Monkeys In Michigan
By P. Grundy
They were white.
No one saw the danger at first. A clot of snow floating from pine bough to sidewalk draws no attention in December. A blur of sideways sleet glimpsed through grey windowpanes, a rabbit (was it a rabbit?) diving into a six-foot drift—that’s just winter in Michigan, and winter in Michigan lasts a long, long time.
Adam packed his handguns, five packets of beef jerky, a P-38 he’d had since ‘Nam, two pairs of spare socks, some fishing line, a solar cooker, and a collapsible five gallon bag and peeked through the breezeway window into the garage.
Dashing for the driver’s side door, he locked everything down fast; then sat for a few seconds to catch his breath before hitting the automatic opener and rolling the van down the icy drive.
The snow was still deep in March, too deep, but now mottled with stains of scarlet and mud brown, and inky dark pools. Here and there a mound of flesh melted into a pure white cornfield or un-shoveled sidewalk. Huge crows picked at frozen shapes that hadn’t been people for days.
Adam knew better than to look up at the branches. They take eye contact as a challenge. Meet their gaze just once and within seconds hundreds of them fall out of the sky; fangs and red maws gaping, tiny red eyes like bullet holes flying through the air every which way.
Ask Dorothy. She’ll tell you.
I-94 was clear enough, though hundreds of abandoned vehicles littered the shoulder. He’d gotten a signal on the short wave that same morning: a looped distress signal, grainy, crackling--people holed up in Michigan Central Station, still alive, still crying. Now he was motoring toward the motor city, just like the old days.
Maybe not even killer albino apes want to live in Detroit. Property values have plummeted there, you know--you can’t get insurance, and there’s no bus service. A ghost of a chance was all Adam ever really wanted. This lifetime, mostly what he got were the ghosts.
Big Pharma chose Michigan in the 80s the way the captain of the football team puts the moves on the geeky brainy girl. An easy piece, a charity screw, that’s all--but now her mom plans a big wedding. Lots of jobs in animal research and development are invited. Starbucks shows up. A Target. A Wal-Mart. A few animals get toasted.
The party ends too soon. It always does.
And then the stories trickle in. “Grand Rapids Housewife Claims Bigfoot Ate Her Yorkie,” and “Missing Child Stolen by Albino Chimps,” and “Alien Monkey Race Found Outside Saginaw.” A few bloggers make a little money, and people laugh.
The photos and video clips stopped the laughter.
Skeptical Inquirer ‘proved’ that a clip of twenty ghostlike simian creatures devouring a deer had absolutely been faked. Wayne Dyer talked about the archetype of the white ape, projection, and the necessity of owning one’s own primal rage. Oprah wondered if people weren’t bringing imaginary ape attacks on themselves with repressed negativity.
Manifesting monsters. Smoking The Secret.
Adam first saw the smoke from about 20 miles. At 15 miles he could smell it and taste it, sour and slightly salty, like charcoaled blood. At 10 the cars on the road shoulder were all aflame; some forming bonfires in the outbound lanes. Five miles to downtown and snow evaporated. Tendrils of fire licked the windshield. Adam’s eyes burned and acrid sweat soaked his flannel shirt. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and it came back blackened and wrong.
Maybe Detroit had never stopped burning. Maybe he had never stopped burning. Was that the key? Was rage the way to salvation? Did Malcolm get it right the first time? The accusing darkness, the fire in the secret, the never told tale: Did that searing ember finally purge the ancient city of cannibals?
Then Michigan Central appeared before Adam like a giant flaming skull, a box of bones. Perhaps the road to heaven is indeed through hell, he thought: The sweet raw scent of sulfur, the bleached best death--the necessary cauldron.
Naagendra haaraaya thriloochanaaya bhasmaangadhaaraaya maheshwaraaya
Nityaaya shudhdhaaya digambaraaya tasmai nakaaraaya namahshivaaya
Salutations to Shiva who wears a serpent as garland, who is three-eyed, whose bare body is covered with ashes!
Who is forever pure and the very embodiment of sacrifice!
Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!
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P. Grundy is a freelance writer who lives in Michigan. A senior editor at Eye On Life Magazine, she also writes movie and book reviews there and a column on the paranormal. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in little literary magazines like The Sun, Square Lake, and Maize.
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