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A Cleansing of the Earth

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As far as Kevin Wendell Crumb knows, he has never participated in the annual Purge and the residents of his subconscious have decided that it’s for the best that it remain that way. They’ve all agreed that Kevin is not a killer, not even in situations where killing is legally sanctioned, and the fact that Kevin’s body is now hosting a cannibalistic demigod is just further verification of that. They are all aware (or at least most of them are) that this line of reasoning sounds insane but Kevin is also NOT insane...some of the people with whom he shares his body might be. Barry tries not to point fingers (because what good did pointing fingers ever do anybody?) but it is sometimes hard to suppress that urge.

It would probably help any interested parties to know that Kevin’s first direct experience with the Purge had resulted in the death of his mother. More specifically, the discovery of his mother’s body on the living room floor the morning after the Purge. As he remembered it, he’d slept through the Purge and HE had. Jade, however, had spent the night hiding under Kevin’s bed clutching a kitchen knife. She knew that if anyone actually came in and found her and...hurt her, Dennis would take the light but that just made her all the more determined to protect herself. She didn’t NEED Dennis and she HATED having him come to her rescue like she was some kind of airheaded damsel. It especially annoyed her that Dennis would take the light as soon as Kevin’s mom started yelling because Jade KNEW she could take that bitch in a fight if the others would just LET her.

Anyway, Jade was hunkered down under the bed, clutching a kitchen knife, formulating vague plans involving severed Achilles tendons, when she heard glass shattering downstairs. Dennis had done his best to fortify the house the day before, while Kevin’s mom was at work and Kevin was supposed to be at school but their resources were limited and, of course, they couldn’t ask Kevin’s mom for money. It was a set-in-stone rule that they were never to ask Kevin’s mom for anything. He’d nailed the window shut and covered the pane in duct tape...apparently, that wasn’t enough. Jade was glad that Kevin was asleep, if he were here, he might feel the urge to go check on his mom. In spite of everything, Kevin still loved his mom... Jade didn’t have that handicap. As it gets noisier downstairs, Jade can feel Dennis in the back of her mind, pricking up his ears. Suspicious sounds in the middle of the night are one of the things that Jade and Barry jokingly refer to as “Dennis signals.”

To keep him at bay, she tried not to panic and kept repeating that she’s “got this” over and over...as long as they don’t come up here. Eventually, she feels Dennis get out of his chair and come closer, just to the edge of the light but not in it. Jade and Dennis had only shared the light once before and neither of them had liked it. She covers her ears as best she can without letting go of the knife and focuses on taking deep breaths.

(It’s so dusty under here...have to add dust mopping under the beds to the daily chore list...dust is mostly dead skin cells.)

(Shut up, Dennis! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!)

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It wasn’t unusual for Kevin to wake up under his bed without remembering having gotten under there... the knife was new though, as was his white-knuckled grip on it’s handle. When he let go of it, his hand was stiff, as though he’d been holding onto it very tightly for a very long time. Out of habit, he stayed put for a few minutes and listened carefully for sounds of his mother downstairs. Usually, the absence of such sounds would have calmed him down but on this occasion, he found the silence unnerving. He made his way silently downstairs (if she was asleep, he didn’t want to wake her) and into the kitchen to find it TRASHED and somewhere in the back of his mind, Mr. Dennis starts to compile a list of what must be done to put it back in order. This does a little to soothe Kevin but all semblance of calm vanishes from his mind when he opens the door to the sitting room.

He only gets to look for a moment before Mrs. Patricia makes the perhaps a bit obvious, observation that this is no place for a child. Kevin was 15 at the time but as far as some of his alters are concerned he will always be a “boy.” Mr. Dennis is among those alters which is why he readily agrees; this is no place for a child. The last thing Kevin remembers of that day is being gently pulled out of the light by a pair of strong hands.

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It had always bothered Dennis that the house’s wood floor was not properly sealed; that’s why it’s got so many stains and that’s why Kevin’s mother's blood is going to stain it even further. He’s always wanted to sand it down until the stains are gone and apply a coat of lacquer... but, of course, Kevin’s mother would never pay for the necessary equipment and (in this case) he’d have to mop up the blood first but before he can do that he’d have to haul the rug out to the curb but before he can do THAT he needs to move the body...Kevin’s mother’s body. Dennis had seen her naked before; crouched on the floor of the shower, sobbing and gasping like she couldn’t breathe...with the curtain open despite the fact that the shower was ON...making a mess of the floor. He hadn’t wanted to touch her then either but he’d had to get her out of the room so that he could clean it. He remembers how she’d clung to him when he picked her up (he’d have preferred that she’d fought him instead, he’d have been prepared for that) and the feeling of her wet, naked breasts pressed against him and her reluctance to let him go as he’d put her into bed. He’d mopped up the water and then thoroughly bleached the entire bathroom and then washed in scalding hot water. The shirt he had been wearing had had to be thrown out...leaving Kevin with only 3 shirts.

