My father ripped the man’s jaw in half for talking to me. Junnie and I had just met the man the other day, I think. Time gets a little messed up in my head sometimes. Something to do with the Horn Rot.
I watched, half bored, half disgusted, but I didn’t move. You don’t really want to get involved when the men fight. I come from a family of Boars. You call the elite, fit, top of the food chain men Boars around here. You call the elite, fit, top of the food chain women…women.
We don’t really get pet names, I guess.
And you call the sick ones, the ones with the hollow horns, the ones with horns that will eventually kill them, the ones with the infected brains, the ones like me and my friend Junnie, you call us Rots.
“Oh, honey, stop it. You’ll kill him.” My mother laughed, whimsical almost, and slowly drank her beer while my father continued to pull this man’s jaw off. The other man, half his skin tearing, he didn’t even tear up. He just kept grunting. His horns were translucent. That’s a clear sign of sickness but not the same type I have.
“Ma. I don’t really feel like watching this.” My mother took another sip of her beer, her eyes slowly turning to me.
“You will, though. You brought him here to die so the least you could do is watch.” And of course I did.
The man wasn’t really trying to talk to me. Junnie was more his speed, her being the type to care about people and express emotion. I didn’t want him talking to her, though, so I’d been leading him on a bit. Getting him out of her way. You never know, maybe one day she’ll hold her head up high enough to see the Boars trying to get her attention. She thinks everyone is against us just because we’re sick. Plenty of sickos like girls they think will be weak, that they can find glory in protecting, that will bow to them. They see her horns and are more turned on than anything.
What the fuck could a big horned sick girl do other than take care of them and stay home?
I don’t want them getting in her head. Calling her pretty, making eye contact, making her think she’s in love. I get them away from her as quickly as possible. The Boar with the translucent horns, I told him to come back to my house. Get some beer. My Dad is always good for getting rid of people. I didn’t even have to introduce him or say anything. He stepped into my yard holding my hand, barely 19, and my 47-year-old dad smashed a fist into his face.
There are only two people in this country that are allowed to kill and not just maim and both of them are Boars. Both of them are Boars that put effort into protecting me. Old Bro, Junnie’s older brother, and my Dad. And they both do it pretty often. I’m not afraid of Old Bro in the least. He’s a softie and he’d never get on Junnie’s bad side by hurting me. My Dad, though? I’m the third of eight kids, four boys and four girls. I’m the only kid left. We have a garden of kids and family members my father has killed in our backyard. He makes us meditate in it every night.
“Lewish, sweetie. Why don’t you just tell Junnie you ‘like’ her?” My mother finished her beer and handed me the cup. I stared at the foam left behind. I hate people asking me questions that require real answers.
Why not just tell Junnie that I like her and watch her pull away from me? Watch her shun me? Get shunned for something other than having to wear actual patches to keep my horns from killing me?
Why not tell Junnie I like her and lose the one person in this disgusting, extra rancid country that didn’t go around maiming everything, that could hold a conversation that wasn’t about fucking or literally ripping faces off? Why not tell Junnie, one of the few other girls with Horn Rot who hadn’t lost her mind to the disease and could actually enjoy me as a living being?
“I don’t like Junnie. I’m straight.” My mother scoffed and we watched the Boar finally lose his entire lower jaw. The noise he made would stick with me.
I laughed, loud and anguished, thinking of the face Junnie would make at the scene in front of us. A bit of excitement filtered through me. I’m as much of my father as I am ashamed of it.
“Good girl. Keep the peace.”