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Monday, November 29, 2010

Elena Callahan's Very Big Day Part Seven

Here's part seven. Part six is here.

Agatha Guzman was just outside of Dubuque, Iowa, in a stolen car, chewing the fingernails of one hand while steering with the other. Today, she had killed three people--two with a gun, and one with her bare hands.

Agatha was driving a 1989 Taurus, and there were two corpses in the back seat, strapped upright like crash-test dummies by seat belts. The corpses had once been children, maybe four or five, and if they had still possessed heads, those heads would be lolling forward like late-summer sunflowers.

The windows of the Taurus were down, which helped kill the stench of rotting flesh.

Before stealing the Taurus, Agatha had tried to remove the two corpses from the car, which was abandoned in a parking lot of a gas station. The corpses were in the back seat for so long that the decaying flesh had mingled with the fabric of the seats, and Agatha was in a hurry. Best, she thought, to drive with the corpses than to waste time working them free.

It was a nice day, really. The sun was out, the air was bright and clear, the drive--aside from the shifting to the left or right, depending on derelict cars--was smooth and easy. And the Taurus had come equipped with a CD--a key in the ignition, two corpses in the back seat, and ‘The Bodyguard’ soundtrack blasting from the speakers.

The kids in the back seat lurched one way, then the other. Their headless necks strained against the seatbelts, which in turn dug into their headless skin.

Here’s what Agatha knew: A lot of professors had disappeared. One day, she was studying for finals, and then another day she wasn’t required to take those finals. Then another day she shot two men. Then, just before diving into the Taurus, she strangled a woman. The woman said, “He’s risen but I haven’t,” and tried to smash a Coke bottle into Agatha’s skull. Agatha put her two hands around the woman’s throat, screamed in a way she’d never screamed before, and watched the woman’s face strain, then go blank, then go dead.

Since Agatha was to have been taking her Latin exam at that moment, she could only think, “So this is declension,” tensing her hands on the woman’s neck, watching the color of the woman’s cheeks go from red to blue.

Then from blue to periwinkle. The rosy color of Agatha’s hands remained constant.

The rosy color was the same in the hand gripping the steering wheel as it had been when both her hands gripped the woman’s neck.

Agatha passed an elderly man, standing on the hood of a car, mostly naked, and he was shouting this: “I’m left behind! I’m here because I need to be!”

And Agatha thought this: “You should have on pants.”

She bit one fingernail, and it started to bleed.

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