Author: Michael Kerby

A guy, licking the carpet.

He’s on all fours, in a Doctor’s waiting room. And he’s licking the carpet.

Tongue out, dragging it across the rough blue carpet like it’s the most important job in the world. It’s the kind of carpet designed for maximum wear and tear. It’s probably seen millions of shoes, mud, crumbs, child vomit, adult vomit — probably even a few rectal explosions.

The guy stops and looks at us. He shrugs.

“So what? You should see what the other guys got.”

He resumes his sandpapery drag across the floor. Occasionally he winces as he reaches the furthest his neck can stretch, the limit of his tongues reach, his lingual frenulum straining against the back of his bottom teeth. He stops and shuffles his body forward, and resumes.

He sits up on his knees. He spits. Pleh. A bit of fluff, hair, caught in his mouth. He looks at us.

“You know — it’s rude to stare.”

We avert our gaze. It feels woozy and groggy to move our eyes. We notice the door, but our legs don’t seem to move.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t concern yourself with that if I were you.”

Next to the door, on the wall, is a cork pinboard covered in poorly rendered crayon and felt pen interpretations of the humanoid form. Some have extra long arms, some have extra long feet. All of them have oversized black eyes. They’d be menacing if they weren’t smiling.

“They try their best but, when you get down to it, they’re still just kids. They try to make something that could please them, but they just don’t have the artistry, or the coordination. But, you know, they’re still learning–hey!”

He looks straight at us, a bit of lint hanging off his chin.

“I thought I told you to stop staring at me. I still have my dignity.”

We look away. Our eyes seem to skid like socks on a polished floor. We twiddle our thumbs and stare at the drawings.

“Y’nearly done yet, Bill?”

Bill stops. He sits bolt upright on his knees.

“Yes sir! Just a few patches left, around the edges!”

Bill hurries back down to his work, as a noodle-limbed humanoid lopes into the room on long flipper-like feet, holding a clipboard.

It reaches out and gives Bill a pat on the head, ruffling his hair. He pushes back against it like a dog.

“Haha, ok, ok. Good boy, Bill, good boy.”

It notes something down on its clipboard and Bill returns to work, his tongue running alongside the edge of the room where the carpet meets the wall, painstakingly clearing out years of packed in dust and dirt. He peers up at the humanoid.

“Mm. Gritty.”

It watches Bill work for a moment, makes a few notes, then turns and fixes its oversized black eyes on us.

It smiles serenely.

“Hey! You’re awake. Welcome, welcome.”

It reaches out its long spindly arm and pats us on the head.

“I hope you like linoleum.”