Swallowing The World

Capilano University Motion Picture Arts 2024 IG: @christienanastacio

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Her son, she often boasted, was serving as a fighter pilot for the military—and from the look of things she believed it herself. Mrs. Gallows seemed quite proud of her little soldier. Although he did not bleed the same blood (having been adopted abroad at four years of age) he did share her undying patriotism. And so, on his eighteenth birthday, she sent him away to shoot the hounds out of heaven.

If she purchased a long enough telescope and levelled a few dozen buildings, she might even catch her mighty Levi Gallows soaring at his highest. Through the lens Mrs. Gallows could spot him drifting away, just off of Chinatown; his cheek resting against the freezing concrete. If her eyes were keen enough she might even spot his father’s old belt fastened tight around his bicep.
What a relief his mother was clueless to the arts of telescoping and building-levelling. Levi was comfortable in knowing nothing could stop his pupils from swallowing the world.

He woke up in a dreadful sort of pain. It might have been in his hip or maybe his spine; at one point he swore he felt it in his gums. Try as he might, this was the sort of seeping agony that was wholly impossible to locate.
A poke of a needle would be enough to drown it out, but Levi used the last of his supply the night prior. To make matters worse his dealer had recently caught himself looking down the end of a shotgun barrel—or so it was rumoured.
It is to be noted that rumours were always floating through the alleys of old Chinatown. On countless occasions, Levi would find someone searching through his shopping cart only to hear them squeal as their looting resurrected what they were told to be his corpse. After a while, Levi learned to take anything that slipped between a junkie’s rotting teeth with a mint and a shake of salt.
Levi figured it was best to see to this himself. He hoisted himself to his feet, gripped his cart, and was on his way.

It took him the morning to figure out where he was, and the afternoon to figure out where he needed to be. By the time he reached the front door of the quiet shabby home, his mind was buzzing and the agony had begun seeping into his bones. He rang the doorbell and sat himself down on the front steps.
This street wasn’t any better than the one he woke up on. Looking out, Levi saw the faces of ghouls. They meandered down the street with their own shopping carts, moaning, coughing and wheezing. They were going no place in no hurry.
Levi had great disdain for the addicts who roamed through Chinatown. They gave him a bad reputation, he thought, with their begging and horrible stench. He knew by the way passersby touched their back pockets around him, that he was being lumped in with these fiends as well. Levi was above it all, of course, and if later prompted, he could list all the reasons why.
Precisely eight minutes and fourteen seconds after the doorbell rang, a brick flew into the front window; scattering shards across the floor. In climbed Levi, cutting his hands bloody on the jagged glass remains.
It seemed that even before Levi’s feet hit the hardwood floor, the inside of the house was already pillaged from corner to corner. Drawers were dismantled and flung to the ground, and the house was devoid of anything that shined. All that remained was a half-eaten cheese string lodged inside the fridge door—or so it was rumoured.
The only person present was Levi himself. No dealers, no ghouls, and no dopamine. The buzzing and the agony were growing unbearable.

Before he realized it, night had fallen over the alleyways. The ghouls were in full action, trudging through the street, communicating through the tongues of deteriorated brains. Levi made sure to stay clear of them. Even if they did have what he needed, he refused to risk catching whatever diseases they brought with it.
As sobriety loomed, Levi’s breaths grew sharper. He pushed his cart out of an alleyway and to the middle of the street, looking for someone—anyone who seemed half alright. Alas, this was Chinatown, and the last place help came. Overwhelmed with dreadful pain, Levi slumped off of his shopping cart, his face cracking against the freezing concrete.

Mrs. Gallows did not drive often, let alone at night, let alone through the city’s infamous Chinatown. What a coincidence it was her friend had recently convinced her of the wonders of astronomy. In fact, tonight, she was on her way to take a look through this friend’s telescope, hoping to admire the beauty of the cosmos first hand.
She was so infatuated with the idea that, while driving, she couldn’t take her eyes off of the giant white orb in the sky. Maybe, through this telescope, she could see how their blessed American flag jutted out of the orb's surface. Oh, Levi would love it.
It was during this moment she realized her little fighter pilot could be looking at the same moon. She found solace in knowing they were connected in some way or another. Whether he was asleep in his barracks or gliding among the stars, he was probably closer to the moon than anyone right now.

She was ripped down to earth when she had to veer out of the way of a loose shopping cart in the middle of the street. Swerving wildly, her vehicle barreled through a pothole or a speedbump—she could not tell which. Phooey. She was sure her bumper had been demolished by this travesty. Mrs. Gallows contemplated pulling over to see the damage she had caused, but her friends had warned her of the crazed junkies who stalked within these shadows. Oh well, she could check her bumper when she arrived at the house. There was not a single reason to overstay her welcome.