As Peter and Michelle continued walking out of the neighbourhood and towards a park filled with people, including kids in a playground, they kept those stupid, mindless grins on their faces. It didn’t matter how sore their faces were…they had no choice.
All they could do was cling to the microscopic hope that they’d sooner or later meet with non-carriers.
Their hopes kept getting frustrated with every person they passed by on the sidewalk.
A man or a woman would be walking in their direction, and while they were far enough away from the approaching person, Peter and Michelle would think, Please, please let this person be normal!
Then, once they got close enough, the man or woman would bare his or her teeth and say, “Hi!” like a robot.
Granted, Peter and Michelle were doing the exact same thing.
Could any of those approaching them have been doing the same grinning act, too?
The sun was going down. They’d passed the park, and were now in an area of the neighbourhood with far fewer people.
Still, they were getting desperate to find somebody who was normal, perhaps someone who had a house nearby where they could stay and be safe.
They were getting tired from all that walking. They were hungry, too. The moon and stars were out.
They walked by a small restaurant with no customers at any of the tables. The owner, wearing an apron and presumably the cook, seemed to be the only one inside. They went in.
“What can I get you?” he asked with that all-too-familiar grin. “I was about to close, so you’re lucky to be my last customers.” He turned the sign on the door from OPEN to CLOSED, then he locked the door.
“This could work to our advantage,” Peter whispered in her ear. “We could spray him, then take control of this place, and eat all we like.”
“Not for too long,” she whispered back.
“Better than nothing.”
The owner approached their table. “So, what will it be?” he asked, grinning and with his pad and pencil ready to write down their orders.
They looked at the menus on the table.
“I’ll have a burger and fries, an orange juice, and a coffee, double-double,” Peter said, handing him the menu.
“I’ll have the same, but with a ginger ale instead of juice,” she said, then gave him the menu.
“Are you the only one here?” Peter asked him.
“Yes,” the owner said as he wrote down their orders. “Why do you ask?”
“Oh, just curious,” Peter said. “You seem lonely in here.”
“Oh, I’m fine. I’ll go cook your burgers.” He walked off to the kitchen area.
As he was cooking, he could look out from the kitchen and onto the dining area, where he could clearly see them talking at their table. Peter and Michelle were letting their guard down, and he could see them expressing themselves in a most non-Bolshivarian way.
He finished cooking their orders and served them, but as they ate, he kept his eyes on them. Still, they were behaving in a conspicuously non-carrier way, showing emotions other than that fake contentment that was supposed to be the norm. Peter was tactlessly expressing his usual annoyance with the world, and Michelle had a look of worry on her face.
When they finished their meal and went up to pay, the owner looked in their eyes.
“Did you enjoy your meal?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Peter said. “It was great.”
“So, you’re content?” he asked, meaning something more than just the service.
“Sure,” Michelle said. “Of course.”
“You seem a little less sure than that,” he said, always grinning.
“What are you getting at?” Peter asked.
“This,” he said, sending out the little lights from his fingers.
“You fucker!” Peter shouted, then found a steak knife on a nearby table.
Michelle had her can of bug spray already out. She sprayed the lights, dropping them to the wooden floor with the sound of bouncing marbles. The owner stepped back.
“No, Peter!” she said as he approached the owner with the knife. “You don’t need to–“
Peter slashed at him with the knife, slitting his throat. His blood sprayed out everywhere.
“Oh, Jesus, Peter,” she said, wincing at the sight of the owner staggering and coughing blood.
A few passers-by looked in the window and saw the blood, then saw the owner fall to the floor.
Michelle looked out at them. “Oh, shit!” she yelled. “Peter!”
He looked out. “Oh, fuck me! C’mon, let’s get out of here.”
They ran into the back and hid in the darkness of a storage room. They could hear a shaking of the locked front door, then a banging on it. Peter looked over to the back door.
“We can’t stay here long,” he said.