Afflicted 10: Chapter 9

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I figured it was time to post the rest of this book… here’s the next chapter in the works. If you missed the first part, click here and start at the start. Enjoy!

 

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The weekend passed without incident, except in Jack’s house where his mother filled the otherwise homely atmosphere with a sense of pure ice. She hadn’t appreciated Jack’s reaction to her ‘joke’, and in her lack of appreciation made his weekend one that could be compared with the life of a prisoner of war: all work, no play, barely any food. The one saving grace about the two days of chores was that it helped Jack to get things into perspective, and by Sunday night was almost back to his old self. Deflated, yes, but almost Jack again.

The Monday following dawned bright. The iciness of Jack’s house had barely abated, and he shuffled through the morning avoiding his mother wherever possible, and dived out of the house at the earliest opportunity.

Rick woke with a feeling of warm anticipation at putting his plan into action; and Bevan lazily dragged himself into the day, relishing the absence of his mother and sister, and enjoying the relaxed male atmosphere at home. He always forgot that his dad was a human being until his mother and sister went away. The weekend had hardly been one of ‘bonding’, but Bevan and his dad spent more time just aimlessly hanging out and doing things around the house than they had done for over a year. It was almost a shame that they had to get into a new week.

The three boys met up without meaning to, bumping into each other at the same time, not one of the three really thinking about where they were going. They started to talk at once.

‘Man, you wouldn’t believe my fucking mother…’
‘How did your mum’s dinner…’
‘I have the best…’

And then they stopped and looked at each other as though they were each thinking the other was fucked in the head. They fell into a disjointed silence and walked past the school, around the back, and had a smoke before the atmosphere had cleared itself up a bit. Once it had, Jack related what his mother had done, to the gaping disbelief of the others. Bevan talked about his mum being away and what a godsend it was, only to be sneered at by Jack, whose greatest desire it was that his mum should be run over by a bus. The whole time Rick shifted his weight from foot to foot, and when he finally got a chance, he said, staring out over the back of the school,

‘Maybe we should’ve reported it. Or maybe we should, like, now.’

‘No way, not now,’ Jack threw the butt of his cigarette on the ground and stomped on it. ‘Too late, matey. You put us into this bind, remember? You fucken live with it.’ He glared at his friend, whose words had thrown him back into the nausea he’d felt Friday night. ‘I tried to tell yer but it’s binding now and I’ll bloody well keep you to it.’ He picked up his bag and started to walk off. ‘I’m goin’.’

Rick considered for a moment, and appealed to Bevan who, for some reason, was absorbed in the light being cast onto a blob of sap in the bark of a nearby tree, and whom completely ignored him.

‘Wait on!’ he called after Jack. Once Jack had impatiently turned around, eyebrows meeting his hairline, he went on. ‘You’re right. But maybe we should go back there.’

‘What?’

Rick shifted his weight again. ‘What I mean is, maybe we should’ve checked it out more. You know, might see some wound or something. Give us an idea.’ He was watching Jack closely.

‘To what end, arsehole?’

‘Well,’ Rick picked Bevan’s lighter up off the ground and lit another smoke, then threw the lighter to his mate. ‘It’d help us look at the news, right? Maybe there’s some weird cunt out there picking on stray girls and we’d only know the difference if we went back and looked at her. It. Check it out, kinda thing.’

Bevan stared. Jack took a deep breath and looked in another direction. Finally he said,‘Man, I think you’ve cracked.’ He held up his hand as Rick tried to speak again. ‘I really think you’ve cracked. You know what doing all that would mean? Pulling it out of the water onto the land. It might even be caught under something. The flesh could tear off.’ He paused, rubbing his nauseous guts. ‘You’d have to be fucked in the head to do that.’

Bevan stared. The smell started to come back to him. ‘Rick, it’s fucked already. We don’t need to do that.’

Rick ignored Bevan.‘Okay, I might be fucked in the head. But you agree that it could feasibly help, right? Give us more to go on? Make us look like we really checked things out properly?’ He appealed to the others, his eyes sparkling. ‘At least if we get into any trouble we could say that we didn’t know what it really was so we pulled it out of the water to have a look. And then we could put it back, or partially bury it and mark the site and go and tell someone.’ He looked from Jack to Bevan and back again. ‘What do you think?’

‘Sounds fucking stupid to me. We go and tell someone straight away afterwards right?’

‘No, I still think we should wait a while, see what comes up.’Jack stretched himself. ‘I dunno.’ He sighed. ‘I wanna think about it.’

Bevan was smoking his third smoke and didn’t say anything.Rick stood up, hauling his bag onto his shoulder. ‘Yeah, do think about it, coz if we’re going to do anything, we should do it this afternoon.’ He walked off, leaving Bevan and Jack alone. Jack sat down again, staring at the ground, starting to feel the way he did on Friday. He couldn’t go back to see her like that, could he? ‘You couldn’t go anyway, could you Jack? Not with your mum the way she is.’ Bevan scratched around in his bag for something to eat. Not that he was hungry, he just wanted something to do.

‘Probably not.’

Bevan eyed Jack, watching his distraction. He was incredibly curious about his mate and didn’t want to push him to the point where he got violent. He quite liked this new, absent Jack. At least he was being nicer to him. Made him realise yet again why they were friends.

‘I’ll cover for you if you like? Mum’s not home, dad’s vague as hell and would agree to just about anything. If you want to go and look, I mean.’

Jack shot a look at Bevan, eyes narrowed. ‘What about you, poofter? You think we should go?’

‘A big part of me is curious, I must admit. It fucking stinks but I can’t decide whether the smell would stop me from having another look.’

Jack stood abruptly. ‘Well, you fucking decide. If you decide, I’m out-voted, and have to go even if I don’t want to, right?’ And he stormed off, leaving Bevan to look after him in wonder.

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