“‘Tis midnight, let us hit this,” He said, after procuring the previously mentioned drugs. Wielding the ever-convenient Ziplock bag, he started to make his way into the room, abruptly falling down without the slightest grace as his already-altered motor skills abandoned his legs. He hit the floor rather loudly.
“That’s that bad karma creeping up,” He always said when something bad happened. I wondered how someone could accrue so many minute negative crimes from past lives. He sat down in a slightly awkward fashion, feeling the small white capsules between his fingers. I began to get the strangest feeling of déjà vu, like I’d already done this, but I dismissed this as the familiarity of all the preludes to massive trips I’d had here.
“Hey, what prescription are those glasses?” I asked, noticing he had put on a ridiculous pair of glasses, thick, black, and all together obnoxious.
“Uh, they’re just plastic,” He said, puzzled by such an irrelevant question. The corners of my mouth rose slightly, concealment easing.
“Well that explains why you can’t see what a dirty hipster you are!” At this, I make a loud, forced laugh, maintained it for a few seconds, and then slapped my knee a few times.
“Why must you hurt me in these ways?” He said with a sarcastically saddened face. “C’mon, let’s get into it,”
He opened the bag, handing a pill to me and then popping two himself.
“Woah, woah, this is serious shit, are you sure you should be popping two?”
They flew to the back of his throat, the distaste marked on his face, and then gulped them down. “Of coooooooourse, I’ve got a history of entheogenic experience, remember? It’s time for the high without the height,”
At this, I was not completely trusting, but he was always so ardently entrenched in his ways. I popped the pill to the back of my throat as well, quickly swallowing to bypass the disgusting bitterness of it. Empty stomachs would entreat us to hasty come-ups, maybe in half an hour. There always was such an anticipation to it, something that pulled on my heartstrings, making them flutter in excitement for the elation of an ascended consciousness.
We bode our time talking. Pot legalization, the ACLU’s growing effectiveness, how shitty the new Star Wars movies would be, Syria, the Ukraine, which countries would be on which sides in the upcoming war, the imminent global economic crash, things we hated and things we loved, simple things and no things.
“With one four-syllable word, describe the single strongest association you have with my existence,” I asked. This was not unusual; I was constantly asking profound questions of his conscious experience of reality. The bonds had stretched bounds over the years we spent together, warding off life’s ills and claiming their victories.
He thought a while, mouthing syllables and flicking his fingers in sync.
“Viridescent,” He said. This made me smile.
Then in the middle of it all we could start to feel it. My body began to glow with warmth, not uncomfortably, then lights increased in luminosity as star-like shapes rotated around them like subatomic particles. The edges on the walls vibrated, and the windows were breathing steadily. My mind began whirling, thoughts falling from some unknown solar system, leading me to new perspectives on life, and existence.
“Hiiigh without the heiiiiight,” Was all he could say. We lay there, riding the wave towards bliss. I began hearing a low droning, like tinnitus with binaural beats. I could feel the Earth rotating through space. I left my body. There were images, feelings, senses I was experiencing that I never knew I had. At one point I woke up on a stone slab in a small room, encased by heavy stones, and a long, dark hallway that almost seemed to lead to oblivion. It was like an embalming room, crafted to prepare corpses for their final destination. The next, I was in a morgue, but not like I had ever seen before. The bodies were decayed, aged browned, all laying on stone slabs, all reaching towards the ceiling as if trying to grasp some far away savior. The room was stone, the autopsy tools were stone, everything was made of stone. There were many other places I went and saw, but I can’t describe them, for there were no words. They were nothing I’d ever seen on Earth, or ever imagined, but they were cauterized into my mind. Soon, everything faded to darkness, and I knew I still was, but where, I wasn’t sure.
I woke up on the floor, face down. My head was pulsing with pain. My body ached. My veins began picking up pace as fear set in when I couldn’t open my eyes. I pulled my eyelids apart with my fingers, managing to restore my vision, which calmed me back down. I sat up.
I was in the living room, but there was no one to be seen. What the fuck happened last night? All I could remember was taking the drug, but… What else?
“Hey!” I yelled out. The sound reverberated and then died, suffocated by the loud noise of silence. There was no reply. Surely I wasn’t alone?
The seeds of negativity sprouted within my mind. What events filled last night after I was rendered unconscious, whenever that happened? Had there been a bad trip? Perhaps a split throat and a moat of crimson ‘neath the bathroom door?
I searched the house, but there was no sign of another’s presence. The doors were locked and the curtains were all drawn. As I entered the kitchen, I spotted house keys.
“Oh God, what a mess,” I said as I poured myself a shot of vodka. I swallowed the burn, hoping it would slake the anxiety. Instantaneously, a non-corporeal arm reached down my throat and pulled it back up, it and acid churning through my insides and then out upon the table, the disgust of the taste and disappointment of having to clean it up mingled alongside the absence of my friend.
“What the-?” What was wrong with me? I went to the faucet to get some water, drank it, but it came back up as well. Years ago the flu had caused the same reaction, the same painful heaving that continued even when there was nothing left in your stomach, the reflex so harsh you would begin to fear your intestines were the next thing to crawl out your throat.
What was happening?
I patted myself down for my cell phone, but could not find it. We couldn’t have been robbed, for everything was still intact, aside from my pocket’s contents. My friend wouldn’t have just left, but the house remained vacant despite my belief. There were no signs of a bad trip. This was a conundrum that caused a disturbing sense of apprehension. My intuition muttered increasingly sharp warnings, but of what, I was not sure.
There was nothing left for me in this house. I needed to find my friend. I opened the front door and stepped out.
But everything was different. Everything looked so dull, almost gray. I could still see the colors life beheld, but it was as if someone held a filter up to my eyes that killed the liveliness of everything. It was what I expected purgatory to look like. The hollowness of it all was so disconcerting, like a vampire had sucked the life force out of everything I could see, and what remained was merely a reflection, a hollow shadow. Surely a side effect of the trip?
The silence was so flagrant, the absence of everything and anything filled the air, the air which was static, unmoving despite the daily winds I’d felt for the past few years. The skies were clear, cloudless, gray and desolate. I could not sense a single life, human or animal. I feared that not even a worm crawled beneath these unhallowed grounds. There were no cars passing by on the streets or parked in driveways, no pedestrians roaming the sidewalks. Each house’s curtains were drawn, doors closed. This city was dead. It was daytime, but the Sun was missing from the dismally colored sky.
How could this have happened over the course of a night? What was even happening? Have I regressed inside my mind? Could it be that I was merely dreaming as my body lay intoxicated? Or was I dead? This didn’t look like Hell, but it didn’t look like Heaven. Surely something as divine as the afterlife would be more meaningful than perpetual grayness?
I walked to the middle of the street. The clime was ambiguous, an inexplicable neutrality that was not only out of season but also a very strange sensation that I’ve never quite known. It’s difficult to verbalize, but it felt highly unnatural. There was nothing, just houses and empty, seemingly eternally stretching streets. I wasn’t too familiar with this neighborhood, but I got the feeling these weren’t the same as when I last saw them. They were so very mundane, blank, subliminally-horrifying, surrealy phantom streets that were only possible in nocturnal epochs, during dreams.
I began journeying through the innards of this unfamiliar place composed of familiar things alongside the profoundly disturbing feeling of loneliness. Not a sound was made, aside from my footsteps. Trees stood absolutely still, stretched as if on a rack. Every single house looked the same, not in architecture, but in my mental association. No cars, no ornaments, not a single unique display of human decoration, of human remnants. Of human life. Curtains drawn, all black, silent as a tomb.
