“A Quiet Day”

A drone sidled its way down from the cumulus assemblages with curious casualness, one day, after the apocalypse. The people had all fled for the seas, which were salty and piping hot. The enterprise was completely still.

The drone made its way to one of the old stockyards. It couldn’t feel it but the ghosts of the animals flooded the landscape, making deafening, silent noise with their stead and forming the only song anybody could sing, or hear, had they the ability to be present.

The drone ambled its way to one of the manufacturing facilities, in which still stood nine-foot-high boxes that had contained flesh, bones and hair. Other boxes had contained documents — mostly records of transactions. They were all records of transactions. In the last days, that had been the only possible human initiative. The documents piled up. They were white, black, blank and angry. And the silhouette of the last human seemed to linger in the air — a loud, panicked man prone to meanness and senseless outbursts, saddled with this obligation that had been life on planet Earth.

The drone mitigated its way into one of the chemical laboratories. Everything was clean. It was defiantly, antipathetically clean, like a domicile for killing germs, killing livestock and killing anything else that should have entered, which, eventually, of course, had succeeded. With blank, purposefully ignorant faces, men had created concoctions. They had worshipped the enterprise of production, out of obligation, their alarm clocks whipping them in the morning like livestock into routine misery, with the fear of failure spurring them as they sipped their instant coffee.

Around the year 3442, or so, organized sound waves had attempted to penetrate the enterprise. All about the premises, a multitude of dins could be audible like saws cutting into bone, giant machines mixing chemicals of hormones and preservative solutions, giant trucks with air brakes stopping and starting, and men yelling. The women would typically stand, squat, rotund, completely silent, in uniform, faceless, overseeing the proceedings with an adopted, ambitious involvement in them.

When organized sound waves attempted to infiltrate the enterprise, everyone entered a panic. One man began bleeding from the ears. Others fell down, screaming in misery, clutching livers, pancreases, ventricles, muscles. Eventually the superintendent was called in, who released a systematic, measured peal of nerve gas throughout the entire campus. There were a couple of fatalities. A state of emergency was declared and the White House sent a platoon of EMS. Cots were placed throughout the territory. Some men were sleeping next to animals. The animals accepted their small space with quiet, untraceable modesty, just wondering about this life, wondering about the next one, wondering about the sun, why it burned so bright, and wondering about the night, why it hovered so beautifully and why these upright creatures were so inept in perceiving and embracing its beauty.

The double quarantine was lifted, eventually, a couple of days late, and the men went back to work, more panicked, angry and faux-glib than ever, the women standing squat, glaring at delivery drivers, soft and sullen, accepting of their roles as existential subservients. In their heads were myriads and droves of drugs — narcotics, opioids, various substances to get someone through pregnancy and through the workday. In their minds were Medicaid vouchers, baby showers, vice, TV and the aural essences of their own voices. And time moved on, like a song, like the cinematic spectacle of a saw cutting bone, of waiting, of blood turning bacterial on a miscellaneous day.

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