The unwelcome memory gave him an idea. He went and got the clear plastic shower curtain. It was old but clean; Dennis would spray it with a bleach solution every day to prevent mildew buildup. He tried not to look at the body too closely as he wrapped it up but he can’t help but notice that there’s blood between the legs and something had been shoved into the mouth, probably to stop the screaming... she probably chocked to death on it. When the body is squared away in the bathtub (this shirt would have to go to, her head had touched his shoulder) he set to work tidying the house. Not much had been stolen because there wasn’t much worth stealing, but a lot of things had been broken. After disposing of what can’t be fixed, he settled into a modified (longer, more intensive) version of the cleaning routine that he did every day between Kevin coming home from school and his mother coming home from work. As he’s finishing with the floors, he feels the familiar light touch of Miss. Patricia’s hand on his arm, then her voice is in his ear, soft but authoritative.

(We really had aught to attend to the body.)

“Someone’ll come an’ get it.” Dennis knows this is true, he read a pamphlet about it; on the day following each Purge, a crew is dispatched to collect the corpses... and the orphans (of which Kevin is now one) the former go to the morgue, the ladder are sent to live with next-of-kin or moved into group homes... Kevin HAS no next-of-kin. Dennis also knows that the literal disposal of the body is probably not what Miss. Patricia is concerned about. It’s been over a year since Kevin has gone to church but Miss. Patricia still lingers around his mind like a ghost, still considering herself the keeper of Kevin’s soul. She prays on his behalf, she’s the reason there’s still a rosary in his bedside drawer that he can’t remember why he’s holding onto...

“I don’t wanna’ touch it again.” Dennis chokes a little. Miss. Patricia’s voice becomes equal parts soothing and beseeching.

(Just move her onto the bed for me, please...Then you can go and rest.)

Dennis sighs, suddenly exhausted, and runs a hand through Kevin’s hair (it needs washing...it always seems to need washing) then hauls himself to his feet and goes back into the bathroom.

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Once the corpse is on the bed, Patricia immediately finds herself alone with it, Dennis having thoroughly retreated. He’s a great help the majority of the time but there are certain things that the poor dear just hasn’t got the stomach for. The others had been growing restless before she’d stepped into the light but none of them seem keen to share it with her in this moment... perhaps Dennis has cautioned them against it. She’s had only fleeting encounters with Kevin’s mother but she’s well aware of the woman’s reputation, which is why she finds herself feeling nothing as she looks at her hollow shell. None the less, she feels...obligated.

She get’s a clean cloth and some of the bleach water that Dennis had been using on the floor and sets about methodically scrubbing the body. A great deal of damage has been done below the waist Patricia is as morally repulsed by what that implies as she possibly can be while feeling absolutely NO sympathy for the victim...the cloth in her mouth turns out to be her own underthings. She cleans her face, combs out her hair and uses a sewing kit that she finds in the dresser to close her eyes and mouth. She can’t move her enough to dress her, so she supposes that covering her from the neck down with a sheet will have to do. It gives her grim satisfaction to think that this is the most presentable that the pitiful creature has ever looked.

After she fetches her rosary from Kevin’s bedside table and lights some candles on his mother’s, she finds herself just standing at the foot of the bed for an unnervingly long time. It’s a bit difficult to explain to the uninitiated but Patricia had always had the ability to convert any room into a sacred space through the sheer force of her will. That was her purpose, to commune with the Almighty and there had been a time when she could direct His attention, call down His blessing, on any place at any time. There had also been a time (when there were fewer of them) that the others had had just as much faith in her abilities as she did. Now, as far as she knows, Hedwig is the only one who still believes that she can “talk to God”...it’s why he fears her. Dennis still views her with a certain degree of reverence but she has a feeling that this is more out of habit and necessity. There are times when his brute strength and hyper-practical, linear thinking fail him and, at those times, she is there.

As the other’s faith in her abilities dwindled, so too did the abilities themselves. She feels God’s presence less and less these days and his absence leaves a void in her so cold that it burns. Still...she feels obligated and so she finally decides to just say the words.

“Father of all, we pray for your daughter...Penelope, and for all those whom we...love but see no longer. May you grant them eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon them. May her soul and the souls of all the departed, through your mercy, rest in peace. For thine are the kingdom, the power, and the glory...Amen.”

Tears begin to form in Patricia’s eyes but they’re not for the wretched woman but for the fact that at that moment she is all too keenly aware of the fact that she just stood over a corpse, holding a necklace and recited a poem...nothing more. She drops the rosary on the corpse’s chest and leaves the room.