Time passed, if only in my mind. After a while of wandering aimlessly amid an ocean of faceless houses, I decided to enter one to see if I could ascertain even the slightest bit of information. Maybe there was an evacuation I was too unconscious to hear? Or a computer, or radio, or land line, anything to elucidate this darkness. The thought of entering a place so quiet filled me with some apprehension, however, as it felt the same as entering a cemetery at night, trespassing upon silent observers.
Come on, it might be creepy, but it wouldn’t be anything else.
The door was locked, so I decided to go around the side. Before opening the wooden gate, I peeked through the cracks. I saw nothing, for why would I? As I entered, however, I saw, at the end of the paved path, I saw a white marble, or some small sphere. I kept my eyes on it as I approached, and noticed some sort of root sticking out of it. As I got closer, I could that it was saturated with some sort of clear liquid. Until
It was someone’s eye. An iris, colored a most heart-wrenchingly green, locked in on mine, almost alive with joy for seeing another being, at seeing me. As I stood over it, something in my peripheral caught my attention, from behind the house. This startled me slightly, as I had not noticed it before.
I was startled even moreso when I turned to discover a corpse faced-up, slack-jawed, a one-eyed woman disemboweled, the organs wrapped ’round her body like snakes.
I slowly began moving to my side, slowing my movements the way a man does when confronted by a predator, incrementally lifting my foot. As if this corpse could see, I felt a crushing weight from her dead gaze, it burdened my nerves with weakness. I finished the step. Upon the corpse’s eye. It made a pop that was deafening in the constant scream of silence.
I looked at my foot, then back to the corpse. She lay there still, which was a great relief to me, though why she would have moved, I was not sure. This woman had been destroyed in such a bloodthirsty fashion, the remained flesh marred evidence of the pleasure of a sadistic torturer. I did a quick take, looking down at the messy contents of the eye blown across the cement, and then back to the woman.
All I saw was the woman’s body withdrawn within the opened backdoor of the house with a celerity impossible. It was almost as if she were being yanked with a leash with brutal strength, but I know it was not that. Her arms were tied together, so she propped herself upon her hands, moving her fingers like spider legs with supernatural haste. And she looked me straight in my eyes for a split second. It was such an empty stare, so blank. It was like she was conscious, but so depressingly apathetic, so inhumanly cold that I could no longer believe this was some side-effect of a drug. This shit was too fucking real, it was too fearsome. I felt a primal fear coalesce with my bloodstream, jerking on the spindles of my brain. This was something I had known before, but could not remember. Something that should never have existed. This was evil before evil was even a real thing. This was Hell.
I sprinted out of the backyard, down the street, and still onwards, until I was as lost as I was before. I could go no further, stopping, lungs dry, diaphragm overdriven. After a few moments, I looked behind me, only to see the same lifelessness plaguing reality. There were no corpses crawling along the street, grinding flesh and leaving a trail of iridescent discards. I finally caught my breath.
I proceeded onwards, now leery of every house, every enclosed space, every window. I was paranoid on a level I had never known, something on the level of which a prey being stalked feels. Were those eyes I felt really on me? There might be a corpse behind every house, waiting, watching with a lone eye. They stood behind the curtains of each house, waiting until I passed until they could stare me down, though with which emotion, I could not say. Envy, hunger, or hatred? Or all three?
The uniform lawns were like a brown river traveling to the horizon, interrupted by the gray streams of pavement. Soon, I began to hear something. It was indistinguishable until I came closer, at which point it began to sound like music. I spotted a small black rectangle on the sidewalk ahead, perfectly placed in the middle. It was playing the song Suburbia by Pet Shop Boys, but something was malfunctioning within it, for it kept repeating one line of the chorus:
‘Let’s take a ride, run with the dogs tonight in suburbia”.
I picked the device up, though I could not figure out what it was. It was relatively small, like a cellphone but thinner, and the sole distinction from the rest of it was a speaker on the wide side of it.
The music, which was originally a very happy, melodic sound, was now dull, all the notes dissonantly flat, oscillating half-heartedly and lacking a vitality that made it seem composed by machines. The vocals were slow, almost murmured as if the vocalist had been singing the same line repeatedly for days, years without a single pause. The whole thing was rather depressing and more than slightly eerie, for it was such a bleak inversion of the original song, and it sounded so real. The vocalist sounded so genuine, like he was singing to me face to face. Why, and how would someone do this? And with such an obscure device?
I contemplated leaving it, but it was such a strange thing that it entranced me in a way, so I placed it in my pocket. The sound was now muffled, but despite the distortion of volume, it still had the same effect upon my mind, conjuring up feelings and associations for which there were no images to display and no words to describe, except that it all felt like a lucid dream, an inapposite phantasm that the sleeping mind could never have been able to fabricate.
The audio continued on, a pariah amid the silence of the world.
I looked back up to continue on, but instead saw a handheld mirror laying in the yard of a house a few houses ahead. I approached it, grasped it, and took a look into the reflection. I was extremely disturbed, and frightened, though not in the explicit sense of the word. My face was nondescript, indistinct, like the face of someone in a crowd seen from far away, almost like a mannequin. I couldn’t remember what my face had looked like when I tried thinking about it. I could hardly remember anything except the immediate past, aside from vague details and a deep sense of unease. The only thought cycling through my mind was that I needed to find a way out of this labyrinthine cemetery.
I lifted the mirror high above my head and slammed into the ground, watched it shatter into a hundred pieces and rain down upon the driveway. The noise was loud, almost painfully. The song stopped. I looked down towards my pocket and pulled it out, confirming the presence of heavily-breathing silence. The absence of sound instantly swarmed around me, the air was heavy, almost strangling, causing my pulse to palpitate and my breath to increase in a tremulous fashion. I could feel the weight of it upon all my being, like gravity, almost forcing me to my knees.
I began to steady my breath, to focus on each motion of my lungs, and the comforting sound brought me back. I closed my eyes and took a final deep breath, which brought me a stronger sense of repose. I then opened them, still on the driveway, still facing the house, still staring down at the fragments of mirror, and still ok. I decided to turn back to continue my journey. As I turned, every door on the street was open.
Every curtain was drawn. Upon every porch stood a figure, and every arm pointed down the street. Upon every figure’s face was a blurred, endarkened red, as if they were censored in some show on television. Each face was composed of small lines, a myriad shrouded, undeterminable details. In every window stood another figure, same as the figures in front of the doors. Each one of these figures was pointing down the street as well, like they wanted me to continue on.
My facial muscles went slack, my jaw agape as I saw these people, absolutely still, absolutely silent, all pointing with the same unwavering precision, all as faceless as the neighborhood I was in. I began to back up, keeping my eyes trained upon all the faces staring me down for fear of movement. Then I hit something behind me. A body.
I did not want to look. My muscles trembled messages telling me not to look. My intuition begged me not to look. My heart screamed in synchronized beats not to look. My mind told me there was nothing to gain by looking.
Curiosity stood alone. Curiosity bade me look. So I did.
It was a man, face veiled and reddened dull like all the others. His arms were scarred and pale, like a cadaver. Parts of his body twitched for split seconds, one finger would flick forward and back, a shoulder would dip and then revert back to restore the inhuman symmetry of his body, his head would twist almost a hundred and eighty degrees and then come back, perfectly staring at me, all within blinking. He gave off an odor, not inherently disturbing, but because it came off this thing, it invoked a deep repulsion. A voice said to me, sounding like the wind carrying a hoarse whisper.
