schema

(writers note: This is a severely rough draft, and only half done. Its being written from the perspective of a screenplay.)

He awoke in a cold sweat as ever, sitting bolt upright in his twin bed to stare at the sliding door leading into his closet. Had it opened? Ever so slightly?

Special significance, that door – a place he spent so many nights clutching his knees in fear, as he heard the world fall apart around him.

Throwing off the sheets he swings his legs over the edge of the bed and grabs blindly for his glass – sleeping with his contacts in like this always made it tricky to see right after waking up. Finding the cup empty he pushes himself upright. Wearing nothing more than a pair of boxer briefs he turns to admire himself in the mirror, running a hand down his chest he turns to the side to study his own physique.

Of course, its difficult to make out much. With the generator shut down and the windows boarded shut moonlight rarely graced the inside of his one bedroom apartment. That is, assuming it was in fact night – it seemed dark outside, but ever since his watch had died he largely relied on his biological clock.

Problem with relying on an internal clock though; it doesn’t mesh well with a bottle of whiskey before bed and another for breakfast.

He grabs the flashlight from his bedside table and stumbles out into the hallway, bouncing off the walls like some drunken Pomeranian on a hardwood floor, unable to grab purchase. Into the living room he grips the pull cord to the generator and rips, the revving sound the only to be heard around. Nearly sacrilegious in the way it shatters silence it grumbles to life, construction floodlights stuttering to life, he opens the cupboards and grabs his bottle.

Breakfast.

Time slips into a warm blanket, guiding him gently into ritual, morning ritual, normal ritual, normalcy.

20 minutes on the treadmill, push ups and situps in the mirror. sponge bath in the 5 lb home depot bucket. teeth brushed. A fresh pair of boxers washed in the sink and a can of tuna.

The lights streaming in now, tiny rivulets preaching a new day and false hopes. A smile flits across his lips as the bottle tips upward, a last lonely drop. He pushes through the kitchen, hurling empty cans about. Was that the last?

Cannot be. He stops and stares through the boarded up window, imagining the outside world, looking through wood to concrete.  Reaching down he grabs the Mossberg 12 gauge he keeps by the door and checks the chamber – by no means an old hand, but at least familiar.

Moving with purpose now into the bedroom he puts on a shoulder harness with two 9 mm pistols, grabs a massive black duffel bag, throws some shells in and returns to the kitchen with renewed purpose.

A dirty handkerchief hangs by the door. He grabs a can of deodorant spray from the counter and hoses it down before wrapping it over his nose and mouth.

He slings the bag over his shoulder and faces the door, poised like a racehorse at the gate.

A couple of deep breaths to steady himself before he unlocks the door and pushes it open with the barrel of the shotgun. Cold air rushes in attacking foreign skin, refreshing and horrifying at the same time; alien.  Inhaling deeply he pulls the door shut behind him, checking the lock twice before approaching the stairs.

Trash has pooled in the hallway, though this is the least of his worries. The smell coming the neighboring apartments seeks to penetrate the ‘mountain freshness’ of his face wrap. Fecal, fetid, fecund – conjuring mental images of bloat and rot – he wants to run but restrains himself. He’s done this a hundred times before, knows the safety in routine. He checks each corner as he descends the stairs, hugging the opposite wall, keeping his back against a solid surface all the way to the parking lot.

Open ground.

A noise, off to his left, a loud crash. Fear shocks his system, and the resulting shock of adrenaline spurs his feet to movement. Reckless.

He sprints towards his SUV, duffel bag slapping his back like an encouraging jockey, whips out his keys and clicks the door open. Not daring to look behind he rips the door open and throws himself, bag first, inside. He’s lying on his back on the front seat, shotgun sighted through the open door.

Expecting.

His breath pounds in his ears with his heart, the only noise to be heard.

Minutes pass and his breathing slows. That was stupid. So much noise. He knows better, much better. He’s avoided an incident for nearly 6 months now. Silly to risk it over a juvenile adrenaline rush.

Finally he sits up, gently closes the door and sets the shotgun on top of the center console. The bag takes seat on the passenger side, oddly human in its slump. Our man pauses before turning over the ignition. His head comes to rest on his hands on the steering wheel.

