The State – 4

Posted: April 1, 2013 in The State

12.

Eedee managed to blink away enough tears to see clearly again, catching a hurried glimpse of Edward’s shirt as he moved into the crowd, a block ahead of where she stood. Cradling her hand to her chest and trying to ignore the pulsating flashes of pain she was feeling, Eedee lunged after him.

She darted carefully through the thronging masses; the ones collected here to witness the spectacles of the night. Edward jogged left. Eedee followed. Rows upon rows of vendor’s booths greeted her as she turned into the street, flanking her on either side. The street was jammed. People lined up three blocks deep to spin the wheel and win a prize from their local insurance company. Edward made a break for the sidewalk with Eedee in pursuit. The sounds of old women, singing karaoke in green and blue visors, escorted her off the thoroughfare and onto the less crowded white, concrete pathway.

Sir, you are going to have to stop running in this crowd.”

Edward looked up at the man standing before him. The one who was now blocking his path. He noted the black pants and black jacket, along with the walkie talkie on his belt before the man reached out and put his hand on Edward’s shoulder. “Do we understand each other?” The security guard tightened his grip on Edward and tried to turn him forcefully towards the other man’s face. “Look at me, boy. I said do we understand each other?”

Edward stared hard at the man’s boots. He felt tears well up in his eyes and saw them splash down next to the stale and discarded gum at his feet. When he felt the guard try to force him to turn once again, he said, “No sir, I don’t think that we do understand each other,” and looked, dead on, deep into the other man’s eyes.

From where she is stuck in the crowd, Eedee catches a flash of black cloth, as the man holding Edward’s collar drops down to the sidewalk. A moment elapses as she continues to move forward, trying to reach where Edward was, and a scream fills her ears; someone has noticed the man on the ground. He’s twitching violently. A small crowd has begun to form as she passes. She notices that the man’s eyes are smoking. No, that can’t be. It must have been a trick of the light. A firework that some kid threw down.

Edward turns into an alley a half block ahead of her; Eedee follows.

13.

Eedee turns right, into the alley that connects her street to the one that’s adjacent. It’s an old alley and the buildings in it are ripe with the smell of the vagrants that inhabit it when the sun goes down. It stretches, farther than Eedee can see in the falling gloom.

Edward stands a block away, resting his hand on the wall, obscured by the dimming light. A block further up, a group of youths are setting about the colored mayhem of the firecrackers that they have managed to obtain. Spouts of red and green pyrotechnics launch into the air, showering the squealing kids with sparks as they laugh. The “tum, tum, tumtumtum, tum tum,” of the taiko drums echo down the narrow passageway. Eedee begins to walk towards where Edward is standing.

A man enters Eedee’s field of vision, coming from the right, and dropping what looks to be a large string of little, red firecrackers, along with a handful of small, colored spheres that begin to give off green smoke. He must have come from one of the buildings in the alley. “BANG! BANG! BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG!”

BANGBANGBANG!”

The firecrackers begin their staccato salute as Eedee realizes that she can no longer see Edward very well. She breaks into a run.

BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG!”

14.

The last thing that Eedee ever saw was a homeless looking man, wearing dark goggles, and smashing Edward’s head into the wall of the alley. To this day she is not certain that she actually witnessed it, although when the police questioned her about it, they described what could only be the result of what she thought she had seen.

But it couldn’t have been real, she told herself, no one can smash a person’s skull like that. Like it was nothing. Like it was the easiest thing in the world. Edward’s head hadn’t even seemed to resist the man’s efforts, simply shattering upon the red brick as the rest of Edward slumped to the ground. Bits of brain stuck to the wall and shards of skull littered the ground, but that wasn’t the part that gave Eedee nightmares.

The thing that tormented Eedeea waking terror that filled her mind’s eye with constant dread – was what the man had held in his fist; after pulling it from what remained of Edward’s cranium. Tentacles. Tentacles and teeth. Mushed together into a wriggling monstrosity that continued to invade her every hour.

The police, of course, had been quite skeptical of her story, simply chalking it up to the temporary derangement of PTSD. Anyone would have gone a little bit crazy after witnessing such a monstrous slaughter. Of course, the police couldn’t explain – nor could any doctors in the Bay Area – why it was exactly that Eedee had gone blind. Officially, it was considered a medical fluke, a simultaneity of tragedies rarely, if ever, observed before. But there had certainly been no sign of a squid monster – roughly the size of a rat – nor had there been any sign of a homeless man who was wearing goggles and packing firecrackers. And although the police hadn’t really been able to search all that well in the midst of the New Year’s parade, they felt quite confident in ruling out Eedee’s story as the simply the broken mind of a tragic girl.

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