‘If we lived in a world where women were murdering men en masse and men genuinely had reason to fear they might be murdered in their beds by a gang of marauding feminists, I would agree with your concern,’
We found it hiding underneath the bleachers.
Anita had gotten a righteous shot in with the crossbow, punched through the right thigh before it broke off into a loping, awkward run into the corridors of the high school. It left a trail of blood which we followed, shaking with fear and excitement as its cries echoed off the walls.
Karen cradled her baseball bat close to her chest as she glanced at us, grinning with anticipation.
‘This is the last one, girls, then we’re clear.’ she said.
I looked outside, saw the younger girls dragging bodies onto the smouldering bonfire as their songs and cheers of victory reached us.
The element of surprise had guaranteed us a head start. They were stronger than us, faster and adapted for violence at a genetic level.
We moved into the gym, heard it pleading from the corner as the four of us spread out to cover the exits. Karen turned the bat over in her hands and tightened her grip as she walked towards the bleachers.
‘Come out and we’ll make it quick.’ she said.
One thing I admired about the harder ones, they never gave up. Wounded or mutilated, they fought to their last breath and some of them would look you in the eye as you came for them. They had been in our homes, our schools and places of work forever, but still they fought hard to live.
After the first one, it got easier for me to do it. I made it quick with the machete, aiming for the head or the neck wherever possible. Anita liked the crossbow because it lent a sense of theatre to proceedings, she said, but I knew she enjoyed the pursuit, heightened until the last blow landed. One night, she confided in me how it made her wet when she killed one. I said nothing, but ever since; I looked at her with detachment and questioned her motives.
I did not do this in public. Apostates got demoted to support our infrastructure. Repeated infractions were a ticket to Central Processing, which no one spoke of aloud.
Karen and Anita moved to either side of the bleachers. I guarded the entrance, gun in my hand as I flipped off the safety and waited for the signal.
The sharp twang of the crossbow followed by a guttural scream was my cue to move in.
It clutched at the bolt in its stomach, eyes streaming tears as it gasped and pleaded for life. Blood pooled and soaked through the ragged, stained t-shirt as its hands grew slick. Karen walked forwards and smacked the bat down into its face. She swung the bat down twice before she stepped back and reviewed her work with a grim nod of satisfaction. They both looked at me with an unspoken question in her eyes. I tucked the gun into the back of my jeans and I pulled it out, cocked the hammer and levelled it at it.
They had always been a threat, hadn’t they?, something happened. I remembered Tommy floating in the pool whilst Mom waded out of the water. Dad had been in the study, with his throat opened in a thick, red line. It was us or them, and yet as I looked at Karen and Anita, I wondered who we were.
The gun was heavy in my hand as I aimed down the front sight. At least, I told myself; I was offering mercy as I pulled the trigger. It looked me in the eyes and held my gaze until the shot snapped its head back and it slumped like a puppet with its strings cut.
Karen and Anita dragged it to the bonfire. I noticed the class ring had come off its finger, caught on the edge of the door frame, and I pocketed it before either of them saw it.
The cries of women rose in the air as I slipped the ring into my pocket and followed them outside, grateful they were not looking at my face.
It had asked me out last summer.
Anita said it was disgusting and I was too ready out with the likes of something so base and toxic. It took the hint and left me alone but would exchange hopeful glances with me in the corridors until Principal James ordered them to avoid direct eye contact in the halls under the micro-aggression policies.
Today had been the first time we’d seen one another.
It looked up at me as the others dragged it through, but I couldn’t hold the gaze. The smell of burning meat wafted over and my mouth watered as the bell rang for lunch. It was easier to pretend this was all fine, so I did.
Did it used to have a purpose? Talking about it gets you wrote up, and when I think about it, my head hurts and I go away for a little while.
I walked away from the bonfire and walked inside, found the drinking fountain which used to look tall to me, but now I have to squat in front of it and strain my neck to reach the spout. The water doesn’t taste as good, although we’re told it’s safe.
It is safe now, isn’t it?