I always liked to start my day with something silly. Like Horoscopes though no one thinks they are silly anymore. I have a very vital and very boring job. Despite the seminars, the certificates, and the degree, it really just comes down to keeping an eye on the temperature. It can't get too hot; it can't get too cold. That's it. I have a fiveish degree margin to work with or I'm fucked, the plant is fucked, and probably the 10 mile radius surrounding us is fucked too. I won't tell you what kind of degrees I'm working with. Its just part of the magic that makes me one of those unsung heroes you never really hear about. I used to be, at least.
So I liked to start my serious day with a silly horoscope, but I was distracted. The front page (made out of actual tree guts, I'm oldskool) screamed "George. W. Bush Dead". I was a little surprised. I bet my dad's surprise was pleasant for him. He's like that. Mine was neutral. Dubya seemed like a healthy guy and he was not that old. Though people have died suddenly at a younger age. I did not think much of it at the time.
The paper described his wife finding him slumped in front of his TV watching a Rangers game. He dropped his O'douls. The pundits accused each other. Leaders began crafting their careful condolences. I wondered how long it would be until I started hearing pretzel jokes, again. I hate it when I think of a gag before Conan does. Its like I spoil it for myself. I should write for TV, I'm pretty funny!
So I read that article, more interested than in mourning. Something was bugging me and I'm pretty sure it wasn't sadness or indigestion. There were follow up and side stories about the death of the former President throughout the paper. It hit me about 2 mins and 25 seconds before my shift really started. The horoscope was there but my little piece of the stars was gone! There was no Cancer! Although that might sound good to smokers and oncologists, it was a little unnerving to myself. There was Gemini and Leo, all three of them standing above and bellow that crab that I was supposed to be, but no Cancer. It was gone.
I had a pretty normal shift at work. Things got a little bit too cold for about one hour. It was quite exciting, let me tell you but I won't because I'm being sarcastic. I do not want you to miss out. The radio on the car ride home told the same story but it also had a few other famous deaths to report. Dan Aykroyd and Ringo Starr were dead too! They died the same way, quietly and apparently, suddenly. What the Hell? Did you see Ghost Busters? That shit was great and who the hell would mess with Ringo? I mean the Beatles were a little bit before my time but he seemed like a nice drummer. Hey, what do you call someone who hangs out with and follows around a band of musicians? Think about it, aha hah ha. I told you I was funny.
I went to sleep pretty early. I like to stay up latter and latter as the week goes on. That night was a Tuesday, so I hit the hay pretty early. I was staying in a hotel suite at the time. My assignment at this plant would be over in a little over a week. I missed my baby and I wanted to speak to her. See, my baby was having a baby. And by the first "baby" I mean my wife and by the second "baby" I mean I knocked her the fuck up! I always knew I had some pretty strong stuff, ever since I was 13. Once we stopped trying to prevent a baby (RU ready for a kid? Hellll no! 436 times no.) it was easy to have a kid. I've been waiting since September for this lil' guy and it looked like we were both going to be born around the same date. Isn't that great? I hope they still serve beer at Chuckie Cheese. Though lately those places have gotten kinda dangerous.
I dreamed. Not of a better world, but of a man. He is strong and scarred. He has a wild look in his eyes. He's wearing a toga/tunic type thing. He is grappling a mighty multi-headed dragon. The Goddess does not want this man to beat this dragon. She seems to be worried about him losing for some crazy reason. So she sends me to distract this champion of gods; gods other than the one I am currently serving. Only, I'm not a dragon too or a thunder bird, or some sort of superhero/villain. I'm a fucking crab. A little one too! Not a giant enemy crab but a tiny one that you could probably eat and not feel full on. I grab onto this man with all my claws and might too. I hope to throw him off his game enough so that the real monster can kill the man. He looks down at me, he looks down on me (asshole) and crushes me with a beat-up sandal.
I'm fucking dead. Thanks for sending me, goddess! Can you be divine and an idiot too? Apparently. She does not hear or chooses to ignore my dying curses and scoops me up. I'm embarrassingly grateful. It feels good to be held in my goddess' arms. Its a love beyond a mother or a lover can give you. She knows me more than anything or anyone ever. She admires my pathetic but earnest effort. She throws me into outer space and I become a line of stars that kind of look like my original form. I feel so close to the moon. I watch the people on Earth.
I wake up. I have a few hours after to kill after my three S's (shower, shit, and shave) and I wonder what to do. I make a good amount of money but I really can't go anywhere when I'm on assignment. It's pretty remote. I could have slept at the plant but I figured it was worth driving an hour to sleep in a hotel. I did not feel like driving out further because this hotel was pretty remote too. I'm still wondering about Cancer, so I call up an "expert", ha ha. I punch in my credit card, including those three little numbers at the end on the back and await my fuuuuutuuuuureeeee.
She sounded frantic.
"Hi, I was just wondering, what..."
She sputtered an interruption.
"We do not know what happened to Cancer. We're sorry, you will not be charged for this call. Goodbye"
She hangs up. On me!
That was the first time I realized that this was serious.
Cancer was gone. Really fucking gone! Gone from the papers and gone from the sky. People were freaking out and for good reason too. They were dying. At first we thought it was one of those times when celebrities start dying off in clusters. The thing was, these people were not close to around the same age. Chris Isaak and Bill Cosby were dead. Tom Cruise and Lil' Kim were suddenly relevant again. Huey Lewis was returned to the news along with Pamela Anderson and Lindsay Lohan (though who didn't see that coming, amirite?). People thought there was some sort of zodiac serial killer on the loose. Tobey Maquire fell to his death while doing some Spiderman shit and I thought it was connected to the movie about the Zodiac but it turns out that was Jake Gylenwhatever and as far as I know, he's still okay.
