I felt the heat most on the bridge of my nose and on the fat pockets under my eyes. Even through the windshield of the van, the sunlight made me squint and turned the top of my hair as molten as its color. Knowing I wouldn’t need the gas for later, I turned the air conditioner on full.
Then I waited.
No one tried to stop me. Cormac had been around so long he was forecasted like the weather, and he was due within an hour. To pass the time I listened to a CD of my old stand-up routine. The one I’d done right before everyone decided I wasn’t funny.
Halfway through a hackneyed routine about how office life sucked, I saw Cormac crest a hill. He was just big enough to see and my stomach twisted. If I stared hard, I could tell he was blue.
I gripped the steering wheel. The voice of a younger and oblivious me droned from the speakers. I could still turn around and call the whole thing off. No one knew I was out here… because no one cared. The thought of that got me out of the car more than anything else.
Do or die, schedule be damned. I walked toward Cormac.
Slow like honey poured out of the wide-lipped mouth of a mason jar, that was Cormac. Inevitable as the grind of tectonic plates, that was Cormac too. Cold and terrifying as the meaningless black between the stars, that was Cormac most of all.
As we were in the middle of the desert, there was nobody else around. I’d planned it that way so there wouldn’t be any distractions. Cormac still drew onlookers, but not here. There were no roads anywhere near and no one without a GPS would have been able to navigate. Cormac was on his way to Los Angeles, to tear it into little bits. Everyone knew that’s where he was going because Cormac only ever walked in a straight line. Until he was done with a place and started new.
Sooner than I would have liked, I was in front of him. The blue, almost granite-like, hue of his body made him seem part of a heat haze. Like a mirage, except he had destroyed the Three Gorges dam in the course of an afternoon, busted every Power Plant in the state of New York, and broken who knew how many monuments.
I held my finger an inch from Cormac’s face, and stared him in the eye. Or what I thought was his eye. Cormac was humanoid, but no one really had any fucking idea what he was made of or where he came from.
“I’m not touching you.” I said.
I held my finger there a while longer, and took a step back. Cormac’s expression, or what passed for his expression had not changed.
I swallowed hard and held my finger steady.
“I’m not touching you.” I repeated, careful that I shouldn’t slip and actually make contact.
My heart hammered so hard I could feel it there at the end of my fingertip. Pounding as if to burst the skin and smear Cormac with its hidden red essence.
Christ, I had stage fright.
“I’m not touching you!” I screamed so loud it echoed off the mesas.
The day after my dad died I got a gym membership. I told the instructor I wanted to be a runner. He didn’t say much about it, since I figured a lot of people must have been compelled to work under the same regimen with Cormac around. Not that it meant much, as you’d have to be a turtle for him to catch you. It was a psychological thing.
I’d spent a year training. I had been a string bean when I started, but now I was a string bean with muscles, sinews and fibers. I looked like a fast string bean. I wore shorts with a long sleeve running shirt. My hat shaded my red hair from the sun.
“Why’d the chicken cross the road, Cormac?” I taunted.
I was dancing around him, with my finger held a few inches away. I was careful not to touch him as that would mean death. Whatever Cormac was made from, it killed humans in milliseconds.
“It wanted to cluck your mother. Ha ha, get it Cormac? It wanted to cluck your mother?”
Someone smart had once tried to knock Cormac into orbit. They’d been the first person to realize that Cormac was indestructible. Working from that, they’d realized it didn’t matter how strong or indestructible he was, he still had finite mass. After they’d figured out how to strap a rocket to him faster than he could take it off, they’d launched him. The corks were barely out of the champagne before he reappeared, right in the exact spot he had been, and resumed walking.
They’d figured it had cost him about thirty seconds.
“Cormac! Did you fart? Whoo boy, I can smell it all the way over here.” I farted again for good measure. There were a lot of beans at my camp sites.
