Threshold Trials Whale

   I saw him hit – the point of contract – my eyelids kind of followed him down because that’s when I’d closed my eyes.
  “God damn it.” He still struggles. Writhing on the ground. Rolls onto his back. It was only three floors. There’s about zero I can do until he stops fighting himself, but I’m holding my breath for the shouting and screaming to start, so I start over. “God damn you, Wilbur.”
   Bloodied face, some smears on his chest. The rest of him looks, maybe surprisingly, just as filthy as always, that same dun colour, getting redder. He begins to bellow.
  “God damn you, Wilbur. Are you drunk?” The top floor is a tiny bar. He must have been inside to get onto the roof. Owners are away, I guess. “Willy, stop fucking moving!”
   On his back, elbows tucked into his side, hands in rigid fists at his waist, he arches his back and says hnng through a clenched jaw. Hnng, hnng. Goes into a convulsion.

  “You can’t go back there.”
   I’m astounded by this kid. I’m back there already. “Official business,” I say.
   The whole store wants to know what I’m up to now. They’d piled out to see Wilbur. All followed.
   Back here back here is not very attractive. I must have learned once about discipline and health code, but “Where’s the phone?” is what I say.
   He’s defiant. “Yes!” he says.
  “What?”
   I have to back up. Everyone, me included, has a phone of their own, but for a call like this, no one wants their number attached.
   But wouldn’t you know it, there’s Wilbur anyway. Now, I have my banger, and it’s a toy like everyone else’s, will throw a steel spike a short distance, but I have never used it, not on a person. So, lucky I suppose, everyone’s turned their backs on me now. They are that way an essential barrier. Then they all want to come back into the room with me. Goddamn Wilbur, up and growling. Like no one knew this was going to happen.
   They all start yelling.

Woman as the Temptress

   She looks right at me and thought she’s on the other side of the room it’s like she speaks into my ear. Hold it right there, she says.
   And I’m like, Nu-uh little sister, aren’t you the fucking whore who was after me before. Look, chastise me later and just help me the fuck out of here.
   I fully realise I am running off at the mouth, but I’m surrounded by people immobile in poses of barely abridged violence. The lights are on too, by the way, and that wasn’t true a minute ago either. AND I JUST DON’T WANT ANY OF THESE PEOPLE TOUCHING ME ANYMORE OKAY?!
   Yeah, I know you, I say, because she’s looking at me stunned. You work for Tommy Cleatus and you tried it on with even me last night!
   I’m not sure of my times any more. I don’t think it was last night. But there weren’t any days in between so what other night could it be. But a sense of dislocation remains. File that away with all the other things I’ll care about when I get outside. I heave at two of the men on top of me.
   No, she shouts. And I mean really shouts. It hurts my ears. No.
   Gun’s not working by the way. I’m aware the spike has travelled a millimeter more out of the barrel. I wave the whole thing before me and curse too. Mostly wriggle. People move like struck and then stuck. It’s bizarre. I toss the banger in frustration. When it leaves my hand it stops right where it hangs in the air.
   I am surely dreaming. And I’d say it out loud but she’s yelled again and I am not to move. I know that intellectually. I recognize her words. But they have no meaning. Not out of that half-dead face with hair floating like she’s underwater. She weaves between arms like an eel and right now, because I can’t lift any of these worthless arseholes off me, I believe my bowels may release.
   Wait, wait, wait, I tell her, hands up.
   And I really wish she would.
   But then she’s right in front of me, hanging over the top of these bodies, peering at me like I am the curious beast, and I really don’t think I have those dead eyes that she has.
   She softens.
   No, no, I say, because really I can’t do anything other than beg.