this is another excerpt from the third novel in the ouroboros trilogy: the Watchers.
I could see the hospital in front of me from his place amid the charred casings of what had once been cars. Rubble and other random debris lays strewn about, ejected from buildings that surrounded the city street. Festering bodies layered the street so completely that in places it was hard to make out the black asphalt underneath.
My detached awareness felt the incredible eeriness being surrounded by so much death. Although, my awareness realized that the body attributed an apathetic normality to the scene. Something is very wrong here, wherever it is. I realized, huddled behind the nearest blackened shell of what may have at one point been a Honda Civic, that this was Winnipeg.
“What are we waiting for?” A blonde man behind me fidgeted impatiently, “The hospital is right there, why don’t we just-“
“Wait,” Another person brought a hand up to silence the man, “I don’t like this.”
How many other people were in my group? I couldn’t remember what lead up to the moment I was in. I didn’t really recognize any of the people, but the body I was in was treating them as friendly.
“Who put you in charge anyway?” The blonde man stood up and walked further into the street.
The other man called after the blonde man but he was already halfway to the lobby of what they’d said was a hospital. It kinda looked like Health Sciences Centre.
The blonde man stepped gingerly through the mass of dead bodies that blanketed the city street. After he’d gone more than thirty steps, the man turned to wave the other members of the party to join him.
A woman with a pale sickly face leaned against the blackened car frame, looking as though she was constantly fighting sleep. She was putting pressure on a wound somewhere on her stomach and her blood soaked clothes around her torso denoted the urgency with which she needed treatment. I looked past the injured woman and into the eyes of the redhead beside me; the final member of our expedition party.
“Don’t!” I shook his head, sternly.
Her face was covered in dirt, and her once lustrous, fiery red hair was dull and matted.
Her piercing grey eyes, which had once (as the body I was in remembered as I observed him) shone with a brilliant exuberance, were now murky and listless. Experiencing that he (this body) had, and seeing what he’d seen, his body knew that its own eyes had also lost whatever semblance of soul they may have once had.
“Are you coming or what?” the blonde man yelled to him.
I turned to glare at the man.
Didn’t she know that there were others out here? My apprehension caused the body to gritted its teeth. (Or maybe the body gritting its teeth was what caused the apprehension) The body remembered the Others that wouldn’t hesitate to murder us for whatever supplies they think we have on us?
<<Had he so soon forgotten the man at the convenience store, naked and decapitated with his meager belongings strewn out beside him?>> the body’s mind thought.
Is that what the blonde man wants to happen to us? My awareness wondered.
The redheaded woman stepped out from behind the Honda Civic and carefully navigated through the morbid obstacle course towards the blonde man who had almost reached the other side.
“Come back,” I whispered sternly, or maybe we both whispered simultaneously. I was just as concerned as the body I was in was for her.
Suddenly I was opened to her awareness and the thoughts spiraling around her panicked mind. She was anxiously stepping closer to the blonde man, closer to the Hospital and, hopefully, the medicine her husband so desperately needed. She felt a weird, uneven consistency underneath her feet and realized that she was standing on one of the bodies’ hands.
She could feel the clamminess of the upward facing palm on her bare foot and it made her entire body erupt in a violent shudder which I could feel with a surprising intensity. As she anxiously tried to reposition herself, she caught her ankle in the crook of a heavily decomposed elbow and she fell face down into the heap of rotting flesh and exposed entrails. She touched the gore with her slender fingers and a foul sensation tore through her. She moved her arm, but wherever else she put it she still made contact with cold, dead skin and wet, gooey innards.
She screamed and flailed around, madly.
The other body, my original body, called over at the blonde man as quietly, yet forceful, as he could: “Go help her!”
The blonde man scoffed and turned away, continuing towards the hospital.
“You fucking asshole,” the body muttered under its breath before I could. The more I watched the body the more I felt a growing connection and affection. I hate it when I’m in a body that behaves in ways that conflict with my moral alignment. I find it wonderful when the awareness is benevolent.
Standing up, his body readied itself to go out and assist her and my segmented awareness that was feeling her terror amid the limp and decaying bodies.
He tried to calm himself down, and I tried to help him. I sent the body calming and supportive energy from the seat of my detached awareness while doing the same for the woman the body was speeding towards. We saw the redhead was taking in deep breaths and trying not to think of the charred bodies around her as having once been alive.
<<Mannequins>> She tried to make herself believe. <<Yes, these were only mannequins>>
Something in her brain clicked over and she was suddenly able to see everything at once. She connected up to me. I didn’t think that was possible. And it frightened me. They shouldn’t be able to do that.
All the bodies, all the wounds, and then it became instantly obvious to her; painfully, horridly obvious; to both of us.
“Go back,” we shouted at the man and the other part of myself.
The bullet tore through her head snapping it forward with a force that threw her to the ground. The violent burst shot me out of her now disabled awareness and rejoined with the other fragment in the body of the other man.
Bits of bone, brain and clumps of matted red hair spayed the bodies behind her as she landed; another body added to the collection amassed in front of the Hospital.