NormA Story by Ron Sanders
It' s the end of the world as we know it.
Nothing like thrill of hunt.
When Cerey get all talky and want make deal, Normy get all angry and want make kill.
I know this. All Norm know this.
But I know better.
I see Cerey eye show fearblaze and I cut out eye happy. No hesitate. No oh-me-so-sorry Cerey. I strong Norm. I on Way Up. All other Norm see this, know this, fear me. I know this. I know.
I know I know.
Gool know I know. He sit and watch and wait. He think I go soft, right here in cave. He think I panic at kill. He think I turn, find him all teeth and gory eye, then run. He think he more on way up than me, that all he have do is wait. So all he can do is wait. Because Gool afraid to face me. He know. Gool know some day I eat his face alive, and taste his blood run hot and sweet, and then I feelgoodfeelgood.
Gool watch me now. Gool watch me walk tall out cave, at front of all Norm, and know his place behind me, with average Norm. Gool know I kill more Cerey at yesterday hunt than all Norm put together, and he worry. He know I watch him back as we cross field, and he see me laugh harder, jump higher, scream louder. Gool hear Norm scream response and know he must echo or be suspicioned. But Gool voice catch in throat. He know I on way up, and he snarl. But not at me. At self; at Gool.
All Norm excite behind me. All Norm know yesterday big hunt day. Norm almost find Cerey camp deep in wood, because of me, because I smart and follow clue. I on way up; I try harder. I remember. Norm know this, and Norm follow me. Gool know this, and Gool try sidetrack Norm. I see more clue now; broke branch, flat patch, cloth piece. Cerey try cover, but Cerey not smart. I whoop and whistle. All Norm talk excite. I break into run; run like leader, run like king.
I stop, raise arms. All Norm stop. I see crowd of Cerey hide in trees. I scream happyhappy. Norm scream response.
One Cerey walk out from rest. Cerey hold white rag over head as he walk. Now he wave rag slow, back and forth. All Norm crouch, ready for kill. Cerey walk in fear, come very close. I stand tall. All Norm growl.
This it! I make king-bid. I show all Norm I leader!
I leap on Cerey, grab throat in both hands and squeeze. Feelgoodfeelgood. Cerey gasp very hard, but I hear his filthy Cerey-talk:
“Please, before you kill me, listen for only a minute. The debilitating effects of M-117 were entirely accidental and are completely reversible. Your mind, and the minds of all Normals, are perfectly healthy. There is a biochemical block; a simple focal screen located, in a virtual sense, somewhere in the midbrain. It prevents the open performance of higher consciousness; your natural, contemporary thoughts are being overshadowed by the baser, deeper functions of primitivity--but the higher aspects are present, and functioning in real time. They’ve evolved collaterally; they’re similar to Cerebrals’. They’re just obscured.”
I make grip more tight on skinny Cereythroat. “I ‘obscure’ you!”
“Yes!” he gasp. “But prior to that act, I beg you, ingest this capsule.” He hold up funnypill. Green. Red. But not pretty greenred. Ugly. Ugly like Cerey. “We have been diligently working on this problem. The Block is fluid. The cure will be . . . absolutely effective . . . your recovery should . . . dramatic and almost . . . immediate. You . . . all of you . . . all of us . . . can be saved.”
“But not . . .” and I squeeze tighter, “not you!”
“Swallow the capsule!”
Cerey fading; I feel it.
“It good!” he croak. “It make you happyhappy! Make you feelgoodfeelgood!”
I stare in suspicionness, but not let up on squeeze. “Make me feelgoodfeelgood?”
“Yes! Oh, for the love of--take the capsule! Make happyhappy!”
Cerey go purple. Blood show in spit. Happy purple. I squeeze all more tight. Tighter. Tighter-tight, tightest-tight. And I see redred, and I go crazygood, and I look up.
All Norm watching, careful. I know, they know, they know I know. Gool watch close, watch low--he know. This my time; I show tough. I look past Gool, I look all around and shout: “I make happy! I go sickychew! I go Norm on Cerey!” And I bite Cerey nose, twist in teeth, feel flesh come off goodhappy.
“Oh dear God!” Cerey scream. “I--take the gack--mother of mercy, please, kill me, please do it, please, take the caps--”
And Cerey shriek like woman as I scoop out eyes and smash head on rock, over, overover, overoverover, smash blood happyhappy, kill Cerey and stand up with nose in mouth to smile, and Gool look on with jealousfrown. All Norm know I king.
