By Edele Winnie
“Are you Mrs. Dununzio?” The doctor asked. At lease she assumed he was a doctor. He was wearing scrubs, had a pulled down mouth mask around his throat and a smear of blood that was just disappearing from his white coated chest.
Carol Dununzio nodded. “How is she?”
The doctor shook his head sadly.
“She’s not dead then?” Carol had to be certain.
“No.” The doctor said, frowning. “She lived. She’s going to be fine. I’m sorry.”
Carol Dununzio tried to swallow the lump in her throat. Her daughter still lived. Jessica, aged eleven, had survived. What was she going to do now?
A moment later another doctor wheeled Jessica out in a wheelchair. The young girl looked dazed, and the brown hair on the side of her head was matted with dried blood. The doctor tipped the chair and Jessica slid out and landed at her mother’s feet.
The doctors walked away, commenting on how awful the sunny weather currently was.
Carol grabbed Jessica by the arms and hauled her to her feet. The girl wobbled, but her legs held and so Mrs. Dununzio tugged her towards the emergency room doors.
The family car was easy to spot, for it was the least damaged in the lot. It was a fiery red and only the passenger side had been crashed in. The car in the spot next to it had been in so many accidents that it was now a patchwork of different colours as replacement parts had been added. One door was light blue, the next black, the roof was orange and there were other colours and some rust too. The car on the other side had been in a head on and all that remained of the windshield was jagged glass.
Mrs. Dununzio pushed Jessica into the back seat where the dead cocker spaniel was. They’d found it by the side of the road about a week ago. It was long dead though and there were barely any insects in it anymore. Jessica was still bleeding lightly from her head wound. She lay down on the ripped seats in the back and wrapped her arms around the dead dog.
Mrs. Dununzio climbed in the front. The keys were already in the ignition so she started the car and gave it as much gas as she could in the small parking lot, though she only managed to hit four cars on her way out. There was a police car on the road just there and the drunken officer took a pot shot at their car, taking out the backseat window just behind Mrs. Dununzio’s head. Broken glass showered down on Jessica and the dead dog and the little girl giggled.
“Stop that laughing!” Carol snapped at her daughter.
The little girl bit her lip until her blood dripped out onto the dead dog.
Mrs. Dununzio turned angrily into a corn field and gave the car more gas. Quickly they hit the brown corn stalks and she lost all sense of direction as they were enveloped by the dried vegetation. The car bumped and jumped and ploughed a trail through the field, at one point running over something that screamed.
Mrs. Dununzio didn’t care if she hadn’t killed them. She was having a very bad day. She was going to have to attack her husband when she returned home, as he would be furious that Jessica had survived. A sudden thought made her ease up on the gas. She took her foot completely off the accelerator and turned the engine off. Maybe they didn’t have to survive. All this dried corn gave her an idea. She got out of the car.
“Are we home?” Jessica moaned from the backseat.
“Yes dear. Stay in the car for a bit.” Mrs. Dununzio said as she tried to get the dried corn stalks burning. Smoke was soon everywhere and the corn began to crackle with flames.
If only the gas tank would ignite. She’d undone the gas cap and threw it into the field. She’d even jammed a dried corn stalk part way down, like a wick.
But the car did not start on fire, the gas tank did not ignite and even the corn refused to burn very well. Instead the dried corn on the cobs had begun to pop, and white pop corn was covering the car cheerfully like happy tasty snow. Some was even coming in through the smashed windows.
Mrs Dununzio swore loudly. The car began chiming- the auto pilot had finally activated.
‘You are in a cornfield.” The soothing female helpful voice of the GPS announced.
“I fucking know that–” Mrs. Dununzio snarled, opening her mouth so wide that a piece of flying pop corn went right in. It tasted perfectly of butter and salt. She collapsed on to the front seated, defeated.
“Starting car.” The GPS girl voice said and the engine roared to life. “Auto drive engaged. Returning home to 967 Eiderdown drive.” The car began to drive, once again pushing down the dry corn stalks though this time at a much slower pace. Mrs. Dununzio sat back and closed her eyes, resigned to her fate. She didn’t care about her daughter in the back seat because she knew she was probably just fine.
The battered car carefully wormed its way through the debris strewn roads and occasional burning house. Bodies of crying people littered the streets. Dead pets were everywhere. Finally the car cheerfully arrived at the overgrown yard of 967 Eiderdown drive.
“Home safe,” the soothing voice chimed. The car doors opened automatically.
Carol Dununzio staggered into the house. The front door was missing, so there was no delay there. The house stank of vomit and urine. A rat dashed passed her, ignoring her completely. Roger, her husband, was sitting on the reeking stained couch in what had once been the living room. One wall had been partially blackened by fire before the automatic fire suppression system had saved them all. Roger was drinking vodka right from the bottle with one hand, and in the other he held a bucket in which he was puking.
‘Honey, we’re home.” Carol announced sourly from the door way.
Roger did not have to ask if Jessica had survived. Of course she had. They all survived, all the time. The nanobots in his stomach pushed the vodka back up and he spewed it into the bucket. He’d funnel it back into the bottle later. The knife slashes on his arms were already scabbed up and healing as his genetically modified cells did their job.
A chime sounded gently inside the house and a soothing male voice announced that it was time for a nutrition break. Roger threw a lamp at the speaker system, but the lamp was made of unbreakable glass and shock resistant wiring. He looked over at his wife. Her face was streaked with tears but her makeup had not run and her hair looked perfect. It always looked perfect. It never grew longer and never tangled and never turned grey. He looked down at his own pale blemish free hands. Every scar from his life had faded, his nails never grew and his hands never became cold. Everything was perfect, his body was perfect, their lives were meant to be perfect, their homes were perfect, their diet perfect and they all wanted desperately to hurt, to feel pain and to die. Boredom was destroying everyone’s minds. It just wasn’t fair.
A long surprised howl cut through Roger and Carol’s anguished moaning. Jessica stumbled into the house along with the reanimated cocker spaniel.
“I’m going to call him Sparkles,” the little girl said, and then thumped face down on the floor.
The cocker spaniel’s tail began to wag.