In The Box
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July 22nd, 2010 (9:48 PM).
Join Date: Dec 2006
This is one of two stories I wrote today. The first fiction I've written in almost eight years, actually. I've always had an interest in becoming a writer, but now that college is over, I'm actually considering it. So, I'm just looking for some feedback. I'll also post my other story, which is considerably shorter and different in style.
So, without further ado, here's the first:
In The Box
When he woke up, it was night.
Or, so sight would amend.
He stared into the black abyss that was before him, paralyzed by the lack of depth. For all he knew, the darkness was within him as much as around him. There were no stars in the never ending oblique that was nothing, stretching on for infinity, inside and out. The darkness was clouding the well of his soul, equally infinite in its deep crevasses of the mind. Thought wondered through the monolith of the labyrinthine psyche, as a boy wanders through catacombs lacking a torch.
But his brain was as void as the gulf of shadows.
In a fertile attempt at self rapprochement, he tried to sit up, but was halted by a sharp pain in his head. In an instinctual act, his arm quickly tightened its tendons to bring his hand to the throbbing pain, but was blocked by an equal sting, and rested back in its nest beside his thigh.
For the first time, thought-words clouded into his mind, forming from a thick mist of confusion.
was all that materialized.
He felt as if he were floating. Abandoned, entombed in shrapnel of agoraphobia. Suspended in a thick array of black jelly, capable of thought but incapable of movement, a power deferring the possible physics of touch, a doom which has haunted the astronomically curious for decades.
He tried to stretch out his legs, to no avail. They separated like blades of scissors, but were restrained after a certain angle, approximately forty five degrees. It was the same in three dimensional space, as he jetted his legs up quickly, only to hear the sound of his shoes in crash against something rigid and deeply solid.
, he thought. Surely, these movements – what he perceived as movements – were just the remnants of motor, familiar neurological firings in an unfamiliar landscape. But, why the pain?
A headache, perhaps. Yes, that made sense. He was in an accident, and the repercussions were still slowly flooding through him, as a pessimistic reminder that all such aftershocks evoke.
The pain in his head, when compared to the pain in his hand, was equal in feeling; nerve endings flaring, flagging his brain down like a flying mammoth. Or an infinitesimal bug.
No, the pain was on his head, not in it. And he most certainly had feeling in his body. He could feel his hand weak against his thigh, the reverberations of his pants legs scratching together, quietly nudging his legs which they encased.
And the feeling of a pressure on his back. He leaned, tipped, his head forward, and allowed it to drop slightly, at an inclination less than that used in a single, scrupulous nod of approval. The pain was not as intense as the attempted revival of his frame, but he still felt it, edging up the back of his skull and dripping down the back of his neck.
He was still a moment, entrenched in thought.
Where am I?
the thought careened into his mind, leafing through possibilities as one shuffles through a dictionary. But no definition came, and if anything, it raised even more ambiguous considerations: Am I anywhere?
Perception is everything. The combination of all senses combined into an amalgam of sensation which we call consciousness. They say without the aid of one or more sense, the others become more tuned to their surroundings. A person without sight can pick up small traces of wavelengths that otherwise remain unheard. A person who can not hear will see a sharper image implanted on the corneas of the mind's screen.
However, he most certainly could feel. The now subsiding pain in his head and hand corroborated with that question. There was a trace of sound, of a slight hissing. The sound of nothing is strangely metallic. This was not nothing. In fact, it sounded rather proverbial.
The sound of breathing.
The man's heart suddenly began to pump in faster increments, and in response to this, the sound of breathing increased and intensified.
The time of realization is unknown, but the man knew now that the sound breathing was his own. And it was very close, as if confined to the same amount of space he too was entangled within; a small, sheathed mass of flesh and sound and thought, hurdling throughout the eternal darkness of space. But how fast?
The thought quickly dissipated from his mind, as a scattering of cockroaches follows the heating of a light bulb. But this light bulb was not the prescience of understanding; it was merely the abandonment of nonsensical consideration. For a logical thinker, understanding is always within reach, if not necessarily tangible. It is only when faced with the opposition of the unknown that the logical breaks down and the fantastic takes over.
Am I dead?
He was surprised the thought did not come sooner. As a vast disbeliever in an afterlife, anything is possible when you actually reach it. But within this possibility there retained some questions yet unanswered: the pain, for one. Perhaps this was no afterlife, but was in fact a delirious act of sensation after death. The cogs of the brain still moving despite no blood flow, the pangs of nerves echoing within the synapse despite lack of the motor cortex. It was possible.
