Jared poured the gasoline into the small hole at the top of the lawn mower, closed the cap over top of it, and pulled the ripcord until the little engine sprung to life. Then he whipped out his headphones and stuck them into his ears, selecting his favorite track, “White Wedding” by Billy Idol. He mowed away, looking at Jim’s house at the other side of the street. The front-yard of his house was a crisp yellow and not cared for well, or at all really. He wondered when Jim would get on that.
Then Jared peered at Alex and Katherine’s house just beside his, and wondered how their baby was doing. He didn’t really know why he wondered such things, but everytime he came out to mow the lawn, he just did. He pondered on what Stephen might be doing over the weekend, or how well Tim did on his math test just down the street (he was homeschooled).
After a half hour of work, Jared finally smelled dinner cooked and ready. It was always ready on time for when he finished mowing the lawn. He walked inside, and dished himself out a heaping pile of meat-loaf, his favorite dish - though there wasn’t any tomato paste left. Jared pushed open the screen door to the back-yard and stepped into the blaring sunlight once again.
He took a seat next to his father on the porch and set his plate on the table, taking refuge from the heat under the umbrella. They all smiled and laughed, joking about. Jared felt warm in his family’s embrace, listening to his dumb little brother talk about how he beat his best killstreak in Call of Duty, and his mother go on and on about how heart-breaking the last Grey’s Anatomy was the night before while his father nodded, pretending to listen.
He sat there, silent as he always was, stabbing his dinner with his fork. He took a bite, swallowing the rough bits with a swig of water. It tasted awful, but he loved it - there was nothing like mom’s meatloaf. Everyone else ate until they were about half-way through their food, and then his mother asked “So why the F in math class Jared?”
There came no response. “Don’t ignore me.” Jared felt some-what angered, what with his mother ruining a perfectly fine dinner with such a question. His father and brother froze in their positions, then leaned back into their chairs, bracing for an argument. “Education doesn’t matter mom, and you know it.”
His mother was furious at this statement, quickly snapping back with, “Why doesn’t education matter, huh?” Jared sided with reticence. “Come on, why doesn’t education matter?”
“You know why it doesn’t matter mom!”
“Why not, hm? There has to be a reason.”
“Don’t make me say it, you know why!”
The others didn’t say anything in anyone’s defence. His mother had this look on her face, one of extreme anger, like she might hurt someone at any moment. Then, after a brief moment of silence, Jared’s father stepped up and grabbed his mother’s arm in a calming fashion. To this, Jared’s mother clawed at his father’s face with her nails, tearing the skin to a few measly shreds that drooled off his cheekbones, with a waterfall of blood that instantly stained his grey shirt. He said nothing, and instead reached for the mother’s eyes, which was countered with the same action, tearing both their vision away from each-other.
Jared begged for them to stop, yelling “Please, not again mom!” or “Eric, do something, please! This can’t happen again!” Tears streamed down his face in desperatey. Finally, Eric stood and joined in the mayhem, tearing skin to pieces and gouging at eyes, pulling out hair violently. Hair and blood soiled the food as ten legged, white-haired spiders crawled and writhed from the potato salad, and centipedes twice the normal size tip-toed from the meatloaf.
Under the veil of his hands, Jared sang to himself a lullaby his mother used to sing to him when he was little. “Little boy blue, come blow your horn.” He heard a loud screech from his mother, and a horrible gushing sound. “The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn.” A maniacal laugh was heard from his brother’s mouth. Jared sang louder. “Where is the little boy who looks after the sheep?”
He uncovered his eyes, seeing his family’s corpses limp and grey in the chair, a horrible stench of decaying flesh in the air. Their eyes were missing, their bones visible through the thin, almost transparent skin (or what was left of it). One of the ten legged, white-haired spiders crawled from one of his father’s eye-sockets, taking small nibbles here and there for sustenance. Massive centipedes could be seen slithering through the skin of everyone at the table, and a massive crater lay in his mother’s flat stomach, where some grey leeches had nested their eggs.
Jared put his head back into his hands, pulling at his hair, hoping to go back, when he heard his mother’s voice once more. He lifted his head, and looked at her jaw moving, thin strands of hair weakly wavering in the wind. “Where,” she began “is the little boy who looks after the sheep?”
“He’s under the haystack, fast asleep.”
Nothing more was said.
Jared cried himself to sleep that night.
Jared woke with a start, hopped out of bed, checked the clock stuck at 6:27 PM. He tried starting up his computer again, still didn’t work. Then he went downstairs and found all the ingredients he could and shaped it into a meatloaf, though there was no tomato paste. He pushed it into the oven before going outside the cut the front lawn, which was a pale yellow, and the length of an ant.
It was raining, which Jared hated now-a-days - what with how it made him both itchy and some-what delirious at times, but the work had to be done.
He put on his favorite song, “White Wedding,” by Billy Idol. While mowing, he looked at Jim’s house, broken down and in ruins, the whole roof missing. But more importantly, how yellow his grass was, and how the yard really needed a touch up. He wondered when Jim would get on that.
He peered at Alex and Katherine’s house just beside his, not noticing the three corpses that were hung from the window by rope, one much smaller than the other two. What was Stephen doing this weekend? How did Tim do on his math test just down the street? He didn’t really know why he wondered such things, he just did. There was a lovely scent of radiation and a hint of napalm that hung in the air.
Dinner was of course planned to be done at the exact time Jared would finish. He dished himself out a heaping pile of cold slosh, which hardly even looked like meatloaf by then, and headed outside in the pouring rain to eat with his family.
Jared cried himself to sleep that night.