No one had ever figured out how he did the reappearance trick. That was still back when we thought there was a way of getting rid of Cormac. Back before the world had gone into damage control. They tried a couple of more times, then they figured he had to have some kind of massless drive. No one knew why he didn’t use it at ground level. Probably couldn’t.
“Cormac, would you rather be kicked once in the junk or punched twice in the face?” I ran in front of him and bent over, grabbing my ankles and let a big one rip.
“Fine! Before you have to ask they’ll all be at equal strength and the foot isn’t sharp. Just a regular sneaker.” I put my hands over my face so that it looked like I was wearing pair of glasses, and then stuck out my tongue.
They’d tried a neutron bomb first, once he was away from population centers. There was plenty of time to evacuate, and there wasn’t much confusion as to where he might be going. After that hadn’t worked they’d tried a hydrogen bomb, just to see if it would make any difference.
We’d exhausted gun fire, explosives, and all other conventional warheads long before that point. It didn’t even slow him down. One mile per hour. No faster no slower.
I saw the moon had risen and realized I’d stayed too long. I’d been too excited. I’d been too busy testing for a reaction. If I was going to keep it up I had to stick to the schedule. Keep to the plan.
I had to endure. I had to be as regular and inevitable as Cormac himself.
“I’ve got to go for the night, ol’ buddy. Your mother called and said she needs a good fucking. Guess your daddy turned gay or something. Oh, and by the way, I’m still not touching you.”
After I jogged to my first camp, I took a long drink. I also took out both of my alarm clocks. One was solar powered, the other on a battery that was guaranteed for three years. I suppose I could have gotten another alarm clock, with another battery, but that seemed too redundant.
I knew how this was going to end anyway, and as long as I got to the fifth camp I would live to see the endgame.
I took out my alarm clocks and set them to wake me up in eight hours, and slept.
Cormac would be one half-mile away when I woke up.
I intended that he watch me wake up every morning. Always out of reach.
I’d gotten the idea from stuff I’d read in history about some Arab guy that had led an army through the desert by following a trail of oases. The rest of it, the part of it that didn’t involve any fighting, well, that’d been all me as far as I could tell.
Taking advantage of Cormac’s clockwork regularity and a GPS tracker, I’d laid out ten fully stocked base camps through the desert wilderness. I had unloaded them one at a time from my van until I’d eventually reached Cormac. Once on the move, as long as I did a brisk hour and a half jog toward dusk, I could be at a camp every night and rise to meet Cormac every morning.
My actual mission was complicated. It had occurred to me, some time long before I had resolved to do it, that where weapons failed I might succeed. Perhaps because of my failures as a comedian, I had begun to wonder if the indestructible Cormac might be heckled to death.
I broke camp early in the morning. The sun hadn’t even risen, the alarm clocks hadn’t even gone off, but I was eager and jogged to Cormac. If I really looked at him, I could see a sort of pale blue glow coming out of the crystalline cracks of what I assumed was his skin.
“Sorry I’m late, buddy. Your mom wouldn’t let me pull out until a little bit ago. Then I had to wipe all the shit off my dick. Next time you talk to her, tell that bitch to stop eating corn. I got a kernel stuck in my foreskin.” I gave an exaggerated yawn.
Cormac kept walking.
“It ever bother you that no one comes out to see you anymore?” There had been some cults once that had worshiped Cormac. Most of them went away after the inevitable happened. Never-sleeping Cormac would get a hold of someone and murder them with slow, absent-minded efficiency.
Only one person had ever survived contact with Cormac. Dumb kid had fallen asleep in her car waiting for Cormac to show up, like he was fucking Santa Claus. She’d been wearing very thick clothes, which was what saved her from his initial touch. After realizing with horror that Cormac had gotten a grip on her wrist while she was asleep, she’d cut off her own hand.
“I know your mom’s better company than you, but still. I knew a guy with some retard pedophile for a brother. He still took a trip up to the loony bin every year at Christmas to see him. Oh but look at me talk, you’ll be wanting to kill yourself if I keep it up.”