His glance rests on the bag, and he chuckles to himself. Leaning over he pulls it upright and buckles it in.

Eyes forward. Still a job to do.

He hits the clicker and turns the engine over, pulling forward quietly. Another beautiful thing about these silly hybrids – nearly completely silent. The clunking metal gate opens with painful creaks and metal groans. Might be time to oil the joints again. The road is as empty as ever, a few empty cars parked haphazardly across varying lanes of traffic.

If you squint, it starts to look normal. Except for the quiet. Crossing Oxnard avenue there’s something running in the corner of his eye. Far enough away, better to pretend its a jogger. Someone maybe on their way to Starfucks for their 5 dollar latte, a good start to the day before its off to the 9-5 grind in a cubicle somewhere.

Yes, better that way.

Ralphs is close enough, and he knows the canned goods section still has yet to be picked clean.

maybe today he’ll break open the top shelf liquor cabinet. A journey like this certainly deserves a treat, something to celebrate…maybe some Johnny Walker gold, reminisce about trips to Vegas and wild abandon.

But she’s gone now.

Two blocks left and the deserted apartments meld together, a gray blur under a gray sky. The color has gone out of this world.

the parking lot.

Completely empty, perfect. That’s why he likes this one, no cars. He backs in to the front door (long since wedged open for easy egress) and hops out of the car, being sure to close and lock the door behind him. Breaching the door in the fashion of all those awesome cop flicks he used to watch, playing at Army. Check your corners, back to a wall, clear each zone before moving forward. Looks great, feels awesome, in practice.

but in execution?

The canned goods isle is blissfully close to the door, so he drops the bag and fills it, 10 cans a piece at least of each major item. Veggies, fruits, pickled goods of all sorts. Bottled water, as much as he can carry, toilet paper, necessities.

Satisfied he leaves the bag by the door and heads at a soft jog over to the liquor cabinet, situated next to the administrative counter. A big black metal monstrosity, he can see bottles and bottles of the good shit. 21 yr Macallan, Gold Label, booze beyond his means before, now he has free selection.

Shit. Locked. The administrative desk, maybe something there, like one of those old school key rings from Terminator 2. His search disturbs papers and knocks over a few half empty coffee cups. The noise is too much for his comfort, he can feel the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. He’s been here too long.

Stop. Was that a noise from the back of the store? Or just me?

No time focus. Can’t find the keys, maybe use something else but he cant pick a lock WHAT- (writers note: possible story arc. Explore.)

This time, there was a noise. Rustling. By produce (clearly distinguished by the very directional smell of rotting veggies and meat). Fuck it, no time to waste he smashes the lock with the butt of this shotgun – nothing. A few more times, the lock snaps but too late he hears the sound.

Turning his head he hears the rumble, something – the bread aisle tips over abruptly, a fountain of spores very briefly reminding him of just how much he missed carbs, before an electric shock of panic stirs him. Grabbing as many bottles as he can possibly carry he bolts back to the car, almost forgetting to drag the duffel bag after him.

The car starts immediately, a welcome relief, and he makes his escape in graceful fashion.

As he’s pulling out he could almost see something coming out the front of the store. Could, that is, were he to look.

But he never looked.

The drive back home is filled with smiles and whooping laughter, pride in his own victory, and the rush one feels following a horrifying scene so narrowly escaped, serotonin flooding his circuits overwhelming caution, he’s speeding down the road now. 50, 60, 70 miles an hour, ignoring the increasing levels of activity he might be seeing in the periphery of his vision.

By the time he gets home he’s calmed down a bit, at least enough to get the goods safely inside without a ruckus.

The door closes behind him, with the doors bolt driving home he’s filled with an overwhelming sense of calm. Security. Damn the world, here he is again, king of his surroundings.

Bending down he pulls out a beautifully intact bottle of 18 yr old Johnny Walker Gold Label. Grabbing a glass, he walks into the bedroom.

Maybe just a nap.

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One Response to “schema”

  1. Brilliant!! Taut, gripping. I love the use of music and image– LOVE IT!!

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