Saturday, April 25, 2009

Calvin, a Short Story

I found this short story on my computer; something I had written in high school.


Yeah, it's got some blood and guts sort of stuff in it. But I forgot about it and think it might actually have some slight merit, although it rather smacks one in the face. And no, it has no autobiographical elements; it was an exercise in my early creative writing. Here it is:


A Short Story

“Calvin, kiss your mother goodbye.” He was much too sophisticated for such things, so he left, pretending not to hear his father’s insistent call. Calvin had long found his mother annoying, and made this apparent whenever he saw her, generally becoming in his own right a nuisance. He could not find anything to like about her, and their falling out had to do with this.

The specific issue Calvin found least gratifying to bring up in her presence was God. He hated the idea – why would such a loving and all-powerful God allow suffering to occur? Especially today! With neutron bombs and all sorts of diseases that could eat the skin off people… it was too horrible to even imagine, let alone consider releasing it into the world. How could anyone truly and seriously, with a straight face, say that they believed that some dirty, stupid Jew from two-thousand years ago was the all-poweful God? This same Jew who died on a cross, who died because nobody really cared whether he lived or not, who died alongside two criminals – how could anyone believe he knew something we didn’t? Because he “rose again?” An empty tomb proves anything, of course; it even might prove that whole system of theology that has existed forever in the Catholic Church! Maybe someone someday will finally realize that the apostles could just have easily removed the body with little or no trouble!

What a waste of time and effort! When he was younger, he had almost bought into what his mother kept foisting on him since he was a child; that was, until he finally was able to realize the truth. When he was younger, he had even thought of becoming a priest! To think! He had grand dreams of offering the “mystical sacrifice of Calvalry,” and grandiose dreams of living just like his mother’s beloved Saint Francis. Now, he saw these to be pipedreams – dreams invented to pressure him to become another mindless goon of that Church his mother so loved. But he knew better! At his fifteenth birthday, his dreams were shattered – the party had to be canceled due to the declaration of war on the Grand Caliph’s forces.

Before he had known of it, his uncle and older brother had been sent to Europe to fight against the invading forces of the Caliph; fighting, like his mother, for their God. Now, of course, they had been dead for the past five years – as dead as the other three million soldiers who now could not even find room to be buried in their native soil, their corpses being shipped into the graveyards, lying festering upon the bare earth because they could not even make communal graves large enough to fit all the bodies. The Mass-saying industry was another instance of the Church hypocrisy throughout the whole time – people paid the priest’s confraternities to say series of Masses for the souls of those who had died.

The priests made a pretty penny in the matter, with three or so million dead men; the damned priests! How he hated them! Notwithstanding that he had wanted to be one – everyone he knew had! His mother could think of no greater goal in her life than to see her son give his life in either the service of the altar or the service of the air force.

He could not stop crying earlier as his parent’s had placed him in the shelter – nor could they at the time. He knew his mother was reading a book, sitting outside of the shelter in her favorite chair, as his father was pacing in the study. His sister – who could tell? He began to flip the panel half-heartedly, the small neat switches mocking him from their safe place. “Calvin, would you like to play a game?” the computer asked him. “Maybe later,” Calvin replied. He had nearly finished all the switches before he just leaned back into the pill shaped shelter. “More like a coffin, a place to die,” Calvin thought. But he also then remembered that wombs quite often resembled the tomb. “Well,” thought Calvin, “I suppose we all just live to die.” He sat back awaiting the impact of the first bomb when he heard the voice –

“Calvin, kiss your mother goodbye.” His mother’s voice was barely audible outside the barrier between himself and certain death; he could not explain how he could hear it – he just knew that it happened. He had not even tripped the locking mechanism, and the door soon opened slowly, with his mother holding up the hatch. He climbed out into the room, just as the bright flash – brighter than the sun – brighter than anything he had ever seen – enveloped him. After that point, there should have been no talk of seeing or hearing anything.

The lights were the first to go out – “Stupid electric company…” Jenny whispered as she held her dolls in her arms, standing at the foot of the shelter – “How many times have I called,” said Dad as he entered the room in his bathrobe, his hands shaking, a portend before the quake. At this, Calvin turned just in time to see his mother collapse on the floor, most of her skin melting off into a bloody pile, which reminded Calvin of the first time he had seen a slaughterhouse – on a trip to upstate – after which Calvin was unable to get the screaming of the animals out of his mind, until his parents had helped him overcome that fear.

Jenny was sitting in the corner, playing with her dolls. She dropped one on the floor – or, as it could be said, lost control of one hand first, letting the doll drop, along with what formerly used to be her arm. Jenny could not even cry at this point, her eyes were gone as well, but her last words still came gasping out as she reached with her still intact arm and now less than perfect arm – “Mommy!”

Calvin hardly noticed that he was now on the ground – prone – his skin flowing onto the floor, forming a pool on his left. His mother had come closer, but as he looked to his left, his father was unable to move – being impelled by his lack of feet and arms to remain where he was – still shaking though, but now his whole body and not just his hands. It was at the moment his mother touched him – he couldn’t feel it of course, but he knew it – that his brain liquefied. Even after this had happened, he could still feel his mother’s burnt and bleeding lips touching to his as his broken body lay on the floor at 53 Harrow Drive. “Calvin kissed them goodbye,” he thought with his last breath, “and maybe all of this was here for that kiss.”

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