shook her head.
Can’t unshow somethin already been showed.

And he knew she was right.

She
had prepared him for this.

The man on the floor grunted as he took another great heave forward.

Why didn’t Myron help him? How
could
he help him? This man was one of the fallen. There would be no rising.

The man pulled himself along until he reached the elevator. Myron continued to watch him. The man seemed to notice Myron for the first time. “Hey, mister?” Down there in the alley he was buddy. Apparently he was mister up here. The man on the floor gagged and strings of blood ran from his mouth. “Think you can help me with the elevator?” He wiped blood from his mouth with the back of his hand and then held it up to the button to demonstrate how he couldn’t reach it.

Myron took a couple of steps toward the button and reached over the man to press it.


Ah, jeez, thanks a lot, mister.”

The elevator opened. The man pulled himself halfway in. Before he could make it all the way, the doors shut on his waist, paused, and once again retracted. The man grunted and tried to pull himself faster. Myron reached down to push the man. He didn’t know if he wanted to help or if he just wanted the man’s blood on his hands.

Myron got him all the way into the elevator and said, “Let this man take my place in the world.” With a smirk, he backed away from the elevator.


What’s that…” the man said before the elevator swallowed him.

 

7.

 

Now Myron was again left with the meager daylight bleeding into the hallway. Double doors stood at the end opposite the window. He walked toward them, breathing deeply and evenly. From behind the doors he heard glass shattering and people screaming.

CHAMBERS NATIONAL BANK

The name was branded across both doors in the same stylized pattern embossed on the monthly bills he had received. He ran his fingertips across the lettering. While Mama had tried to mentally prepare him for this, he didn’t know how one could ever really be prepared for what was about to happen.

This is just a smokescreen.
She smiled that gentle smile, put her warm brown hand over his. He would have believed anything she told him.
Him and his like are just takin advantage of the chaos. They serve other gods. Oh, they might worship money but you can’t serve money. So I feel it’s only fair I let you borrow a couple of my gods: Papa Legba and Baron La Croix. They’ll need off’rins like any self-respectin deity. And, of course, you don’t gotta worship em, you just gotta believe in em.

BOOK: Hi I'm a Social Disease: Horror Stories
11.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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