The dust swirled. It reached up and out as far as the eye could see. Well, any eye that cared to and not many of them did. The dust cast a sick, golden glow like the world was caught inside an aging snow globe.
No way out.
Just around and around.
The women watched from behind the chain-link fence as he was escorted to The Fixing Room. Some of the women smirked while others outright laughed at him. Still, others glared, repulsed and angry, as if he were getting what he deserved.
And the one he’d touched...
Slipped his fingers right through the fence to feel her hair.
Then his hand that those fingers belonged to ended up by his feet in a splash of blood.
An explosive pop of color in all that fevered yellow.
He’d made it far longer than anyone had predicted. Went for so long without the longing, the urges that usually struck the males.
Until he couldn’t fight it anymore.
He had to touch.
He had to.
It wasn’t a sickness.
He knew, in the old world, it hadn’t been a crime to touch.
He wished he’d lived then.
The Fixing Room drew near.
His knees buckled, forcing his escorts to carry him.
He could see a row of seats outside The Fixing Room. Five seats, attached to one another. A family of chairs.
Waiting and empty.
The stump at the end of his right arm twitched and pulsed.
He caught sight of a juice box, nestled into the seat closest to the door of The Fixing Room. Its straw was wilted as if it had given up waiting for its owner to return.
He wondered if it belonged to someone who had gone into The Fixing Room.
It made sense.
No man who went in ever came out.