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The intensity in the atmosphere is excruciating. I can hear Crispin Dry (vending machine CEO of Dry Goods, Inc., nouveau morte and bonne bouche) still moving around me in the vast kitchenette of his Grade II-listed mansion. Chopping, dicing, blending, and possibly mixing up the previously-mentioned cocktail, which he says is tailored especially for me.
Me: Sarah Bellum – mild-mannered pizza delivery girl by night, ambitious forensic anthropology student by day, and incurable romantic. Apart from the very much alive Ace Bumgang, who I like to watch from a distance through the chicken-wire fencing of Bumgang & Sons’ Breaker’s Yard – especiallywhen he’s outside his site office with his shirt off – the only male bodies I ever see are in various stages of decay, on the body farm.
I’m lucky if I get five minutes a week there to study, recently. Or at the body farm. What with Miss Wotsit, my best friend and housemate, being so demanding – with her delayed birth control plans, and electronically-tagged boyfriend, with whom she seems to be smitten.
Actually, her situation would be more accurately described thus ‘…by whom she seems to be smashed up, on a regular basis.’
No wonder I never even remember her name. She comes home with a different face every few days.
With a great pang of loss I wonder how much my dearest one at the body farm, Mr. Wheelie Bin Under The Silver Birch Tree, will have progressed the next time I see him. Apparently he was a domestic violence victim too. You could tell particularly in the early stages, by the way his scalp was hanging off like a bad toupée…
…But the sound of Crispin Dry sliding something along the counter towards me dissolves that thought, as quickly as an acid bath.
“No peeping,” he murmurs, and I nod, confirming that my eyes are still obediently closed. “Perhaps we should retire to the other room, where you will be more comfortable. Take my arm.”
“Where are we going?” I ask, sliding off the seat at the counter.
I had been enjoying the food game. My stomach was still hinting that it had room for more. I feel the cold cloth of his sleeve under my fingers as I reach out, and the even colder press of his flesh underneath, as he tucks my arm into his side to guide me along.
“Just across the hall,” he confides. “There is a very nice late evening lounge.”
“You have a lounge for different times of day?” I ask, making careful effort to keep pace with his attractive, undead pimp-limp. What do they call it? Crap walk? Crabstick walk? I’m glad Ace Bumgang can’t hear my thoughts, sometimes. Although the look he gives me when he espies me through the boundary fence of the breaker’s yard suggests he does know exactly what I’m thinking, and it comes with the words ‘restraining order’ attached. He’s so cute. He just knows I’m a sucker for threats like that… Cripple walk…? Hmm. Maybe I made it up…
“I have a room for every time of day, Miss Bellummm,” Crispin Dry assures me, heavy with implied meaning.
My kneecaps try to switch places, while my tongue tries to hide behind my epiglottis and escape up the back of my nasal cavity.
“Turn around,” Crispin’s voice whispers against my ear, his other hand on my shoulder, pivoting me to face him. I feel him testing the sleeve of my Pizza Heaven work fleece. “Would you like to take this off?”
“Er, well, actually…” I cough, trying to sound nonchalant. “I kind of had a nap before work tonight, so this is all I have on. Er. Underneath. Just me.”
“Intriguing,” he says, and I can hear his approval. I gulp.
He moves forward just enough to help me take a backward step, and I feel the soft give of a cushioned seat at the back of my legs.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he says, and for my wandering kneecaps’ sake, I plop thankfully onto the velvet cushions. “I will return with the drinks. And still no peeping.”
“I promise,” I nod, my anticipation at his own promise of drinks already building again. I’m parched. I could go for a fishtank cocktail right now, never mind a fishbowl cocktail.
“I think I will take out a little insurance on your promise,” he remarks, and I hear the swish of silk. “I will use my tie to blindfold you. Do you mind?”
“Is it another game?” I ask, accepting the strip of material as he places it gently across my eyes.
“Another sensory game,” he agrees. “Not taste, this time. I think your tastes are well-established.”
I wonder what he could possibly mean. Smell? I take a few experimental sniffs once I hear his footfalls crossing the marble hall floor again, receding away back to that food-court of a kitchen. I don’t smell anything in this room. Not even a joss stick, or deodoriser designed to mask the scent of a personal hygiene problem, or anti-social habit. Strange. Sound? I strain to hear anything other than the clink of glassware on a tray, and before I know it, the shambling footfalls are approaching again.
I lean into the embrace of the couch, trying to appear relaxed. It’s only slightly spoiled by the fact that the back of the couch is a lot further away than I thought, so I fall through the loosely-heaped pillows in slow-motion, until I am nearly prone.
“I see you are getting comfortable, Sarah Bellummm.”
He teases me with the sound of my own name. Maybe he knows that all I get called at work is ‘Cheese-Bag’ or at University, ‘Bell-End’. I never thought that the ink printed on my birth certificate could sound so sexy.
I feel the couch dip beside me, as he sits down.
“We are going to play a game of touch,” he says.
“Soccer?” I ask, puzzled. “Blindfolded?”
“No, the sensation of touch. With your permission I will draw some different objects across the surface of your skin, and you will guess what they are.”
“Oh, like Draw My Thing?” I conclude. One of my favourite pursuits on the internet in the evenings, while not doing homework assignments, is to try and get Ace Bumgang to Draw his Thing and email it to me. “Do I get three clues as to what you’re drawing?”
“If you relax, we shall start,” he says at last. “And the game will explain itself as we go along.”
“Sure,” I shrug, and roll up my sleeve. “Nothing below the wrist, in case it doesn’t wash off. People don’t appreciate seeing knobs drawn on your hand when you’re delivering their pizza…”
I break off with a gasp, as I feel something icy cold slide up the sensitive skin of my inner arm.
“What do you think this is?” he asks, as the tingling cold sensation slides slowly all the way down again, and back up.
“Er…” The cold has alerted parts of me I that didn’t even know were peckish. I could use another bucket of chicken wings, never mind that cocktail, wherever it is. “Um, can I ask for a clue?”
“If you ask a question, it must be in the form of a question with a Yes/No answer.”
Phew… I feel the icy cold sliding, torturously, all the way back down from my shoulder to my wrist. So different from playing online…
“Okay,” I say at last, my mouth almost like sandpaper by now. Mostly in trepidation of what the answer to my question might be. “Is it to scale?”
The original above… Warning: Contains human udders… ahem. Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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