“I watched my dad jump off the church roof,” His arm came up rapidly, in a sporadic, twitchy way, level with his shoulder, pointing perfectly like all the others.
I turned around. I was surrounded. Hundreds of figures had flooded the street, and they stared at me with eyes into which I could not stare back. All unmoving, all with hazy faces. Still, like mannequins, like wax sculptures. My breathing was loud, so loud that it made the pressure of their staring even more incendiary. There was a path in between them, narrow, about two or three feet wide, leading to the direction they pointed in. The crowd went on for as long as I could see down the street.
I began to turn around, but the same sea of obscured figures stared at me, having appeared from nowhere in seconds.
I had no choice. I began walking the only place I could go. After a few minutes of perilous steps, one of the somber vessels twitched, causing me to flinch and fall into one of the legion. With a dexterity unimaginable, whichever body I fell into quickly grabbed me by the neck. The hand was so cold, icy, soulless, filling me with a submissive, subtle despair. It lifted me slightly and threw my head down into the pavement with concussive force.
My forehead began bleeding a steady tributary, the pain contorting my face and breathing out ragged breaths from my throat. After the pain subsided into a dull, somewhat manageable throb, I got up, palm to wound, and looked into the crowd. Every being’s face was still censored, but there was one that was different. His face was still undefined in that unreal, ghostly way, but his mouth had changed from all the others.
He held a grin, an almost-chelsea smile with ends that came nigh to his eyes. It was still so blurred, so indistinct, but it induced such a strong response in my mind, maybe more than what it really was. Or maybe he intended it, maybe he held sway over my thoughts. It was the smile of a predator, of a psychopath who lusted for the moment when his work would yield the brackish red he so savored. His teeth were discolored, polychromatic rotted and reddened colors. They were like a serpent’s, jagged and variable sizes, the kind which belonged to an unfathomable monster hiding in a child’s closet.
He held this grin, the only thing unmistakable scrawled upon his translucent face, and simply stared at me, body rigid, like a statue, like all the rest. The path I had walked was now filled with more of the collective, they had somehow silently filled the gap the whole time I had my back turned.
Time had passed, an incalculable amount that I bode in these creatures’ presence. The road eventually led to an unpaved path into the woods. A street sign labeled dead end had been knocked down, weathered and ancient and forgotten by mortal eyes. The ethereal figures filled every space of the pavement, choosing not to venture past the threshold of the woodland by a hairline. They held their eyes on me, but it felt like they were hiding, for I could not truly see their eyes. It was like they were behind a one-way mirror, always staring at me when I could never truly see who they were.
I continued on, and the trees grew thick. The path was swallowed up, and I, too.
More time passed. I kept asking myself how much, how were the steps that lead me deep within the innards of this forest measured, or the unsteady heartbeats that prolonged my journey? It was all just a blurred progression of events, of perceptions and thoughts and feelings. The perceptions were dull, inanimate, except they instilled a deep subconscious fear, like trespassing in a decrepit house past midnight. My thoughts, which were once concerned with analyzing my current situation, were slowly tapering off into nothingness. I was bored and afraid at the same time. I did not care that I was hopelessly lost in a sylvan maze, nor about the unreal phantasms that had stalked me up until the point of my retreat. I was not even sure any longer why I maintained my pace.
Wouldn’t I end up dead anyhow? There was something so incredibly disturbing about the dimension that I breathed in, that I was not even sure I was within waking. Was this some cosmic torture, retribution for past sins? Was I still alive? Surely whatever stagnant breath I might breathe be in the control of these otherworldly laws? My body could have been ravaged a million times by now. What was the purpose of any of this?
I grew weary. My legs were slightly numbed, and my willpower diminished. I sat down. I laid myself within the particularly comforting arms of a dead tree. Then I closed my eyes.
“Holy fuck!” I yelled, my consciousness jolting back into a body, like being pulled from another life, stripped of all memories, then resuscitated into another’s life.
“What? What’s going on?” She said to me as I swerved the car, nearly driving it into the forest.
I ground the brakes, halting the car after a brief slide on the narrow dirt road. I started searching my mind, trying to bring up any flash of light or subliminal feeling associated with what I had just experienced. There was a feeling of disconnectedness, of haze and murk. Crimson. Danger?
Dammit, no, I couldn’t process any more of the vague feeling before it plunged into the shadows. The memories had sank through a sieve into utter oblivion.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” She asked. I looked over towards her.
It was like I had not seen her in ages. I knew I had been in the car with her the whole time, by her side this whole day, but it felt as it years had passed without her scent. The thought of her hit me, grabbing reins tightly, and as each second that passed befell my heart, I was inundated by an ocean of emotion. All the memories, all the moments we had spent over the years, the realization that she was everything and the only thing I had ever needed from life. She was indeed beautiful, and she had the most peculiar, beauteous, entrancing green eyes I’d seen in my entire life.
“I… don’t know. I just feel like I’ve been snatched up from another existence. Just now it felt like I woke up in this body, like I jolted awake from a nightmare after dying,” I said.
“Oh, God, that’s really gruesome. Do you feel alright?” Her concern was genuine, and her words strummed my heartstrings. Sure, there were people that cared about me, but none did like this girl.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s over now. It’s all gone. I just feel like I woke up from a dream, except that dream felt as real as now feels. But- even though I know I’ve woken up, I still feel paranoid, like I need to-” I slowly looked over my shoulder, expecting some sort of skinned humanoid or other fantastical monster with a blood-stained barbed tongue to be spying on me.
But it was just a bunch of rustic outlines swimming in a sea of silvery light shone by the full Moon.
“-like I need to survive,”
“I can imagine how disturbing that is, but it’s ok, you survived, you know? You won,right? Everything’s ok now!”
“Yeah, ah, that makes sense. I’m sort’ve perturbed about this, really, it’s just so weird,”
“That is highly weird. I don’t understand how it could’ve happened, because everything was fine up until the second you freaked out. How could you have left here in that one second? Listen, let’s head back to the cabin, we’ll spark up some recreation and try to figure it out from a different perspective,”
“Heh, yeah, that would be relieving,” I paused. Or hesitated. Whatever it was, she noticed it, noticed that I was truly unnerved by whatever had just happened.
I started the car up again, continuing along the dirt trail. The path was empty, isolated, a mystery that died when the Sun rose but was resurrected when the Moon returned.
“You know that I love you, don’t you?” I asked her, somberly, coolly, almost emotionless from all the seriousness of emotion.
She was quiet for a moment. She knew this was connected. “Of course. Why do you ask?”
“I needed to tell you, it’s been too long since I last said it. You’re the only thing for me, you are my incandescent flame, you are what Zeus separated from me. I just didn’t want to die without telling you,”
She was quiet another moment. She could hear the intention, she could feel my very heart, and the thought gave me the greatest elation I’ve ever felt. I could feel God because her. And I never wanted this moment to end.
“I know. And that’s sweet. And I love you too. And the Zeus thing was clever,” She smiled. So did I.
We continued down the path, and finally got to the cabin.
My breath plumed out through the frosted air, my eyes shot straight open, my heart beat back to life, like plummeting back to your body after falling into space during a dream. Trees, trees, trees, darkness. No. This can’t be. Fuck.
“Fuck! Fuck, no, fuck, let me go back!” I stood up, staring into the pitch blackness of the sky, gesticulating aggressively, profanely. All in vain. “Nooo! You can’t do this, you can’t take that away from me! I want it back! I want it back… I want it…” Until I could no longer remember exactly what it is was that I wanted.
