January 1, 1939
The corpses mounted high as the infection swept the county, giant boils swelled on its victims and the lungs were filled with mucus. There wasn't much the officials could do, except watch their people die. There was not enough medicine to go around for the people of the town. People started calling this the black death, but that was not all. It was worse than that. It was the loss of humanity for humankind.
The corpses of the infected looked mangled and battered, surgery revealed that the heart and the liver were ruptured and the frontal lobe used to make billions of viruses were almost non-existent. I grabbed a shovel and dug deep into the Earth. I had already vomited at least twice already, but now I was fine. As I picked up the dirt, I could hear the tiny ants swarming away from me in hopes of not being the next victims. Their home was being invaded by a bunch of cadavers.
"Focker, hurry it up," my boss said, shoving one of those big cigars in his mouth. I nodded, continuing to dig deeper. It took a very long time. By the time I was done, I felt a new kind of dirty. I wore a sweat-stained T-shirt and shorts. My bare arms and legs were as ashy and pale as my face. There was a long jagged scar going up my leg, settling the appearance of a real man. Even though I was 14, I was very smart. I even knew about the birds and the bees.
"Focker, what did I just say? You got two minutes to dump the bodies before you get shoved in there with them." My boss was a grumpy old man, at least as far as I could see. He had a lopsided face, but those black beaded eyes were as clear as day. I had known him all my life, but I had not started working with him until last month. My job involved digging holes and pushing dead bodies into them. I had been taught early on that a cadaver was just a lifeless object. Thinking about what their lives were like in the past would be useless because they weren't here anymore. They went to heaven.
"Boss, my feet hurt. I don't think I can do this anymore," I said, walking up to his rocking chair. "I pushed all of them bodies in the hole. How many do we got left?" As he rocked back and forth, he blew smoke into the air. The smoke particles danced in the air, stumbling into my eyes. My eyes started to water. The smell of the smoke coming out of the cigar was so bad, but I needed to get used to it. I planned on working here for a while.
"There is another pile of them in the back. Let's go get Jack and tell him to bring the rest up front. After you bury those bodies, then you'll get your money." With that, my boss stood up, slouched and fell to the ground. I took a deep breath and watched as he twitched in the dirt. He makes no attempt to get up after his body stops moving.
In this heat, I can barely formulate a thought. There is no cooling breeze or cloud to block the high August sun. I curl my fingers around the thin fabric of my top, waving it in and out to create just a little air flow, but it's not enough. "Boss, what are you doing? I thought we were going to get Jack." There were weird sounds coming out of his body. They sounded like silent screams. Since he was not willing to get up, I'd go and get Jack myself.
I did not like Jack very much. He would always tease me when it came to digging holes. He would say things like 'the diameter of this hole is too wide for four people to fit in it, so make it smaller next time'. What was he talking about? What was a diameter? He would always do things like that. Using big words to confuse me so the boss would call me a dumb ass. Jack was taller and stronger than me. He was always trying to get one up on me, and it was not fair.
Jack was in the backyard, carving at some wood. "Boss called for you. He wants you to bring the rest of the bodies up front." Jack nodded, dropping the wood on the ground. He pointed to two bodies laying out in the open. They smelt like rotten meat. It was a boy and a woman. I couldn't recognize the face of the female because her face was smashed in. She did not have any eyes, but her teeth were perfectly aligned in a set of two rows. Her upper lip was missing. As far as I could tell, there was nothing wrong with the boy. He was completely still with open eyes. The virus had gotten to both of them, but it had spread in different ways.
"Jack, can I ask you a question?" He nodded, again. "Why haven't we been affected? We touch the bodies all day, but the virus doesn't affect us." Jack laughs. His laughing was like ripples in a still pond after a stone has been thrown in. I frowned at him.
"Lift his head," he said, pointing at the silent boy. I grabbed a hand full of his hair, lifting him slowly. There was blood running down the back of his neck, slipping down his shirt. There was a hole about the size of my fist in his head. I could see little particles of pink and red and purple and grey. There was the white jagged end of a broken bone cutting through the skin and blood ran freely. I wanted to touch it, but Jack smacked my hand away. "He was murdered. He was about eight or nine, I don't know. But her-," he chuckled, pointing to the woman, "she was killed by the virus." Jack's foot dug into the woman's abdomen. The weight of his foot made the woman role over so that she was on her back.
"I was tired of looking at her face," he commented. He took the woman by her hands and started dragging her in the boss's direction. I followed behind him, staring at the boy. He looked very small to be eight or nine. I did not mind looking at him as we made it back to the front yard. I also did not mind watching him get dumped and buried in the hole. After Jack and I finished, we patted down the grave. I took some flowers from my back pocket, throwing them onto the grave. Mom had told me that my job was very disrespectful. the only way to make up for it was to cover the grave with pretty flowers. I thought it was stupid. Covering a grave with dead flowers seemed weird. Who was going to make a grave for the dead flowers?
I heard a pained noise behind me. It came from Jack. He was on his knees, hitting the boss on his chest like a madman. I ran up next to him, but he pushed me on the ground. My knee hit the ground, peeling my skin right off. There was a trace of blood in the dirt. I wouldn't cry because I wasn't a baby. It was just another scar to add to my collection.
Jack had run into the boss's house. I could hear him screaming from all the way outside. When he came back out, he was red in the face. His fists were balled, and his mouth had since turned downward. I wanted to ask Jack if I could get the money the boss had promised, but it did not seem like the appropriate time to do so. Instead of waiting for both of them, I decided to leave. It was getting dark outside and mom told me that if I was late again, I would have to quit the job. With each step, I pounded my feet on the sidewalk releasing some of my anger. I wanted to buy something for New Year's, but I had not gotten paid. What was I suppose to tell Mom?
By the time I made it home, the moon had taken its place in the sky. The temperature had gotten unreasonably low. There was not a shred of snow on the ground despite the time of the year. It was box-shaped with it's front door dead center, four small windows near each corner and constructed of the same red brick that I had gotten from our neighbor. A path had been made out of left over bricks. I knocked on the door only to find my Mom sobbing loudly into the house phone.
"Yeah, he made it home. Okay, okay I'll call you back tomorrow." She did not say anything. Instead, she hugged me. She hugged me for a very long time.