Night of Fire and Glass
by Justin Bendell
The freaks are out again tonight. I hear them howling. I hear branches cracking off trees.
There were out last night, too. It has been warm and heat draws them to the streets. It’s been like this since the war, or since the raids, but really it started with the slave ships.
There they go again. The screams. I think of looking out the window, but it’s best not to draw attention. They look to maim, and they don’t care who you were when jobs meant a thing. Last week, Ben went out to challenge a man tearing out his garden and got his gut split open like a sack of rice.
The hospitals keeping running out. Supplies come by medical chopper but the freaks overpower the guards and steal the meds and needles.
The glass was always half full. That’s how I thought it best to describe out short time on Earth, but that glass is getting damn small, and half full ain’t much more than a thimble’s worth, and I’m really beginning to think it’s time to make a run for it.
But where? If we make it out of the city core the cameras in the ring will spot us; if we make it to the desert the drones will identify us; so that, when we arrive to a new locale, we will be expected, and there are few places a black man and a white woman can go these days without fear of blades and bullets.
It’s like the old days, my grandfather’s days, as if things ever changed, they say. But I’m telling you, they did. We were moving in the right —
Someone is knocking at the door.
No one knocks anymore. They hammer, they hit, they maim. Knocking is an artifact.
My wife sits in the dining room, candlelit, watching the door.
The knock comes again. Shave and a haircut.
She whispers. I can’t hear her.
No one knocks these days, not at night.
I move toward the door. I am holding a blade, a kitchen blade. Seems I’m always holding it.
I hear screams in the night. I hear glass shatter up the street. I know there are fires. These are the nights of fire and glass. These are the nights of vengeance, of retaliation for all that moving forward, nights to cull the days.
If I open the door and there are men there, we will die.
But what if it is not men. What if it is my sister? What if it is Ben? What must I sacrifice to protect myself?
But I can’t ask for a name. If it is men and they hear my voice, it will make them mad with desire, the desire that grows in mobs like a cancer cell.
I look to my wife. I see a face full of fear and certainty and hope and sadness and hope and hope and hope and
I open the door.
Bio: Justin Bendell lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His stories and poems have appeared in Meridian, 3:AM Magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and others. He edits the nascent Manzano Mountain Review.