I could remember, sure. It was the first positive emotion I’d felt in a while, and the greatest thing I had ever felt, it was like the step above love. But, but what did it feel like? I knew what it was, but I could not feel it. What was I even trying to feel anymore? A high? An experience? Or event, or person, or activity? I did not know, for I could only feel its absence.
The absence. The same absence of sound, the same absence of light, of smells, of tastes. The air was cold, it was uncomfortable, but it was still an absent sense of feeling, like pain through numbed body parts, like the sharp static filling your limbs after falling asleep. I was left with nothing. I was raised beyond the mountaintops, beyond the skies, I was at the greatest apex of Godliness. And then I was shoved off. I was exiled back to the abyss, forever destined to have claimed touch of the divine and forever to grieve for it. I was like Lucifer, laying in a bed made from a shroud of darkness amaranthine.
It hurt. It hurt real bad, worse than dismemberment. But, what if I could access it again? I was addicted after the first hit, I needed more. Maybe I could obtain it as a reward for venturing on. Maybe this was a test, could I be in a coma or something and these were all trials of my subconscious? That would explain how morbidly displaced everything is, how this place could exist beyond the natural laws of the world. It made much sense to me as I pondered it further, continuing my trip further into the woods. It had to: it was my only explanation.
A fog began creeping in like death, thick and immaculate. It was dark, and removed what little I could see of the scarcely elucidated forest. I couldn’t see five feet in front of me, and many trees beset my path, leaving me to smash into them, most times with my forehead, which would then trickle a reminder of my previous wound. After pushing forward, I began to hear a murmuring somewhere near me.
It was a low voice. It might have been the odd large man’s, and it was saying something unintelligible. It was strange, like it wasn’t coming through all the way, like sounds through space.
That rectangle thing. I pulled it out of my pocket, and the voice became loud. It was too low for any human, or animal, it was impossibly low. The words weren’t merely made up, for they were spoken with intent. But it was not a language that I had ever heard, nor even something a man could fabricate. It didn’t even sound possible for an organic being to make. The voice sounded infernal, and I subconsciously imagined a demon conjuring a spell, or raising corpses from burial grounds. It sounded whimsical, very eerie, as if from another dimension. This was not something I should come in contact with, this was not something I should have ever heard.
I threw the rectangle deep into the woods behind me and began sprinting, arms out to avoid the dead trees. The voice quickly died off, and so after a few moments I regained a trot. Immeasurable time passed, spent in the depths of infinity, of a darkness that knew no end in the sky and a fog that got colder the more I traveled its depths. I was the only one alive in this place, for not even a single tree could breathe here, nor a single worm.
Soon, I heard an echoing from ahead. It sounded like a non-intermittent buzzing, oscillating minutely but never swaying. As I moved closer, it grew in volume, now sounding like someone yelling from far away, as if to call for attention. I came closer, stopped, and crouched down, and it struck at my insides, for it was a woman screaming.
It had to have been a woman, the voice was pitched too high. She sounded not like she was calling for help, but as if in a vast amount of pain. It was terrifying to hear, it deluged a pelagic fear that filled and immured my lungs, I was drowning on it. This woman was being viciously butchered right next to me and the monster could have been mere breaths away.
The scream never stopped. It haunted me, it was in my ears, it was in my head, it never stopped. I had to stop it.
I crept towards it, moving steadily closer in the fog. It grew louder and louder, it was torturous, it was disgusting. Finally, I was right next it, waiting for some creature with a butcher’s knife to materialize before me and start slicing my arteries for nothing more than pleasure. But it never did, and I was standing right above the noise that had become unbearably loud. After feeling for the ground and searching for it, I picked the noise up. It was the rectangle.
The scream stopped. The rectangle craved my presence. I was now cursed with a dismal soundtrack of gruesome horrors to compliment the visuals. I could not abandon it, for it seemed the same thing would just happen. But what sense did this even make? Of course, why should the laws of man’s world make any sense in this realm of spectral malevolence? Why? What was the purpose of burdening me with this? What cause did it serve? Was it all just for the sole goal of my misery?
There are some things abandoned by the sleeping Sun that can never be understood.
I continued on through the eternal night and infinitesimal fog. The silence in the woods made this place seem like a primordial realm, a place created before Creation, untouched by time before any such precept existed. No, it was not the fact that the darkness bore into my very being like a heavy miasma, like a blanket over my eyes and a wet rag over my mouth. It wasn’t that the silence was so loud I was having auditory hallucinations, screams of torture, pleadings of the victims of murderers, whispered entreats of death-row inmates, all of it coming together with other surreal noises to form some kind of morbid song that brought close to insanity’s grasp.
It was that I was so far away from the golden glance I had felt earlier, that it crushed my spirits. I wanted to die not because of these irrational horrors that plagued my perception, but because, deep inside, I had a feeling that I was eternally damned, and I never got a chance to give my goodbye to the origin of that heavenly feeling.
The path was long, and I was not sure I would ever find an exit. What would even be the purpose of an exit? I spent my steps mulling over my misery.
But then came an exit. The fog dispersed, the trees began giving way to cement. I could see the tops of buildings far away. I had managed to get downtown. Once I was fully outside the woods, I realized I was on top of a building. Sense was amiss, but I grew weary of searching for the once familiar concept, and disregarded it.
Blackness blanketed the sky, and I never thought there were different shades of it, but I was brought new insight into the color. It seemed like just past the atmosphere of this world was an infinite oblivion, a vaccum of nothingness where existence was unheard of it, like the edge past known space. It was like the death mask that lay on top of the face of this world, suffocating a victim that could never die.
The top of the building was unremarkable. There was a hatch on the left side and a ledge about waist-height. But, what was this over on the right? I approached the side to discover a telescope mounted on top of the ledge, though it was fixed by a rod impaled into the cement. The telescope was a pristine white that was difficult to truly discern, as the darkness and fuzziness of this realm melded into a screen that made me feel sickeningly blasé. How white was white when it was marred by black?
I first looked over the city with naked eye, taking in the sights. Despite the commonplace pallor, I still managed to feel a bit of liveliness from beholding the wondrous view bestowed by my height. I was high up, to the point at which the empty streets were like veins carved between massive concrete arms reaching for the inky blackness up above. Street lights spilled forth an eldritch glow of orange, a surreal tone that reminded me of a reoccurring dream I couldn’t seem to remember. Darkness teemed between, like a great black ocean, washing over obscure window signs and verboten doorways. This was a city of the dead, dead not because it was once alive, but because it seemed to have never lived at all.
After my survey, I decided to investigate the telescope. Why would a telescope be mounted here, at a spot in the street right in front of the building? And especially such a peculiarly colored-telescope? I took a look through.
The scope was angled at a spot underneath a lamp post. The diameter of light staved off a bit of thick abyss creeping around it, and spilled slightly into an alleyway right behind it, but aside from these things, nothing else was noticeable. There was nothing special, the dull red streaks of bricks, the trash clinging statically to the curb of the street, the boring gray cement-
A woman instantly came into view. The telescope had such a narrow view from the magnification, but it was obvious she had been running. My heart stuttered. This woman was real, she had a real face, I could see every detail. She was attractive, wounded slightly, clothes disheveled, chest bumping in rhythm with the sway of her ragged breath. She had stopped right outside the alleyway entrance, and had begun looking all around her frantically. How ironic that she should search for an interloper when her and I were the only beings in this plane who shouldn’t exist.
