Cecil County Public Schools UCSCA UCSCA
UCSCA UCSCA Lit of the Nation
UCSCA Lit of the Nation
Karl Maulfrey Stood
Lauren Forney

"Karl? Hello? Karl?"

Karl Maulfrey stood by the window, phone kicking up its clouds of confusion to blind eyes—or rather, deaf ears. Sight, in fact, was the only sensory input he was getting right now; since the phone refused, even in this year, to cater to human eyes, it was left to choke on its obsolescence.

After a while the person on the other end hung up and the phone busied itself instead with a dull purr. Maulfrey didn't care what sounds it vomited. His focus remained on the grounds across the river... and a stupid little tune popped into his head. Over the river and through the trash, to what... And there his ship sunk; he had never been good at making his own rhymes.

What had caught his attention in the first place drew him in again: movement. Movement over there. Trash and buildings were as stationary as... letters—for Karl Maulfrey, rhymes were one thing, puns were another—and animals and people alike stayed away from the serrated peaks on the horizon that were the teeth of Old New Ceta. The shadowed streets created a hideously criss-crossed spine, and neglected cars sat along it like deadened nerves. The whole place was dead. Dead bodies aren't supposed to move.

"Heat waves," he muttered, lips still resting slackly against the receiver. He chose to ignore the fact that ice was creeping along both sides of the shoreline, even floating in scattered chunks down the river. Satisfied, he dropped the purring phone into its nest and went into the kitchen to fix a sandwich. And stopped halfway there and came back. He had a call to finish first. Speed dial three, yes that's the key—well wouldja look at that.

"Hey, sorry 'bout that, um... got some weird static thing and then you were gone. Seven sound good? Huh? Oh, the green one. Yeah. Uh-huh. Same." The ensuing click sounded too much like his mother clicking her tongue at him the way she always used to when he'd been caught in a lie. 'How'd that get in your pocket, huh?' 'I dunno, maybe Ally put it there.' Click click click.

Oh well, didn't bother him now. His mother was cold and stiff, shivering in the fires of hell right now for all he cared; he had watched them dig the hole to make sure of that. He glanced at his watch. Five forty-three. He set about getting himself ready for tonight—very thoroughly, just in case—and stepped outside, locking the apartment door behind him. He walked just a few blocks west, the bleeding sun retreating overhead, and arrived at his final destination at about six fifty-four.