They know. I know.
They know I know.
Gool quiet now. Gool sit on rock by cave front and pretend he not care. But too late. All Norm dance around me. They know, they know! They know I know! I show no fear! I king of all Norm! I turn to Gool and laugh, and all Norm turn and laugh too, and it feelgoodfeelgood. And Gool hang head as I tear Cerey face with kingteeth, chew all gooeygoo, and spit at feet. I laugh and hold up Cerey uglypill, and all Norm know I not afraid. I show them! I show Gool! I hold pill high and open mouth wide. And I laugh as I swallow, and they know I all way up! I king, I king, I king! They know, they know, they know I know!
Gool pretend sleep. But he watch close. Very dark in cave; no moon tonight. No Norm see me kill, no Norm see me make happyhappy. No matter. Gool scream when teeth find throat. Norm will hear, Norm will know. Then I eat Gool heart, then I smash Gool brain. He very still now, he feel my footstep. One eye gleam in dark and he freeze. I bend over Gool, I show fang of king.
Dizzy. Dizzy. Cave go darker. Stomach kick and I sick. Back off, back off. All Norm not see me weak! Gool must not see, Gool must not know! Sick. Back off, lay down. Rest. It’s that pill--that pill! Poisonpill! Cerey trick me! Sick, sick! Rest, die, throw up. No, no . . . sleep, man. Dizzy. Black. Sleep. Just sleep.
Cave bright. Light hurt.
I close my eyes, and listen. Gool talking all Norm. He sounds way more aggressive than yesterday. Oh God, can’t lose it here, can’t let them see me weak. The sickness’ll pass if I can just . . . sit . . . up!
All Norm watch close--got to look nonchalant. Gool’s starting to rise. Smile back at Gool! Smile! Laugh! Stand up, you idiot. Avoid the daylight or you’ll swoon.
Breathe slowly--monitor your respiration. Show all Norm feelgoodfeelgood. That smell--that . . . Jesus . . . putrefying meat. Gool stand up, Gool narrow eyes. I’m gonna puke, man. No! All Norm stand behind Gool. Get the hell out of here, and fast.
The field. Run like a lunatic. They’re right on me; all Norm run hard. Gool in front, on way up. Faster; they’re catching me. The camp, the Cerebrals’ camp. They’ll take me in, they’ve got to. I remember, I leader, I smartest. So run, man! Run!
There! The killing field. Just go. Through the trees. Run like king.
Farther, deeper. I’ve lost them! I lose all Norm . . . I can outthink them. Run harder. Go!
A fort of some kind. Log walls. Rickety sentry stations. A wood door creaking open. Keep running. Men peering out. Call!
The morons are hesitating. Yell!
“Help, sir! Please help me! Help!”
What are they waiting for! Scream!
“For the love of God, would you please just let me in! Help me, help--help, help, help!”
Hit the door running--I’m done, man, I’m done. And I’m in.
A face leaning over me, the expression troubled. “Get him to the circle and find some restraints!”
Another voice, nearby: “He was coherent! Did you hear that? Straight English!”
“I don’t give a damn. He’s a savage.”
My wind is coming back. “No . . . I’m okay . . .”
A new face, and an elderly man’s voice: “I recognize him--I think. Yesterday. The one who murdered Michael. He gave him the pill.”
“Yes,” I manage, and sit up.
Someone cries, “He’s curing! He’s brought us all the proof we need.”
A hammering and hooting outside. A new voice grates, “You mean he’s brought us our extermination. How do you know it’s not all just an act? And if he really is curing, what makes you so sure it’s permanent?”
The elderly man looks up darkly. “Egocentric fool. We’ve been over and over this. What makes you so sure it’s temporary?” He helps me to my feet. “Come with us, son. Into the shelter.” The ruckus increases, and now a number of Cerebrals join us in a hunched dash for a row of ramshackle buildings “They’ll top the wall soon,” one pants. “There’s not much time.”
I limp alongside, clutching the old man’s arm. “Don’t you have any weapons? They’ll do things with their hands and feet. Their nails are killers. And teeth--watch the teeth.”