Satisfied, she dashed into the alley, letting the darkness encompass her, swallow her up. A thought sprang into my brain, applauding her on a decent hiding place. And then that thought was triturated, blown into the wind and replaced by another: what made her think that whatever was chasing her would use its sense of sight to find her?
Anxiety began teeming in my stomach, floating up to the back of my throat, tensing muscles. She was going to die, I knew it, I knew it and I could do nothing about it. I wanted to scream as loud as I could, to give her some warning to flee, to find somewhere else. But where would she go? How could she hear me, and how else would I communicate with her? How could I save her?
And what if her pursuers found me out? What if they looked up and saw me staring down upon their disfigured faces? What if they rushed the building with their supernatural celerity, clawing up the sheer walls in a spasmodic gait? What would they do? What did demons do to humans? My mind whispered, “What if they’re already behind you?”
My breath cut short at the possibility, I was hyperventilating in a second, the anxious fear awash in my lungs, my fingers trembled with trepidation as I released the telescope. Palsied muscles slowly turned my neck, I knew they were there, silent, omniscient, always watching me with eyes I could never watch, standing behind me with unsteady cold breath. And when I looked behind me
there was nothing. The currents of oceans ran through me, and brought a soothing relief to my frayed nerves. I was becoming obsessively paranoid, a conditioned prey, but I was still alive.
Wait. They were- conditioning this? Were they? Did they want me to worry about what was behind my back when they weren’t there in order to distract me from what was around the corner when they were? Where were they? There was no way to truly know until I would be able to see the saliva dripping from their chapped lips.
I dismissed the thought when I remembered the girl. Now that I knew I was alone, I could somewhat more calmly observe her.
She was lying underneath the luminescence of that strange orange glow. Her body was twisted. Her visage writhing. I read intense pain. Her green eyes shone like imploding stars. Stars I hadn’t seen this whole sojourn. The blood pooled like an ethereal river out the multiple stab wounds filling her torso. Even the blood was an indistinct red, as if seen through glasses of a prescription too strong. There was a man standing above her. He held a pair of scissors stained crimson.
His face was not blurred like the rest. But it was blank. It was just flesh, darkened flesh. There was no nose. No mouth. No ears. No eyes. Just a mannequin, but even more faceless. He was not stabbing his victim passionately, but almost phlegmatically, slowly, surely, as if on the clock at a minimum-wage job. He went on and on, but the woman never died. She just kept squirming, vomiting blood from inside her collapsed organs. This went on several minutes, but I could not turn away. She was covered in wounds from neck to femur, hundreds of them. She lay inundated in a sea of her own scarlet, her clothes soaked in it. It formed tributaries trickling down the street, the only conspicuous thing in the whole city aside from her undying body and this faceless monster’s deliberate motions.
All of a sudden, he grabbed her by the neck, and threw her up quick, too quick, with supernatural strength. Her body disappeared in an instant. But then the monster jerkily craned its neck, straight at me. He knew I was up here watching. He stared through the eye of the telescope, lacking any sort of bodily apparatus to make such a feat possible. He was utterly still, except for the occasional twitch and spasm. He was staring past my body, in to my essence, in to my consciousness. I felt his hatred, a cauterizing presence that embodied a surreal combination of despair, loathing, anger, frustration. And bloodlust.
I was done with this, I had to get away. I instantly turned around, to run back into the forest I had come from, but there was nothing there. The blackness above had slithered down to consume everything past the very edge of the building, it was all just nothingness. Impossible nothingness. I turned toward the hatch, the only god-damned, self-damning path I could take. The last chance of survival was flight. And as I started making my way to it, a body smashed into the top of the building mere feet in front of me.
The girl. She was still alive, breathing in broken gasps, bleeding expanses from gashes, splattering me, soaking my face and chest with her failing essence. Her body was now mangled from the fall, bones protruding through flesh, cracked, piercing organs, limbs bent odiously. Her eyes called out to me, they reminded me of someone, perhaps someone I used to know? What was so special about this girl? It was like it was on the tip of my tongue, like I touching the memory but it kept slipping through my fingers when I grasped it. Why did I feel the destruction of that faint gold I had once known. Had I known it? Or did I now just believe that I had once known it?
She was in agony. Her eyes were entrancingly beautiful, but the glaze of pain, the contracted facial muscles, her ravaged body, they all disgusted and scared me. What could I do? How could I help her? What do I do? I stared at her, frozen, like a witness of Genovese’s last breath.
“Amm,” She stammered gutturally, staring at me with wide eyes, fighting to maintain an oxygen supply. I looked at her confused, helpless, shaking for fear of everything.
“Err-an-the-” And then she gave a death rattle that was almost like a final note in a melody. It was pretty in a repulsive way, a way that it should not ever have been. Ichor dribbled out her mouth, her eyes rolled up into her skull, blood still flowed from a thousand wounds, and she lay perfectly still. But I could not mourn her, despite my inclinations to, not when I strived for my own survival.
I continued the run to the hatch, hastily lifting it and sliding down the ladder inside. I was in a narrow staircase, old, almost impassable from the voraciousness of the absence of light. As I descended, waxy, dim, desaturated lights barely suppressed intermittent areas of darkness. It was a strange light, that very strongly induced a feeling of familiarity, of subconscious impulses from a dream once dreamt and forgotten.
I came across several closed doors, until, after passing a door without a handle and inverted Ts painted all over, I came across another door obstructing my elopement. It was surrounded by chain link fencing, and I peered through to the other side, across the vast expanse of hallway. About midway through there was a divergent path stretching beyond sight. However, at this intersection there was a shadow painted upon the wall, abysmally black, that would make sudden shifts in movement. It was difficult to definitively discern the shape, but it looked so unfamiliar, it emitted vibes so strongly, disturbingly xenophobic that I decided I did not want to go this way.
I turned around, ascending the staircase until I arrived again at the door I had ignored. It had been cracked slightly, negating the necessity of a handle. I opened it, crossed its threshold, and entered a massive, bare room. It looked like it had once been used as a warehouse, but had been emptied except for a few odd things. First, there was a statue inscribed “Son of the son of the son of Noah: Nimrod,” This was too random, too non-sensical, what purpose did this serve?
Further on, there was a large area of the flooring missing, and in it, a small pond of ice with what appeared to be a man inside. The ice was so clear, so lucid that I could see him in detail. His body was inert in a strange position, like he had been looking up at the time of his death, and knew it was coming. His body was in the process of a defensive reflex, his arms stretching to shield his face, but now remained forever too late. There was a massive black horn growing out of his forehead, distorting the size and shape of his face, so that he was inhumanly ugly. Parts of his body were blackened, in streams and seas, as if he had been intentionally set ablaze. Carved upon the surface of the ice was the word “Treachery”.
“Ko-ki-tus,” I muttered out of a subconscious urge, a phrase my mind suggested to me, slipped to my lips somehow without letting me think about it. I continued after a moment, for staring at the man gave me a perturbing feeling that he was still alive.
Finally I came to an enclosed space, large, with remnants of old pipes slinking through the ceilings and walls like rusted veins. The light here was so faint that a bit of the outer area of the room was absolutely dark, and what I could see was too hazy to discern much besides silhouettes. I approached the center, looking around for some way out. There were only patches of visible wall, weathered, and ancient brick, and as I searched them for some sort of bypass, I noticed something in the darker against the dark on the far side of the room. It was a general mass, distinctionless and floating. What was it? Maybe an exit?