Cormac’s head pointed dead ahead.
I walked over to the side of the highway and grabbed fistful of pebbles. I threw them one at a time, and bounced them off Cormac’s face. He didn’t so much as turn in my direction.
“Would you say you look more like a Vegas attraction reject, or more like a stain glass window made by someone with palsy? ‘Cause I just think you look like a dick.” I bounced a rock right off of Cormac’s eye.
“What’s the first thing you’re going to break when you get out to LA? Too many fake tits there, for my money. Not that I’m saying they’re all bad. I mean, your mom’s got some great hooters. I could suck on those puppies all night. But if you took out a few plastic surgery centers that would probably be a big help.” I grabbed a stick, walked round behind Cormac, and held it against what I figured was his butt-hole.
Except that Cormac didn’t shit. Or eat. Or sleep.
“I don’t know if you know this, seeing as how you can’t speak or whatever, but you’re the reason there’s no nuclear power anymore. You got too close that time in New York. Almost had a meltdown. How many guy’s was it that died carrying all the hot stuff out? Fifty?
“They have to figure out how to take dams apart when you’re around too. Millions of people displaced by that. Some of those green wackos think you’re the best thing for the environment we’ve ever had. Me? I just know you’re a guy who loves having a stick in his ass so much that he won’t say a word to have it taken out.”
I took the stick and walked to the front of Cormac and held it where his nose might have been.
“You should take a whiff of this Cormac. God awful stuff. It’s probably what your father’s shit smells like after a night of gang bangs. Tell me Cormac, how is it possible for one man to love taking cock that much?” I turned and threw the stick far ahead.
Cormac kept walking, unperturbed.
“Ah, fuck it. We’ll get there eventually.”
I didn’t give a shit if Cormac was impervious to attack. There was no such thing as perfect self-esteem.
“If I tell you a secret, promise you won’t tell anyone else?” I had taken to standing in front of Cormac long enough for him to reach toward me, before stepping back. Risky, and far ahead of what I had laid out for a schedule, but it was the only thing I could do to make him react.
“I used to masturbate to my second cousin. All the time. Every day I came home from school, I’d have to whip one out to her. I knew it was wrong, but she had the best tits I’d ever seen, next to your mother.”
Cormac reached for my throat, but I leaned back so that he missed by the smallest of margins. Still wasn’t much more passionate than swatting at a fly.
“Another thing I want to get off my chest. One time I was at a sleep-over. Must’ve only been eight or nine. Took a big ol’ shit. Huge. Like the one your father has all over the operating room table while they’re trying to shove his asshole back inside. Anyhow, the toilet wouldn’t flush. Wouldn’t you know it, not a plunger in sight. So I left it. Pretended I didn’t know who’d done it.
“There was a dirty kid there named Ryan Sivyer, so I let him take the blame. Would you believe that Ryan Sivyer didn’t invite me back to his birthday the next month? Never accused me directly. Passive aggressive asshole.”
Cormac thought he was going to get clever and get me with his other hand, the one I’d led him to believe I wasn’t watching, but I moved again so that his fingers came up short.
“Chick I used to date in high school, I did some bad shit with her too. She was one of those goth weirdos, had a tongue ring and could suck a dick like no one’s business. I was only going with her because I liked her sister. I stole a pair of her sister’s panties one night when I was over at her house. No one ever said nothing about it. I used them for a jizz rag for what had to be six months before I threw them away.”
It was getting late. I was off schedule again. I cussed at myself for it, but I wanted to… I hadn’t planned on it for two days. I pulled out my dick, so close to Cormac that he had to be infuriated even though he gave no sign. Even as slow as he was I felt vulnerable.
Staring Cormac in the face, I let loose a stream of urine that splattered all over his iridescent blue feet.
“As you may be able to tell, old buddy old pal. I have a habit for pissing people off.” I raised the stream and pissed all over Cormac’s abdomen. I got part of his hand for good measure.