The astronomers talked about "parallax" and astrologists started speaking in tongues. We all soon came to realize that it wasn't just celebrity Cancer signs who were dying. People born between June 21st and July 22nd all over the world were dying, suddenly and randomly. It was mostly in America, Australia, and Europe, but I heard reports of a lot of Indians (the dots, not the feathers) dying too along with smaller pockets of people in Asia (like hardly anyone in China) and Africa too. Some of them were quiet and peaceful ways to go but others were not.
Flying tires from wrecked semis, escaped lions, plunging stage lights, snapping elevator cords, pharmaceutical errors at every level, anal hemorrhaging, ergot in the bakery, heart attacks, strokes, and one story of motherfucking Shamu (one of her kids cuz the original is dead) jumping a little too far out of its tank and onto a whole crowd of people. Just to get one July baby! They just wanted to get splashed, not squashed. This bane or curse did not strike very carefully. You could get killed by just being around a Cancer if his or her ticket was going to be punched in a AoE sort of way.
Our modern world (and the ancient one too) is pretty dangerous, so it was hard to tell the difference between a horror-scope (that's what we started calling it) death and just random chance. Not all Cancers had the same amount of time. Some stuck around for years. Your twin brother could die tomorrow but you could still be kicking it for a little while. Unless something other than the stars was going to kill you. It was maddening. All we knew was that were doomed and dying out quickly. The shit really hit the fan when we were declared "An endangered species" by international bodies who could do that sort of thing. Not that there was much anyone or anything could do about it.
Cancer remainders (because Cancer Survivors would be misleading) became the newest minority group and an easy way to become a celebrity. We banded together and pooled our money and time to lobby D.C to protect us. They took our money and promised to do their best but we both knew there was nothing they could do to prevent any and all accidents; within and without. It just made us feel like we were doing something. Another group of our dwindling population banded together as well and built a rubber padded, self sustaining, bunker where they felt they were safe. No one knows exactly how that fire started, spread, and continued to burn, but the whole scene was described as "complete vulcanization" which sounds as a pleasant a way to die as it is.
Some of us just shut down. They stayed in their rooms and refused to leave. Others were abandoned by their friends and family out of fear they would be collateral damage for their invertible calamity. A band of elder teenagers formed calling themselves "The Too-Mores". They did not invent the phenomena, but they catapulted into the top-ten with their one and only hit single "Run the Sky".
I'm going out/I'm getting high/and before its all over/I'll run the sky
They all died on (or under, hah haa) stage when the floor collapsed beneath them at a packed venue. The drummer survived. It turns out he was faking it and he was really born in April. Fucking drummers, amirite?
It was a real thing-to-do, depicted in their music video, for non-catatonic Cancers to run wildly at night and challenge the stars to strike them down. It was empowering and exciting. A lot people liked to have a little snort, toot, smoke, toke, shoot, sniff, snip whatever before they headed out. It was a very personal thing you were supposed to do alone but a lot of people liked to invite their friends to watch them. They even threw parties sometimes afterwords. I did it a few times myself. It almost seemed to me that "running the sky" was not anymore likely to kill a Cancer remainder than any other activity or non-action but I had seen enough folks hit by lighting on cloudless nights to be willing to consider otherwise.
The worst part about all this were the babies. There were waves and waves of miscarriages and still births. Some were quiet and devastating and others were loud, explosive, and messy (and also devastating). It was rare for a human to be born between June 21st and July 22nd. At least in our corner of the globe. Scientists claimed it was some sort of virus but we all knew better. My baby died before he was even born. The clumpy fucker took my wife down with him. I have to pretend that everything is okay but its not. I miss her so much. I've thrown myself into my work because I am so alone. That's not enough, apparently. Its so funny! I've started joking even more now because its one of the few things that takes my mind off of how sad I am that doesn't come in a bottle or a plastic jar. Ha ha. My boss, a guy I've met fucking once, told me over email I'm a "cosmic liability" because of the danger that comes with being around a Cancer. Whatever it is that kills us could take the whole plant with me. Its nice to feel appreciated.
I'm a celebrity now, a "personality". I riff on pop-culture. I discuss politics. What, did you think the world would stop spinning without us Cancers? I may be one of the last in America and one of the few in the world. It may have something to do with the fact that I'm adopted. My parents abandoned me somewhere and I was in the system for a very short period of time. My birth date may be inaccurate and a guesstimation on behalf of a bored government clerk. No one has seen my real birth certificate, if such a thing exists. You may know me as Barrack Obama.... ah aha ha hah. Just kidding. That would not make any sense, ha ha ha. Speaking of "ha ha" did you hear his address about this situation? He did not know what to say. What could you, it made no sense. It just happened.
I hear that Geminis and Leos live with a vague but constant state of dread but there are exceptions. Sometimes I look to the sky where the crab used to be and I feel guilty. It could because I'm a survivor but I kind of feel responsible for all this. I usually get this feeling nights after I have my crab vs toga man dreams, which reoccur more than I would care for. I sometimes feel like I abandoned some sort of duty in order to have fun. For something different. The sky calls to me and begs me to get back to work, to stop all this.
But I don't want to. Maybe I want other people to suffer instead of just me. Maybe I want lovers trying for a child to dread September; to fear each others touch for a whole month. Maybe I want other husbands, wives, sons, and daughters to feel as shitty as I do. I'll get back to running the sky when I'm damn ready. And fuck you if you have a problem with that!
Ha ha, ah ha ha h ahhh.