"…It all happened so fast. He pulled me in far enough to take a fuckin' bite out of my shoulder. He fucking bit me, man!
By Ethan Bach
He opened his eyes. In his slightly drunken stupor, he forgot where he was for a moment. Then he recalled that Tim had walked his stumbling ass home last night. His head pounded like drums, a recurring rhythm that synched up with his heartbeat.
Tim had also left the Television on in his room and had even turned it to the Scifi channel. Brett’s all-time favorite, and late at night, it was something to easily drift off to. Not that he needed any help in that respect…
What sounded like loud clapping and whistling of alarms surrounded Brett. There was probably some crummy SciFi-Horror movie on. He knew most of the films on at that hour were worthless, but he loved SciFi movies so much that he could look past that. He had even made a SciFi short film in high school called Isolation. It was the classic story of a ship lost in space with a murderer on the loose.
Brett could remember his teacher, Mr. Roberts, giving them their one bit of praise they ever got in that class, “Now… that’s a damn fine short,” he had shouted; Brett and all his friends hated Roberts. Hell, the whole class of 2014 probably did. But at least he got an easy A in that class. Roberts was a prick, but he made up for it with his grading.
While still keeping his head under the blankets to keep his eyes away from the murderous sun, Brett felt his right hand along his bedside shelf until he felt the familiar touch of the remote. Tim had even left his controller in its usual spot, and Brett silently thanked him for it.
Tim had brought him home when he had drunk too much before. Once, Brett was crossfaded off what drugs he didn’t even know, but he actually thought that Tim was a woman and that he was about to get lucky. He should probably thank Tim twice for having to deal with his shenanigans regularly. But damn, was that a party!
He pressed the off button on the TV, expecting the room to fall silent…
It didn’t. Instead, there was now the sound of an annoying tone he had only heard before late at night during a mystery movie marathon. He knew the sound; It was of the emergency broadcast tone. He let out a big sigh as the Television’s voice said “…to stay indoors.” before he turned it off. As soon as he did, something disturbing happened. He realized that the sound of the sirens and gunshots were coming from outside the apartment, not the TV. The Television was never on to start.
He ripped off the blankets and stood up, way too fast for his body to handle. The sun coming through the window pierced his eyes like a needle, and Brett stumbled into the coat hanger next to the window.
“Oh… come on,” Brett said, standing there weaving, trying to gain his composure. After some adjusting, he could feel that the sun actually felt good on his bare skin.
Brett opened the window. He hardly had time to notice the blaring heat of the hot Atlanta sun, as he was met with much louder noises now of the chaos. Puzzled, Brett peaked his head out the window. The apartment he lived in was on the 5th floor of a 20 story apartment building; A building apart of a group of eight others just like it. Some may call them the ‘Projects,’ Brett just calls them a ‘Huge hunks of shit.’ And if someone asked him why he would just tell them to breathe it in.
He could see nothing down the back alley of the complex. But he was sure of the sounds he was hearing. Maybe there was a riot. He decided that the best thing for him to do was follow what the broadcast had said and stay indoors. That, and probably get some breakfast.
Still, in his briefs, he made his way to the kitchen, which was combined with the living room and connected with the front door. It wasn’t a big apartment by any stretch, and Brett knew the government paid for it, but he was grateful for a roof over his head at least. He had dropped out of college, and the only way he was bringing in cash was through his gigs at the Base n’ Beats club downtown. It was petty change.
His apartment was small, it was only a one-bedroom apartment, after all, but it worked for him. He couldn’t bear the thought of having roommates. He had learned his lesson once before in college, and he wasn’t going to go through that again. He had learned after waking up with penises and FUCK written all over his forehead every weekend. He had once had a girlfriend live with him, but even that was a drag. Finding bloody tampons and having the bathroom littered with hair products was not his idea of a fun time. Not to mention having to endure the torture of all her favorite tv shows while something better like Sportscenter was on. The only good thing to come out of that was that his place smelled like an exquisite perfume, something from Victoria’s Secret.
As he opened the microwave to nuke a bowl of oatmeal, he glanced at the microwave clock and stopped dead in his tracks. It was 10:30, he was late for his meeting with his brother, Josh! He quickly got dressed in some jeans and a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt. But before turning the handle to the front door of his apartment, he stopped. Maybe it was dangerous to go outside, what with the riot going on or whatever it was. So he dashed through his apartment on a quest for his smartphone. Brett must have been at it for 10 minutes before noticing the note by the fridge. It read,
‘You owe me- Tim.’
That was a given; he knew he did. More importantly, under the note was his cellphone. He quickly found “bro bro” under his contacts and hit call. He was met with,
“I’m sorry, all operators are currently busy. Please hang up and try again”. So he did. And again, nothing new. “Goddammit,” He muttered to himself. He wasn’t mad because the phone was tied up, but because he knew he’d get an angry call from his parents if they found out his brother went ‘all the way’ into the city and got stood up. And he didn’t need that. And even worse so if Josh got hurt in a riot. Hell, he’d be mad at himself if that happened.
It was the front door. This startled Brett to the point of dropping his phone to the floor. “Jesus,” He yelped. Not knowing who it was, he picked up his phone and went to the door to listen, the banging still ringing out rather loudly. He cursed the landlord for not having a peephole installed like he had promised.
Instead of calling out, he listened quietly. For all he knew, this could be someone from the riots outside; They could be dangerous… He backed up, deciding to wait this person out while sitting on the couch. That’s when he heard it, The familiar sound of his brother, Josh, although paired with the unfamiliar sound of him screaming out for help. Brett sprinted back to the door and yanked it open, knowing now that it was friend, not foe.
