He woke to an all-embracing darkness. The world around him was almost surreal from the quick tug into reality. He breathed as though he had been drowning in an ocean – an ocean of dreams– and as reality flooded into his lungs, relief filled him once more. Although comforting, the feeling was short lived as he laid there prostrated on his bed. He sat up, and ran his hands through his hair. His thick, oily, hair moved only a few centimeters considering how short it was. He felt the beads of sweat on his forehead, and the damp feeling in his clothes began to cool for the slightest of moments. His drool had a bland taste, and swallowing would leave a bitter aftertaste. His breathing slowed to a controlled pace as his chest stopped thrusting to and fro; his heart still beating its drum, its sound growing fainter as it marched away. Then, he realized the stakes of the situation. His eyes were wide with the adrenaline still in his system, looking around hopelessly, trying to find something – an artifact to give him some relief. An object of some sort to tell him he was in reality, and not some trap created by his head, which was still in slumber. He thought deeply, and finally he uttered the most he could think of.
“I live in 5555 N. Berk Ave. CA. , it is February 29th, and the time is… the time is…”
He gripped the sheets as anxiousness began to fill his veins. He knew his name, and the other information assured him that logic still worked, but he found himself at a loss when it came to the current time. The fact simply confounded him, and frustrated him to no end. He was helpless, and the damp feeling of his clothes only made it worse.
He had gone to sleep earlier that afternoon. It had been exactly 6:09 when he had closed his eyes and tried to rest in the arms of slumber. His sleep deprivation had done an excellent job in tiring him to the point where he HAD to take a nap. The evening was cool as the winter and spring began to intertwine, but his parents kept the heater high enough to make the rooms feel stuffy in his house. The air in his room felt like a blanket on him, and as his clothes were not an impediment, all conditions seemed propitious enough to warrant the much needed rest. He lay down on the bed, looking at his clock one last time to see what time it read. The clock’s hands marked the time, the inner gears giving a friendly soothing tick sound that if anything helped him go to sleep.Now, that same ticking only seemed to drive him mad, taunting him to find some light with which to read its message to him. All he could think about was that damned tick tock, to and fro, daring him. His sweat seemed to bother him the most. The clothes instead of cooling and drying seemed to get only hotter, sticking to his already hot skin; making the room feel even stuffier than it already was. No light penetrated the room, and the shadows in his room had never looked as black as they had that same moment.
His eyes closed as he felt the sheets around him. He slowly passed out as his consciousness began to slip away, but instead of leading to dreams as this often did, it only made him sleep. He could not see anything – anything that wasn't a dark static-like background. It seemed to be only minutes, seconds, milliseconds before he was aware of what he was seeing. He started to make out what the background was covering only to feel a tug on his chest. Next thing knew, he woke to the rough feel of his jeans pressing against him, and his shirt being slightly moist from the feel of his sweat.
“I live in 5555 N. Berk Ave. CA. , it is February 29th, and the time is…”
He repeated under his breath, feeling more vacuous every time he said it. He had dealt with this type of feeling before. He couldn't pin point it, but it wasn't the time that he was looking for—it was security. A sense of security that all laws of nature still worked; that two and two made four, that objects were pulled by gravity, and that time still ticked at its normal pace. He knew that with all of these laws being true, he could reason that in the heart of the obscurity he was sitting in, no-thing – or nobody—was in there with him. He shut his eyes and laid back down exhausted from the hatred that he felt in that single moment for the ticking of the clock that was only a mere 2 or 3 meters away from him, still mocking him with the everlasting sound. He slowly rubbed his eyes, knowing that a major headache could come any second to him. He made his way on his oily skin from his eyes to his temples at a snail’s pace, thinking about his alternatives. Why not simply stand up? Why not simply walk to the switch and flick on the righteous light that would bring peace to his body and mind? He knew the answer. He knew the answer to the same question he kept asking himself in different ways tens, hundreds, even thousands of times over and over in his head. He knew that the 15 paces that it would take him to drop from his more or less island of security – his bed – all the way to the other side of the room to turn on the light would be the most terrifying, bone chilling steps in his life. He knew that knowing the time wouldn't make his odyssey any easier, but it would give him a bit of security knowing how much more time it would take for the sun to penetrate the corners of the thick drapes he had placed on his window.
