Pride

by 

Carol laughed, her plump cheeks rising over tiny eyes. “Admit it, you’re a genius.”

Jude shook his head and his dark silky hair slipped over his pale face. “I do okay, but I wouldn’t say I’m a genius.”

Carol smirked and put her hands on her fleshy hips. “How about Renaissance man? Come on! When you were seventeen you conducted experiments on global warming with Nobel Prize winners.”

He smiled rakishly. “It wasn’t just global warming. The simulations were dealing with the negative environmental effects of mankind on the planet. There were hundreds of variables involved; global warming was just one of them.”

Carol leaned on the bar. “Right, then you decided that wasn’t enough and you switched to medicine.”

Jude shrugged. “No one cares about the environment. It was too depressing to watch simulations of humanity killing itself.” Jude scowled, imagining his great grandchildren burning. “Besides, there is more money in viral research.”

Carol wiped her sweaty hands on her square skirt, a piece of clothing that looked like it was pulled from her grandmother’s closet. “Sure, yeah, you’re curing the worlds illnesses for the money.” Carol put her wide hand on Jude’s shoulder. He smiled flatly and pulled away. Carol grinned back at him, freckles stretching on her cheeks. “On top of all this professional stuff, you conduct those martial arts and survival skills workshops on weekends.”

Jude put down his beer. “That’s just for friends, it’s nothing big.”

“Right. Nothing.” Carol looked at their friends, smoking and drinking around the bar. “If I didn’t know any better Jude, I would say you were building an army.” Carol giggled, and Jude’s face went blank and grey, like a shut off television screen. He laughed a moment later, a hollow, dark sound. Carol’s eyes widened. She knew, and it was his fault.

Later that night, Jude went to see her, holding a bottle of old red wine in his hands. Carol’s house was cluttered, dried paint stains, magazine clippings and fabric in piles around the floor. It was two AM and she was drowsy, her eyes puffed and sleepy. She let him in and asked him what was wrong.

Jude had been crying.

He opened and poured the wine without asking. They drank as he told her everything she wanted to hear. Her face beamed, suddenly and unexpectedly pretty. Then she sputtered, wine dripping down her chin as she tumbled out of her chair and landed heavily on the carpet. Her body was heavy and soft, her nails trimmed and painted. Jude ran the tub and set her inside, gently laying her head on the ceramic. He hoped that Carol had drunk enough of the sedative that she would stay under.

Jude told himself that when they rebuilt the world, he will tell them about her, how she died to protect the secret of his plan. They would erect monuments in her name; he would see to that. After the plague his handpicked civilization would all know the truth. They would call her the mother of peace. The children might not know her face, but they would appeal to her as a saint. He told her this in the bathroom, her body slipping again and again under the warm water.

It surprised him how much it took to cut her flesh. It bent like rubber wrinkles around the razorblade. He had to try over and over before he punctured the skin, pressing hard against freckled meat. Blood slipped over her arm and under his fingernails. His hands were shaking. Jude sawed against the skin, grinding his teeth. This was for everyone.

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