Excerpts from the Diary of Matthew Ward
August 9, 1999
Father carved a man’s face into the wall today. He carved for six hours.
I opened my curtain a few times and encouraged him to rest. He didn’t listen, just kept going. He didn’t even stop to use the toilet. His pants were wet. Yellow spots were on the floor.
The man’s face is several feet wide and maybe six feet tall. He’s got a beard and long hair. His eyes are fiery and his mouth stretches open, like he’s screaming.
Father said it’s the face of Jesus. He said it talks to him, tells him what to do.
Father’s been sitting on the floor all night staring up into those eyes on the wall, mumbling things I can’t understand.
August 15, 1999
“Time for church.” That’s how Father has woken me up every Sunday since we’ve been down here.
I combed my hair and put on my suit. It’s dirty and too big now.
Father and I met in the center of the bunker and sat on plastic chairs in front of the Jesus face. We listened to the recording of Pastor William’s sermon about the end times, the sermon that convinced Father to build this bunker and lock me down here with him. “I’m saving you,” he’d said.
“What did you learn in church today?” He asks me this question every time the tape ends. I tell him what he wants to hear: the Lord will soon unleash devastation upon mankind; the wicked shall be damned; the righteous shall be saved. Father sits on the edge of his chair and listens, his eyes wide and fingers trembling.
We had “Sunday lunch”, as he calls it. Black beans from a can. That’s all the food we have left.
After that, I went to my end of the bunker and closed the curtain. Father makes me spend most of my time here now. He hasn’t trusted me since the day I tried to wrestle away the knife strapped to his ankle and slit his throat.
August 25, 1999
I was supposed to start my sophomore year today at Great Lakes Christian College. I don’t have any close friends there, but even if I did, nobody would know where to look for me.
September 14, 1999
There are 600 calories in a 26-ounce can of black beans. Father ate approximately two more ounces than me today. That’s 50 or so more calories! Doesn’t seem like much, but he only lets us split one can a day now. “Need to ration,” he says.
I stared at the last bean on my plate and imagined it was Father. I took the skin off with my fingernails, piece by piece. The screams, what sounds! I then punctured the bean with my fork and let the tip of the fork stay there inside for a while. His body thrashed around, but eventually went flaccid, like a dying worm. I put the bean in between my teeth and pressed down slowly until it burst.
September 23, 1999
Last night, I woke up to Father whispering, and to the sound of pencil marks on the wall. I waited until he went back to sleep, behind the curtain on his side of the bunker. I examined the Jesus face with a small flashlight.
In the beard, hair, and eyes, Father had drawn what looks like ants and goats. Hundreds of them.
October 11, 1999
As Father slept last night, I finally finished my knife. I made a blade from an old can of beans and secured the blade to a handle. Took weeks.
The knife will cut through his neck like butter. His flesh will fall right off, a piece of meat. A steak, or a pork chop, maybe, sizzling in butter. A nice big chunk of meat. Sprinkled with salt and pepper. Sautéed onions and mushrooms on top. Gorgonzola crumbles.
“How’s everything?” the waiter asks. “Fantastic,” I say, “it’s perfectly cooked.” “Glad to hear it,” the waiter says. “Oh,” I say, “more bread, please.”
October 19, 1999
We loved each other once.
As a boy, I played baseball in the summer. After each game, he drove us home at night in an old convertible. The pine-scented air cooled our bodies and filled our lungs. I stared at the stars and he talked about constellations, our place in the universe, or the concept of infinity. We exchanged glances and smiles as wind blew through our hair and the moon silvered the treetops.
October 31, 1999
The path to God is sometimes broken.
November 11, 1999
Give me strength, Lord, for what I am about to do.
November 13, 1999
I had a ceremony for Father today.
I cleaned his wounds and wrapped him in a blanket, then prayed and sang his favorite hymns. The body rests on the cot behind the curtain, where he used to sleep. He looks so peaceful now.
I need stitches. That’s the only way the gash on my left arm will properly heal.
November 14, 1999
Looked everywhere. Can’t find the key.
November 15, 1999
Still can’t find it.
November 16, 1999
Can’t find it.
Can’t find it.
November 24, 1999
Can’t break through door. Nothing works. Too weak. Left arm throbbing.
November 30, 1999
Ate last few beans. Only twenty gallons of water left.
Can’t move left arm. Swollen. Oozing.
December 4, 1999
Have been eating pages of diary.
December 6, 1999
Day after day
On the concrete wall:
The Jesus face.
December 10, 1999
Cannibalism: not unprecedented.
Look at history. Many examples.
December 11, 1999
Couldn’t eat him. Rotten.
December 22, 1999
Last night, heard him whispering/drawing on wall!
Opened his curtain, saw only corpse in blanket.
On Jesus face, things have changed. Ants and goats now eating each other.
December 25, 1999
Happy birthday, Jesus!
Please forgive us.
December 29, 1999
Wound on left arm black. Can’t stand. Eyesight failing.
January 1, 2000
World didn’t end.
Wrong, Father. Wrong.
Mason Binkley lives with his wife and identical twin boys in Tampa, Florida, and works as an attorney. His fiction and satire have appeared in various places, including Maudlin House and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. His twitter home is @Mason_Binkley.
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