Not so smart now right? He thought to himself as he turned to the thick dark drapes, the new targets of his hatred. If only the stupid drapes were thinner, if only they weren't closed so tightly, if only he had forgotten to buy them a week earlier, he could have prevented himself this dread. Come on! Get yourself together! You are fifteen for God’s sake! He thought, trying to fuel his anger for his own purposes. He knew that anger would be preferable to the mixture of sheer panic and anxiety he felt; only if he could keep on… and that’s when he wished he had taken his medication. His head began to pound as if someone was beating it with a crowbar. He had never had any problems with his head, up until the last couple of weeks. Ever since the winter had begun to thaw out, his fever seemed to subside slowly. His only way of transportation was his feet, which he used to drag himself around everywhere he went. The pounding went on, for what seemed like ages. The only thought that made the pain worse was that this had in all reality, this would have only lasted for five to ten minutes. He started to think on what else to focus on in order to take his mind off the pain at least the slightest bit. He began to outline the light switch on the wall with his imagination. The yellowed handle, the pearl white frame, all concretely fixed onto the marine blue wall. The image looked so neat and poised in his mind.
He squirmed and wizened on his bed, until the pain mitigated. He tried to fix himself into a comfortable position, as he tried to collect himself. Almost instantly, something struck him. He had forgotten about his cell phone inside of his drawer. He moved at a snail’s pace, but finally managed to crawl close to the drawer. He bumped his hand a couple of times against the wooden piece of furniture, even though he had done this a million times before (he attributed this to the fear the darkness brought into him). He pulled on the drawer, felt around, and almost jumped at the feeling of something cold and limp touch his hand. In his panic, he grabbed the thing and threw it at the other side of the room. He was breathing frantically when he realized what he had thrown. Please don’t tell me I just threw my…
He reached back into the drawer, and after a while of him tossing around his socks, underpants, and other miscellaneous apparel, he found his dear phone. He also found the second glove; the first one of which he figured had thrown across the room. He pulled out the phone ever so slowly, and brought it next to his face on his bed. He pressed and held the red button. The screen flashed with the logo and jingle of the company he had bought it from. He felt a slight moment of relief as the light from the phone washed over him. He then directed his eyes to the top right corner of the screen. He waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity, but instead of displaying the time on the screen, another announcement flashed on the screen.
“No battery. Phone will now turn off”
He saw this, and realized the stupidity of his actions, and allowing himself to get distracted by such an impertinent display. He darted his eyes once more to the top right of the screen, only to see the figures “:27” on the screen before the darkness around him filled the screen on the phone once more as well. He found himself lying on the bed, just as panicked and anxious as he had been before.
He closed his eyes. He had decided to try to sleep once more, until a dim light may be seen from the bottom of his black curtains, and signal to him that it was safe once more to wander the floor. Not a couple of seconds had passed before he started feel even worse in this position. His back started to feel an uncomfortable pain, that he knew would only go away if he sat up once more. He tried to ignore the pain, but it only got worse by the second. Just when he had enough of it, he felt a peculiar feeling.
A faint breeze blew over him. Someone was breathing on top of him. He felt the soft raft of air going back and forth around him; almost the sound of the air filling lungs. He tried to keep his eyes shut, ignoring the pain, as much as he could, now that he had a new incentive to keep them shut. He could feel the burning eyes on top of him, mere inches away from his face. He did not want to open his eyes. He did not want to stare into fear’s face. He was too afraid of what horrible fate that may await him if he opened his eyes, and could only keep his eyes shut. He felt as though if he didn't see the creature, it would not hurt him. As illogical as this was, he kept this on his mind, and managed to stay in that position for what was probably 10 minutes. After this period of time, he found himself extreme pain. His aching back had done nothing but keep him awake. He could not stand the pain, and the idea of simply opening his eyes to the shadows grew ever more tempting. He panted as he felt trepidation run from head to toe. He decided to risk it, and jolted before he could think about it twice.
