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      The blood stains on the floor continue to grow as Henry clutches his chest, slipping slowly into a world of
red. His mind screams for some semblance of reality as the walls begin spinning. Ochre-stained claws and fangs
emerge from the walls, floor, and ceiling, grasping, pleading, consuming. The room becomes an amorphous
mass of inwardly-rushing malignance, and Henry screams red for the last seconds of his life.

      Beep. Beeep. Beeeep.
      Henry slowly stirred from his stupor, while attempting to determine whether it was his alarm clock or his head
making that noise.
      Beeeep. Beeeeeep. Beeeeeeep.
      He decided that it didn’t quite matter, as he wasn’t going to be sleeping with that going on either way.
      The clock. Definitely the fucking clock. His head wasn’t that much of an asshole, despite rumours to the
      “I’ve got the fucking point, already,” he said, blindly flailing at any button he could find on the clock.
      “Shit! Shut the fuck up!” Henry continued bashing at buttons for another minute of audial abuse, and finally
lifted the hammer on his night stand. He then proceeded to use the hammer to forcibly switch off the alarm.
When the alarm was switched off into many tiny pieces, Henry finally pulled himself out of the pile of blankets he
used for a bed.
      Henry stumbled to the sink, twice nearly tripping over accumulated piles of clothing, papers, and other items.
Trying to ignore the pungent odor of his surroundings, he splashed cool water in his face several times, and
attempted to determine why he was awake.
      Ring. Ring.
      “Shit. Where’s the phone?”
      Ring. Ring. Ring.
      Henry kicked over something by the couch, having decided the ringing came from that direction. No phone
      Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.
      He checked between the couch cushions. Jackpot! A bag of chips! Oh, and the phone, too.
      “Crazy Bob’s Crematorium, you kill ‘em, we grill ‘em,” he answered.
      “Breakfast, bitch.”
      It was Marie. She always had a way of getting her meaning across with the fewest words possible.
      “Uh,” Henry replied, remembering finally why he was awake in the first place, “Okay.”
      He hung up and stumbled back to the bathroom. After looking quickly into the mirror and taking stock of his
personal odor, he decided he was decent to go out.

      Henry entered the elevator quickly, not wanting to be late for Marie. That would piss her off. By the sound of
her voice on the phone, Henry could tell she was calling from her cell phone. Probably from right outside the
apartment building. Probably impatient as usual.
      The elevator was of the cold, metallic sort. Purely functional, with no decorative purpose whatsoever. It was
the sort of Bauhaus structure one could find in a building made for the express purpose of being cheap, with no
budget for decoration. Henry idly wondered what the function of the staggered bumps covering the walls was, but
soon turned his attention to the fact that the walls appeared to be melting.
      Instinctively, Henry moved toward the center of the elevator. After all, if the metal walls are melting, they
must be quite hot. Better not to get any of it on his shoes, as he preferred to keep his feet. They served a fairly
important purpose. From the center of the elevator, which was at this point about fifty yards on a side, Henry lost
interest in the melting walls, his attention now being absorbed in the thirteen crying clowns now approaching him,
brandishing what appeared to be some very angry Persian kittens.
      The sound of the elevator opening on the ground floor saved Henry from an uncertain fate which
undoubtedly would have involved quite a bit of pain inflicted by clawed balls of fluff. He stepped out of the
elevator, and quickly walked out of the building.
      As expected, Marie was standing there, leaning against her still-running car just beyond the sidewalk.
      “Took long enough.”
      “Sorry. There were clowns.”
      “Right. Get in.”
      They both got in the car, and Marie started driving.
      “So, where are we going to be eating?”
      “Waffle House.”
      “For breakfast? How novel. And who’s going to be there?”
      “Kyle. Susan.”
      “Kyle’s going to be there? Oh, no.”
      “He’s okay.”
      “What do you mean by that?”
      “Mean he’s okay.”
      “Okay? He’s a fucking lunatic. Ever since his air conditioner electrocuted him, he’s been calling himself a
superhero. He even got his name legally changed to ‘Kyle O’watt, Master of Electricity.’”
      “Not changed to ‘Master of Electricity’”
      “True, but he always makes sure to add that. I honestly don’t think this is the sort of behavior that would be
exhibited by a person you’d call ‘Okay.’”
      “Pot and kettle.”
      “Just what do you mean by that?”
      Marie raised her eyebrow insinuatingly.
      “Oh, sure, I see things. But that’s just after-effects of the drugs, I’m sure. I mean, acid stays in your spine,
right? It’s just flashbacks.”
      “Says who? I just like a little chemical enjoyment every once in a while.”
      “Of course.”
      “Speaking of chemicals, wasn’t Legs going to be eating with us, too? She usually does.”
      “Said something about work at mall.”
      “Legs doesn’t have a job.”
      “Yeah. Stealing or dealing.”
      “Stealing, I’d assume. I mean, the mall’s a rather public place to be conducting drug deals. She’s probably
just talking some morons out of their cash.”
      “Sometimes, I’m amazed that I can ever understand what you say.”

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All text 8 2004 R.