The man at my desk begins with a letter, reveling in something which may not end. Our typewriter sits in the corner, collecting dust, while I sit in another. There is one of us trembling, oddly grinning while the other twirls. Jagged expression fills the spaces between us. Bemusement sculpts my thoughts as I watch a slitted vein coalesce between his eyes.
The letter opener he grips will shiver as he tears open the note. I repress my urge to fabricate, to look over his shoulder. To do so is to grip his fingers strangely while he reads aloud his soundless words.
The man in the letter will lay some claim, however fragile, to knowing but one of the both of us. And so I panic when I fail to recognize that author’s name, but hide it well. So must the man at my desk, no longer at the desk, who goes about his business in spite of what fills the room. Rot.
One of us follows the other into the breakfast nook, where a plate from the night before rests beneath a half-eaten loaf of bread. The sour, dry sensation filling my mouth is the unwelcome rendering of something that I’ve already forgotten, as I stop the man from picking up his knife. He insists that it’s for the butter, but its serrated edge tells me otherwise.
Relinquishing beneath the pressure of my glare, we gaze out the window together. He begins to insist that our gardener is stealing our peaches but I pretend not to believe him, with that passive hostility I’m known to express. Eyes widening, he jabs my finger furiously upon the glass pane, smudging it on one side as something jabs back from the other. But it’s not a gardener, I’m prone to point out, as I open the door.
“These three misfits.” That chant resonates through the deserted strip mall as we traverse it later that afternoon. My skin burns as one of them ruptures the scabs beneath my cardigan, with a grip which once again tiptoes towards violence. His slurred mutterings peel off as he drifts towards a department store mannequin, cast aside beneath a plastic palm tree. We watch with distasteful glee as its head tears from the socket.
I’m somewhat conscious of my own violent fetish, for pale faceless features on porcelain, as we reluctantly beg him to stop.
By the time he’s finished, we’ve disappeared beneath the blue-tarped canopy beside the abandoned food court. Sitting beneath the flickering shambles of a smoothie station, we watch, helpless, as another approaches, engraved with the unmistakable look of someone tormented by fiercer iterations.
It announces its allegiance with us, with misplaced bravado. Obviously we kill it, tethering what’s left of the body behind the chain of a fast food counter. Still. It smiles as we leave.
I’m still not entirely sure which of us pointed out those stairs. Or which of us expressed apprehension at the thought of going down, or which of us insisted that I or he stop acting like a –
– Desperately I grip my butter knife