I found myself looking up at the ceiling, with my mouth greedily grasping at the humid, morning air. “Thank God! It was just a dream…only a dream.” I muttered into the pillow. Gathering my wits about me I looked around the room. It was my bedroom, I was certain. The familiarity was slowly coming into focus. My favorite chair sat in the corner with my clothes loosely laid over it in a chaotically organized fashion; The mostly clean clothes on one side of the chair and the recently worn on the other. The pants, I’d worn the day before, lay on the floor, in front of the chair, near the dresser. It’s drawer lay partially open with a crumpling of white shirts and oddly paired socks peeking out. My eyes scanned the other side of the room, before coming to rest on my laptop, still sitting in an upright position, partially open on the desk. The electric blue light from the display shown across the room onto the bed sheets, bunched up around my legs, having been pulled free from the corners of the bed during the night.
I hated sleep. Maybe, not so much sleep itself, if I could get enough of it, but I’d lost so much sleep to nightmares over the past, few years. Not to mention, I also viewed the time spent on sleep as wasted and unused; an improper use of time, misappropriated and funneled away from the maximization of self. It was not enough to simply exist in society. If you weren’t finding novel ways to deprive yourself of sleep through the various tortures of sleep diets – napping for two hour increments – or varying food diets – starving yourself for sixteen to eighteen hours a day or limiting yourself to only protein, or protein vegetable synthetics, you were wasting your potential. At times, I reflected on the ridiculousness of it all. We all scurried along, Bird or human, lead by the unseen goal of depriving oneself of life in order to maximize the outward projection of success. Nonetheless, I always quickly shrugged of the notion and returned to my sleep hangover.
Laying the palm of my hand against my face. The weight of it, the thought of the returning nightmare, was…like a cat, slowly, walking across ominous notes. The ordeal left me with a sticky mouth and dry throat. Sitting upright in the bed, I yawned into the humid atmosphere of the room. I swung my legs to the side of the bed, I dragged along the unmoored sheets, soaked in spots from last night’s flight from nightmare. Hanging my head, just above my knees, I prayed, against my better judgement, for five minutes of unmolested sleep.
After ten minutes of struggle, I finally capitulated to the realization that the day should and would begin with or without me. Dragging my collection of bones through the bathroom doorway, I paused in front of the wash basin. I looked at my reflection in the mirror, examining the color of my eyes, the lines cutting into my face from the pillow, and the pallor of my tongue. Thirsty, I reached for a glass of water and poured it over the cracked earth of my throat.
I noticed the bluish-gray tones of pregnant clouds gathering in the sky, while looking out the bathroom window. A flock of birds thrust into the air, above the empty husks and remnants of harvested corn, just as a few raindrops began to collect on the window. I placed the empty glass down and rubbed my fingers across my face. Closing my eyes, I focused on the feeling of each individual hair fighting and tugging against the stroke.
You hear that Samaritan?
I swallowed several times in response to an earthy and metallic taste that infected the air. I opened my eyes and looked around the room, before spotting the girl crouching on the edge of the tub. The sight of her would have and did startle me a few weeks ago. But after several weeks of her unwanted visits, I had now become accustomed to her presence.
“Hear what?” I replied.
My question was answered by a banging sound on the door across the hall. The muted tones of voices seeped through the walls before amplifying into yelling and screaming and what sounded like a door being broken from its hinges. “No, no, no! Please leave us alone! Please.” I ran over to the keyhole to get a view. I’d recognized the family. I’d seen them periodically in the hallway. A mother, who now fell back into the apartment behind a blow to her face, the father who was being dragged from the home, while the young boy, could be heard crying. “Help! Help! Please, no, let him go! Don’t take my daddy away!”
A black mass of smoke quickly moved into view, delivering a concussive force that pushed me away from the door. The walls been to shake, riding the destructive amplitude of what sounded like a loud train passing. I could hear what sounded like thousands of murmuring voices all speaking at once, all sounding as one, yet each one distinct.
My legs shook as I lay on the floor locked in a seizure. The intense pain and pressure in my head was nearly unbearable. I recalled exchanged pleasantries with the family, in passing. They’d kept to themselves mostly, but were never remiss in offering a smile before resuming their conversation, mostly conducted in a language that was too foreign for my ears to understand. I gritted my teeth and groaned under the weight of the images and emotion from their lives as they rapidly raced through my mind. I feared I would lose consciousness, if I had to endure the strain for much longer.
“Samaritan. What do you think? Do you think you can help them?” Her questions shook me out of the seizure. Scrambling back to the keyhole, I saw various yellow eyes moving among the dark clouds. I pushed away from the keyhole as the familiar sensations, from the girl’s plight overcame me – pain, helplessness, sadness, cowardice, empathy, fear. Why was she asking me these questions? If I opened the door, the smoke, cloud, creature, whatever it was, would come for me too. Didn’t she understand? I looked at the girl’s eyes and placed my hand on the door knob. What can I do? What could I do? Looking back at her, I tightened my grip on the knob. No! No! No. I told myself as I released my hand and slid it away.
Turning my attention back to the keyhole, I watched the father, son, and then the mother scream as they were dragged into and consumed by the mass of black smoke with hundreds of yellow eyes.
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