Infected Page 70

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calling one up no w ,

w e ar e talking to them

“Are they nearby?” High-pitch sounded in his head.

ho w far is nearby



“You’re familiar with the concept of distance?” He felt them looking up the word distance. Unbidden, images flashed through his mind — maps, a hundred-yard dash, third-grade story problems.

y es. ho w far is nearb y .

sho w us

He’d have to start them out on inches and feet. “Nearby” was a relative concept and he wasn’t sure how he’d explain it. He hopped toward the junk drawer to get a ruler. As he moved, the faint wisps of a foul smell drifted across his nose, and then it was gone. He sniffed again but caught no further traces of the scent. He brushed aside a roll of duct tape and pulled the ruler from the drawer.

He steeled himself. What he was about to do — educate them — made it even more real, even more hopeless. It was like admitting that they were just as normal as the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day or Saturday-morning cartoons.

He slid up the sleeve on his left arm.

There sat the Triangle, bright blue under his skin. But the eye slits were still closed.

sho w us.

“I can’t. His . . . his eyes aren’t open yet.”

so me can see.

not all. not yet.

“So which one of you can see? My back? My . . . my balls?”

no, y our ass, sho w us

“No.”

sho w us

“No fucking way.”

SHO W US

The low-level mindscream hit him, causing more fear than pain. What he had to do sickened him, but he had no choice.

He dropped his pants and bent over, gripping the counter edge for support. He held the ruler behind him at ass level, parallel to his butt cheeks, directly in front of the Triangle buried in his posterior.

“Do you see this?” Perry felt embarrassed, like a teenager who’s pantsed in front of the girls, or someone caught masturbating. He felt his face flush red. He was standing there in his kitchen, pants about his knees, bent over like some silkyboy waiting for a bull fag to take it to him. He’d certainly rather have some three-hundred-pound convict sticking it up his ass than deal with the situation he had now. Even AIDS would be better than going out this way.

y es what is it

He felt loud, high-pitch noise. Excitement rolled into his thoughts, an overflow emotion from the Triangles. He’d had all the Triangles covered up from the first moment they could see. The Triangle on his shoulder had enjoyed only a few moments of vision before Perry fucked up its whole day. Aside from an eyeful of fork, this ass-eye view was really the first thing they’d ever seen.

“It’s called a ruler. It measures distances.” Perry closed his eyes and laid his head down on the counter. It felt cool against his warm face. “See the lines and the numbers?”

He felt them accessing the new words.

y es lines and numbers yes

Their excitement level soared, leaking into his own mind. Perry fought it down. Anger crept into his thoughts — he wasn’t going to let their emotions overtake him.

“Okay. The big lines represent inches. That’s a unit of measurement. The numbers count how many inches there are. There’s twelve inches on this ruler, twelve inches is called a ‘foot,’ which is a larger unit of measurement. Understand?” The fuzzy noise in his head was a speedy blur, then it was gone.

y es.

tw elv e inches in a foot

“Okay. Now, there’re the twelve inches in a foot, and if you have three feet — ”

thr ee feet is a yard

They were at it again, checking his brain like the Perry Public Library. It was a redefinition of being used, and

one hundr ed yar ds in a

football field

there was nothing Perry could do about it. Nothing. His anger continued to grow, his temper slowly mushrooming like a nuclear pile approaching critical mass. Perry shut his eyes tight and tried to

5,280 feet in a mile

control the emotions, but there were too many: excitement, frustration, humiliation from being bent over the counter with his ass exposed like some prison bitch waiting to be taken, and rage at having his brain and memories fingered through like a Compton’s Encyclopedia.

His father’s voice came to him, unbidden. This time it sounded real and vibrant, not a memory but something angry and new. Look at yourself, son. Bent over like some nancy-boy, you’re a goddamned disgrace. I oughta teach you some manhood, boy. You gonna let them treat you like that? You gonna let them? Huh, boy? You gonna let them PUSH YOU AROUND

LIKE THAT?

A narrow-eyed snarl slipped across Perry’s face. He reached his left hand over to the stove and cranked the front right burner’s knob to “high.”

He stood and pulled up his pants. Their disappointment overflowed into him, as pure and as powerful as the excitement had been. let us see. let us see

“You wanna see? See the fucking shit stains in my underwear.”

let us see let us see the ruler

“Shut the fuck up, you’ve seen enough.” Part of Perry hoped they’d continue. He wanted to hurt them, teach them some manners. Another part of him (the part that had been all of him until a week ago, the part that was fading fast) struggled to bring his temper under control. He was split right down the middle, and he didn’t give a ratfuck which part came out on top.

let us see See SEE

Perry flinched as the Triangle volume started to rise. A mindscream fast approached. The part of Perry that hoped for a peaceful resolution shrank away to nothingness.

Infected Page 70

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Infected Page 70 summary

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