Andersen Richards didn’t choose for the world to know that a growing epidemic could be cured by eating his flesh. He would have preferred to avoid anyone suffering the poor impulse-control and constant hunger that Ratfanger’s Syndrome brings. But a tweet, of all things, changed everything, “If you want survive, eat @ADick”.
Since the Roger Riots placed Toronto in a state of quarantine, fear of the rising rates of the illness have heightened demand for Andersen to turn himself in. Now he knows his time on the run can’t last much longer.
Blog of Andersen Richards
This story starts at dinner Wednesday night.
Where it ends…
“Jerry Brown has requested Arizona National Guard,” David said, forking a chunk of ground beef into his mouth. It also starts at the dinner table. I forgot to mention that.
“Why would he ask for another state’s Guard?” Laura asked, lowering her utensil and craning her neck towards him. “We have our own Guard. There’s a depot ten minutes from here.” Laura looked at me.
Sam sat to my left. She didn’t look up from her meal. Have you ever noticed no one looks down directly at their food unless they’re avoiding something? “David?” Laura prompted.
This was the first meal I’d joined them for. Sam took a few meals with them since we came back, but I still prefer to eat small meals, here and there, when no one else is around. I get a bit uneasy sitting down for a meal in front of people these days.
But Sam told me the best way to repay their hospitality was to accept it to it’s fullest. Or as she put it, “not act like a goddamn raccoon”. Her points are crude but not without merit.
“They announced that the quarantine in Toronto…” David spoke facing his food, as well. “Well, it’s one of those ‘it’ll get worse before it gets better situations’.”
That morning I awoke in the back of the Bronco, David and Laura waiting there for us… I almost got up and crawled out the back window. If I could have broken through it without dying from the lacerations, I would have.
It was the day after Mother’s day. After Rogers Centre, I was sick, constantly expecting the world to further crush me. It felt like because I had come out of the cold, let myself have some measure of comfort, that the world was… Well, it felt like all my fault.
Sam put the Bronco park, crawled into the backseat.
Laura opened the driver’s door and climbed in, David into the passenger’s seat.
The keys dangled from the ignition. Sam put her hand on my chest. I guess she knew I was about to lunge for them.
“We wanted to talk to you about to do next,” Laura said. I’ll say right now it’s sexist if you first begin describing a woman based on whether or not she’s pretty. I realize that. But Laura was not pretty. Yet there’s something about her soft voice, the way she always makes herself heard, the way she never really blinks or looks away, something in the way she only smiled when she meant it and never for the social function of it that made my heart flutter a bit around her. Somehow, it makes me listen to her more attentively. “I understand what’s happened changes things.”
I’d begun considering if I could force out the side windows. They’d probably pop from their frames rather than shatter. “It’s okay,” Sam assured me.
“Laura and I wanted to talk to you about what’s going to happen next,” David said. He’s not the inspiring figure she is. I also know I have a lot of problem with father-figures and so older men have to go a lot further to impress me. “We wanted to talk to you about what we think you should do.”
And he wears this brown sweater all the time, this thin, brown sweater that can’t possibly be keeping him warm but I think he does it to appear smarter. Sweaters don’t make you appear smarter. They make you appear cold.
Over the backseat, past the storage area where I keep what little clothing I have, what little of anything I have, there’s a durable sliding window. Normally I keep it down just a bit in the Bronco for air flow. Sam must have rolled it up while I was sleeping. There’s only two doors in a Ford Bronco. So much space, so few exits. To get past them, to know they wouldn’t be able to grab me or sedate me somehow, I’d have to do something to subdue them.
I wasn’t prepared to do that.
“Obviously, the problem is people want you to turn yourself in. Or they want to catch you,” David said.
“Or worse,” Laura added.
“The problem is that no one knows you,” David said.
“Or likes you,” Laura added.
Just beyond where Sam had parked, an older couple walked by. The man was looking out, past the beach and towards the sea. The woman turned her head towards the vehicle, looking thoughtlessly into them and her eyes passed briefly over me. She was harmless, probably even thoughtless. How many times have I looked off at something, seen something I shouldn’t, and to this day have no idea it ever happened because I was in my own thoughts? But knowing she had looked in my direction, my legs began to straighten and I grabbed the ridge of the seat.
“It’s just an old woman,” Sam said to me. “Get a fucking grip.”
Laura and David turned their heads to the woman and watched as she walked past. The fact that they were not so quick to dismiss me made me realize how ridiculous the concern was, not that it made it anymore distant.
“You need to make your voice known,” Laura said. She only looked ahead at the water, she never looked back towards me. “You need to speak out against what’s happening.”
David looked at me peripherally from over his left shoulder. “You should go online, speak about Toronto. condemn the whole thing.”