Without saying another word, his brother simultaneously came in, locked the door, chained up the deadbolt, and slid down the door to sit and prop himself up against it.
“Woah Woah Woah, hold up there. What’s going on” Brett asked. He could see by his brother’s demeanor that this was no laughing matter. His brother’s eyes went wide, and they darted around the room haphazardly before becoming fixated on the couch. That’s when he walked over and started pushing it towards the door.
“Dude, what are you doing?” Brett let a chuckle escape him. “Is it really that bad out there?”
“Do you want to die?” Josh yelled.
“Of course not, bu-“
“No? Then get over here and help me!”.
Brett didn’t need to be told twice. He didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on, but he could sense the desperation in his brother’s trembling voice, so he didn’t argue. He helped him scoot the two-seater over in front of the door, then sat down on it.
“No, get away from the door!” shouted Josh. So Brett did as he was told. But before taking any more orders from his brother, he was going to get some answers.
“Would you stop for a second? What the fuck is going on?!”
“I’ll tell you in a bit… now I…I need some bandages or something; you have the first aid kit mom gave you.”
“Yeah, over there in the cabinet, third from the right.”
Brett had just put together some supplies he got from the local pharmacy, but only because his mother had told him to do so. ‘Better safe than sorry,’ she had said. That was indeed her motto. Cliché, but she didn’t care. He had heard it thousands of times throughout high school during sporting events and the weekends in which he’d go to a party. He could remember when she tried to get him to wear a protective brace he needed for football. He also recalled that he’d refused to put it on, only to break his leg in the game that next night. That was the last time he ignored his mother when she said the famous phrase.
Josh tore open the cabinet and rummaged for a long second or two before finding the first aid kit. After unzipping the package, he took off his shirt, and that’s when Brett saw it. Blood was trickling down the back of his right shoulder. Brett followed it to the source; It looked as though someone had bitten him, clear as day.
“Oh shit, d-dude, your shoulder!”
“Yeah, so stop staring and help me.”
That snapped Brett out of his trance. He rinsed it with disinfectant, and while wrapping Josh’s shoulder in bandages, added, “I am way too hungover for this.” Josh let out a sigh and rolled his eyes, wincing at each new round of cotton his brother applied to his skin.
“Well… you better get your act together, little brother,” Josh said. Brett had had enough. After the deed was done, Brett slammed the cabinet and spun around, and said,
“Ok, now will you tell me what the hell is going on? I’m in the dark here.” Josh started flipping through various Emergency broadcast signals, all the while explaining himself,
“No one knows anything. I wasn’t prepared for this!…”.
He took a deep breath in before continuing,
“ok, I guess I’ll just start from the beginning. I went to the coffee shop downtown like you’d told me. I decided to get a coffee and wait for you at the tables outside. The first person I saw that gave me a hint that anything was wrong was this businessman, covering his neck with his hand. I could tell there was blood running down his neck into his shirt. I asked him what was wrong. He ignored me, just asked me to call 911. After I told him I wasn’t getting through, he cursed loudly, and as soon as he had come, he was gone. Just full bore down the street. Yelling that ‘they’ were coming.
Josh took another gulping inhale and said,
“I was a little weirded out, ya know? But I wasn’t pissing my pants just yet. So I decided to walk to your place, seeing as you were late”. He shot Brett a glance as if to add, ‘You bastard.’ Then continued, “As I rounded the corner from the coffee shop, I literally ran into this police officer. He had the most… terrifying look in his eye, like all hope was lost. He just shouted at me to run. I asked why, but he was already running in the other direction… So now I was beginning to piss myself. I mean, if a cop is running away from something, it must be really bad, right? I rounded the last corner here and was completely fucking blown away by what I saw…”
Josh started sobbing quietly,
“There was a fresh roadblock. About five cop cars stretched across the road with about 15 cops behind them. All with their guns aimed at rioters, or terrorists, or whatever this group of people walking towards them was. They shouted at the people to stop, but they kept coming. They slowly counted down from five, and before they hit one, I ducked out of the way…”
Josh started sobbing freely now. Brett just put a hand on Josh’s healthy shoulder.
“But the worst part about it was, it looked as if they were shooting civilians, unarmed civilians! The situation was too much for me, so I ran over to a dumpster on the side of the road and opened it; I puked my fucking guts out in the thing. As soon as I had thrown up, a homeless man reached up from inside the dumpster and practically pulled me inside. I tried to pull away, but his grip was tight. I could see throw-up all over his face and matted in his big beard. The smell alone almost made me gag again…”
Josh wiped his tears, and his voice shifted to a more serious tone,
“…It all happened so fast. He pulled me in far enough to take a fuckin’ bite out of my shoulder. He fucking bit me, man! My hand caught on the top of the lid of the dumpster, and I brought it down on his head. I held it down on him…” Josh cried louder. “I could hear him getting all angry from inside. He was trying to get out, just banging at the lid with so much force. As soon as I let go, I sprinted to the front door downstairs and tried the handle, totally forgetting that it was always locked. I decided that no one was coming to help, so I thought about using the escape latter. I mean, who would? Amid this chaos… On my way to the escape latter, I glanced back and saw the guy from the dumpster had fallen out of it and was getting up very slowly. He seemed out of it, but I didn’t smell anything on him when he bit me… But I still can’t believe it; he took a fuckin’ chunk outa me, man! What kind of bath-salt-meth-heroin-cocaine induced-psychotic-episode is this?”
They both sat there for a few moments in silence. Brett’s mind was arguing with itself internally over the events of Josh’s story. That doesn’t just happen. And without any sort of warning? Brett didn’t know what to say anything, so he walked up to him and gingerly embraced his brother.
END CHAPTER ONE