1378 words (5 minute read)

September 23, 2769 (excerpt)

Greg played his flashlight over the stack of boxes by the window, then carefully scanned the rest of the room. The barricade across the back entrance seemed intact, and the bathroom to the right was empty (he had removed the door earlier, allowing him to see inside from his vantage point in the hallway). Chewing his bottom lip, he focused the beam on a glass beaker poking out from beneath the lid of the topmost box.

“Come on man, we gonna fucking do this or what?” Jason stood behind him, two large duffel bags hanging over his shoulders.

Irritated, Greg sighed heavily, then turned to face his companion. “Yes, Jay, we are going to do this thing.”

“Well it’s about fucking time,” Jay replied, marching angrily into the room, “Being careful’s one thing, but man …” He shrugged the bags off his shoulders, then unzipped them and pushed them next to the pile of boxes.

Sighing once more, Greg watched as the exiled Flasher began lifting the cartons and placing them in a row on the floor.

Gregory had grown to expect a certain kind of behaviour from his companion over the past few months (that being a grudging sort of cooperation mixed with an overwhelmingly huge dose of profanity and general asshole-ishness), but he still hadn’t totally gotten used to it. There were still many times like these when he struggled to not lash out at Jay, reminding himself that he needed him if he was going to have any hope of succeeding in his plans. Besides, the kid was going through a lot right now …

“Listen, Jay,” he said gently as he walked into the room, “I keep telling you, we have to be this careful. Believe me, you just can’t predict how these people are going to behave.”

“Yeah, well I can sure as fuck predict how you’re going to behave,” Jay grumbled, “Fucking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Wait, watch, leave, wait, come back, wait, watch … fucking waste of time!”

Greg opened his mouth to reply, then simply shook his head and turned his attention to the beaker which he had been studying from the hallway. Grasping it between his thumb and forefinger, he gently pulled it free and, after a quick dusting, held it up to the window for further inspection. Though the light coming through the filthy, dusty glass was diffuse, it was bright enough to confirm that the item was not only in good shape, but practically brand new as well. He placed the item next to the box, then gently pried the top all the way open, revealing a nice variety of test tubes and beakers, all apparently as pristine as the first. “Wow,” he said quietly, “This is good.” He turned towards his companion. “Be extra careful, all right? If the rest is anything like this, we’ve got some pretty decent stuff on our hands.”

Be extra careful, all right?” Jason mocked, “You’d think I was some kind of fucking retard or something.”

“Okay,” Greg said, raising his hands, “Take it easy. I’m not trying to insult you. I’m just saying, this stuff could be really useful.”

“Yeah, whatever. It all looks the same as the shit back at the apartment.”

Greg chuckled. “Ah, well, my friend,” he said, wagging a finger in the air and smiling, “that is where you are wrong. A little bigger, a little smaller, a little flatter, a little rounder … it all makes a big difference in how I use it. Besides,” he said, bending forward and peering at the treasure before him, “the markings on these are nicer than most of the stuff at home.”

“Whatever.” Jason mumbled, reaching into one of the smaller boxes and retrieving a tiny glass funnel, “Hey, look!” he exclaimed, thrusting the object in Greg’s direction, “This one looks a little gayer than the other ones! That should come in handy.”

“Uh huh.”

“And look!” he continued, turning the funnel upside down, “It’s nice and tapered. You could lube it up and give yourself a fucking vitamin tea enema!”

“Hmph,” Greg said, shaking his head, “Nice. Just keep sorting so we can get out of here.”

“Okee dokee!”

The next little while was spent in relative silence as the two men continued poking through the boxes. Having sorted and packed the contents of the first carton, Greg set it aside, then froze. The lid on the box underneath (which had apparently once held NicoStix refills) was spattered with some kind of dark, reddish-brown substance.

The memory hit him like a sledgehammer—the pain in his face, the blood pattering down onto the electronic supplies so carefully laid out in the centre of the room, the way his hand had skidded through the gore as he had tried to break his fall after the second strike. He straightened, emitting a strange kind of gasping sob.

Jason, who had been waxing eloquent on how a common test tube could best be used to perverse effect, spun around to face him. “What the fuck’s your problem?” He demanded, a mixture of irritation and concern on his face.

“We’re leaving,” Greg replied, quickly zipping up his backpack and slinging it over his shoulder. “Close up your bags, we’ll come back later for the rest.”

“What? What’re you talking about? We can carry way more than this!”

“Never mind,” Greg said, marching towards the door, “Pack it up and let’s go.”

Jason watched as Greg poked his head through the doorway, nervously peering from side to side. “No fucking way, Science-Boy,” he said, shaking his head, “It takes forever to crawl through this shithole building. I’m not fucking leaving till my bags are full.”

Greg glared at him from the entrance. “We’re leaving. Now. I’m not gonna say it again.”

“Good!” Jay exclaimed, “Cause I don’t wanna hear it again. So why don’t you quit being such a faggot and get your fucking candy ass back in here.” He turned away and nudged a box with his foot. “Fucking grow a pair already,” he grumbled, “I can smell your pussy from here. Maybe if you’d just—”

Greg was on him in an instant, grabbing his upper arm and spinning him around. Jason looked up, blinking in surprise, then slowly looked down at the older man’s hand. “Get off me,” he growled.

“Fuck you!” Greg snapped, tightening his grip on Jason’s arm, “You’re gonna pick those fucking bags up and we’re gonna leave, and if you think—” Jason quickly yanked free of him, causing Greg to stumble forward. Recovering immediately, he cocked his fist back, then paused as the kid stood his ground, eyes smouldering. The two stared at each other for a moment, Greg finally letting his arm drop and taking a small step backward. “Sorry,” he said, his anger tempered somewhat by a growing sense of sadness and shame, “I’m just … sorry.”

“Yeah,” Jason replied through clenched teeth, “I guess you fucking are.” He glared at Greg for a few seconds longer, then slowly turned away, shaking his head. “Fucking crazy old queer,” he mumbled, pushing boxes around as Greg watched in silence, “No wonder I’m still fucking stuck in this shithole. Asshole.”

Greg opened his mouth to speak, then paused, shoulders slumped. The kid was being a prick, but that didn’t excuse what he had almost done. Truth was, he would probably be less than civil himself if he were in Jason’s predicament.

Greg took a deep breath, then released it slowly. “Listen, kid,” he said as Jason slung a bag over his shoulder, “Maybe we can stay a little longer. At least get the best stuff out of here.”

Jason bent to retrieve the second bag. “Nah, fuck it,” he said, “Let’s just get out of here before you fucking start crying or something.”

Greg shrugged, then quietly began collecting his things.

“Tell you what,” Jay said, smiling sardonically, “On the way back you can tell me what it’s like to be a faggot.”