Three days out of Kingston I got the word the skipper wanted to see me. I climbed the companion ladder and made my way to the bridge. The gale had picked up since I’d gone below, a wicked cross sea rolling the hull as she rose, but I hardly thought about it. I was more concerned with why I’d been summoned. I only hoped the skipper was sober.
Stepping into his cabin, my stomach filled with ice. Sitting in the Skipper’s chair was the boy.
“It would appear we have a stowaway,” said the Skipper. “He says he knows you.”
Ma said when she was a girl the place had red carpets and a polar bear that stood by the front desk. She said her daddy would take her there on her birthday. They would dine in the fancy restaurant on Lobster Newberg and feel like a couple of swells.
No more. It was a ruin now. Broken gutters, black mold. Windblown garbage caught between the spikes of the rusty iron fence that surrounded the hulking ruin straddling the bluff, its armless marble angels on parapets staring down into the city with soot-streaked faces like the ghosts of murdered prostitutes.
The thought occurs to me that Christ died of asphyxiation from having his arms above his heart, the weight of his body sagging against his diaphragm. At least I’m not upside down, but there’s goddamned small chance anyone is going to find me here before I die. Not that they would let me down even if they did come across me. The wheel is on private property, and though his name isn’t on the deed everyone knows who owns it. They’d avert their eyes, pretend not to see me. They’d figure I deserved it.
And they’d be right, of course.
Though I am certain you have already seen the media stories, I felt compelled to alert you of our success. As you recall, our initial attempts to spread the infection through avian fauna was a failure. Songbirds were too susceptible to its effects, invariably dying before they were able to affect contagion, and the use of raptors or crows proved equally unacceptable. Only when we utilized an invasive species of insect, Poekilocerus Pictus, did we achieve the desired viral saturation in North America.
I suggest that we allow the death toll to climb before we commence vaccine sales.
This story is part of the Friday Fictioneers weekly 100-word prompt.
I told the judge that the Almighty is responsible how I turned out. He made me this way. It ain’t my fault my purpose don’t fit with society. I am what I am.
As a boy I’d spend long hours of wishing, thinking how much better suited I’d been to Indian times when killings was common and the law scarce. I growed up knowing I’d kill people, that it was something I just had to do.
You see, death is the only thing I got in common with regular folks. By sharing their death, I can know what love feels like.