“Ha ha! Do you get it, Cormac? Pissing people off?”
I let the stream go to a drizzle before I zipped my fly.
“Anyhow, I need to go for the night. Drink up. Your mother gets moody if I don’t piss on her at least a little.”
I sat by the campfire, drank some water and ate another plate of baked beans. It would be week and a half before Cormac got to a population center.
It would be the longest stand-up performance of my life, with the world’s worst audience.
No distractions. For the either of us.
I laid down, set the alarm clocks, and looked up at the stars. Which one had Cormac come from? Where were his people?
Where were the other Cormacs?
God help me, did Cormac even understand English?
Cormac was an Irish word for “Destroying Son.” It’d stuck, at least in the English speaking world, because the first place Cormac had ever appeared was Ireland, and some writer had written a poem. Cormac had walked up out of the ocean, and walked straight to Dublin. It was kept secret for a while. They’d pass off whatever he broke as an “unscheduled demolition.”
No one knew why he’d gone there first. It was probably random, since we’d later figured out he’d landed in the Atlantic Ocean like a meteor and spent two weeks walking the ocean floor. It was probably the closest dry land to his drop spot.
After a while it had gotten to be too big to cover up. Cormac had ripped up every power plant in the city. Tore them to bits. He did that with every major utility he found. In a matter of days 1.6 million people were without power, water, or any of the amenities that make city life possible.
He had made Dublin unlivable within three weeks.
“As you can see, I’m up bright and early this morning. I pulled a trick on your mom. I face fucked her so hard last night she passed out. Wasn’t able to wake up this morning to make me throw her another pity fuck. I know, I was afraid the slut might be dead too, but I checked for a pulse before I left.
“‘Fraid to say your dad took a turn for the worse though. The doctors had to… cut him a new asshole! Ha ha! Get it Cormac? Because his other one had been fucked to pulp?!?”
I grabbed another handful of rocks, and took my time so that each one hit Cormac between the legs. It may not have been his dick. His dick may have been in the chest for all I knew, but I figured it was the thought that counted.
“When I was in college, I went back to my home town one weekend. Almost no one in my home town goes to college, so I thought I was hot shit. I was failing everything, but I didn’t tell anyone that part. I’d started doing stand-up then, and everyone thought I was famous.
“Found that goth weirdo I used to date. She’d gotten fat. Not the cute kind of fat either. The kind where it’s all bunched up in different weird places. Her sister though, she got hotter. Her sister and I got lit up, and then fucked in some bushes. We got caught us right in the middle of it. The goth weirdo started punching me in the back, calling me a bastard. Calling her sister a whore.
“After I’d pulled out of her sister, she just sat down, put her head in her hands and asked me why I had to be such an asshole. All she wanted to know was why I had to be such an asshole.
“I looked right up into her fat wobbly jowls, right into that ugly lumpy face and I said… ha ha! I said ‘Because your sister’s hot!’
“So she says ‘You’re not funny, Sean’ so I says ‘Well, you’re not hot so let’s call it a wash!’ Ha ha ha!”
I brought my face as close to Cormac’s as I dared. So close I could feel the fey heat of his blue lights on my eyes. I stared down into the depths of his glass-like face and snarled.
“Her face, all fat and covered with tears, that was the most pitiful thing I’d ever seen in my life. Till now.” I spit in Cormac’s face. It glistened in the sunlight.
I spent the next long while following the blue demon, running around him in circles, declaring that I was not touching him. He kept walking onward. Indifferent.
I had stayed late again. It was only my third day, and I’d already made a habit of breaking the schedule I’d promised myself to follow to the letter. I turned to the dark path ahead, and looked over my shoulder.
“You know Cormac, my mom died when I was young.” I paused, wondering why I had said such a thing. The words had slipped out of my mouth without thought.
“She got cancer.” I felt sweat on the skin of my palms. I pretended it was from the nervousness of not knowing what to say next. I reached out, and grabbed something… a half-formed joke.
