by K. Wodke

Jack lugged their groceries to the parking lot, struggling against the familiar sick weakness. Knowing what he would find, he nonetheless gazed upward.

Lines of white stretched across the blue sky in a grid formation.

“My god, they’re at it again!” he mumbled, tossing sacks into the back seat of the car. “No one should have to put up with this, Pearl.”

“Oh, Jack,” she whispered softly, crestfallen. “Please don’t start that again.”

“Quit treating me like a lunatic,” he told his wife before shutting the door. “Research it. See for yourself that I’m right about this. They’re poisoning us and then lying about it, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.”

Up above, the jet trails slowly expanded and spread into thin, unnatural-looking clouds.

“Vince says they’re just contrails and perfectly normal,” Pearl stated.

“Well, Vince firmly believes that most politicians are honest, too. Xanax has addled his senses, made him too complacent. Zombies have more insight than he does, and they’re a lot livelier.”

A hush fell over them as they got into the car. Burying his face in his hands, Jack sat as if frozen for a few seconds before turning agonized eyes to his wife. “Can’t you listen to me? Don’t you see?”

“Everything’s okay, Jack,” Pearl said, lip trembling. “Forget those weird conspiracy theories and just think about happy things.”

“God, I wish I could.”

“Honey, why won’t you stop obsessing over this?” she asked, clutching her pocketbook with nervous hands.

“I’m scared, Pearl, and deep down inside, I think you are, too.”