Yes, it was. He was bodily dead within a filing cabinet of death, his mind waiting until the final shut down of the system ceased all sensation, understanding, and care of understanding. The hissing – alleged breath – was merely the gasses leaving his system. It was possible.
If so, why did he feel so alive? Perhaps in the face of death, the feeling of life itself intensifies as a sullen reminder of what is to be lost; a final slap in the face from a brain which has tasted living and hates to give it up, wants more, damns your body for the inevitable end of thought. It was possible.
He was suddenly taken back at the sound of a million ghostly voices quietly whispering the consensus to him. He realized he had spoken the word, and he was receiving the harmonious plead of acceptance from the entirety of the abyss, dwindling into inaudible breaks and scratches around him as he allowed touch to penetrate his sense of surrounding. The hardness was anticipated, as the now lost pain would declare, but the minute jaggedness is what the source of surprise was. It was only barely smooth, and only slightly cool to the touch. It was not metal, not some operating table, not some slab within a drawer adding to the negative number of lives in the world. It felt like an unglazed coffee table; a poorly sanded bench; the side of a handmade shed overwhelmed by shade, away from the warming rays of the sun, the giver of life.
He inched his fingers from his side, remaining perpendicular to plane of his thigh. His fingers, like the legs of a lost tarantula, swayed four inches beyond the warmth of his own body before the tarantula found before it a wall. Trying to climb this obstacle, the tarantula found the wall was the same make as the floor. Same ragged material, same apparently endearing design, same long, straight and unending cracks along the entirety of the surface.
As the tarantula that is a hand crept its way up the barrier, it stopped instantly and froze in its tracks. And the mind that controlled this contrivance of search, felt a wave of bleak understanding.
A heavy sigh escaped the man's lungs as his hand – the curious tarantula – wandered up the thick wall and found it connected to a ceiling, precisely perpendicular to the wall, and parallel to the floor. Its legs probed this ceiling of misunderstood blackened abyss, and a hint of familiarity in touch, desired or undesired, flared into its own small brain, up the connected wires, and into the controlling persona. The ceiling was cooler than the floor, heat wrung out of it like water from a damp rag.
His hand felt carefully along this ceiling, a sharp almost unnoticeable prick occasionally digging into his fingers. He did not move his other hand for fear of finding a similar claustrophobia along the mirrored opposite. He slowly sucked in a long breath, his chest expanding and –
Meeting the wandering tarantula that was his hand; it still clung to the wall by an invisible force, perhaps with the hope that the cold, vast ceiling would wither away at the touch, continued its search along the solid, unending ceiling. It moved more carefully now, with a purpose, fingers aching with a new dimension of strained pain within the hinges and dire anticipation. The man's breathing became more rapid.
It caressed the ceiling in an equal distance, moving beyond the air-filled balloon, and found a similar vertical wall from the one which it had departed from. In an instantaneous flash of movement, it returned to its nest beside the man's thigh, scraping the back of its now trembling figure against the ceiling, sending shots of pain to the controlling character, strained muscles weakly shouting against the rapid movement which they were unprepared for.
The man felt a warm liquid now easing its way down his knuckles, down the length of his fingers and between the shaking cracks of there separations. At the loss of this liquid, he gained understanding – that which a human mind begs for, the unreachable treat of the psychological domesticated animal, and all too often, once is acquired, horrifies the very corridors of its knowledge.
His hands, in a tremulous syncopation of motion, planted themselves against the ceiling, pushing in an overwrought effort of further reach. He kicked his legs up in a fervent motion of unrelinquished acceptance, hitting the ceiling with an impact intended to cause it crumbling to the floor. However, the ceiling stood its ground, as if reinforced by miles of hardened cement, giving only a creak that echoed throughout the blackness and subsided into a faint yet most perceptible laugh of victory.
The man let loose a rattle somewhere between a whimper and a cry as something very cool and very moist flaked down from the ceiling and landed dazedly on his cheek, sucking diminutive heat from his flesh and all hope from his heart. The air his body and lungs craved became unnaturally thin in his parched breaths. He said the word in his mind, the word to forever echo throughout the labyrinth as loud as it had entered, and the familiar, fetid smell rang the dinner bells for the demons of optimism:
Exterminate All Rational Thought
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