Xombie Xing: Chapter 14

Death scared Kris, but people’s reactions to it frightened him more.

He sat on the Jamar’s in-laws’ florescent couch, ticking off the minutes as best he could without the use of a working watch. By his count, Sky and Jamar had been in the basement for half an hour now. Every few minutes, Kris heard the sound of Jamar smashing another object in his grieving rage.

Arthur strolled into the living room, his arms full of food he’d just raided from the pantries and fridge. “Here,” he said, tossing a bag of chips onto Kris’s lap.

“I-I don’t think we should take this.”

“Why not?” Arthur bit into a Twinkie. “It’s not like anyone here has any use for it. Kreesu is dead, and her parents aren’t here, that’s for sure.”

“It’s, uh, ‘Kurisu,’” Kris corrected him.

“Huh?”

“Nevermind.”

“Just eat, kid. Gotta take food where you can. But save some for Sky and Jamar.”

With nothing else to do, Kris obeyed. Moments later he heard the heavy steps of Jamar and Sky’s lighter ones as they ascended the basement stairs.

Jamar entered the living room, his gun hanging limp beside him. His bloodshot eyes looked only at the floor. “Didja find her parents?” he asked the carpet.

“No such luck,” Mr. Caldwell replied.

Jamar nodded. His movements were slow and solemn. He sniffed and rubbed his nose with his wrist. “We bury her, and then we’ll go to Indiana.” With that, he started heading upstairs.

“Wait a minute!” Arthur called. As he stood the foodstuffs in his lap spilled onto the floor and couch. “You don’t wanna see what’s up there.”

That gave Jamar pause. He looked to Sky.

“We’ll bury her,” Sky suggested. “And, uh, we’ll have a service for her. Does that sound okay?”

Jamar nodded again. He descended the steps and sat on the couch across from Kris, seemingly not realizing he was crushing Arthur’s stolen food into his in-laws’ couch with his weight. The three of them left him there with his thoughts.

“Where is she?” Sky asked when they got to the second floor. Arthur led her and Kris to the bathroom. He crossed his arms and jerked his head toward the tub.

Sky stepped in and recoiled back into the hallway immediately, her hand over her mouth. “Oh, my God,” she muttered into her fist.

“Let’s get this over with,” Arthur said with a sigh.

As they drained the tub and Kurisu’s naked body became exposed, her pale flesh dyed with the red sheen of blood, Kris quickly lost his nerve. “Um, I’m gonna go dig a hole. With Jamar. For her body.”

Sky nodded, and Kris flew down the stairs, thankful to be away from such a gruesome sight. He found Jamar still sitting on the couch, his head in his hands.

“How she look?” he asked without lifting his head.

“Um…” Kris’s mind raced. He had no idea what to say.

“That bad, huh?” Jamar asked. He dropped his hands and gave a sad, fleeting smile. “I shoulda known this happened.” He sniffed and rubbed the wetness away from his eyes.

“Y-you really loved her,” Kris said, cringing at the observation of something so obvious.

Jamar nodded. “I did.” Finally, he looked at Kris. “They don’t need your help up there?”

“I, um, offered to dig the hole.”

“I’ll help.”

Jamar led Kris through the house and into the garage. In the back corner they found two rusty shovels. They walked into the backyard and started digging without another word.

The sun hung low in the sky by the time they finished digging. Kris stared at the Chicago skyline to the east and felt like he was in Rosemont again, only closer. The neighborhood was tranquil and quiet, silent enough to cast chills down his spine.

Sky came out the back patio door first, her hands damp and stained the lightest pink. She looked defeated, drained, hopeless. Arthur followed next, Kurisu in his arms. Jamar turned his head instantly, and Sky put a hand on his shoulder, right on the octopus’s head. Kris couldn’t turn away. Kurisu was beautiful. Sky had styled her hair like it had been in the picture. Her ink black locks billowed in the summer breeze, as did the perfectly white sundress she wore.

“Gimme a hand, Kris,” Arthur said when he stopped by the hole. Kris jumped inside and slowly, carefully, they lowered Kurisu’s body into the earth. They laid her with her hands folded atop her stomach. She looked peaceful.

Kris climbed out and removed his trucker hat. Even Arthur pulled off his beret. They stood waiting for Jamar to say something, to turn and face his dead wife and come to terms with it.

“I can’t do this,” he finally whispered to Sky, still loud enough for all to hear. “We were supposed to have a future together, a family. Why would she kill herself? I just don’t understand.”

“Don’t think for a second that she didn’t love you,” Sky said. “We’ll never know her reasons, but we don’t have to. The bond you two shared was real, and it’ll last past death.”

Jamar nodded, and his sobs subsided. “Yeah. You’re right.”

Finally, he turned and looked at his dead wife, and a look of shock immediately crossed his face. “The fuck?” he muttered under his breath.

“Jamar?” Sky said. “What is it?” She reached out to touch him, but he was already gone, into the hole.

Jamar held Kurisu by the jaw and turned her head. He hesitated before moving her hair away from her neck. Seeing it was bare, he sat back in disbelief. “That’s not my wife.”

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