Chapter Seventeen

Garden Unit East

The bugs were coming in again.

It always happened when the birds disappeared.

He knew the bugs were back when he dreamt of the beetle crawling across the pillow. He hoped it was a dream.

The fact of the bugs when he awoke initially inspired him to lay strips of duct tape, sticky side up along the windowsill. It wasn’t until the third cup of coffee while contemplating the death strip of wormy looking bugs that he realized something was off. It was too late in the year for bugs, springtime was their normal cycle, and there were way too many making it inside, even while in the midst of their May surge this many didn’t make it in. The birds feasted on them. Where were the birds? The last time this many bugs made it inside the birds were gone for the entire summer, and that was when there was the incident in 2S.

He stood looking at the bugs, some dead, some in the process of dying, some inching their way toward the process of dying stuck to the duct tape. He held the coffee cup in mid reach toward sipping. Like some dumbass mannequin pose, bad actor trying to portray being mystified at the sight of a confusing revelation. But he was confused, or rather in the process of receiving unspoken and unspeakable knowledge.  

There was a sound that broke him from his trance. A creaking of sorts. It wasn’t the floorboards from 1N, creaking from the Vanden boys playing living room soccer. It wasn’t Mrs. Richards taking out the trash,one careful stair at a time protecting the bad hip Medicare wouldn’t pay to replace. It wasn’t another delivery from Amazon, the asshole driver blocking the street instead of parking in a proper spot inspiring Mr. Wren to stand at the window, shuffling back and forth above him. It sounded like it came from further away than he usually noticed, somewhere around 2S.

Couldn’t be, he thought. I’m having some kind of episode. Dreams of beetles, bugs on the window sill in autumn, did I drink last night? He hadn’t touched the bottle in over 8 years, but he was overwhelmed suddenly with a week bender’s level hangover. His hands started shaking, eyesight blurred and he had the feeling that his entire body was vibrating from the inside out, blood cells shaking his veins. He once thought of this feeling as how your body would feel if you could actually inhabit your own reflection in a pool of water and experience the rippling when a stone disrupted everything reflected upon splashing into the water.

He walked to the bathroom, confused, ill, hungover and stone sober simultaneously. He splashed water on his face and looked into the mirror, a tickle started in his upper abdomen, moving into his chest. Just when he was about to lean over and vomit in the toilet a single, sharp cough emitted from him involuntarily. When he came to, still on his feet but having blacked out, a single, perfectly shaped feather was stuck to the middle of the mirror. It looked like it came from a pigeon.

Somehow, he knew then that he had to go to 2S.



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