“Condemn the fact that Rats are tearing people apart?” I burst out.
“You shouldn’t call them that,” Laura said. “I know you have every reason to hate them but that’s not what you want to show people. You want people to see you as balanced. As compassionate.”
“I already give my side,” I said.
“More than just your blog. I don’t really think too many people are reading it, to be honest.”
“And I wasn’t trying to intrude on it,” David said. “I just thought you might like to use the computer.”
“That’s not the point, David. Andy, the point is, people are afraid of anyone who might be suffering from Ratfanger’s.”
“Because they’re dangerous,” I interjected.
“And so they want you to sacrifice your life to make them safe. Because they don’t know you. And they don’t care.”
“That was the point of my blog.”
“Well, it’s not working. And as a side-note I think it’s entirely too… Sam, have you read his blog?”
“No! Why?” she asked Laura. I began to shake my head off.
“Have you ever heard of ‘show don’t tell’?” Laura asked.
“I’ve heard of ‘show AND tell’.”
“You’re telling people that you’re a good person, that you don’t deserve what’s happening to you. But you really haven’t done much to show them.”
David, I swear to God, don’t hold any of this sweater stuff against me. Also, I really hope you’re okay and free to read this. David interjected, “You need to speak out in defense of people suffering from Ratfanger’s. You need to be on everyone’s side, but you also need to call for compassion.” And sorry for what I said about Laura. If you’re reading this. Which you shouldn’t be.
“Why in the world would I do that?”
“Because what comes next are quarantines. First in Toronto, then here. It might start in towns, far from you, but sooner or later, San Diego will be on lockdown. And there will be no escape for you,” she said looking at me in the rearview mirror.
A white car pulled up into the space next to us. The driver stepped out and slammed the door.
“There’s nothing that would change that,” I said. The driver took a few steps and stopped, turned back. I was sure he hadn’t seen me.
“The government might be slower to do it if they know people oppose it,” David said. He hadn’t noticed the driver.
“I don’t know that anyone does.” The driver pulled at the handle to his car. It was locked.
“That’s why people need a rallying voice,” Laura continued, “someone who has every reason to hate them and yet defends their humanity.”
The driver unlocked the door, opened it and slammed it again. My eyes were stuck on him, “Those fucking monsters, on three separate occasions, have sank their teeth into my skin, ripped it away and swallowed it in front of me. Fuck them and fuck their problems.”
“And if people see you as a humanitarian, they will be less likely to call for your head,” Laura said.
“But you can’t call them ‘Rats’ or ‘fucking monsters’ in your blog anymore,” David said, and I’m really going to stop that, I swear.
“What are you guys doing here?” I asked. “What do you two care what happens to me?”
“We took you in because you don’t deserve what’s happened to you.” Laura shrugged her shoulders, “Neither do they. If we can’t get people to stop going after one another…” she turned her head towards the man outside the Bronco, “…the world will become an exceedingly dangerous place.”
The driver opened the door and slammed it again.
He opened the door and slammed it again.
He had a faint yellow tinge to his skin, and a heavenly smile as he tilted his head backwards.
He opened the door and slammed it again.
It turns out they have a wildly popular podcast. Seeing as I’ve already lied about their names (don’t forget, if I like people I don’t share their names no matter how much I like you) I can’t exactly tell you which podcast it is, either. Apparently they discuss a lot of social issues. They’re big Bernie supporters.
And they invited me to come back with them and say my piece online.
Is it “peace” or “piece”? I’ve never really known. Because it could be you say what you need to say to be at peace or you say your piece of the conversation. It really gets confusing to me.
That was Monday, the day after the Roger Riots began. This was Wednesday, a week and a half later. My appearances on their show have actually caused a surge in the #SaveADick trend. People were becoming more vocal online about opposing talk of quarantine.
So, it’s weird to be staying in a home… and my dad certainly didn’t fail to miss the opportunity to make me feel bad about not staying with him… but it’s been nice. I guess, as nice as thing can be. So I agreed to have dinner with them.
“Why would the governor be asking for guards from another state, Andy?” Laura asked. David and Sam kept their eyes on their dishes. Laura sought the eyes of others. And she’d found mine. “Can you tell me?”
I shook my head.
“Do you have any friends in central California? North California? San Francisco? Sacramento?” I nodded my head. Anyone who’s from San Diego tends to have friends all over the state. “Do you have any friends in Arizona?”
How the thought had been so immediately clear to her and not to me…
I really hope she’s okay.
The dining area was a small little spot beside the kitchenette, which was right against the front door. So when we heard shuffling feet, I thought the doorbell was about to ring.
But it didn’t. The door simply flew off the hinges taking the wooden frame with it.