Wonder: A Short Story In Fear
Late last night, I woke with a sense of anxiousness and fear, only to be accosted by my reflection in the mirror at the end of my bed, which then caused my unprepared body to flail and stumble to the ground. With my pride bruised, my heart pounding and a little vomit resting in my throat, I decided to pace about the room. The sweat within my sleepwear made pacing a bit annoying, so I went over to the fan and cooled it from my skin. As the flow of cool air fluttered through the shirt, that I so willing propped open upon the edge of said wind blowing instrument, I let my mind wander a bit. While in this state of loose wandering, my breathing became steady again and I remembered the original reason I awoke in a state of panic. I was dreaming, of course, and it was pretty vivid. However, the remnants of the fear from the dream began to lapse into the night, so I wondered at its cause. What about this dream could drive such fear?
It came to me then, while I played in the realm of unwanted wakefulness, the vivid recollections of terror. I could not stop their assault. They pushed upon the circuits of my frontal cortex, like a dragons flame building in the belly of its master, crushing any other thought that dared to interfere. A feeling of intense pulling began to grip me from inside. Forcing me to place the fan down and cup my head into my hands. I fought the feeling, but each time I tried the intensity grew exponentially. Finally, to ease the burden I gave in and the world around me faded.
Sound floats to my ears, people talking and rock music playing. I open my eyes to see a bar, no a night club, I am unsure which. I have never been here, yet, it is familiar. It smells like my hometown in the summer after my neighbors finished cutting their grass. That smell of Cheerios and Grass rather than liquor, human stench and greasy bar food. I am standing with some friends. I am sure I know them but from where I can't remember. Yet, I am sure I feel safe and happy. So why do I have this sick feeling inside? The two too friendly friends and their girlfriends smile at me saying something. It's garbled and I can't make any sense of it, and the whole time they are spouting their incomprehensible gibberish, they salute me with their martini glasses. I look away to our table and at the fondue steaming lightly into the air; it smells of apples and maple trees. I wave to my table mates to let them know I'll be back, even though I'm sure I won't, due entirely to the fact that I now have a sudden hellish hate for fondue and wanted to smash the fucking pot on the ground.
I walk to the back of the establishment searching franticly for the bathroom. I find a familiar grayish metal door, one I used many times running in and out of my parents home. On it rests a sign that says "bathroom - please remember to wash your hands" but as I walk through I find myself in my childhood bedroom instead. The uneasiness of being transported through the front door of my childhood home, and into my childhood bedroom, drowns me in gut wrenching pain. Unable to control my body functions any longer, I release the sickness that was invading my insides. The stinging fluid spews about the floor and pools at the edge of my bed. I stare at it for a moment, poking at it with my blue canvas shoes. How strange that it is so spongy to the touch. I faintly remember speaking to my childhood therapist about this, but it is a fleeting thought because my attention is again focused outward as the room begins to brighten around me. On that beat up twin bed of mine, the bed I spilled copious amounts of sexual fluid and marijuana upon, rests a ball of yarn. It begins to grow faster and faster and I am quickly losing the ability to move about the room. I turn to run from this place but there is no longer any escape. The room has no doors or windows, the walls are bright white and blinding but the looming suffocation from the growing yarn of death is all that matters. My body is pressed against the wall and I feel the bones inside cracking, the air from my lungs leaving, a little blood escapes from my lips and I pass out.
I open my eyes to the now not so appealing sight of the two too friendly friends, dressed in day coats and slacks. and their girlfriends dressed in matching, albeit of different colors, princess gowns. They help me from the floor and I brush myself off, the sting of vomit still resting in my throat. One is in differing shades of grey with his princess in sky blue, which of course, matches the flower resting upon his lapel. The other is in shades of black with his princess in emerald green, which matches his flower, as well. Their too many teeth smiles gleam like tiny disco balls as they dip their hands to allow me a spot upon the dance floor. Above me is a chandelier filled with crystallized lighting that pours sunlight upon all in attendance. The room is filled with Greek inspired pillars and carvings of their gods. The walls are made of marble and gold and bare images of Roman antiquity and its scholars. The floor itself appears to be as smooth as glass and sparkles when the light of the chandelier bounces seductively about it. Unable to stop myself, I begin to dance with the two too friendly friends as their princesses look on with maniacal grins.
The movements of the dance don't alarm me as much as the grins on the people around me. Their grinning face seem to scream at me "We want you to be happy. We want you to stay with us." I notice that the rest of the people in the ballroom are more robotic and less alive than the two too friendly folks and their maidens. They also seem to be slightly out of focus so I can't seem to make out any faces. I want to get to the truth and find out what is happening, but my attention to all the grinners around me begins to ebb. The motion of the dance starts to become my sole focus. It is calming, like a steady sea slowly licking at the shore, and I can feel my fear start to fade away. I can sense, deep within myself, a nagging emotion trying to push its way through. I know I am lost to the grinners. I can feel my lips forming into a smile, stretching to the point of ripping, and I am euphoric. I am without pain.
