The Cruel And Infinite Universe

Something wasn’t right from the moment he pulled in the driveway. It’s that sense that he had, that all of them had — family. Family was to be protected…. so what happened?

In the front door, and he could smell the blood and he set down the groceries and pulled out his gun, his heartbeat already in his ears, drowning out everything except the idea of breath, footsteps, and the hearts he had to stop.

Past the entryway, through the kitchen, and he saw the first body, viciously hacked to pieces with kitchen knives; they had bought a new set upon rediscovering the joy of cooking.

Blood all over the floor, handprints smeared down the hallway.

The next was at the end of the hall before the nursery, and the third just inside the doorway, crumpled over, curled in a dark pool that wasn’t even sticky yet.

The crib was tipped over, lace bloody, ripped, pillows thrown.

Everything hung with an air of stillness and silence as though it were only a photograph. He lifted his eyes and looked to the corner, where he could hear a whuffling breath, quiet, wet. A trail of blood dragged across the floor, ending against the walls — She lay with her legs sprawled, useless, bloody wounds at her back, her spine perforated, leaving her a broken doll.

Thin arms curled around the little one… It was so still, pressed against her, its face buried there, bright blue eyes hidden, black curls sticky with cooling blood from a hand that rested against small back and shoulders, wanting to protect. She looked up at him, and only waited.

There is no sound for grief; people think it comes in tears, screams, shouts, sobs — those are only the clothing grief may wear when it flings itself into the public to be seen and felt, to show, to express, to connect.

Naked grief is silent and hollow; not even the whispers of hiccuped breaths can touch it.

He held the gun tightly in one hand, and lifted the child into his arms, tucking her against his chest. She too, is quiet, trusting enough.

A teddy, a blanket, the carseat. His guns, his go bag.

The child.

The gasoline.

He leaves her only long enough to light the matches, and walks out feeling the heat at his back.

He leaves a slow tower of smoky black behind and never once looks over his shoulder as it grows larger — and smaller — in the distance.

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