“You ever wish your mom had died, Cormac? So that she wouldn’t have to see what you are?”
For half a beat, so quick it might have been my imagination, I swore I saw the fucking thing stop in its tracks.
I dismissed it as wishful thinking and turned to go.
I about let loose the shit that saved my life, before I realized how well and truly fucked I was. I’d woken up to go to the bathroom. I had not expected to see Cormac’s hands pressing against the nylon wall of my tent.
Trapped in a tent like this, even Cormac might manage to get a hold of me before I could escape.
I heard the swish-swish of stretched nylon, as Cormac’s hands loomed ever closer. The tent was coffin-like in its proportions. If I sat up to unzip the door, it would take me right into Cormac’s eager hands.
In desperation, I threw all my weight against the side of the tent opposite Cormac. I hoped that if I could flip it over a few times it would give me the time I needed to get out.
I threw my weight, and rebounded so that I almost bounced back into Cormac.
“I just had to put stakes in the ground!” I shouted.
Cormac must have been on his knees, ready to smother me, because there was barely a foot to move. What I needed was a knife. I had one.
My shorts, which I had put under my head as a sort of pillow, found their way to my hands. If… I found the zipper and pressed the sharp pull tab to the fabric.
Using my other hand to create tension, I ripped the fabric. Once the hole was big enough, I put my fingers through it and ripped it wider. It wasn’t easy. When I’d planned all this out, I’d bought the best. The fear of Cormac’s hands gave me strength. I pushed myself, scrambling, through the small hole, as I felt the rest of the tent collapse behind me.
I ran a few yards before I took the time to so much as pant. I was naked except for a pair of boxer shorts. And the desert morning was cold enough that if my balls hadn’t already been pulled tight against me in fear, the temperature would have sent them their in minutes.
I turned to see Cormac rising back to his feet. If he was upset at my near escape, he showed no sign. Perhaps, could show no sign.
“Ah Cormac, thanks for the wake up call, Buddy. Your mom fucked me to exhaustion last night. I can barely keep my eyes open!”
The alarm clock, still in the tent, went off. It was followed shortly by its companion.
I stopped and stood stock still.
My camp sites were set an eighth of a mile off of Cormac’s line of travel. They were also set with the idea that Cormac’s rate of speed was constant. In all the careful years of observation he was observed to travel no faster or slower in any condition.
I smiled wider.
I smiled like when I found that one joke that would lay an entire audience flat.
I whooped and hollered, turned around, and pulled my shorts down to give Cormac a good view of what he’d missed. What he had tried to kill.
“I didn’t know you cared!” I laughed so hard I cried. I scrambled around the camp, grabbing what I could find and hurling it at Cormac in orgiastic glee.
“Am I getting to you, you old blueballed fuckface! Am I fraying your last nerve, you cumguzzling dickwipe?”
Cormac, slowly, but perhaps, just perhaps a little faster than usual crushed one of the alarm clocks beneath his foot. A few minutes later, the other followed. The twin beeps died so that the only sounds left were the wind and my own breathing.
I remembered the pause from last night. The tick. I ran to Cormac as though eager to share glorious news.
“Hey Cormac! Your momma doesn’t love you! You hear me? Your Momma hates you!”
“When I was little, my mom could tell I liked fighting and stealing too much. I used to get caught with shit from the grocery store in my pockets all the time. Pack of gum, chocolate bar, maybe a comic book. I stole a candle on the day my mom died. I lit it in the church, and I could tell my mom was somewhere up in heaven crying that her son had to be such a little shit even in the face of something so serious.”
I was dressed again. Cormac had ripped apart a lot of my equipment, but I had extra at the next camp site. The only things that were unique were the alarm clocks I’d been carrying in my pockets.
“It was a very confusing time when she died. But I was glad too, because that’s the kind of asshole I am. My mother died, and suddenly I got all the oven-bake pizza and ice cream I could eat. Still, it kept me up at night. Thinking about her somewhere up there, watching me.”
