Acrid Smoke

 

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Nobody needs to know the truth about what happened here. They wouldn’t believe it even if we told them. Dead people were walking and talking and now they’re gone. That’s all we have to admit. Why they came back from the dead and what they were trying to accomplish is anybody’s guess. We don’t have to get all caught up in making sense of it, or explaining it to people who want to be argumentative. Lots of people get off on being contrary. That doesn’t mean we have a problem. It means they enjoy being difficult and pretending to be more intelligent than us. They aren’t.

The dead people smelled bad. It wasn’t that rotting flesh dead animal by the side of the road dumpster behind a fast food restaurant smell. It was an acrid, smoky odor that surrounded them even if the wind were blowing.

They also whined a lot. You found yourself just wanting to slap them, except you were afraid their head might fly off if you did, so you just tried to change the subject and hopefully they would forget their griping. They all seemed to want someone to fix them, to give them justice, to make them alive once more. Nobody could. They knew that, and knowing it just made them whine all the more.

A lot of us became unnerved by their sudden appearance. Now that they’re gone, we’re doing our best to get back to business as usual. Some people claim the smell hasn’t really vanished. On a humid day, you can still detect that acrid, smoky scent.

My brother is a scientist, and works at the nearby observatory the FBI closed last week. He says he can’t disclose what he knows, but insists that the dead being resurrected is somehow linked to solar flares. Beyond that he won’t say any more. He sold all his stocks and put the house on the market, even though he has no plans to move away. Even though he didn’t say so directly, I got the impression that no place is safe. Nowhere is better than here.

He’s not upset at all about the resurgence of the dead. He’s more worried about bubbles bursting, the stock market, housing prices, the value of the dollar itself. In fact, most people aren’t really that concerned about what happened. “Shit happens,” they say and move on with their lives. The thing most people found irritating was the condescending attitude the walking corpses had when they spoke to us.

It was like they were school teachers or snotty professors. Their leader was a very short woman, probably under four feet tall, who spoke as if we were all not very bright school children.

Around them we became dull and inattentive. In some ways they seemed to have more life in them than we had in us.

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