Original by @f3nix
"Ride the wave, thanks to the new cortical dissemination of improved lambda waves!"
"Subscribe to LambdaX today and you will benefit from our new and advanced 50-channel dissemination program. You’ve never seen such a broad offer and the first month is free! Enjoy and improve your performances with us. LambdaX: the wave, your wave. "
She turned her back on the husband, pointing toward the stairs. A drop of rain fell from the sleeve of her trench and landed on his shirt, welcomed by the upward and rhythmic movement of his chest.
Silence. Damien raised his head cautiously.
From upstairs, a murmur had fell upon his ear a few times, probably the residue of the week’s agitation, channelled into a troubled nightmare.
A laptop appeared from under the sofa cushion, warm and inviting like a slice of fragrant bread just out of the toaster. It seemed to him that the lambda waves of his premium account called his name through the earphones. While biting his nails’ remains, the face lit by the dissemination restarting, a rapt smile widened at the blossoming fractals.
"I'll take some more casserole. Sorry for my arm, hubby. "
"Go ahead." Damien said, suffocating a yawn.
He noticed that despite the heat of that Saturday morning, Grace wore a long-sleeved sweater. There were only six of them to celebrate their parents' 50-year wedding anniversary: three of the five brothers had not even bothered to find a plausible excuse.
"It's good, isn’t it darling? We bought it at the rotisserie around the corner, the new one," Mrs. Lundgren, the couple's communicative member, hastened to say.
"Bought. You would have cooked it, once." Mr. Lundgren snapped.
Damien could not help himself.
"Even on your anniversary day! Please, dad. Smile. Raise the edges of that mouth, everything's fine. You see? Me, little Mikey and our wives are here to celebrate you. The table is set, we are all fine. Smile at least today, if possible."
His father's jaw shut like many times before, while a new kind of silence fell on the table. His gaze, clouded by the years, was now that of a shark while accelerating towards the prey.
The eldest son waited for the shock-wave of the paternal explosion triggered by his words, which did not come. For once, the old man had managed to control himself.
Damien had eaten almost nothing, his lips bent by invisible ties in a smile. His head was thumping and he just wanted to go home. He turned his gaze to Grace, who chatted nonchalantly with Mickey's wife in a perfectionism competition. Mrs. Lundgren had found in her youngest son, the favourite one, an easy target for her own river of words. Everyone, apart from his father who had disappeared in the kitchen, seemed so eager to enact their bourgeois hymn to appearances.
"How's work, Mikey?" Damien asked.
"Getting better. Someone upstairs have introduced this dissemination program with free lambda waves for every employee. It is known that it increases efficiency in the workplace. Certainly not an economic service, though".
"I couldn’t say." Damien said, fiddling with a low look on a bread crumb.
"Well, you should try it too." Rose's shrill voice, the younger brother's wife, caused a twinge in his head.
"My Mike has really improved at work thanks to the dissemination program," she continued. "It's a company benefit for the best employees. In your case, Damien, you would have to pay out of your own pocket, but I guarantee you that the benefits would far outweigh the subscription's cost".
"I'd like to know what it feels." With his thumb, he crushed the breadcrumb ball against the tablecloth.
"Well, I use the waves too, so I can tell you that they make you feel more focused. It is as if everything becomes lucid, sharp. Among other things, it is also pleasant to listen and see them. You know, Damien, maybe you too would find a job if you used the waves."
"You sound exactly like the advertisement, Rose," Grace blurted out. "My husband already has a job, he’s a writer."
"Anyway," she insisted, "with what I gain, we do not have any trouble buying that stuff, if only we wanted to."
Damien noticed that his wife was clutching the napkin as if she wanted to cling to a rope. Her fine and tight lips could not be cleaner, however, she still carried the piece of cloth to her mouth, waving it in a convulsive gesture. The polish of the short nails was chipped.
Mrs. Lundgren broke the tie proposing to taste the dessert. "Are you going to get the cake, Mickey? Also, check where dad is finished."
As Mike got up from the table, Damien's attention was captured for a moment by a dark spot, which seemed to have created a rigid area on his brother's shirt.
"Mike, did you enjoy the pie so much you got dirty under your arm?"
The brother’s only response was a weirded-out gaze. For a fleeting moment, something terrified and lost flickered in that look, but Mike managed to banish away that note from his convivial mask. He faded out in the kitchen's direction without saying a word.
Damien would have sworn that the stain was dried blood. In other circumstances he would have insisted on the matter but, right now, every cell in his body just cried for going back home.
That Friday night, Grace had managed to return earlier just because the CEO had been forced into an urgent conference call with the Kobayashi delegation. He had not wanted anyone with him: the Board of Directors meeting postponed until a later date.
The muffled moan from the upper floor came at the same time as the tinkling of the keys thrown onto the alabaster rack. Grace's greeting died instantly in her mouth.
There was nothing strange about the empty apartment and everything strange at the same time. The silent holo-vision and the excessive order had no other effect than to have her slip off her shoes and accelerate her steps upstairs.
Grace walked quietly to the only source of light from the bathroom. Now, she could clearly distinguish his altered sobbing. Something in the woman's mind wriggled, a mass growing and pressing against the skull from inside. On the carpet of the corridor, her own steps seemed to sink into a cold slime as the lamentation, now rhythmic and obsessive, became more distinct.
She opened the door. Time bent around them as they looked into each other's eyes.
The tub was imbued of his blood. Sitting, completely naked, the earphones well planted in the ears, Damien was devouring shreds of his own flesh. He cut them from the left side of his torso, moving the razor with jerky movements, and carried them convulsively to his encrusted mouth.
In front of him, the laptop projected the modulated fractals of the lambda wave.
"No.. no, no, NO, NO!" She screamed as if she wanted to rip out her own throat. The details of the horror arose like dark lumps on the surface of a pond of dead water. That mass in Grace’s head was now slowly opening the skull, a suture line at a time.
"Grace.. I have tried. I cannot stop." Tears now dripped along Damien's face, mixing with partially coagulated blood.
The woman staggered in front of the tub, mauled by invisible fangs. Then, she pulled her trench coat off and let it drop on the floor. Her jacket and shirt followed. She unrolled the dirty bandages.
Her arms were almost completely skinned from shoulders to wrists.
"What have we become, Damien?" She stammered, trembling, watching the horror in her husband's eyes as he recognised his own mutilations in her body.
"Grace, I.. We’re finished." He managed to say, now overwhelmed by desire and staring at the screen as he carried a shred of dripping meat to his mouth.
Her eyes stuck at the sinuous fractals, Grace slowly approached and sit on the edge of the tub. She unplugged the jack from his laptop and the lambda wave, widespread at high volume, began to wrap both of them.
Then, she slip the razor out of his grip.