“There is no death in this wood, there is only permanence…”
“It’s fun to pretend to be insane,” Howie casually affirms to himself as he takes his first step onto Rosebud Avenue.
This is where Howie thinks the Zoning Department of Wuester got a little screwy wit’ it – Rosebud Avenue, accessible only by going down sleepy Maple Street where all the old folks l–… lived, spawns no less than three more backroads: Jhesing Road, Condor Lane, and Vhykus Path, the latter being Howie’s ultimate destination, the list at large being backstreets lined with burned houses which no longer harbor infestations of human beings. To make matters worse, Rosebud’ll bring one to both Jhesing and Vhykus but not to Condor; to get onto Condor, which is just a shitty hill like Jhesing, one has either climb all the way to the top of Jhesing or follow Rosebud around its ninety-degree turn where it eventually connects to the back end of Vhykus, which will take one to the bottom of Condor. Vhykus is like a 7, that image sticks out clearly to Howie’s mind’s eye, he can picture it better than he can see his surroundings. On the outside everything is gray and dirty, just gray and murky and awful. On the inside reality is pure and Howie’s street looks like a number 7. The number 7 will save Howie’s soul.
“Please God,” Howie prays to himself as the anxiety works a not unnoticeable tremble into his legs, “please let me get home. Let me find Yahn, let me get Roscoe. Please, Lord… please. Don’t let this be a waste of effort. I almost died, God.” He pauses to swallow. It hurts. “I almost died.”
Howie looks up from his boots to find himself in the middle of Rosebud’s grand stretch. There are houses on either side of him now, big intact houses. He could go into one of them, dig around for supplies. Maybe find some scared survivors who weren’t yet ballsy enough to go out into the silent Hell of it all. Maybe find the remains of those who were ballsy enough and try on their jackets.
The sign for Maple Street is no longer present when Howie suddenly whips his head back to look behind him. The sign for Jhesing Road isn’t in front of him when he looks hastily back ahead. Exactly how it should be.
“I’ll take Jhesing onto Condor and zip up Vhykus that way,” Howie conspires with himself. “I’m on the bend. The world is gray but I know I’m on the bend of the seven, and taking Rosebud all the way around would take way too long.”
Howie walks on at a slightly brisker pace. His breath keeps up.
Down the silent Rosebud he trudges, the sound of his olid breath carrying his other senses away long before he can smell it.
“Unless there’s debris in the road, or some trees that reach over the road that I’m not thinking of.”
Howie keeps on walking, but his stride relaxes.
“Or power lines. That would be pretty awful.”
“Not disabling.” A breath. “Just irritating.”
“At least it wouldn’t last.”
Howie looks up and sees a familiar metal post with an iconic green bar sticking awkwardly off to the side at its top.
The street sign, caked with ash, neither confirms nor denies Howie’s interpretation of its message.
“Very well,” he says, crossing over Rosebud from its middle. “And now we come to find a blockade. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest. Would you, Yahn?” He stops at the edge of the road. One more footfall will bring him that much closer to home.
“You ready for me, Yahn?!” Howie shouts, his hands cupped around his mouth. “Are you ready, you pissy little twink?! Daddy’s comin’ home!”
Howie McGee sprints down the open road before him, leaving Rosebud Avenue to go unwalked until later in the night when a lone human, attracted by the sound of fresh pain, ventures through the remains of the ashfall Howie almost died in and comes to the road’s back end.
Hello Commons, this has been the sixth subchapter of the second chapter of Flowers, a novel about a man who smokes the last of his pot.
Flowers is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Flowers is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Flowers and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~