He opened them, only for him to stare into the darkness. He felt brief relief, and stood up. His back muscles stretched, and once again he sat up on his island of safety. The bed was warm under him, even though his clothes were making him feel horrible. He laid down, this time, given up on his dreams of sleeping any longer. He gave up on many of his alternatives, and so he simply decided to paint a mental picture of his room. The white door way. How many times had he walked in through the door, only to see this room faintly lit up by the light of the hall way. The warm furniture. Its pine walls made the furniture welcoming to him – almost as if they were greeting him enthusiastically. The fiery red bed. It brought him warmth even in the coldest of winter nights. The only other thing he could think about, were the dark drapes. He was a simple guy, and had only a couple of things in his room. The new drapes were his new attraction – the thing that caught his eye every time he walked in the room. Just a week ago, he had felt immense relief at the thought that for once, he might be able to sleep without worrying about the sun perturbing his fantasies. He then proceeded to think about his only and final alternative: walking to the door. He thought about it, and finally decided go through with his plan, to walk to the light switch, to finally shed the darkness away, before his pusillanimous attitude would get the best out of him. He took a deep breath, before sitting up onto the bed. His shirt moved down, rugged and unfolded, and so did his pants that apparently tightened more the more he struggled to get down. He finally reached the edge of the bed, and like a swimmer, testing the water of a pool to get in, he tested the carpeted floor to see if he could walk. The carpet was moderately soft around his bare feet, and plush enough to give him some support to his legs. When he had finally set both feet on the ground, he tried to imagine his course once more, and counted down.
Fifteen, fourteen…. His heart began to race. The mild adrenaline began to shoot once more.
Thirteen, Twelve… His feet were wobbly, even though he was on firm ground. His panic rose, slowly but steadily.
Eleven, Ten Just keep going, you are almost there He thought.
Nine, Eight He felt the hairs in the back of his neck start to rise. He was walking slowly, but managed to hit himself on one of the wooden legs of his dresser which caused him to tumble down. The feeling of a hammer having hit his foot was ever-present, but he was too afraid to care. He got up once more, and now remembering what his course was, he got back up and continued to his destination.
Three, two His blood was racing through his body. He wanted to find the switch as fast as possible, but he did not quite know how close he was, or if he was even headed the right direction anymore
One… Thud He hit the wall. He felt so relieved, but instantly started feeling his way to the light switch. He frantically searched for what seemed like a minute, and when he finally found the frame with a little plastic knob, he flicked it, and enjoyed the familiar *click* that came to his ears.
It had been about nine months when his light bulb went out. It had been an annoying week stealing light bulbs from lamps, chandeliers or really anything that had them. When his mom finally bought his final permanent bulb, he found out the light had delay. He had to wait about a second or two before the light finally shined in the room. To him, this was a small inconvenience…
“Turn the hell on!” he whispered under his breath. He shut his eyes while facing the wall, and hoped for the light to travel through every inch, nook and carny of his room. He wanted to cleanse the darkness around him, and feel the purity embrace him. He felt the light crash into him as a wave. The inside of his eyes seemed to glow now, and as he opened his eyes, he felt like he was not at the end of his odyssey, but at the zenith. He was still shaken with the idea that something may be behind him. He stayed paralyzed for a couple of seconds, looking at the marine blue wall and at his green shirt with brown stripes, trying to find some comfort from the somber atmosphere around him. He finally gathered his wits, and with a loud exhale he turned around and stared into his newly lit room. The light showered the room, and gave it a brand new atmosphere, that a final sense of relief to the entirety of his being. He inspected his surroundings; the messy bed, open drawers, thrown around clothes. He was beginning to breathe easily, when he turned to his left, and saw the rest of his room. He then started to shrivel into himself and shut his watering eyes, as his head once again started to pound once more. He reached fetal position – his whole body shaken with dread – hands on his temples as he peeked open his eyes, and tried to make out the blurry figure in the corner of the room. The nebulous being stood in the corner on what seemed like two legs. He tried to figure out what the ghostly figure really was; whether his mind was manifesting a mirage to him or not. He felt as if he was going insane. The pain in his head only increased, and the specter in the corner seemed to go back and forth, deciding whether it wanted to exist or evaporate. He attempted to judge if it was there or not, and awaited his fate at its hands.
Written by Pramirez351