The Big ‘Three Oh’. (Day 233)
The man sits on a small wooden stool in a room that has spent too many days, weeks, maybe months without real heat. He has a small fire burning in a small, circular, rusty sweets tin that warms his hands and his hands alone.
He hears the banging, a constant, endless banging but ignores it. It’s been going on for days. He’s used to it.
The house has no heat, no food, no clean water. He hasn’t bathed properly for a while. Again, the details are hazy but it wasn’t recent. There is a river that runs a few miles away that he uses when he needs to. This winter is particularly cold so the thought of plunging into the frigid water isn’t a pleasant one. His beard is longer than he has ever had it and so is his hair. Toothpaste is a luxury he has not been able to track down.
Today he’s pensive. Thoughtful even. See, today is his thirtieth birthday. A week ago he would have had no idea but he happened to come across a rain soaked and soggy calendar. It was last years with a picture of a Red Bull racing car screeching around a corner but from it, combined with the notches he has drawn onto his living room wall, he was able to work out the day.
There or thereabouts anyway.
The banging continues. Non-stop. No break.
When he was a boy he used to wonder about this day. The big three oh. What would he be? Where would he be? Would he be married? Have kids?
He sighs and goes back to his work. In front of him he has set up a wooden table. Not large but large enough for his use. He remembers when he bought it. When they bought it. It was when they first moved in to the place and had an Ikea gift card as a moving in present from his brother in law.
The knives were also a present.
As it turned out he was married. To a wonderful, beautiful woman. No kids though.
Thank God, he thinks now.
The banging is constant. Rhythmic almost, tribal.
He turns to look at the door in the corner of the room, just a glance, just for a second. It vibrates with each bang, bang, bang.
He turns back to the table and continues the sharpening of two meat cleavers. He holds them up one at a time, inspecting them. They glint in the cold morning’s light and look as sharp as the Death’s own scythe.
Was married? He thinks. Technically he still is married. He still loves her. He places the cleavers down on the table and his body slumps for a moment of pure sadness, utter despair.
With a deep breath he rises and turns to the vibrating door.
Bang, bang, bang.
He stretches his back. He used to be a lot fitter, a lot healthier. These last few months have been tough. The change in seasons and the change in… He exhales quickly at the thought.
He picks a meat cleaver, tests its weight in his gloved right hand. With his left hand he picks up a rope that runs along the floor to the door where the other end is tied to a strong metal bar that has been wedged against the door to stop it opening.
He pauses, looking at the door.
Closes his eyes. He’s not or ever has been a religious man. How can he be? Especially now but he says a prayer regardless. He asks for forgiveness. For him, for his wife.
He always will love her.
The man opens his eyes and pulls the rope hard. The wedged metal bar flies away free from the door with a loud vibrating clang. In one fluid movement he drops the rope and turns to the table to grab the other cleaver.
The door bursts open.
A screaming woman charges him. She’s bleeding, she’s foaming at the mouth, she’s grunting, Pure, murderous, unintelligible rage in tight blue denim jeans and a red soaked white ‘Top Shop’ t-shirt.
He spins towards her, facing her, a cleaver in each of his cold bitten hands. He raises both arms above his head and waits. She only has eyes for him. Running, no, sprinting at him, paying no heed to the various bottles and cans that line the floor. As she gets closer he brings both cleavers down in a violent, clinical ‘V’.
Blood sprays from each side of her neck.
The woman drops to the ground. Her body spasms and then lies still.
The man looks at the almost beheaded corpse on the floor and slumps to his knees. He holds her. Hugs her. Starts to shake and cry.
He will always love her.
No kids. Thank God.
The man screams her name. Her contaminated blood streaks his face.
Today was his thirtieth birthday. The big three oh.
This is what he has become. What everyone has become now.
Those that remain are the lonely ones.
The lonely ones are those that remain…