Infected Page 92

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The tape parted with only a small ripping noise. The knife danced as he

repeated the process, severing each strip. The washcloth, thick with coagulated blood and the jellylike black goo, fell to the floor. The smell hit both of them instantly — an invisible demon that

climbed into their noses and down their throats, pulling at the contents of

their guts. Her hands went to her mouth as Perry laughed. He breathed



deeply of the noxious, rotting odor of death.

“I love the smell of Napalm in the morning,” Perry said. “It smells like

victory!”

Thin jets of vomit spewed from between her fingers, spraying across the room and landing on the couch as well as the end table and the carpet. The reek seemed to billow out of his shoulder like mustard gas.

Perry hoped it was just the remnants of the Triangle tail rotting into a putrid black ooze that produced the smell, not pieces and parts of himself. But in his heart he knew that was a pipe dream. Was the one on his ass rotting, too? The frayed, fibrous, unbreakable noose around his soul grew tighter and tighter — he couldn’t leave them in, and he couldn’t take them out.

Fatty Patty lay on the floor, convulsing and retching, making quite a stink of her own. He ignored her, instead staring out the window. Third story. It wasn’t like twenty stories or anything definitely fatal, but it was nothing to sneeze at. Especially if you landed on your head. He tried to remember if there were bushes below. He’d heard stories about men surviving ten-story falls because they’d landed in some shrubbery. He hoped there were no bushes.

He moved closer to the window. It was dark outside; the light from the kitchen turned the window into a weak mirror. He could see himself through the venetian blind’s slats. One good running start would take him clear through, carry him to the sidewalk below in a shower of jagged glass. Perry reached for the blind’s cord and pulled down.

The slats lifted, and his wide-eyed reflection stared back at him from only two inches away. The mirror image made his brain ground to a halt — his eyes, they were still blue, but the irises weren’t round.

They were triangular.

A half breath slid into his lungs, then his throat locked up. Bright blue, triangular eyes . . . what the fuck, what the fuck?

Perry closed his eyes tight. He was hallucinating, that was all. He rubbed hard with his fists, then opened his eyes again. The breath slid out of him, slowly, then back in, deeply. His irises were round again. No, not again, they had been round all the time; it had just been another hallucination, that’s all. He blinked rapidly, feeling a semblance of control ease into his chest, then he shut his eyes again and gave them one more hard rub. He knew what he had to do. Time to jump, time to get this shit over with. He shook his head to clear it, then looked out the window —

— and found himself staring at a full-body reflection of his father. The

skeleton-skinny man stared back, his gaunt face cracked by a smiling, angry expression. Perry remembered the look well; it was the look Daddy always wore just before the beatings began.

“What are you doing, boy?”

Perry blinked, shook his head, and looked again. His father was still there.

“Daddy?”

“I ain’t your daddy, boy, and you ain’t my son. No son of mine thinks of giving up. You giving up, boy?”

Perry searched for an answer but found none. Daddy was dead. This was a hallucination.

“Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean you can’t embarrass me, you little shit,” the reflection said. “Did your daddy give up when Captain Cancer came calling?”

“No, sir,” Perry said. The ingrained response to his father’s question came quickly, automatically.

“Goddamned right he didn’t. I fought that sonofabitch to the bitter end. And do you know why, boy?”

Perry nodded. He knew the answer, and he drew strength from it. “Because you’re a Dawsey, Daddy.”

“Because I’m a Dawsey. I fought till I was nothing more than the walking bag of bones you see here. I fought, you little cocksucker. I was tough. I taught you how to be tough, son, I taught you well. What are you, boy?”

Perry’s face hardened. The hopelessness vanished, replaced by angry determination. He might die, but he’d go out like a man.

“I’m a Dawsey,” Perry said.

In the window, the weak reflection of Daddy smiled his toothy smile.

Perry let go of the cord; the venetian blinds zipped closed, once again obscuring his reflection.

He turned and looked down at Fatty Patty, who was still coughing and gagging, rolling her naked roundness in her own vomit. Triangles looked up at him from her ass cheeks. He felt no pity for her, only disgust at her weakness. How could anyone be so pathetic as to just sit back and let this happen without even trying to fight?

“It’s a violent world, princess,” Perry said. “Only the strong survive.”

If she couldn’t be bothered to fight for herself, Perry sure as hell

wasn’t going to do anything to save her. Besides, he wanted to watch the hatching. You can’t win, after all, if you don’t know your enemy.

She convulsed for the next five minutes, her jerky contortions flipping her onto her back. Perry wondered what might be wrong with her; the smell was overpowering, sure, but it couldn’t make someone go into an epileptic seizure, could it? What was her problem?

The question seemed to answer itself. The Triangles on her stomach began to twitch and jitter under her flabby skin, as if she suffered muscle spasms. But he saw instantly that the twitching wasn’t from her muscles.

Infected Page 92

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Infected Page 92 summary

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