Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A short bit of fiction about losing an eye and waking up in an alley.

To say that the pain was blinding would be an understatement.

It was all over my face as soon as I woke up. The pain, the suffering, the feeling. All the things that characters in movies shout about when they get plugged in the kneecap. But I wasn’t shouting. Not about the pain, not about anything. I was trying my hardest just to breathe.

In and out. It seems like the simplest thing in the world most of the time, but when you can’t…worse than drowning. It’s not like the oxygen isn’t THERE. I’m not holding my head down in the tub, trying my hardest to bump myself off. The air is all around me, and I want it. I want it as much as I’ve ever wanted anything. But I just can’t seem to get it. Can’t breathe. Can’t see. But I can feel it all just fine.

I move my hands up to what had once been my face, instead finding thick and slippery fluid where my average features used to be. The streaming liquid gets in my way, my sight, my breath, my thoughts lost amidst all of the pain. My hands press against the remnants harder, hoping to feel the familiar contours beneath all of the mess. I hear my fingernails clicking against something, and my hands move into action.

They grab and pry my jaw open as if it belonged to someone else. The jaw wrenches itself against the motion, but my hands are firm, my hands are still strong. And when the jaw itself is open, I lose the sound as well. All becomes lost beneath the unbearable sound of buzzing, as a torrent of hornets stream from my throat.

I try to scream, but I gag and choke instead, the stream of buzzing beasts still flowing with no sign of stopping. I find my legs and run, run anywhere. Run away from myself, from what I had become. They still move from my mouth, stealing my hearing and whatever tiny bit of sight that I had left. But I can still feel.

I feel them swimming through the air around me, slipping about in the oil slick of blood that covers my face, taking their time, not stinging me yet. Not quite yet. But I can still feel them touching me, touching all parts of me, singing the horrifying onomatopoetic song that they’re known for, the sound as terrible and as beautiful as their pulsating little bodies. And somehow I find water.

It’s a small depression at the end of the alley, some oversight in construction made worse by curious people digging out what insides it had left. Leftover storm water fills out its space, making it appear somewhat solid unless your foot had the fortune of sinking into it. My head goes under that surface, and I willingly gulp down the slimy brown water. I keep it down, losing the sound within the icy womb of the puddle. All I know is that I want to drown the little bastards.

Time has yet to show itself to me, so I have no idea how long it is before I pull my head free from the water. The alley is lifeless now, the shadows strewn about in a casually menacing manner. They remind me of that room. But that thought is lost when another stab of pain comes from my face. My hands go up to the surface that is less covered than it was before, and I feel the inside of my right eye socket. Empty. The blood still gobs out of the hole, and I stagger forward, looking for whatever help I can.

With one hand pressed to my socket, I find the help with the hand and eye I have left. My body stumbles out of the alley, towards the glow of the Thrifty that lies across the street. My fingers grip the cold iron of a pipe that had just been waiting there, waiting for me to use it. The glass bangs against my pipe, refusing to yield even though I’m giving it all I have.

The blood still is moving out, streaming from around my fingers, as my other hand moves and works against the glass. When it finally does shatter, I barely even notice. It just seems to give in, it finally stops resisting. It falls before me.

As I step in through the wreckage of my own design, my mind wanders again. Wanders to an image I had, one that set itself into my mind before I even knew what was happening to me. My eyes stray to the clock that glows red on the pharmacy wall. 2:35 AM. It had all only happened a half hour ago. He had slithered in during my shift, the late shift at Kinko’s, just as I was about to step out. My coat was on and everything.

My free hand helps guide the eye I have left, eventually coming across a roll of pure, clean white gauze. I take my other hand off my face, the fingers now sticky with my own fluid, and ball it up to as accurate a size I can manage. In it goes.

The man had only wanted to make some copies, it seemed innocent enough. But when I looked at the papers he wanted, strange things with words barely filling the pages, sentences incomplete or impossible to understand, the image flashed within my brain. An ancient typewriter, covered in ominous shadows like the alley outside. The typewriter is alone and motionless, but the familiar CHUN CHUNK sounds still fill the air around it. The air that isn’t full of swarming, silent hornets.

My hands tremble as they shove the wad of gauze, the surface no longer clean and white, within the space caused by the gap in my consciousness. It had only been a half-hour ago. I wipe the blood from my fingers with the remaining gauze on the roll, tainting it. Just 30 minutes. My hands lead me around once more, until they finally find the roll of silvery slick tape that I had been looking for. It had barely been any time at all. My precious fingers tear off a small square, one just large enough to cover the hole. A half-hour. The gauze has staunched the blood a decent amount, and the tape manages to stick without much trouble. 30 minutes. The tape is reinforced with two more squares, and finally my hands are free.

It’s good that they’re free, because I’m going to need them.


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