BY FRANCIS CROT
The gravestone-flogging had driven Toby’s feet into the earth, so his legs and pelvis still sort of stood there cropped with offal. Brenda cleared the wobbling hurdle. A skein of Missus Williamson’s cloudy skin disentangled from Brenda’s hair at the apex of this leap, floating for the briefest instant on a zephyr before smacked by an airborne length of viscera. They fell and they lay, the saddest flag.
Helen Freemantle, a choral scholar from Gonville and Caius, came apart like a blow-up doll full of vomit – no, that’s unfair.
Brenda skidded and, veering right, collided with the bloodsoaked but exultant Elisha. The girls’ arms tangled briefly but compassionately, then, while both quickly checked out the extent of the pocket between them and death, Elisha said, with faint proprietorial strut, “Hell has blown its top.”
“Why don’t they come?” Brenda wondered, looking to the horde of horrors standing at the church’s outer gates.
“They are like sin!” said Elisha, eyes blazing conscientiously, not understanding Brenda but guessing the general topic of concern. “They are one of those wonderful problems which still is there even when you solve it. Watch out!”
Brenda did not know what Elisha had meant either, yet an understanding was that moment formed between them, asymmetrical, yet in all its aspects to do with the hideous timidity, now, of any overly-solicitious self-expression. As for Corntrough, there was force sufficient, as his timid heart exploded, to send ribs out like the splayed, nervous fingers of a crap shooter.
Like fear – that’s how the feeling felt to Brenda. The emotion was probably actually just “sports.” Her sweat covered her. Within her narrow and God-given compass she and Brenda were libertines. She had kicked off her blood-spattered harlequin green La Senza slippers and went sticky bare-footed on the soft lawn. Who could have foreseen it after all. Elisha was in trainers, the triple knots of their neat bows for once vindicated, the socks down.
She did her best to assimilate the morning’s proceedings. The horde at the outer gate, Brenda had tried to say, looked nebulously different. Indeed little Helen ended her fine run when she mistook them for helpful. Brenda had witnessed Helen’s dip in the barracuda tank in her protective “meat” suit, and had got to thinking. But Elisha was cursed like all Leftists with powerlessness in making usefully nuanced discriminations among the terrible Satanic cannibals who preyed arbitrarily upon her and other screaming people. Henry wildly tore off Father Jeremy’s arms.
“There!” said Elisha.
Through the necromantic delirium the girls began a tactical trot. “Not something I did wrong?” Brenda blurted. She eyed uncertainly the frayed cemetary towards which they were shepherded. They would be slowed, crossing the hideous vacant earth. “In the service? Come this way –”
“Oh yeah,” said Elisha, with restless gloat, “like I really think that’s what God is telling us, Brenda! Get with the programme!”
“Fair play. Look out! Let’s try and go past – they’ve eaten Chanique now, or as much of her as they can stomach.”
To their left Father Jeremy roared and headbutted the freak – something of a freak himself. It drove its weed whackers deep into his stomach, yet somehow he freed himself and began to run towards the girls, more of the horde bearing down on him.
“Oh my gosh, we actually lived to see the Day of Judgement. Though they’re all dead and they’re like, hey whatever! ... we'll come!”
“Um, by the way your face called, Elisha? It wants its left side back.”
Elisha tossed back her braids of blood and laughed. Like fear, this feeling felt to Brenda, but in her private understanding with Elisha, that fear felt altered.
This fear was not wretchedness, fault and sin; it was not an itinerary of identifications with the alien, the counterfeit, and the obsolete or antique; it was not, as hitherto it had so often been, fear finely, irreversibly inmixed with self-loathing. It rather was the bloody and zephyr’d medium through which they two moved. It was a pleasant day.
Was it wrong, thus to flee? Could the Lord have planned them as snacks? They needed pastoral guidance!
“Oh God . . . please God . . . please please, Jesus, don’t let him . . . oh God, please stop him! Girls! Girls! Oh God! Please someone stop him!”