“Weapons . . .” he laments, as we pitch into a dark little room and fall round a homemade table. A few men make to seal the windows; others begin upturning crude furniture. “All technology went down with the cities. And that was pretty much that. Those of us bearing weapons soon found our ammunition expended in the hunt to survive. We’ve had to rough it, I’m afraid. Our spare energy went exclusively into researching a cure for that damnable M-117 mistake.” He smiles wanly, as though I’m still too far gone to appreciate the irony. “So much for the chemical engineering of intellectual growth spurts.” The old man closes his eyes and slowly wags his head. “Such a time of it your poor generation has had, son! But you can help us show the way. You’re living proof of the glory of science.”
“Then must get to city,” I say. It’s as if a shadow has passed over my mind. I shake my head to clear it, and take a long look around. Even with the excitement of the chase behind me, my blood pressure is vacillating; the queerness of the situation triggers intuitive responses critical to basic survival. The crouching men all strike me as ill-made for their circumstances, and completely out of touch with the real world. The old man’s a joke: lax as a fly resigned to the web. Odd half-memories stir my imagination. The room seems low and cool, dark and solid, more like a cave than a building’s interior.
He looks at me for a moment, his eyes narrow, and says quietly, “The cities are no more.” I hear screams outside, followed by crazyman cheers. The old man’s head begins to sink between his shoulders. His eyes find the ceiling. “Our juvenile test subjects--and it was a nationwide, government-sponsored campaign--hit puberty like linemen on steroids. Funny thing about manpower and arsenals; nothing can withstand blind scrabbling madness. After a while all these homicidal idiots began to assemble. Clans were formed; they seemed to grow cleverer with each successive foray. They took out water and power, butchered pets and children, made arson a kind of holy crusade. People deserted their homes and jobs . . . finally the military’s heavy-handedness proved more deadly to citizens than all these mindless hit-and-run monsters put together. Our country was quarantined by the rest of the planet; first as a horrifying disaster zone, then as some kind of scorched lamb of irreligiosity. No, the cities are no more. Just electrified oases around command centers.” His eyes reach into mine, and there’s a flicker in the murk. “I think we’ve put an end to all that. Do you hear me? We’re on our way back! Once again, science has saved the day!” Now he looks venomously at one man across the room; a man working hard to organize the others into a defensive unit. His voice drops markedly. “It makes no difference if one bad apple tries to hog the glory, or wants to form a conspiracy against the natural leader. None at all. Oh, God bless science, son. God bless science!” He grabs and squeezes my shoulder in his half-baked way, looking all around us, and lowers his voice to a murmur. “Never show a sign of weakness, son--never! Even those who seem above the pack will muster them against you at the drop of a hat. Don’t trust anybody, and always hold your head high.”
I nod from the heart, and whisper back, “You’re right on target, sir. You can count on me. I king. I watch your back and you watch mine.”
“Yes,” he say, and pat my arm. “Yes . . . yes.” His eyes become furtive, and he begins to make twitch. “I--I never had a son of my own. Everything gets lost in the Muse of math.” He tries to make eye contact, but shows fearblaze instead. He laughs, weakly. “Listen to me; talking like there’s no tomorrow. Like there’d be the slightest point, at the very termination of my existence, in having a complete stranger call me father.”
I look direct in eye, and for one crazy moment something tender makes me want to collapse, like loserman, like all Norm. Old Cerey’s eyes now melt into mine, and I want to run, and I want to kill, and I want to make cry. But instead I just hold Cerey by hand and say, with great quiet, “Father.”
My ears perk up at outside hit and scrabble. I hear all Norm running across porch boards, and know they make for marrow. I look down at Cerey.
old man’s eyes are burning into mine. “Willard!
One Cerey by window turn and raise what look like rusty poker. “No!” I say. “Wait!” But Cerey take big step forward. He swing and miss as I jump up. I feel hate, I feel rage, I feel crazyanger.
Door burst in to show outline of Gool. Behind Gool all Norm wait for feelgoodfeelgood.
Gool go Norm all over pokerman--over, overover, overoverover.
Then Gool look up with bloodsneer, like I average Norm. But I hold head high, and I show no weaksign. I hiss at Gool. I jump on old Cerey and make happyclaw, make sickychew. And I turn on Gool, and I grab Gool by throat, and this time, when I make kingscream, I make sure all Norm know I know.
Check out Faces: http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/Ron-Sanders/622481/
© 2011 Ron Sanders
Added on December 12, 2011
Last Updated on December 12, 2011
Marina del Rey, CA
AboutL.A.-based novelist, illustrator, poet, short story writer. more..