I had been on my own for a while now, entrenched somewhere deep in the city, one more faceless housing unit, indistinguishable from all the countless others. Far away from family and former acquaintances, I buried myself in what I could do, slowly crawling along the substrate like larvae, inching along. I was, basically, alone. I cooked and washed the dishes and hung wet laundry out to dry, like any normal human being should. Every night I would listen to the radio and lay in bed until I drifted into a soft, warm sleep, blissfully content until the morning shone bright, golden rays across the bedroom floor. It wasn’t all that good, but it wasn’t all that bad either. On a night of no singular significance other than the following incident I stood in my kitchen, all aglow with fluorescent warmth, my hands deep in dishwater and soap suds and felt myself being squeezed, an inexplicable sensation of suddenly existing in a zone of warmth and gentle pressure. I was startled, not unexpectedly, and though the experience was not a wholly unpleasant one, I began to wash my hands and dry them, leaving the kitchen and the unfinished dishes in the sink. I sat on my bed and left the lights off. I breathed, an audible breath of warm air, hearing nothing else. Unafraid, still and calm, a pervasive sense of apprehension clung to my insides, like a becalmed vessel of distress. Not feeling anything else and nothing of queerness or note transpiring, I finished the dishes, showered and slept, like any other night, alone.

Some nights the dearth of activity moved me to the kitchen window, many stories above ground level, a deep shade of blue twinkling with stars above me. The stillness of obscurity made me belong with the darkness, a kinship with the shadows that surrounded me, at one with the gloom. I would then slip into the night, dissolving into the murky depths a shadow composed of other shadows. I roamed the land undetectable, another piece of the intricate puzzle of night. I would slink in the alleyways and dark corridors and avoid the orange burn that would expose me and draw out my flesh, lighting my skin a bright hue; the luminosity a bane to my shade. I was not alone then, I would revel in the companionship of darkness, it became a hive, abuzz with dripping life. Then I left my window and the world once again fell into place around me and back I would creep into bed, sated, pleased. Most nights though I would busy myself, the chores of living alone more than abundant and ceaseless, always in motion, life abhorring a vacuum, and no energy wasted. The perniciousness of mental lassitude was not lost on me, and I read books and occasionally visited the library.

The rapid devolution of society in general irked me to no end, when I had to make contact with it, there seemed to me to be a devaluing of the worth of traditions and customary rituals and nothing of value was left in its place, vacuum-abhorrent nature will fill it up, though I shudder at the thought of change, and may God help those who stand in its way. I think about this, preparing my food, a nightly ritual, a habitual marker in my life, my kitchen the epicentre of a devoted cult of me. I relish this act and the thought of ensuring my own sustenance satisfies me and fills me with an undeniable feeling of warmth and pleasure. Later I stand on the tiles of the bathroom floor, bathed in orange light, spilling over the threshold, streaks of luminescence reaching into darkened corners, hidden from everyday view, and I hear the gentlest whisper. A breath, nothing more, a cool wind, the slightest hint of sound. I grip the handle of my toothbrush and stare into the mirror, my eyes frozen in surprise, boring into my own skull. I do not move, though my mind has raced out the door, leaving my physical self - an empty shell - I feel like what veterans must have felt once, seeing and hearing their first explosion. I breathe again, expelling air, slow and long, I feel heady and a rush overwhelms me, I feel death and demons crawl on my skin, their claws raking flesh and death spews venom out of my pores. I close my eyes. I hear silence, like a vice, crushing my skull, breaking my mind. A smile creeps into my mind and crawls on my face, I wonder if I must be giddy from all the brushing. But my heart is still thumping a backbeat tattoo. The gushing coldness of piped supply water pours, sucked into an endless vortex, the entrails of machines and PVC intestines, brought to life by ice. The roar is deafening in the unbroken quietude. The lights are too intense, brilliant electric fire, they open my eyes; bring me alive, like a wind-up machine, a driven, unsentient guardian of sleep, awake like so many others; like so many others alone.

I had been part of something bigger than my own inconsequential existence for some time now. Something deeper. An intangible detail, I was possessed by ruinous depths of soul. Only lately had signs and portends abounded, I had felt it sometimes, aware of its grip on my psyche, but truly I was enlightened of its presence, admittedly late. But now there was nothing else; in the sun, the golden day held empty reflections of the life that seeped in between the cracks and the breaks, every truth a lie, a twisted twin of promise, every person hollow, until the heavens shied and lit the fires of reason and fulfilment, until pain crept into its blankets, snug within the belly of the earth. And as the stars burnt dimly above roads and roofs, eclipsed by arc sodium lamps, fires wreaked vengeance in empty beds and closed the quietly sleeping in shimmering, noisome covers of flame.

Inspired by Kathleen Resch, Robert Bloch, Stephen King and all those short horror stories I like to read.

Washed (?), a. Zool.

Appearing as if overlaid with a thin layer of different color; -- said of the colors of certain birds and insects.


© Webster 1913.

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