Apocalpyse Live: Rayne, Sleet, and SnowJan 30th, 2012 | By Lilly Nelson | Category: Fiction
Rayne peeked through her mess of blonde hair at her bloodshot blue eyes. She hadn’t been feeling well at all today. The blistering headache had forced her out of work for a second day in a row. Not that it was going to be a big deal; who was going to work in this weather?
Her thin fingers found her temples and dug in to relieve the pressure. So much pain from what appeared to be nothing. Sleep was next to impossible with all the weird dreams, and the infection that appeared to be spreading into her mouth was making it hard to eat.
Gotta get to the doctor. She promised herself she would when should could muster the energy later that night.
Opening her mouth wide she peered inside. Just above her eye-teeth was a red swelling. Smiling at herself she noticed an almost vampiric grin. Rayne drew back and hissed at the reflection. It made her laugh, something she hadn’t done in days between the blinding pressure in her skull and lack of sleep. Oh, how it hurt to laugh.
Gotta get to the doctor today. No buses. No cabs. No cars. A two-mile walk to Moses-Cone feeling like death didn’t seem like a great option. Could call 9-1-1? No insurance, though. The exercise would do her good.
Rayne began the process of layering up. Stockings, leggings, yoga pants, slim jeans, regular jeans, snow pants. Crap! She forgot the socks and there was no way to keep the cold out if she didn’t keep things in order. Off with everything! Snow pants, regular jeans, slim jeans, yoga pants… By the time she was down to her leggings the exhaustion hit and she collapsed onto her bed.
Why all the pain?! After a brief tantrum and flailing feet, she rolled onto her side, trying to cut out the noise of her neighbors shouting all around her. They had always been such easy neighbors, but now – no matter how kindly she asked – they would not be quiet. What’s worse, they claimed to not have spoken a word. Liars.
Rayne threw a pillow over her face. Maybe I could smother myself to death?
“Where is all this snow coming from?!” Michelle, the girl who lived to her right, screamed at the top of her lungs. Michelle lived alone. Why was she shouting?
Rayne launched the nearest hard object at the wall.
Michelle screamed and swore on the other side of the wall. “What was that?!”
Swallowing a pill, shoving earplugs into her ears, and clamping a pillow around her head, Rayne kicked her blankets over her back and closed her eyes with an aggravated groan. Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Rest…you need to. The chanting did nothing to alleviate the din.
Brooks knew Alex would be freezing when she got home, and promised not to turn the thermostat down below seventy. But why? He was on fire. He’d always had a high internal body temperature but this was ridiculous, the poorly constructed tent on the back porch was proof of that. That’s where he’d been sleeping for the past two weeks since anything over forty degrees was blistering heat to him now.
This was becoming too much, but there was nothing he could do. A perfect bill of health from every doctor he’d been able to see was no help for his night sweats, and his relations with Alex were becoming strained.
Now his hands dug deep into the snow and piled heaps of the white powder onto his fuzzy scalp. In the cold his swim trunks were freezing solid, and it was glorious. Snow shoveled into his ears, his nose, mouth, eyes. The relief was invigorating and he wept at the comfort.
The familiar sound of crunching snow and boots on stairs reached his ears. Alex was home.
“I’m in the back!” He called out to her, hoping she’d hear before she stepped through the front door. The front door closed. One more quick roll in the snow and he could stand the indoors again.
When he stood up Alex was staring at him through the window. Her breath fogged the glass. She smiled and drew a heart in the condensation. Brooks’s body heat fogged the other side and he traced her heart in the glass.
Alex giggled like a child and slid the door open for Brooks to step in, and inside he went.
“DANG IT! What is wrong with me?!” The exclamation ripped Rayne from her dead sleep and launched her onto the floor. Sprawled on the carpet, half dazed, Rayne listened to the lament.
The neighbors were going to get a piece of her mind this time. She ran out and banged hard on Michelle’s door. No answer. She banged harder. Nothing.
“Michelle! Keep it down!” She jiggled the knob and the door swung open freely. “Michelle?” No one replied. Great, now I’m hearing things.
With a roll of her eyes she exited and returned to her apartment, searching for the source of the noise. Outside! With the last of her energy, Rayne pried her window open and stuck her head into the frigid elements. Snow rained down from her third floor apartment into the street below.
