There were so many dead, the fire pits had been decommissioned. Now they just loaded the bodies on commandeered cruise ships and dumped them in the ocean. I heard that hordes of seagulls, bloated and flying erratically from the never-ending feast, would descend on the floating corpses like flies. If you vomited on deck, they’d eat that, too.
I wasn’t sure if I preferred to be one of the living or the dead on those ships that stank like an open grave in the summer sun. On account of my asthma, it was a good bet I’d never get assigned corpse duty.
“Jeremy, where did you go to now?”
Destiny snapped her black lace-gloved fingers in my face.
“Sorry. I spaced.”
“I figured.” She smiled with purple tinted lips, the corners of her eyes crinkling. Her hot pink hair caught the last filaments of the moon before it tucked itself behind a black, roiling cloud. I remembered when the skies were black with smoke for months on end, until the government realized they had destroyed an entire growing season and had to scale back the fires.
“You want to tell me why we’re here again?” I said. I did a three-sixty scan of the graveyard. A majority of the tombstones were crooked, many of them shattered by vandals. The vegetation had been left to go feral, the grass coming up to our hips. Critters large and small skulked in the weeds.
“So I can be with you forever,” she said, pouting for added effect. I was a geek, she was the hottest girl in my school, at least back when there was a school. Who was I to say no? Plus, there were less and less fish in the sea to choose from for us both.
Well, the sea was teeming with fish because of all the human nutrients we’d been dumping in it, but you get my point.
No one, except the Crazies, ate fish anymore, by the way. The rest of us would rather starve – and many have.
I sighed, taking off my glasses to clean them with the end of my shirt. Destiny gingerly put them back on for me and lit a kiss on my thin, dry lips.
“There’s no proof that it will work,” I said. “You ever hear of an urban legend? I’m pretty sure this qualifies.”
She shook her head. “You’re wrong. I’ve been reading a lot about it. Couples in eastern Europe have been doing it and surviving.”
A blood curdling shriek echoed over the untended cemetery hills. Destiny pressed herself to my back. I could feel the heat of her breath on my neck.
“The internet is practically dead. Whatever’s on there is just Crazies talking crazy shit,” I said.
“But what if they’re right? I mean, it’s not like it can hurt.”
The shriek was met by an angry growl, this time from the other end of the cemetery. We wouldn’t be going home tonight.
“Come on, I picked out a safe one the other day.” Destiny grabbed my hand, leading me to a small, marble mausoleum. She bent by the iron and glass door, taking a pin and paperclip from her pocket. The lock clicked open and she rushed us inside.
Another cry, this one human, made my blood run cold.
There was little room to move Inside the crypt. There was a folding chair, a vase with dried flowers attached to the back wall underneath a stained glass window, and a plastic bag on the floor.
The most glaring aspect of the tiny death house was that the wall had been chipped away. Bits of grit and marble were everywhere.
“Did you do this?” I asked.
She averted her eyes, a clear admission.
Shit, she’s becoming one of the Crazies.
I clicked on my pen light, saw the coffin that had been wedged into the wall space.
“Destiny,” I sighed. “No.”
“But you have to!” she cried, balling my shirt in her fists. “It’s all easy for you because you know they’ll never touch you! Don’t you want the same for me?”
It was true, but she never understood that I wasn’t too keen on being the last of a dying race.
When the Pollywogs first started pouring out of Mt. Saint Helens, our nation’s embryonic inertia of fear was counteracted by a bloody show of extreme violence. We hit them with everything our military could stuff into a gun or rocket launcher. The Pollywogs, gray skinned creatures twice the size of a man with tapering tails and sperm-like heads with button black eyes, were faster and more resilient than anyone could predict. They were also regenerative. Blow off their legs, and they grew back within hours. Set them on fire and they would secrete a flame-dousing jelly from their pores. Hack them into pieces, and each piece is reborn into a hungry Pollywog.
You absolutely did not want to do that.
While the west coast became a food source for the beasts, the earthquake under Manhattan split the fault line wide enough for the east coast Pollywogs to run free. The hordes met in the center of the country, devouring people like they were Tic Tacs. The same scene happened in every country around the transforming world. I guess the center of the earth wanted some time in the sun.
I shouldn’t say they ate people. Actually, they only preferred their lungs. Healthy lungs. Not lungs like mine. Rapidly, mankind was being whittled down to the weak and the lame.
Destiny tugged at the coffin handle. “Help me get this down and fuck me inside.”
Her eyes were manic, desperate. I knew she didn’t want to be with me forever. She just didn’t want to die. Even now, being asked to have sex with her amidst the rot and ruin of a years old corpse, I couldn’t simply say no.
The coffin crashed onto its side, the latch springing open. The jerkeyed body smelled surprisingly like moldering apples. Shrugging out of her skirt, Destiny wedged herself inside the askew coffin, laying atop its resident. The cries of the Pollywogs were a chorus of hunger.
“Please, Jeremey, please fuck me.”
The legend had it that if you fucked a Craplung, someone like me, atop a corpse, and became impregnated, the Pollywogs would do everything in their power to avoid you. Something about the scent of death and growing a Craplung in your womb. It made no sense and I wondered what Crazy invented it.
Desperate times were fertile ground for insane conjectures.
Seeing Destiny spread her stockinged legs, revealing the brown matchstick legs of the corpse beneath her. I decided it was no use fighting.
Becoming a Crazy or having your lungs devoured by a Pollywog, they were both death in different clothes.
~ Hunter Shea
© Copyright 2013 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved.