P.34 the Last Letters

      I found myself in the company of a number of people, all evidently enjoying themselves socializing over drinks and formalities. As usual, I would practically have rather taken a gunshot wound than stay there any longer. I didn’t recall any particular faces or people I knew, but at some point I saw a small white light flitting spastically about the room. It could have been a hummingbird or other small finch- but it somehow conveyed to me that I should follow it, and since I was seeking any excuse to leave, I obliged. 

      I followed the light for an unknown distance to a barren place I did not recognize until I came upon a single tree. It was a small shrub- like tree, and in its fragile branches and flying all around were a hundred-some birds; every kind of avian I knew of and many more, of every brilliant color imaginable. They were all in pairs of two- mates ever chasing eachother in circles, spiraling up into the air in an elegant dance, then very suddenly darting off in opposite directions, only to meet up again to repeat the process in a seemingly endless repetition. 

As I drew nearer to the tree, the light flew off to its match and the birds began to alight all over me. I held out my arms, quite awestruck by the occurrence, taking the most particular notice of a Blue Jay and a Cardinal. 

    After this, I had the same dream again. The light led me to the tree, only this time the tree had grown much larger, and was now in the middle of a creek that was fed by a spring of water that had come up from through a rock in the ground a short distance off. The water had caused the Earth around the tree to erode away, and turn into a small waterfall. The same birds in number and color flew about and in its branches. 

I sat on a rock at the top of the waterfall, watching the birds enjoy  themselves, drink from the falling waters, and alight all on and around me. Then as a young man of my age and of a similar appearance to my own sat down next to me; the waters dried up, the spring died, and all of the birds flew away. 

    I had the dream a third time. Following the light, it this time led me somewhere different, across an open field and to a rectangular wooden building divided into a few sections- perhaps some kind of stable. I was led to open the farthest door, and inside again were all the birds of every color- but this time in the thousands, and many of them sparkled similarly to the way the guiding light did, dancing about in the same circular routine, glinting of silvers and golds. I then woke up. 

….

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p.21

       Sleep in the ER was just as difficult to find as it had been at Alhambra, but I managed to fall asleep for a half hour or so a couple times, during which I had all kinds of dreams from the very moment I feel asleep until the lights or noise woke me. To me this was exceptionally interesting, considering other than very recently, I had never been one to have dreams- or technically, to remember any of them. But since the few days before and specifically after the episode a couple nights back, it was like some some switch had gone off in my brain- turning some things on, and others off. The dreaming seemed so life-like and consistent over the past couple nights that I had to really think about what had actually come to pass or been said, and what had not.

     In one dream I was walking down a long, unearthly white, empty hallway, with only one single door halfway down that was closed. I walked to the door, taking note of the particular energy of the place- very familiar- but I didn’t remember ever being here before. It was a dark wooden door that was covered in countless scraps of paper with quotations and various things written on them, some pictures, and one big quote right in the middle of the door, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I reached to find that the door was locked, and then was surprised by a woman who had somehow managed to walk up behind me without my noticing. She was an attractive Persian woman of mid forties, with long black hair, and abnormally large brown eyes. We spoke casually for a few minutes; again she felt somehow oddly familiar, though I had never met this woman. I asked her a few questions, to which she answered very succinctly- but when I awoke I had difficulty recollecting much of anything that had been said.

     In another, I was back in my hometown, at Dr.’s Coffee shop, evidently meeting up with someone from online. Walking up to the shop, I saw the same familiar three small, circular metal tables;  There was a man sitting by himself with a plain cup of coffee in front of him, at the rickety table with the one short leg, where I always sat. I guessed that perhaps it was a couple decades younger version of Jack; Jack and Dorris were an elderly couple in their early seventies- they had been together for over 50 years- and had sat outside the shop together with coffee and hot chocolate every single afternoon I’d ever gone there (which was frequently), ever since I was a kid. But where was Dorris? What did it mean? Had she died? I stood waiting a bit off in the distance until I saw the guy arrive. He too was dressed in all black with long ebony hair pulled back in a ponytail. Glancing at the young Jack-like man as I walked by to meet the young man, he turned from his coffee, very clearly looked me square in the eyes, and I heard a voice in my head say that I ought not to go- that I should just turn around and leave. 

     I ignored the thought and went to meet the young man. He clearly didn’t believe in chivalry as we went inside, but that had never been of much consequence to me. We didn’t get coffee or anything, but wandered  upstairs, where I followed him down a dimly lit hallway. Of course the thought crossed my mind that it didn’t seem a terribly great idea, but I was curious nonetheless and barely wary of consequences these days. We went down one hallway to another, turning corners right and left in a dizzying order I could not recollect. The doors and turns continued to multiply, as the light grew darker, until it had all but completely left- and I realized that this was a maze; he had intentionally led me here, and was now completely gone. I was there in the pitch blackness again, surrounded by walls on all sides that seemed to be moving in closer and closer together. I knew that I did not know the way out.  I then awoke to the observation room.

7.1 free write- the Red Letter Labyrinth 

      I was running- or at least trying. My legs were heavy as lead, numb, and seemingly only moving in slow motion, no matter how much effort I made to flee. They were going to catch me if I couldn’t think of something quick. It had been hours, and I was simply too weary to run any more. I turned a corner and slowly, painfully made my way along the alley between two of the countless black structures that could have once resembled tiny single-room homes, throwing up dense clouds of the black soot beneath my feet as I went. I weakly sank to the ground, propping myself up against the wall. 

       I could barely make out anything in this tangible darkness, and felt a thick, stifling heat on my suffocating skin. There was only a barely perceptible, sickly yellow glow coming from the inside of a few of the shambled buildings, but the poor illumination barely even threw itself outside of the windowless cut-outs in its crumbling walls. I knew there were no people here- maybe there once had been. Perhaps there had once been happily naive semblances of families. Maybe there had once been children walking about in the sunlight, dreaming of all that the world or divine fates held in store for their hearts of such characteristically child-like faith. Perhaps there had the great number of fortunate lovers lost in something great enough to temporarily numb out reality. There had once been names and faces that meant so very much more to those who were theirs, than words could ever say. Perhaps there had once even been words that did mean something. 
         But I knew that was so long ago, that I could remember no more beyond a dry, pallid, detached understanding of what any of those things felt like. I knew no one even knew I was here in this infernal darkness; I knew they were all far away in their own cages, corridors, or lives.

       I sensed that they were almost upon me again; out for the irreconcilable debt of flesh and blood that they had forever condemned themselves to.                   I sat down in the dust, for my legs would move no further and my body was growing heavier.           Why run? There would never be anywhere to run to. I looked up to where I recalled there had once been a sky, and opened my mouth to utter a prayer; but the words did not come. I was always mute when I most needed to cry for help or make peace. 

I felt their ghastly presence drawing closer still- likely moments before I would be found. 

     They simply wanted to make their agony mine as well- who knows that I wouldn’t ever do the same at such a tempting prospect. Yet I truly never felt that my misery really loved company, but it’s what I used to see all those used-to-be -people doing all around; looking for something or someone to share the torment- to identify, to be seen and felt as a soul. But then again, these beings didn’t have souls anymore, and I grew again inexpressibly terrified at the implications.                I rose to my feet. 

      Looking down to find my legs, I wasted a moment to brush the ash from my crimson shirt. I could feel nothing but the roaring, panicked static in my head. It seemed like nothing else had ever been real.

I stepped back out staring through the swirling soot and down the road fading into blackness. 

The pain woke me, and I opened my eyes to behold the same profane grey ceiling.