I approached, but stopped. The shadow had flinched. My heart fell, it stopped, it gave up. My pulse and veins did tremble, my pallor ashened, I could feel the blood slalom down my life’s tributaries. I felt that this was the end, and I feared that feeling. I was fearful of the intentions of this absence of light, the intentions that screamed its lust to consume me. I trembled at fantasies of how I was going to be eviscerated insufferably, with deliberate attention to every cell of gored flesh.
In jerky, irregular movements, the thing reached behind its back, forcefully pulling something that appeared to be embedded within. The thing moved a long shape up to its face, focusing the end near the bottom of its face, and making a spasmodic movement, brought its arm down, and dropped the shape. I didn’t hear it hit the ground, though I did hear a strange sound coming from its direction as it moved the obscured shape, like the initial slice of a vivisection.
“You’ve arrived,” A voice echoed. But it was not anything I’d ever heard of it, it transcended any animal or human’s capacity. It was slow, rough, deep, something seemingly only obtainable by a computer program, except for the realness that crept into it, something too real. It was like a monster’s voice that ululated from the darkness of an alley as you walked by it, of some creature sulking in the shadows, hungering for another victim. The voice seemed to come to me from far away, and I was not entirely sure that it was not telepathic.
“Who-what are you? What the fuck, man? What the fuck has been going on? How does this place exist?” I asked, finally at a point where this demented nightmare realm might be clarified. The thing basked in the shadows, silent for a moment.
“Does the profanity help? Does it make your burden easier? Do you feel better?” It asked, deliberately, in choppy syllables. What kind of questions were these? I spoke out of habit, why did it matter if those habits were considered profane? Was I truly supposed to argue semantics with a shadow-man?
But I realized it had been a long time since I had felt alright, and it was correct that obscenities did not help me find the way back to that long-lost state. Not since that dream had I known what it was to be at peace. Not since I first arrived here. When had I even woke up in this dimension? How long has it been? How long have I been away from reality?
“A long time,” It said. It heard my thoughts.
“You must know how I feel,” I told it, concisely, coldly.
“Indubitably,” Satisfaction crept into the voice. “And, that is why you are here,”
“What? So that you can know how I feel? What does that even mean?”
With viciousness, with malice, with pleasure, “IT MEANS, that you have been a delectable patron. Surely you have deduced the peculiarities of this realm. Surely, it is not without purpose,”
“What purpose could any of this serve? This must be some sort of dream, some sort of undiscovered plateau of lucidity realized in a nightmare, because none of this makes sense. This was nothing more than a tedious journey of torment, of a night never followed with a day. This is Hell,” This made the enshrouded figure laugh dryly, hoarsely, a deep, dark expression of how true everything I said was. It stepped forth from the shadow’s grasp.
The monster was repulsive, hideous, disgusting, terrifying, every aspect of humanity’s darkness and more. This was the source of every negativity that scuttled across the deepest depths of the ocean with ragged claws. Every deprecation uttered in distaste, in disdain, in hope of absolute bodily destruction. This was hatred, but it was more than that, it was beyond it, it was an epitome of the absence of light, it was the parasitic need to spread itself throughout every corner of the Universe, until all would succumb to the same fate as their progenitor, to perpetually hate and be hated until time would end. And time would never end. This damned being scrawled messages of doom into my mind and scarred a depression deeper than Hell’s treacherous circle into my psyche.
The actual look of the monster was much less profound than the non-verbal message it screamed ceaselessly, though still quite eldritch. The creature was withered, decrepit, marked by sickly signs of atrophy, aged keloids painting the patchwork of a thousand grievous wounds, and browned, dead flesh clinging tightly to a gangly frame. Despite being so incapacitated, the being moved with an unnatural grace and poise, as if unencumbered by neither scars nor their memories. The thing had a snowy pallor, emanating frore vibes. The ashy pigment seemed induced by an eternity away from the comforting caress of the Sun, as if this fiend had chosen the frost and the absence of light over it. Its face was different, however.
In places it seemed deteriorating, gangrenous, with flecks of flesh peeling in places. The mouth was highly disparate; the motion the creature had made earlier was indeed an incision, now slathered in a gray ink that seemed bodily. The flesh around was jagged, the strips remaining stiff, like leather. The whole visage was shaded a crimson, though, colored so that it looked like it might be artificial, as if face paint, but my mind whispered that it was not. Its eyes were longer than normal, stretching halfway down its nose, and they contained many colors and feelings at once: scarlet, crimson, infernal, bloody, icy, frosty, cold, pelagic, gray, mundane, lifeless, boring and bored. But the single most flagrant characteristic was the emptiness, the darkness, the lack of what seemed to be any sort of magnanimity, any mercy, any noble compassion, or any true love. This was a demon vomited up from the darkest abyss.
My face twisted.
“You think I am disgusting? The expression is etched so ironically on your own ugly face. As if I am any different than any of you humans? Or you?” He said this somberly, seriously. “Have you seen what your unredeemable race has done? If I could have wrecked the gruesome havocs! If only I had been there in person to see all those men slit their brethren’s throats! Beings, all true connoisseurs of my own tastes, truly traitors to their own family! Nefariousness taints the breath with which we both take. I merely embrace it. I’ve had enough time, after all,” The entire time he stared at me, unnervingly, every syllable spoken like a foreigner’s secondary English. His dialect was so unearthly, so ethereal that it made me contemplate his native tongue and how it could possibly sound. What do demons say to each other? What were the other demons even like?
Would there be more waiting for me?
“Would you like to learn why you are here?” It asked, emotionlessly, not particularly caring for either of my answers.
“Yes,” I asked, tensing up, afraid of what the result might be. The thing stood there, absolutely still, and everything got deathly quiet.
“Then watch,” And the monster slowly, deliberately brought its hands up, slowly placed its hands inside its mouth, and maintained perfect eye contact the whole time. Then it began pulling its jaws apart, ripping flesh and pulling bones at breakneck speeds, his whole face defaced, pulling on it like a bandage too adhesive that required painful force. In grew a new head, the old sagging around its neck like dead serpents. This one was perfectly square, taking up about as much space as its old one, and it was a sickly pale yellow color, reminiscent of putrescent infections bursting with infectious ichor. And I began to grow nauseous, my head felt light, the darkness got darker and the demon grew more and more like a shadow. My last breath was thin, and then I lost consciousness.
I woke up with a start, as if I had ascended a vast distance at a breakneck speed, sucked back into my body. I was fully conscious instantly, and stared, quickly sitting up. I was in a bedroom with the lights turned off, nighttime, and there was someone, or something covered by a quilt we were sharing. My heart began palpitating, the dark dread of something horrible filled my being. It wasn’t breathing. What if it was a corpse? Or a vampire? Or zombie? Maybe even a specter? Or demon?
I took a deep breath, grabbed the edge of the quilt, and pulled it back. She had her back turned towards me, and it eased up and down in shallow breath. It started slowly increasing as she began to stir, after noticing her warmth had been stolen. She rolled over towards me, eyelids flickering and gazing at me.
Not even being immersed in such darkness were her irises not divine. They had a glow to them, precious emeralds that seemed to have fallen from Heaven and into this girl’s eyes. They were the symbol of what she was to me: green eyes meant her presence, and her presence was like God’s loving warmth. In a crowded room or alone during a drive, when I saw her eyes, it reminded me that my moments were really happening, that she was really there with me.
And now I was with her again. She looked up at me, quitting unconsciousness and leaning up upon her side, seeing that I was somewhat lucid myself.
“What’s up?” She asked sleepily.
