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datatime: 2022-10-05 17:40:40 Author:GkZTwnjw

In the bathroom she stripped off her flower-patterned blouse, and rinsed first her hands, then her speckled arms, and finally her neck. The dowsing both chilled and braced her. It felt good. That done, she washed the knife, rinsed the sink and returned along the landing without bothering to dry herself or to dress.

Where are you? she said.

Bundling up the blue suit and the rest of his clothes, she put them in several plastic bags, and then went in search of a larger bag for the remains. She had expected Frank to be here to help her with this labor, but as he hadn't shown she had no choice but to do it herself. When she came back to the room, the deterioration of the lamb was still continuing, though now much slowed. Perhaps Frank was still finding nutriments to squeeze from the corpse, but she doubted it. More likely the pauperized body, sucked clean of marrow and every vital fluid, was no longer strong enough to support itself. When she had parceled it up in the bag, it was the weight of a small child, no more. Sealing the bag up, she was about to take it down to the car when she heard the front door open.

This time she was certain her senses did not deceive her. The room, or the spirit in it, responded with soft sighs of anticipation.

Almost as an afterthought, she registered that the lamb had stopped breathing. She crossed the blood-spangled floor to where he lay, and said:

She had a breath's length to admire the phenomena, no more, before the lamb let out a wheezing curse, and-instead of moving out of the knife's range as she had anticipated-took a step toward her and knocked the weapon from her hand. It spun across the floorboards and collided with the skirting. Then he was upon her.

Almost as an afterthought, she registered that the lamb had stopped breathing. She crossed the blood-spangled floor to where he lay, and said:

Won't be a moment, he said at her back. But her hand was in the jacket pocket before the words were out, and as he stepped towards the door, she turned on him, slaughtering knife in hand.

She had a breath's length to admire the phenomena, no more, before the lamb let out a wheezing curse, and-instead of moving out of the knife's range as she had anticipated-took a step toward her and knocked the weapon from her hand. It spun across the floorboards and collided with the skirting. Then he was upon her.

She had no need for either. The room was like a furnace, as the dead man's energies pulsed from his body. They didn't get far. Already the blood on the floor was crawling away toward the wall where Frank was, the beads seeming to boil and evaporate as they came within range of the skirting boards. She watched, entranced. But there was more. Something was happening to the corpse. It was being drained of every nutritious element, the body convulsing as its innards were sucked out, gases moaning in its bowels and throat, the skin dessicating in front of her startled eyes. At one point the plastic teeth dropped back into the gullet, the gums withered around them.

She was quick now. Across to where the knife lay, up, and back toward him in one fluid motion. He had got the door open by inches, but not far enough. She brought the knife down in the middle of his pockmarked back. He yelled, and released the door handle. She was already drawing the knife out, and plunging into him a second time, and now a third and a fourth. Indeed she lost count of the wounds she made, her attack lent venom by his refusal to lie down and die. He stumbled around the room, grieving and complaining, blood following blood onto his buttocks and legs. Finally, after an age of this farcical stuff, he keeled over and hit the floor.

Won't be a moment, he said at her back. But her hand was in the jacket pocket before the words were out, and as he stepped towards the door, she turned on him, slaughtering knife in hand.

So far and no farther, she thought. She had no wish to see him babe-naked. It was enough to have him like thisShe reached into the jacket pocket.

I think I need to empty my bladder, he said.Too many whiskies.

Almost as an afterthought, she registered that the lamb had stopped breathing. She crossed the blood-spangled floor to where he lay, and said:

Still nothing. The room was cooling. Her breasts had grown gooseflesh. She peered down at the luminous watch on the lamb's shriveled arm. It ticked away, indifferent to the apocalypse that had overtaken its owner. It read 4:41. Rory would be back anytime after 5:15, depending on how dense the traffic was. She had work to do before then.

As the blood started, she was certain the room flickered, the bricks and mortar trembling to see the spurts that flew from him.

Where are you?

Then she went to wash her face.

I think I need to empty my bladder, he said.Too many whiskies.

Still nothing. The room was cooling. Her breasts had grown gooseflesh. She peered down at the luminous watch on the lamb's shriveled arm. It ticked away, indifferent to the apocalypse that had overtaken its owner. It read 4:41. Rory would be back anytime after 5:15, depending on how dense the traffic was. She had work to do before then.

So far and no farther, she thought. She had no wish to see him babe-naked. It was enough to have him like thisShe reached into the jacket pocket.

Suddenly, the bulb began to flicker. She looked to the wall, expecting it to tremble and spit her lover from hiding. But no. The bulb went out. There was only the dim light that crept through the age-beaten blind.

He put his hand into her hair and took a fistful. It seemed his intention was not violence but escape, for he relinquished his hold as soon as he'd pulled away from the door. She fell against the wall, looking up to see him wrestling with the door handle, his free hand clamped to his cuts.

Still nothing. The room was cooling. Her breasts had grown gooseflesh. She peered down at the luminous watch on the lamb's shriveled arm. It ticked away, indifferent to the apocalypse that had overtaken its owner. It read 4:41. Rory would be back anytime after 5:15, depending on how dense the traffic was. She had work to do before then.

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