Afflicted 16: Chapter 15

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Late that same night, Jack jumped off his bike down near the river, in the light of the pale moon. It was quiet and still. An owl mopoked gently in the far-off dimness, and it was only by virtue of the hills around him that he could hear it echoing throughout the valley. Ditching his bike near the river, he made sure to hide it in the reeds so that the light didn’t glint off its frame. Absurdly, he was paranoid about someone magically flying past and catching him at it. He didn’t know what ‘it’ was or even why the prospect of someone ‘flying past’ bothered him, but it did.

This close to the river the air was damp and cold. Pulling his jacket closer around him, he started walking up towards that afternoon’s fishing spot. The place had some kind of resident evil about it now. The ground was stained by their awful discovery. His awful discovery. Just the thought of it made him stop walking, wrenched suddenly by that anxious sickness that plagued him. But he couldn’t get it out of his head to the point where he was crazily walking down here now, in the middle of the night, by himself, in the last place he really wanted to be. It was now, he checked his watch, three oh four in the goddamn morning.

‘Fucking hell,’ he swore softly, pulling his sleeve down and over his rapidly chilled hand.

The old man river red gum loomed up in front of him surprisingly quickly. Jack leaned up against it out of the breeze that had kicked up from around the bend, dug a smoke out of his pocket and took his time about lighting it. Bevan had taken his lighter and all he had left were some poxy waterproof matches that seemed to Jack to be more fire-proof than waterproof. The air seemed warmer here, and for the first time in what seemed forever, he started to feel a sense of calm, comfort, and a wonderful release from all the awful emotional shit he’d been wrapped in. His smoke ended presently, so he threw the butt into the river, shoved his hands in his pockets, and kept walking.

As he rounded the bend, he noticed with a quickening alarm that there was someone else sitting on the riverbank, sitting there in a warm coat and beanie, staring out over the water. He stopped in his tracks and crouched low, for fear the other person would see him. Curiosity kept nudging him forwards, however, and eventually took him by the hand and led him right up to the person, kicking the loose dirt and snapping twigs and branches to announce his arrival. When he got there, curiosity left him and surprise smacked him in the face. The person sitting there was female.

Sitting down next to her, he felt that calm permeate his soul. When he caught her eye, the girl smiled and snuggled down next to him, her arm through his and resting on his thigh. It felt like the most normal thing in the world. She was warm, he was comfortable, and it didn’t seem to matter who she was or why she was there. She turned and gazed up at him, and when she reached up and started kissing him gently on the neck and around his ear.

Just as he began to enjoy himself, with his hand on her breast and his knee in her soft, warm, moist pubes, he smiled down at her. As he did so, she collapsed and fell apart, stinking and rotting. The sight of her increased his excitement and he smeared himself in her gore before standing over her and wanking until he came all over the mess—Jack wrenched himself from sleep in the horrid realisation that he’d just had the most exciting dream of his life, and that it was with the girl he loved and grieved over, and that her dead state sexually excited him. He tore himself out of bed and stood in the icy coldness of his room, naked, alarmed at his still-present erection. Beside himself with anxiety, he began to whimper and dressed himself haphazardly.

Once he’d got dressed and sat down on the end of his bed with his heater on, and had come to his senses, Jack realised that he must be seriously fucked up. He also resolved not to go to sleep again. Ever. Heartsick about the girl and the no doubt awful way she’d died, he was terrified at the prospect of dreaming about her again. Her certainly didn’t want to fuck her rotting carcass, and choked down his rising vomit as her smiling, alive, beautiful memory taunted him, turning into a memory of that dream. He thought, momentarily, that if he had a wank it might relieve some pressure and help him relax; but then the terror-filled anxiety of the possibility of fantasising about her filled him. Where would he be if that happened? More anxious than he already was, no doubt.

Eventually, he decided that if he went outside and had a smoke he might be in a better position to critically assess his mental situation. He made his way out to the back of the shed and lit a small fire in a tin, after retrieving a bucket of water, the contents of which were primarily from the dog’s bowl. Apologising quietly to his dog for not being able to turn on a tap because it would wake the entire household, Jack sat on his seat, smoking, and contemplating. The panic had passed, but his anxiety was as great as it had been before. Looking over to the far corner of this back part of the shed, he remembered when he had last been here and how he had vomited so much over the realisation about what he’d seen and what it meant for him.

The only conclusion he came to was that he couldn’t sleep again.

Jack smoked until he felt sick and then went back into his room and tried to read a book—but his body kept deceiving him by allowing sleep to sneak up on him in a million different ways. Besides, the jerk-nodding of falling asleep was really starting to hurt his neck.

The only idea that really made sense to Jack, in his current situation, was to find someone with a stash of amphetamines that could help him to stay awake. There was only one person from whom he could obtain such a thing: his elder brother Bill. But given that Bill lived in another state, the chances of that opportunity coming along were Buckley’s and none. The very vague idea that he might, even slightly, be a necrophiliac, was too much for Jack. But in his desperation he couldn’t think of any way out of his perverted mind.

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