“I had this really bad dream. I totally fell back into my body at the end, I was instantly awake! But the dream was — damn, what was the dream? I was like being held hostage or something, or I was being chased and I needed to escape from like a jungle or warehouse or something. It was just, it really felt like I was there just moments ago, like it was so real!”
“It’s okaaaaaaay, you might’ve had a lucid dream and the shift to waking consciousness shocked you,” She was now sitting up, back against the ornately carved headboard. She was indeed the most beautiful human form I had ever seen, and the most beloved of any conscious being I had ever known. The darkness of the room melded ethereally into the wooden headboard behind her. The perfect edge of it encroached not a single cell upon her being, like her radiance was enough to keep the darkness away. Hell, I guess it was enough.
I held up on own hand towards the backboard, against a brown emblem of a Sun sinking out of the sky, with what instinctively felt like catastrophic momentum. Slowly the inky sea swarmed around the outline of my flesh, flecks of it leaping into my pores, swarming through my veins. I quickly withdrew my hand, and then the emblem turned into a hideous monster, the very embodiment of evil itself.
But I had seen this thing before. Earlier. This — it was all a set up. I had only passed out in another dimension. I was still there. I quickly looked over. She still sat there, looking at me the whole time, wondering what indeed was going through my mind. All the steps in timeless oblivion I took, the depth to which I was phantasmagoria’s victim, chokingly held by the throat. All the time I was away, and all the time I’ve been away from her eyes.
“Something bad has happened,” I said somberly. She got a strange look on her face, perplexed.
“What’s going on?” I heard her, but was slightly distracted, for at that moment I got a peculiar feeling, like my legs had gotten slightly senseless. It wasn’t that I could feel them, but they got an odd, spectral hollowness to them.
“It’s — I’m lost. I don’t know where I’m trapped, and I’m not sure you’ll ever be able to see me again,” At this, her countenance transformed, a deep worry now evident.
“What? What do you mean, what are you even talking about? Why are you acting so weird? Is it because of that dream?”
“No, no, this is serious. It wasn’t a dream, I was knocked out by some creature, some demonic fiend, undead, he bathed in despair, and agony, it emanated from him in the form of a black vapor that crept along the floor like mustard gas, it entered my lungs, and in his presence, I was never without the absence of light. The stench was malodorous, it forced itself into my throat, it tasted like corpses.” She grew more and more disturbed as I went on.
“That’s seriously fucked up, that’s a horrible dream,” The tingle of sleeping limbs grew stronger. I stretched out my limbs, but it did not go away.
“It wasn’t a dream, though. I’ve been there for a long time, maybe a long time, time didn’t exist there, and I don’t remember when it all began, but I know there was something before it. There was one time, I think, that I had a dream like this, like what’s happening right now. The only thing I can remember about it was that were was a feeling that I’m having now, seeing you. I don’t want to wake up, I do not want to wake up. The demon’s there, it’s watching my unconscious body, watching us right now,”
“Are you serious? Listen, THIS is reality, I promise you. I’m here right now, I’m conscious. I’ve read about lucid dreams, they rarely aren’t this extreme, but there’ve been some cases of intense dreams, even nightmares. A few people talk about what you’re talking about: a sense of timelessness, feelings of being unable to return to reality, and deeply carved memories of real fear. A sentient zombie chemical-weapon-dispenser-being is quite disturbing to my own imagination, so I can only imagine what it would feel like seeing it in what you believe to be reality. But it was all only because you were lucid in a dream. It was reality in a dream,” She could see the effect dulling the edge of the memories embedded within me. Her words eroded my will to believe.
“But, just now, I saw something in the headboard, the darkness-”
“So you just woke up from what felt like a timeless dream in Hell, and you’re tripping about seeing shapes on a headboard in the dark at night? Sounds to me like a hallucination; our minds create things to perceive in the absence of stimulation,” Ol’ Ganzfled.
“But listen, you haven’t been anywhere, alright? Besides that moment when you almost crashed the car, you’ve been completely normal, completely here, the whole day. Then we went to sleep, and now you’re telling me about a dream you had. Please tell me you see some sense in all of this,”
Hmm. There was something I wanted to ask her about, but it slipped my mind. I was more caught up in the sense in her words. She explained everything perfectly. I had had a few lucid dreams before, and while not anywhere as immersive as the one I had just had, I could see elements of similarity. This one was just more real.
“God damn, I was truly scared there for a second. I was gone, exiled from this life, in a different dimension, I swear! It felt like it was truly my doom. I was almost ready to completely give up,”
“Just get some sleep, you’ll feel better after some time has passed,” This would indeed be a good idea. I was excited to feel time pass again. I laid myself to rest, and soon fell into unconsciousness. More dreams filled my night. In one of them, I was driving along the highway, with strange people, and for reasons I cannot remember. A minivan rear-ended me, though I continued to drive, swerving in and out of my lane as the highway curved. In another, I was in my car with a coworker, speeding down a street at a lethal velocity, eventually balancing on just two wheels and smashing into a car ahead of me. We stopped completely, but then I reversed and drove off, of course. Later on, perhaps in another dream, I was driving, but for some reason I drove off a cliff instead of onto the bridge, and fell into a ravine, though there was no harm done to either my car or myself.
I was lucidly awake as soon as I opened my eyes, sunlight streaming through the windows with an earthen glow. I could hear birds outside, happy to be alive, and the wind blew a gentle breeze that played the wind chimes with a virtuoso’s skill. I lay on my back, still for a moment, and then rolled over to find my love in slumber, breath shallow and at ease. I reached around her, and she stirred, clasping my arms.
“Morning,” She said.
“I know it is,”
“Haha, you know what I meant,” I smiled at this. I pulled closer.
“Do you feel better?” She asked.
“Yeah, I feel normal. It really feels like a dream now, I can’t even hardly remember why I was so tripped out. It’s all hazy, vague, like another life. I do remember these people, though I can’t recall a single detail of any of their faces. In my mind they’re all blurred, and a bit red,”
“Dreams are weird like that, you know?”
“Yeah. Yeah. After I went back to sleep I had some more, but it seems like every dream I had after, I was in a car,”
“I wonder what that means? What do cars have to do with anything?” After she said this, a switch flipped, a neuron fired, an aperture appeared and out spilled dismay. I could remember every detail of my ordeal in clarity. It wasn’t a dream. Anxiety, dread, horror, despair embraced my throat like a bear trap, I was suddenly extremely uncomfortable, and my mind repeatedly keep pleading for it to not be true. How could it have all happened like this? I was out. I had escaped. How could I not have?
“No no no no no, no, what the fuck?!” I quickly backed up, falling out of the bed and pulling myself to a corner of the room, sight locked on her the whole time. She looked over at me, confused, scared.
“What?? What’s wrong?”
“I knew there was something wrong with what you said last night- is it even really considered night? There’s no such thing as time in this place,” My voice cracked and wavered, distraught with the realization that my shackles had only been camouflaged another color.
“What the hell are you talking about? Are you high or something?” Then we both were quiet. I stared at her, the other half of my consciousness, my one truest love. The deceiver. It was not her, just another figment of the deception. It hurt to cognize her in the form of an apparition, a hologram programmed to spit whatever words I thought she should say. I stared at her.
“You knew about the moment when we were driving down that trail and I lost control of the car,”
“That happened in my dream,” Everything became deathly mute, and the absence of sound felt like a witness trying to scream through sewn lips from far away. The world was silent. She stared at me, sheepishly, expression quickly slackened, as if she had completely forgotten what I was saying, or was happening. Then I heard a glass shatter, and towards my left, flames licked up the curtain, spreading, consuming the wall. Voracious, rapid, they quickly spread, until the entire side of the room was ablaze.
