by Anthony J. Rapino
“Oh, Jesus, God. Not again.”
Martin Raft sat up and rubbed his eyes, bringing the blurry surroundings to a crisp finish. His girlfriend, Naomi, would have called it a real plasma-quality day.
Plasma-quality, because the forest was clear and bright. Day, because Raft had blacked out through the night again.
The sun, though filtered through most of the trees, fell unaffected on a small clearing ahead. Raft saw something past some fallen branches.
“Don’t do it, Marty,” he mumbled. “You don’t have to look.” But he knew better. He had to take stock. Keep an accurate count, for judgment.
He stood and stepped forward. “Why can’t life go back to the way it used to be?”
He answered himself in place of Naomi. “Because used to be isn’t a place I can visit.”
Naomi of course couldn’t answer, because she was also a used to be. Raft had made sure of that.
He reached into his pocket and retrieved a small notepad. He flipped past pages filled with scribbled notes: Young boy: ~13. Infected, deported. Woman: late 40’s. Infected, deported. Naomi: Infected. Deported.
Infected, because that’s what those sick fuck officials called it. Deported, because Raft needed his own euphemism to counter the government’s.
In the clearing, the sun’s rays dropped over his shoulders like a blanket.
Raft took stock.
Man: late 30’s. Infected. Deported.
Woman: early 20’s. Raft paused. Something moved. He bent, put a shaking hand out, and then withdrew.
He wrote, Pregnant. Infected.