That nagging feeling is getting stronger. I now realize I am being drained, but before I can panic, a woman enters through the far hall doors. She is dressed in a ball gown of red silk and jewels. The dress is laced in intricate hand-woven patterns that seem to flow like water with every step, and all around her the light licks at the jewels causing them to wink like starlight. Her blond hair flowers about her shoulders, while it also flows like a waterfall down her back. The intense determination and promise of kindness within her warm brown eyes melts my very soul, leaving me frozen in mid step. Unable to speak, I watch as she strides through the crowd to a seat set aside from everyone else in the room. She smiles and waves to no one in particular, but as she sits it seems she is almost immediately forgotten by all but me, and just as quick as the ball attendees stopped in curiosity for her entrance they begin to move with the music once again. I try to go to her but I am stunned into shock as I can no longer take in breath. I frantically search the room for help. The two too friendly friends smile at me once more and suddenly I am struck with a pure cold that seeps into my bones. My vision seems to fail me as the ballroom begins to fall away. After a few moments of silence my sight is returned to a room devoid of all life, with ice formed stalactites and stalagmites that cover the floor and ceiling. The chandelier, once a shining beacon of hope, is now dark and unused, leaving the only light available peeking from the opening of the doors at the end of the hall.
Looking around I hope to find some sort of explanation or some sign of life that I may have missed, but there is nothing. Except, wait, there are small signs but I just missed them at first. Pulling my eyes back to where the women once sat. I notice that she was now frozen. A perfect reflection of her former self, forever trapped in an icy cell. But her eyes move about and I realize she is just as aware as I. Fear is mirrored in those eyes that once gave hope but she is unable to scream. I can see the question in her eyes "save me or give me death". I tell myself there may be a chance to save her, to save us. I try to move to help her but find that I cannot lift my legs because from my knees down I have become solid stone infused into the ice around me. I swing my head up as a snapping sound comes from above her. I will myself to move, to shelter her before it falls but I am helpless to watch as the stalactite crashes down, piercing into the chest of the women trapped within the ice. Her blood pours out in streams like lava from an erupting volcano and I am shaking, I am screaming but no one can hear. My ears start to ring with the sound of snapping coming from above me, but before I can see what it is the world goes dark.
I am still here. I can still feel. However, I am no longer in the ballroom. I am in a hallway that seems familiar but one I can not place. There are no windows, no doors, save one. The wallpaper that covers each wall is dingy, colored red and in a awful 1950's flower pattern. With no where else to go I open the door. As the door swings open a warm breeze hits me. The smell of summer permeates the air. She is standing at the balcony in a sun dress of yellow flowers and pink trim. She is everything I can remember and more. My heart jumps but it chokes up my words as I notice someone else in the room. The sick feeling is back again, anger and pain swells into my blood infecting every muscle with pure rage and murderous intent. She looks at me and smiles a sad smile as I walk further in. I explain to her the good news I have. That we are able to finally be free and have the things we talked about in the beginning. But she has other plans and my heart is ripped from my chest, as this fucking pig fuck stands with his too friendly friend grin, daring me to rip his spine through his holy shepherding, piss infused, bottle nozzle. I plead like a child and rip at my chest until the blood leaks down. But why? Why? Her reasons aren't understood through speech because the words are gone before they are said, Yet, I can feel them because they rip me apart deeper than any blade or any physical wound ever could. He laughs at my weakness and I scream, brandishing a gun at his chest then to hers and back again. "You piece of unwashed foreskin looking down on me while your pickle whistle ponders its last wish, fuck you." I don't understand and I have to release the pain, so I take a steak knife from a plate with a piece of unfinished steak paired with an assortment of garden vegetables. I think to myself that in another circumstance that steak would be pretty damn good but instead I take the knife and slide it across my arm, spraying the blood upon this useless human being. Oh, how I laugh as he shrinks away in disgust. Back and forth, back and forth, the pistol sways and on and on she screams "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." No, you're not. Not one fucking bit. I turn away and begin to walk from the room and as I lift the gun to my mouth, she screams again.
The fan is blowing on me and it's a bit cold. I wake with a sense of anxiousness and fear, only to be accosted by my reflection in the mirror at the end of my bed, which then causes my unprepared body to flail and stumble to the ground. She asks if I'm okay. I silently hold back the vomit in my throat but respond as calm as possible "Yeah I guess. It was just a dream, I'm okay". To reassure her further, I try to smile my best too friendly friend smile while the sweat still weighs upon my skin and I tell her I love her. I sit up, breathing slowly to cool my body and watch her until she falls back asleep.
© 2014 Warren Curtis Daniels Jr