*Author’s Note. I apologize for the intrusion on the tale, but I must give some explanation on the time line here. This will violate the drama some, unfortunately. I definitely see that. Imagine the angst, finally a good story to tell and now I have to violate it, by pointing out the fact that I survived whatever adventure I have now gone through (how’s that for an author’s deft touch), but it’s true. These events are taking place approximately two months ago. I am just now, in a good enough place shall we say, to share these writings. Sorry for the intrusion. I hope I haven’t spoiled everything…oh god…
I stumbled into the kitchen and got a glass of water. I looked out the window, the world was still grey with night. There was no way I was going back to sleep. But second I was resolved to it, a hard urge to sleep kicked in. I went to my living room sat down on the couch, but I was so tired. I couldn’t get comfortable, so I laid down, coaxing myself with the same lie that had become routine. I just have a powerful imagination, none of this is really happening. Right as I started to drift off, I felt an iron grip, digging into my leg.
I shot up in the room, looking around for who grabbed my leg. This wasn’t a dream. I had to accept what was going on here. I decided to take a walk. I tiptoed back into my room. My wife rolled over and I stood there stuck on the spot.After a few tense moments, I grabbed a pair of shorts, and a shirt and slide back out.
I carefully shut the door and headed out the back. Mugginess greeted me and almost pushed me back in the house. My fear was too strong for that though. At first I headed in the same direction of the corner gas station and the Dollar General, but my memories of that awful experience pushed me the other way.
The morning dew was on everything. It just looked and felt sticky with humidity, like glue was seeping up from the ground. My sleepiness was a backpack now, and with every block it was like another hunk of stone was being tossed in it. I’m going crazy that is the only reasonable explanation. I probably need to commit myself. That’s what I was thinking, but as the normalcy of the world seeped back in me, that sounded absurd too. Also the idea of being trapped in a room, with boredom and sleepiness guaranteed, sounded like a very dangerous proposition.
I wondered about that too, like what was happening over there with me, now that I was out? That hand on the ankle was so real, and perhaps a clue. I figured he was probably dragging me to a corner and tying me up or something. My experiences over there taught me that time was all janky-wanky, slowed down. I bet that’s why he was squeezing so hard, cause everything was moving so slow. I wondered if I just sort of popped out of existence over there, or over here, back and forth. What if it happened when I was driving?
Sometimes when I’m over there, and my mind starts to wander. I can feel that place swelling underneath me. Like when I close my eyes, I can just feel this sense of hollowness. That none of it is really there and it’s all just a stage thats thrown up, right when I open my eyes. I do this as trick as I am walking. I start thinking about that cabin, recreating it my mind and just like before I start feeling that watering swelling under my feet. I pop my eyes open real fast, trying to catch it, but it’s the same muggy, grey morning, and I just keep walking.
It’s weird being out this early like this. I have never just taken a random walk a little before five am. There’s a lot more activity then I would have expected. I come open this kid, probably sixteen years old, sitting on the porch, all dressed, with his car keys dangling. I give him a little nod you know, good morning I am thinking. His face doesn’t even register me. I hear his truck fire up behind me and it makes me jump as he roars down the street.
I begin to notice all the people look sort of out of it, suspicious even. When you really think about it, what is a person doing about at this time? Didn’t they sleep? It really is a strange to think that while you’re all snug in your bed, the whole hive of humanity is percolating and shaking, just wandering the street around your house, doing lord knows what.
I keep walking though and doing this little game, trying to get back to that cabin, to see what is happening, but it never works. It’s like the further I get away from my house the more angry I become. My anger focuses on one thing, Cassandra.
I start barking at her in my head. Tell me what to do Cassandraaaaa. You like that, Cassandra, I know your name now. You gonna help me out of this? Or you gonna let that psycho kill me? Nothing. Dead air. Not a peep. I know she’s in there, rolling around behind my eye-balls, but she doesn’t say a single word. Oh okay, I think. That’s how you’re gonna play it? Drag me into this shit and not even give me a heads up Pete’s a psycho? Ok. That’s fine.
I’m a hot, grunting mess at this point. I should have brought my water bottle, because I am very thirsty, and my stomach begins to roll, and I realize I haven’t anything to eat since lunch the previous day. I skipped dinner because I was too anxious about bed time.
I have to sit down. I realize I have probably walked two miles. The sun is starting to yellow the ground and melt off the morning stick. Everything is so hazy and it feels like I am drunk. Suddenly I can’t move my head off my chest.
My wrists start to burn and it snaps me out of it and I look over and there’s a woman sitting on the bench. I think it’s Cassandra for a minute in some other skin, and I almost grab her. The woman doesn’t acknowledge me or even look at me. She has a little empty cart with wheels, and I see I’ve taken a seat at a bus stop. It gives me the willies, you know creepers up my spin, that I can’t really tell what’s what, and for the first time I feel truly crazy.
Out of nowhere the small old woman reaches out and grabs my hand. Her hand is so real, warm and bony and comforting. “It’s gonna be okay,” she whispers.
“Thank you,” I say.
“Gotta be strong though,” she says. “Keep your chin up. This generation’s too emotional, too sensitive. They’ll eat you up over there acting like that.” My throat seizes up. I try to pull my hand from hers.
“Calm down son,” she urges. “Think your special or something? I can hear it blasting out of you, like a boom box. You been up to something real stupid, haven’t ya?”
“I don’t know,” I say. I don’t try to fight her now for some reason. Instead I just close my eyes and tilt my head back. I think I could get some peaceful rest, as long as the woman keeps holding my hand. She’s like an anchor. Her words wrap me like a warm blanket. “Now what you got to know is the other world ain’t that far away. You probably know that by now. Of course you do. You know so much, don’t you? Let me tell you something, you definitely don’t know. You die over there son, you die over here. No way to escape that. Because you over here, with all you’re worldly attachments, as they call it nicely, what they really mean is your blood and man juice and all that, while you got all that, you will always be more powerful than them. So don’t be afraid. Be courageous. Watch out for that thing, that woman. She hates mankind; she will not help you.”
Air breaks snap me out of my sleep. The woman is gone. I don’t know if she was even there in the first place. Her last words linger in my ear though. She will not help you. Wasn’t that the truth?