Afflicted 12: Chapter 11

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Neither Bevan or Jack could’ve given two shits about thinking about news about a missing girl. Jack was thinking about the girl, but not for that reason.

It took Rick the best part of a week to get over what he’d seen, and he spent the remainder of that week being puzzled at his friends’ reactions. He stayed pale for a while, but his mother, thinking that it was the shock of a puncture wound and a course of antibiotics, didn’t think too much about it. In reality, Rick wasn’t sleeping, and much of that was due to an anxiety about losing his friends. He couldn’t give a fuck about food, which was why his mother was cooking and staring him down until he ate all of the shite she served up for dinner. And when he did manage to get some shut-eye, his dreams were full of awful images that he could barely remember on waking, and didn’t know where they were coming from. His curiosity about Jack, however, continued unabated. Jack’s reaction had spun Rick out completely. He’d withdrawn into himself and, while he was always aggressive, was now a little ball of tension. A ball of tension that refused to speak to Rick.

Bevan, on the other hand, was continually assaulted by an offending stench, a smell that plagued him night and day, and was like the worst of the fug off the corpse. Always one to work in order to drown out his anxiety, Bevan had finished all his outstanding school work. The end result, of course, was that his teachers were wondering, happily, what had brought on this extra burst of studiousness from their best, but laziest, student. Not only had he completed his outstanding work but was getting everything else done on time, or in class, and getting most of the difficult stuff—like algebra and calculus—right, because he worked so singularly on each thing in an attempt to keep the stench at bay.

Having heard about this through some accidental interaction with one of Bevan’s teachers, his dad was now pleasantly happy and speaking vaguely about commendations. He talked studies and directions with his son, and Bevan lapped it up because it was a distraction from his overworked sense of smell. Bevan had discovered that by throwing himself into a frenzy of work, he managed to fall into bed utterly exhausted, and was then able to sleep. Deeply. He’d even discovered that if he did this and leaped out of bed and ate as soon as he flicked his eyes open, that he could do so before his brain fully awoke to that fact that it was unoccupied and regaled him with that smell again. At all other times, his salvation was cigarettes and lavender oil, neither of which really worked. He just found himself using up his mum’s oil too quickly, and running out of smokes more and more often.

Jack, on the other hand, had gotten quieter and more irritable. He was overwrought about what had happened to that girl, quite apart from his heartache. And to make matters worse, he’d started to dream about her.The first night he dreamt about her it was like every other dream he’d had about her. Not much, just pleasant dreams about her. But by the end of the week he was having erotic dreams about her, dreams from which he always woke with the searing pain of injustice and the intense fear of her own suffering burning in his belly. But on the last day of the week, he’d dreamt the usual erotica, but at the end of the dream, just as he got to the point of orgasm, she turned in to a fly-encrusted, horribly misused corpse.He woke up, and was sick.

The end of the week couldn’t have come quick enough.

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