Chapter Four: IT Follows
Other than the door and window it was the same old office, with Michael's same old original flavor pheromones. The smell of them used to inspire a warm, melting feeling in me but now only made me gag as I remembered the sight of his throat when I sliced it open two days ago. I didn't regret doing it, though. Michael's screensaver bounced around solemnly on his ancient monitor. The desk was rebar or some shit and the chair looked like a training potty on wheels. It was some real tasteless and unsexy 21st century decor.
The sudden sound of plastic banging against metal assaulted my ears. It was Stanley at the door, hitting his keyboard against the bars, his face red and his hair slick with sweat. Keys were flying off in every direction; the enter key ricocheted against my forehead as I stared at his uncharacteristic display of emotion.
"Why did you do it, Riese?" he screamed hoarsely, "Why did you do it, you bitch?!"
"What option did you leave me, Stanley? Was I supposed to let you and Michael do to me what you did to Joyce?"
"You leave her out of it!" he barked, throwing the snapped and mangled keyboard away. He sank to the floor, exhausted. Now that he was level with me I could see the tears cutting their paths down his face, across his hot and blotchy skin. Stanley was normally an even-tempered man, careful with his words and understated in his appearance. The man before me was a red pulsating mass of flesh beneath a dress shirt and black slacks. I looked at his slick black hair and gaping mouth but saw no signs of eyes behind the foggy lenses of his glasses. This had a chilling effect beneath the fluorescent glow of the office lights.
"Anyway..." he paused, then continued, "...that wouldn't have happened to you. Michael loved you. All he wanted was the same thing I wanted for Joyce. For you to realize your potential."
"As fucking IT?!" I yelled at him before I could stop myself.
"Yeah. I mean, what's wrong with information technology?"
"Well, I guess I really just hate it."
"Well, you're smart. Don't you think it's a waste of your talent and resources to focus on this shit with everything going on in the world?"
"What we're doing is important, Riese. The work we're doing now with integrating digital solutions to modern paradigms is going to have huge ramifications on the efficiency of data processing when society is rebuilt."
"Wait... when society gets rebuilt? When is that happening?"
"Oh, we're the ones that are going to do that. You, me, Jeremy, and the lovely folks we're working for now."
"How?" I asked.
"Oh, you know... eugenics, basically."
"Yeah I mean that's pretty much what it is. I don't feel the need to couch that particular statement in more acceptable language." Stanley noted with an awkward shrug. He then straightened himself on the floor and adjusted his tie. "Wait... you didn't know that's what we were doing?"
"Then why the hell did you kill Michael?"
"Because he wanted me to do unpaid IT work."
Stanley got up off the floor and regarded me still criss-cross-applesauce-ing on the carpet like a gifted preschooler. He gave me the same look Michael used to give me when I was with him- a mixture of disgust and appreciation.
When I was alone I toppled backwards and laid splayed out on the floor, my hands tugging at the carpet fibers as I listened to the steady ticking of the clock and watched Michael's screensaver bounce around his screen again. He had changed it to a picture of the two of us from a few months ago. His hand was at my hip and my lips were pressed against his cheek. He had that big goofy grin which was hard not to smile at even now. A grin that lead me to excuse a lot of what my therapist had once called "toxic behavior". Soon I was lost in my recollections of Michael, and of those halcyon days of heterosexuality.