“What- what’s going on?” I asked quietly. I did not understand, but my willpower was sapped, I had used all my adrenals. This wasn’t no longer a time for flight. I was finally ready to remain still. Forever.
“Then I have achieved my purpose,” The voice. The voice of the demon. I turned, and there it was, the body of my beloved, but her face was just black. Pure emptiness, the absence of anything, any light, any wrinkle, any indicator of the one I loved. Like a black hole. It had a quality I had never seen before, like something that existed before anything existed. Something extracted from the edge of the Universe, where there was nothing, and only nothing.
“What purpose?” I asked, fearful and yet apathetic.
“To BREAK you,” It said this with venom and delight.
“You wanted me to feel- like this? To give up?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Can you think of any other rational reason? And I guarantee you it is not an irrational urge that played my hand,” This was the reason for all of it. The reason for torturing me, hurting me, deluding me, showing me all the things that should never have been seen. So that I would welcome death, even whisper his name in hope that he might grace me with an empty grave. The casket was optional. This was bitter defeat. I had been defeated all along without realizing it.
“So. What now? You’ve succeeded. I don’t understand why, I don’t understand any of this, the only thing I know is you’ve achieved your goal. Slit my throat, chew my intestines, torture my body, whatever, please, just finish it,” A deep, satisfied laugh emanated from the black pit, seemingly nowhere and yet everywhere at once.
“This is the best part! Now, I’m leaving the last page of our story to you!” What did that mean? There was silence while it stared at me, as if waiting for me to react, though I was perfectly content to sleep within the inferno that now encompassed me. The fire had won, erasing the walls and enveloping me in an incendiary ring. Ashes were the only possible outcome. The flames seem to rise up steadily, perpetually, as if they were somehow gaining more energy from their sickly, meager victim.
However, my observation was cut short when I began to feel my heartbeat began to tremble. It’s like the rhythm changed, like the beats hit harder and slower at times, until I began to feel the blood drain out my face, I felt sick, the air was thin, difficult to breathe, the flames were dying, the light diminishing. Until the darkness. It was dark indeed.
I had been staring at him since I woke, not usually concerned with a person asleep but worried at his state of uneasiness. He had been twisting a bit, murmuring things as if in a nightmare awake, and he wore dark expressions on his face. Then his breathing pattern changed, he started to cough a bit, and finally, as if defibrillated back to life, he sat up, taking a long inhale. He looked around, bewildered, unsure of what to make of his settings. He then noticed me, and his visage shifted, embodying the deepest sorrow I had ever seen. We stared at each other for some time. He had a look of acceptance upon his face, mixed in with the burden of an experience unmentionable. It seemed he was having acute déjà vu.
“Again,” He muttered hollowly. He sounded defeated.
“What? What is going on, what’s wrong with you? Why do you have that look on your face?” I asked, growing more agitated by the second. There was something very wrong here, and the dark sense of foreboding diffused through the room like tear gas.
“Ah, my love, if I could only tell you. I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance. I was somewhere- different. I’ve been gone a long time. I used to not be able to remember it, but now I can remember every detail, every moment, even not remembering,” He said this softly, but also with a bitterness that completely contrasted it.
“You’ve been here the whole time, ever since last night. We tripped, we passed out, that’s it, you’ve been RIGHT HERE! You were asleep, it was only a dream,” At this, a corner of his mouth upturned sadly, as if there was something ironic about what I had said.
“I’ve heard that before. No, no, I’m done with this all. I’m not going to get you back, just to lose you, just to get you back, blah, blah, no more of these games, no more cycles. I’m done,” He was so grave, so somber, so sincere, like he had been here many times before and had learned exactly what needed to be done. What sort of dream did he have? Or trip? Was it the drug that had caused this? In the middle of my contemplation, he got up, deliberately walking towards the bathroom. For some reason I was concerned about this, so I followed, arriving just as he closed the door. I heard the lock turn.
“Hey! What’re you doing?” A mirror smashed. What was happening? His voice sounded, muffled.
“Listen, my darling, I have some things to tell you. I have told you them before, before all this and in that netherworld. Firstly, I do not love you. It is indeed something more than love, but it also incorporates it. I can’t describe it, but it’s like you are all of Creation, like you are God itself, the sole thing that my palpitating pulse ever did need. You’ve become a part of me, more than me, more important than anything I’ve ever known,” His voice wavered, tremulous from how tightly his emotions gripped his throat.
“Did you know that before I met you, I was deeply depressed? Of course you do, I told you, but do you know how bad? Ah, I was totally disconnected from the world, it almost seemed as if it were alien! Almost not real, almost like a dream: I was living with these fake phantoms of people whose faces were indistinct. I was surrounded by them, these disgusting vermin, they were breathing down my neck, staring at me, judging me with the deepest degree of loathing. They were so critical, but so faceless, as if at an eternal masquerade. They were real people, you understand, but to me, they were all insignificant, like burgundy bricks in a wall,”
“I subliminally feared them, hated them, constantly reminding myself that they did not care for me. So I did not care for them. They were not me, nowhere close, and they could not empathize, and given the chance I would have destroyed them in the most excruciating way, I would have MURDERED them without a single hesitation. They were disgusting, disdainful, treacherous leeches. And it hurt to realize I was one of them,”
“The most flagrant detail of those times was the vivid red streaked along all of their visages, red because the smoldering anger formed a film over my eyes. Then I met you. I don’t know what you did, how you did it, but you redeemed me, you removed the veil and redeemed my vision, you redeemed humanity. I was alive again, I cared again, men were not faceless insects but real people I could relate to again. For that, I loved you, and still to this second, more than will ever be verbally conveyable,”
“And it is for this reason that I do this. I hope this may be a dream for you, that somehow you can hear what I’m saying. You always seem so real in these sequences that I think you might be there, at least some part of you. I just can’t deal with this, I can’t handle nightmares like these. I’m going to finally wake up. I love you so much, with a light unimaginable. But does light even exist where it has never been heard of?” Then it got quiet. Silent tears slalomed down my face.
“Please just come back out,” I begged him. There was a sound of glass shattering, then I heard him sputtering, like he was choking. Reflexively, I grabbed a fire poker, smashed the door knob off and kicked the door open. His legs stopped it, he was lying on the floor, a shard of mirror stained red next to his hand, his throat gushing a sea, all his life force spilled out upon linoleum tile. He sounded as if he was dying, and he was, but he did not truly look it. With stunning willpower, he restrained his arms from clutching his throat, so that he could drain out faster, as if even a second in this world was too long. His face, though, his countenance bore such tranquility, such peace, he was at ease, if one who were pouring blood from the throat could be. He truly wanted this, and I could not understand why.
“No, no, no, no no no no,” I kept muttering over and over. I jumped over towards him, placing his head in my lap, holding him, my heart broken. Why?
He looked up at me with an ashy face, and I could see in him the undying love, the unyielding compassion, the very addiction he held for me. What would drive him to do this? His blood slowed to a trickle, his eyelids closed halfway, and my one true love was taken away from me.
I woke up on a stone slab in a small room, encased by heavy stones, and a long, dark hallway that almost seemed to lead to oblivion. The air was heavy, like a tomb. I was not sure where I was, what I was doing here, or how I got here, but I had the strange sensation that I had just fallen from a cloud in Heaven to the deepest depth of the ocean, the darkest abyss. Like I had Heaven in the palm of my hand and I threw it away.