Straining to see, she found the only inhabitant of the street. A lone figure trampled through the snow at sloth-like speed. Pick up a foot, set it down, pick up the other, set it down. This was motion. Whoever it was was talking to himself at ridiculously loud levels.
“Hey!” Rayne shouted to the huddled mass. This did not stop the monologue.
“Who is that?! Who is shouting at me?”
“Up where?” Evan looked up at her. Rayne felt a strange tickle on the back of her brain that made her blush. She hoped he’d think it was her being sick. Evan flashed a smile and then stared at her for a second before dropping his head and averting his eyes by staring into the street.
“Oh Hi! How are you?”
“Not good. You?”
“Cold.” There was a pause. “What does it look like crazy freak?” Rayne bit her tongue and calmly replied.
“There’s no need to be nasty.” Evan stared at her, slightly confused.
“Didn’t mean to be.”
Rayne’s eyes went wide and her head shook, ”I’m sick.”
“Sorry,” Evan sighed. Her face was bright red from fever. The window frame supported her wobbly frame. Her mouth was moving but nothing came out. The bricks comprising the building seemed to move. Life went into soft focus and the tickle on his brain brushed harder and he felt the full body blush coming over him.
“Evan!” She shook him back to reality. “You wanna come up?” The thought had entered his mind, but he really didn’t feel like climbing the slick steps to the front door. The promise of warmth in the bitter cold was too much temptation.
“Uh-huh.” He mumbled. While something else entirely echoed in his mind.
“Hold your horses. Just trying to get you out of the cold. It’s not that kind of invitation!” He didn’t recall being overtly excited. The blush rushed in again and he shook it off. Must be getting sick.
He plowed through the snow and felt the first step with his foot. Wiggling his foot he found the top and shifted his weight onto the first step. He kicked into the snow, found the top of the next step, wiggled his foot into place and shifted his weight again. And so it went for the ten steps to the apartment door.
Rayne opened the door…
“Hi! Nice to see…”
And walked quickly back up the stairs to her apartment, apparently leaving the door open due to the lack of latch on metal. Crazy, rude…!
“I heard that,” she screamed from her apartment. “Why is everyone shouting today? Gone deaf?” The door was definitely open.
“Nice to see you too!” Evan peeled his coat off and hung it on a nail dug deep into the wood paneling. No use getting snow and sludge on the carpet. He kicked off his shoes and walked upstairs, carefully.
The thin purple carpet was fraying under the excessive use. Nails caught on his socks. The lights were dim at best. Confetti littered the top step. The apartment really felt more like a dorm than a place that adults should reside.
That was Rayne. An eternal child, hoping and dreaming.
Evan pressed her door open and stepped inside, shutting it as he walked in.
Rayne was pouring a cup of tea in such a state of concentration he didn’t dare beg her attention. She scooped out sugar and stirred intensely. Should he sit on the couch or stand and wait to be offered?
“For crying out loud take a seat! It’s not like you’re a stranger.” Startled, he stumbled into the nearest chair. I wasn’t sure if it was ok.
“Yeah, yeah.” She mumbled a phrase or two.
You must be sick.
“Do I look that bad?” Rayne’s hand tried to smooth her unruly hair down.
Do you want the truth? Rayne turned and swallowed hard, apparently insulted.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” She opened the cupboard above her head. “Want one?”
“Sure,” Evan gritted his teeth in a smile. Stop being so hard to deal with. It was eight months ago.
Rayne turned and walked towards him, holding the steaming cup in her hand. Her eyes were wide and unblinking. “Something is really wrong. I’m going crazy.”
You’re telling me, he thought to himself. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. But then again… His thought paused. Rayne’s mouth opened in an eternal gasp and a squeak of fear came out. What are you looking at? Then her fingers slipped, and down fell his tea.
Evan watched it as it slipped silently through the air. He could count the individual amber droplets that scattered from the scalding mass. Time slowed til he felt as if he could walk over and pluck the falling ceramic from the air and catch everything without spilling a drop, and yet he found himself inevitably glued to his seat.
Time slowed even further when the mug shattered and he watched as the individual pieces scattered in all directions, yet he knew exactly where they were going. It was almost poetic. He had become so entranced he didn’t notice as Rayne flopped to the ground in the sticky mess. She might have actually bounced once or twice.
Probably should have caught her. Another voice in his head seemed to answer him,”Yeah, you should have. Jerk!”