XCI | Something Dead

Where am I?
Where am I?
Where am I?


Tammie’s head tilts again—

with a loud creak,

to the opposite side.

There’s nothing
but pain.

I feel every broken bone,
every bruise,
every bleeding cut.

I fall,
legs giving way,

my lower body

absorbing the impact
of the wooden floor.

It rings in my ears

like the whining siren.

Where am I?
Where am I?

‘Not Tammie…’

I’m crawling backwards,

the rotting smell
more pungent

as the heat
of the fire seeps in,

burning away the cold.

It’s the smell of flesh.

The smell of the dying.

But the Tammie
sitting on the bed

with glowing eyes and apologetic smile,

is alive.

I touched her all over.

I remember
every inch
of her skin.

It’s her.

It has to be.

What’s going on?


The back of my head
bumps into another wooden surface.

Another cupboard.

I press against it,
haul myself up.

Wincing through the pain.

Ready to run
if that Tammie

lunges at me.

I open that cupboard,
thinking I could hide inside
if I’m attacked.



fall out.

And another humanoid lump remains.

It’s hard.
Curled up tight.

I focus my eyes
to make out

what it is.

Away from the glowing grey eyes,

everything’s dark,
hard to make out.



I pull the person out.

The smell of rotting flesh
billows and fills my mouth.

I fall again,

hands reaching out
to break my fall.

My wrist starts burning.

My body is
lurching forward

to vomit blood.

The thing
leaves an imprint

in my mind.

I see maggots
in the holes where eyes should have been,
the imprint of my hand

on the decomposing body.

A cry rips through
my throat.

The whining siren comes to mind.

I don’t want to see it again
but I need to,

I need to know
if it’s Tammie or not.

No, no, no.

I take in the features—
the stench overwhelms me,

blinds me,

I wipe my face
with my throbbing hand.

Focus, Fiona, focus.

(The Tammie with glowing eyes
is still smiling apologetically.)

I take in the silhouette,
the corpse’s physique,

the extra rotting mound between the legs.

Not Tammie.

Too much flesh.
Too tall.

Not Tammie.


Where am I?
Where am I?
Where am I?



I recall a name.

A fuzzy memory,
a familiar face

that doesn’t match
the thing in front of me.



Sweat trickles

down my spine.

(Maybe it’s a chill,
it doesn’t matter.)

I’m limping

to the next cupboard

and pulling out

the leotards within.

A dead body.

Not Tammie.




To the next cupboard.

Pulling out

the leotards.

Another one.

Not Tammie.




To the next cupboard.

Pulling out

the leotards.

Another one.

Not Tammie.




To the next cupboard.

Under the leotards.

Dead body after

dead body after

dead body.

But not Tammie.






Li Wen.






I’m pulling leotards out
of another cupboard.

There’s no one else it could be.




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