Cormac was definitely walking faster, and I thought I could sense something like strain coming off the hulking blue beast. I walked close to him, stuck my face in his, and walked backwards, matching him step for step.
“I can’t even imagine what your mother thinks of you, Cormac. Maybe I drank when I should have studied. Maybe I fucked when I should have been loving, but I ain’t never done the fucked up shit you done. If I hurt someone it was always incidental. But you? You go out of your way to be a dick.”
I poked Cormac with a stick. In his eyes. In his crotch. In his chest. “How’s it feel to know you can’t catch me? Little Sean Doolittle, who couldn’t win a fist fight if he had a gun, and big strong Cormac is at his mercy. What would your mother say to that?”
I broke the stick on Cormac’s face, but I didn’t worry to much about it, as the way ahead offered many more.
“Way I figure, you’ve got all kinds of relatives. I ain’t no fucking scientist, but nothing like you happens by itself. You’ve got to have family. You’ve got to have people fucking over a long period of time, and with all your fancy powers, you got to have them fucking in a society!
“A sophisticated piece of cum like you doesn’t come to be without serious emotional fucking damage. And this whole slow walk bit? That’s pretty fucked up too. This isn’t how things are supposed to be, are they Cormac?”
I thought about a version of Cormac that was fast. I thought about a hundred million Cormac’s sprinting, and invulnerable to atomics. I had to suppress a shudder.
“I used to burn ants with a magnifying glass. It was another one of those shit things I did that pissed off my mother. So she told me about how in the olden times, when you did something bad, they’d stake you to the ground, and smear you with honey and let the ants eat you alive.
“I figure that’s what they did to you, and you’re here kicking ant hills.” I found another stick and rammed it into Cormac’s face, over and over.
“You’re a disgrace to your whole fucking family, Cormac! Your mother doesn’t even cry when she thinks of you. She thanks God that you’re out of sight and out of mind. She divorced your father so she could go fuck other men, have other children, and write you out of her life.
“The ants finally learned how to pinch, Cormac! So pinch! Ha ha! Your own mother hates you! Pinch pinch!”
The sun was going down, but I didn’t mind. I was onto something, and I’d never been good with schedules anyway.
My throat was hoarse from yelling all through the night, but I’d gotten some extra water once we’d walked close enough to my next camp. I’d forgotten sunblock, but that seemed a minor concern. We were only one day out from the end game, and that was beyond even my wildest expectations.
“Hey Cormac! You think your mom’s going to be disappointed I didn’t fuck her last night? You know, I lied yesterday, when I said she never talks about you. She does have one secret pleasure.
“When I’m nailing her, and I mean really nailing her. Humping her so hard that her ass and tits are shaking like jello, she likes to say some of the nastiest stuff about what a disappointment you are.
“It’s got this weird incest vibe. Always saying ‘oh Sean, fuck me so hard I forgot about that little shit that came out of my pussy’ or ‘oh Sean spank me like I never spanked that stupid fuck’ and, this one’s the tops ‘oh Sean cum in me like that loser son of mine dreams about every night when he touches himself!’”
I had to put my hand on my legs when I bent over, I was laughing so hard. My nostrils were shaking with the thrill of it. I laughed until it was a cough and I had to drink a long pull of tepid water. After a while, the laughter subsided.
“You ever think about fucking your momma, Cormac? I mean, I figure psychology’s got to be pretty universal and that’s Freud. Am I right? You ever listen at her door when she was balling the neighbors?”
I put my hand to my ear in an exaggerated signal that I was waiting for him to speak. Smile still wide, although my lips were beginning to chap, I prepared my next retort.
Cormac’s face opened. Somewhere near the middle of his head.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkkkk…” it had all the force of a whisper. All the calm of the eye of a storm. If I weren’t such a prick, I wouldn’t have been pulling my pants down even as he spoke. If I weren’t such an asshole, I might have stood there, moved by the first word ever spoken by a being not of this world, instead of taking a shit.
