When we caught up with Phillips, he was too far gone to do anything for. He was still talking, lips moving, but that didn’t mean anything. Some of those dogs were still walking when we got into town. Tony tried patting his arm, telling him it would be okay, and I cold-cocked him before he could make contact. Stupid shit. Lucky bastard was wearing gloves, otherwise I would’ve shot him and then put the torch to him.
You can’t explain shit like this to anyone who hasn’t seen it firsthand. Like when we found that farmer face up in front of the Laundromat, all swollen like a bag of popcorn in a microwave. We tried to lift him up and his arm separated from his body. Made a sound like ripping hair. I tried telling that to those uniformed shits they have back at the base, and they laughed. Sounded funny, I’ll admit. Didn’t stop me from beating their asses.
I have to scrub real careful around the stitches now. Two against one. Bastards had knives. Not fair not fair.
Just because you’re a soldier doesn’t mean you appreciate the reality. Town. Plague. Infection. They’re just words, words for something you can’t really envision, have to experience to even begin to see. Gas masks and E-suits over E-suits over E-suits.
Dowling died two weeks ago. I watched that punk from sunup to sundown, never once took off so much as a glove. They wrote it off to heart failure. Wonder what they did with the body.
There’s still a bruise on my ribcage from my fall on the steps. I’m okay. The one who turned back to help me, one of the raw dogs sent in to fish us out when we realized just how deep in the shit we’d gotten ourselves, he got the short end of the dick. I wonder if they told him going in to always have something between your skin and the miasma. I doubt they told any of them, they were wearing home-security epidemic getups, all taped seams and condom boots.
I told them I didn’t look back after I got up. I lied.
Ever kicked a puffball? That’s what his body did.
Even in the shower I cough phlegm like bullets. I tell the doctor it’s the cold weather, he gives me NyQuil and wags his finger. Fuck you very much. I want something to knock me out for a while. I want to sleep without dreams. In dreams I see Phillips and the farmer. In dreams I shoot the dog again, the first movement we saw in the town, and he splits right down the middle. His inside is all cloudy.
None of it made any sense. The labels on the bottles, the papers, nothing. I think we were wrong, looking for a cause. It’s here now, that’s what matters.
The water on the bathtub floor is pink. My lungs feel hairy. I’ve been spitting teeth for a few days now, been shitting liquid for a week. I’ll finish here and then I’ll climb up to the roof of my house.
I feel a yawn coming on.