It's Almost Like a Vacuum by Ian Moore

It was snowing. The river had become frozen stiff, with each stick, stump or bush protruding like a rib through skin. On the west side lay a barn, dark and gray, where two men, maybe in their mid-fifties, stood bundled in thick coats of wool and anchored by sturdy boots capped with steel.From a distance, one man appeared a limbless figure next to the gray wood.

It was his coat, a faded tone of weathered charcoal, and his hands, always hidden in the pockets of his tan pants; but his lips gestured rapidly, about something the other man, whose name was Roderick but whose wife called him Roger, couldn't make out. The first man memorized the license plate numbers of each car that eased through the dirt path they both lived on, his mind forming odd and useless mathematical computations with each set of numbers and letters.

Roger saw there was mud at his feet; now a thick sludge. His coat, the color of blood, was clean and thick like his plush, black gloves.

“Roger, are you listening?” Roger looked up. “I'm saying Plutonium may seep in from the fall out. Into the water... and, by gully, you better watch it—those chickens, they'll come home alright. And then they'll fricken die,” the man's speech was like a trawling line frozen in the river; the words, a heavy mist, thick fog curling up to glue his tongue to the inside of his teeth.

Roger nodded, “Huh, you might be right.” The first man kept talking, and Roger thought the world seemed so flat; not just the landscape, he realized, but even the sounds appeared flat, just dead, no pulse under all that whiteness. His glance shifted to the house. His wife, whose name was Julie and whom he called Julie, was supposed to be baking an apple pie.

Turning back to the man, Roger pictured him naked, then dismembered; and then the man's funeral: an empty room, an indolent air, a sad service; maybe a few mourners,—and this worried Roger because, he concluded, all sound may eventually die. He didn't mind sound, nor people talking; they were almost a narrative for his life.

He pictured his own funeral; maybe his wife would cry a little, near dark curtains and half dead flowers;—no damn white ones, he shook the idea loose;—red, get something definite in there. And the coffin: maple or oak? He hoped they could get oak.

Nibbling the inside of his cheek, he was trying to hold on, but funerals, silence, all this snow; it was just a straight line, it was just so god damn FLAT. Then there was his wife buried in the back yard, then himself.

Roger pointed his feet towards the house, hesitated, swayed back and turned, finally committing.

“I'm going on in,” he said. “My wife makes an apple pie that's to die for.”

Ian Moore is 27 years of age, somewhat employable and currently a Journalist, but only by accident. His first story, Bedroom Conversations, will appear online next month through Underground Voices.