“Yoooooooooooouuuuuuuuu…” I picked up my own shit, quick as a could, and threw it in the open place in Cormac’s head. I picked up the bits of sand where some of it had escaped me, not caring for how filthy my hands were. Not caring that it was barbaric.
“Eat shit, Cormac!” I screamed, not even trying to be coolly disconnected. Not even trying to be funny. “Eat shit and die!”
It tore my voice box so bad I wasn’t able to speak for the rest of the day.
Neither did Cormac.
I had some cough syrup at my next camp site, and some sanitary wipes which I used on my hands. I even managed to eat a bit, but I hadn’t run so far ahead of Cormac that I had time for anything elaborate.
A weak part of me. The part of me that had taken Bryci’s sister into the back of the car and stuck my penis inside of her, thought about taking the tent and jogging ahead and catching a few hours of sleep. I swallowed hard, feeling the cough syrup lubricating my throat. I’d packed it in case it rained and I took a cold.
I ate some half-warm hot dogs, and another plate of beans. I hadn’t planned on all the beans, until I’d got to the store and they’d been on sale. It’s funny the way life works out.
I raised my right hand in a one finger salute to Cormac and kept eating. I made sure to hide the gun in the back of my shorts.
I’d been very careful that Cormac should not see me pick it up. That might have been a useless gesture, as Cormac seemed capable of knowing to the millimeter how to get to what he wanted to destroy, but on the off-chance that he couldn’t see, then I wanted it to be a surprise.
Back to Cormac, I looked down at the gun, and made sure all the chambers were loaded.
“My dad got Alzheimer’s. That’s a disease you get where you get to be rude as fuck and no one can get mad at you for it. So one day, I go into the home to visit him. Not that I did it all the time, I’m a dick, remember? But I got up there every year or so. So what do I see?
“Some fucking little redhead devil is there, lookin’ a bit like me. My dad has got him by the shirt, telling him to watch himself. Telling him that he’d wanted his mother to have the abortion, but she’d demanded they go through with it, and that they’ve both spent their whole life regretting the decision.”
I felt like I’d run out of things to say, and I couldn’t think up anything more creative than bouncing rocks off Cormac’s head. The most original thing I’d thought to think of that day was walking behind Cormac. Sometimes stopping.
That seemed to really burn his biscuit. He wanted me to kill me. Wanted to tear me apart worse than anything else on this ant-heap, and when I stopped behind him, when I made a move like I might get up and leave and never see him again, I could tell that pissed him off the most. I didn’t do it too much, because I didn’t want it to lose his effect, but I did it enough that he had to change speed.
Whatever it was they’d done to him. Whatever the terms of his punishment, changing his speed hurt Cormac. It hurt him like giving birth or being born, or who the fuck knew what.
“It was like going back in time and reading my dad’s mind when I was still a child. Can you even imagine? And there wasn’t even any cheesy Hallmark moment, where he made it clear he really loved me. Nothing but the shit.
“I figure that’s the way your parents feel about you. Except worse.”
“Ran into Bryci after all that happened. She was that goth weirdo from high school. She was a waitress. No wait, I’m sorry. A hostess. I got drunk, and we got to talking, but not about how I fucked her sister twenty years back. About her life. She got married, had a couple of kids. Still fat, but better looking. She wanted to know how life was in the big city, so I told her to come back to my room if she wanted to know.
“I’d washed out of comedy by then and I was doing insurance adjustments, but when she looked at me she saw a star. Anyhow, I fucked her. I fucked her good and hard and long, and I came right in her. Then I sent her on home to her husband and took a shower.”
I took a long swallow of water. My voice was scratchy, but I figured Cormac could suss it all out.
“Came back a couple of month’s later, on account of my dad had a stroke and was on life support. It said right in his will to pull the plug, so I did, but I also felt good about it, and I knew that wasn’t right. Fucking old man, talking about me that way.
