Suicide wasn’t painless.
Scott Queen realized this when he surfaced from the foul-smelling river approximately eight hours after he jumped in. The sunlight hurt his eyes, but that was the only thing he felt. The hunger would come later.
When some tree-hugger protested that Scott’s chemical plant was harming the river with runoff, Scott scoffed, then quietly paid off the state and local officials to make sure nobody looked too closely at what was being dumped in the water. Things had gone well for a long time, until a stupid state senator was caught with a hooker, and confessed every bad thing he’d ever done, including taking money from Scott Queen.
Scott could have survived an EPA probe. The weak-ass agency would have handed out a fine, and that would have been the end of it.
But the IRS got involved. Their investigation uncovered most of Scott’s secrets, including large amounts of unclaimed income scattered across the globe. His lawyer told him that he had to surrender in the morning. The shyster also informed Scott to prepare himself for prison, perhaps a very long stretch.
He couldn’t survive incarceration. His life was over. So he drove to the bridge and made it official.
Or so he thought.
It turned out the tree-huggers were right. All those chemicals his plant poured into the river did have a bad effect.
Scott dog-paddled to the bank and trudged up to the road. Just before he reached the top of the hill he saw a homeless man, sleeping beneath a tattered army jacket.
When he was alive Scott would have crossed the street to avoid anyone who looked and smelled like this guy. But things had changed.
The need instantly turned Scott into a ravenous beast. He pounced on the homeless man, ripping open his throat. The man struggled weakly for just a moment. Scott grabbed a rock and bashed open the skull. He scooped out the spongy brain and gobbled it down. After that, his mind went away for a while.
When he awoke, Scott was still in the tall grass next to the highway. The corpse of the homeless man lay a few feet away like a discarded beer can.
It hurt to think. The hunger was coming back. Scott sensed that it would soon consume his thoughts. Whatever he had been would certainly be replaced by a shambling, starving monster.
That’s when he knew what he had to do, with whatever time he had left.
When the car stopped for him, he ate the driver. Later, he drove to the state capitol with the dead man in the back seat.
Over those last few miles it was hard to remember where he was going. Then he saw the sign: INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE. The workday had just started, so Scott parked in the lot. He could wait. Soon it would be noon, and the busy workers would take a break from ruining lives.
Scott would be ready for lunch.
© 2008 Mark Justice