“I went to the bar needing a fuck, found Bryci, and guess who was pregnant!?! I knew it was mine because of the way all the color ran out of her face. Wondering if I’d say something. Wondering if I’d tattle to her husband.
“So I ordered a drink. Then I took another, and next thing I know I’m shouting ‘Because your sister is fucking hotter than you!’ at the top of my lungs. Some guys took me outside and roughed me up. Small town. People have friends, and all that.
“Bryci comes out, looks at me and says ‘You’re not funny, Sean.’ Then she spits right in my face.
“So I’m laying there, blood all over my face, and I can’t quit laughing. I had a girlfriend back in the city. Well, a fuck buddy. And that’s when I realized, here I was, going to have a kid. Going to have a kid that I probably wasn’t ever going to be allowed to know, and the most significant emotional relation I’d ever had with anyone, was with a waitress whose sister I had fucked twenty years ago.
“Then I saw some piece about you on the news. Would you believe, except for things like building projects, no one ever thinks about you anymore? You’re just a consideration like earthquakes or volcanoes. No one actually cares about you. We’re not even terrified anymore. And that’s what I realized about myself. I was just someone people planned around. No one actually cared.
“So I figured I was going to have a kid, might one day find out who pops was, I might as well do something good. Went to the gym, learned to run. Made up a plan.”
I drank another deep pull.
“We’re a lot alike, Cormac. That’s why I fucking hate you so much.”
I took out all the bullets in the chambers but one, spun it faster than I could see, and with one flick of the wrist snapped the chamber back into place.
“In my plan, the big one I had for killing you, there were supposed to be news choppers here. There were supposed to be reporters, and big-titty college school girls getting wet between the legs. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be a hero. I only wanted to get laid a couple of times before the ending.”
I was sitting on a rock, thirty or so yards ahead of Cormac, and he was aimed right at me. The hole in his head was open. Like the son of a bitch wanted to eat me.
“No one knows you’ve changed course, old buddy. No one knows your walking faster. No one even cares. Especially not your momma. I bet that time they knocked you into space, you didn’t even get something so personal as a swat to send you back. It was automated, I bet. No alarms or anything.”
I took aim at the hole in Cormac’s head and pulled the trigger. The gun fired and glanced off. Well, so much for last chances. I’d figured it wouldn’t work anyway.
“That wasn’t very dramatic.” I sighed, and loaded another bullet then repeated the process. This time I put the gun to my own temple and pulled the trigger. There was only a hollow click.
“My mother used to tell me I could frustrate someone to death.” I jumped down from the rock and shot at Cormac. There was another empty report. Three chambers left.
I stood directly in front of him and stopped. I put the gun to my temple and squeezed. Nothing.
“Do you want to kill me Cormac? Do you want to kill me so you don’t have to hear about your momma no more?”
I could feel the effort from him as he struggled to increase his speed by the smallest margins. “Yeeeeeesssssssssss….”
I walked toward Cormac and stayed a few tantalizing inches out of his reach.
“Do you want to kill me so bad you can’t think about anything else?” I asked.
I could see some sort of strange redness inside of Cormac’s mouth. I wondered if that meant he was damaging himself trying to get to me. “Diiiiiieeeeee….”
Cormac’s hand, slowly began to ascend. I leaned forward so my neck was the easiest thing to grab.
“The only relationship you have in the entire world, is with an ant.” I pulled the trigger at Cormac. Nothing. One left.
I could feel the warmth of Cormac’s blue light on my neck as his fingers prepared for a slow squeeze. I waited for the last possible moment.
“Nope, Cormac. Your mother told me last night you weren’t even good enough for this. Do the world a favor and kill yourself.”
I put the gun to my temple.
Two circles of white appeared on Cormac’s head. I supposed they were his eyes. They seemed full of horror. Of agony without end. Of denial and loss.
I smiled. Then I squeezed the trigger.