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There is a man who will come to visit me today. I know he will come to visit me today because he comes to see me every day. I don’t know his name really, he never told me, and I never asked, I think he likes it that way, and I don’t mind. He comes exactly at one twenty one every afternoon with a needle and takes a bit of blood, not enough to hurt me really unless he by some chance fell asleep and left the needle to sit in my vein and draw out far more than he normally would.
The result would of course be my untimely demise at the hands of one who I trust and yet know nothing of. It would be a rather pleasant death, or so I have heard these things are, blood loss that is, I would almost simply fall into a cold sleep from which I would never awake. Not that where I am at the moment is far from that endless sleep which taunts me every day with its promise of freedom.
Anyhow, this whole fanciful scenario is as wild and farfetched and as likely to happen as the moon drifting from its heavenly abode and leaping into my lap due to my wish as anything. For the past twelve years and ninety-eight days he has not once made a mistake, not even missing my vein, which so many previous doctors did. I like him. I would go so far as to surmise him my closest friend, though we have never had a conversation. People rarely have time to talk with me I have found.
Oh, occasionally there will be the traveling pastor who stops by and pleads with god for my soul, or a kind soul who hears of my condition and brings me something warm to sip on (which has been anything from a tasty broth to once a man brought me steaming cattle blood, which was rather forcibly delivered to my innards). But on the whole not many folks will care about one such as me, in a place such as I am in. I am well off the beaten path, well off it indeed. I would even say that the path which brings one to most places will ultimately never reach my corner of the wide world, unless one knows exactly where to look.
It was once said all roads lead to Rome, and if that was ever the case, I would certainly not be in Rome. I would perhaps be in the borders of that empire, if it had not fallen thousands of years ago, in the green lands of England where garrisons of soldiers lived a vast part of their lives out of the way of direct Roman oversight. For a while they all thought they were off easy, until one Emperor (I can’t quite recall his name though) mandated that his soldiers were far too lazy, and had them build a defensible wall across the whole of that landmass, which they did.
If I had been there I most certainly would have died, people don’t’ seem to like me very much when it comes to working. Its not that I cant, its that I was never given the chance, and now am incapable of attempting anything remotely dealing with manual labor. Anyway, there is a man who comes every day to my room and draws my blood, today I thought I would ask him his name, so I did.
"Excuse me sir," I asked, ‘but you have been taking my blood for twelve years and ninety-eight days, ninety-nine if you count today, and have never once mentioned your name. I was just curious as to what it was?’
He stopped what he was doing at that moment, suspending the plunging needle mid-air to look up at me for a second, then look back at my arm and complete the downwards path of the hollow needle. He missed my vein. I had forgotten the odd sensation that incurs, a bitter sting.
‘Shit,’ he mumbled under his breath as he removed the needle from my arm and once again plumping up my vein, stabbed it back into my arm, this time hitting a vein. Red liquid shot instantly into the vial, and after two seconds exactly (as usual), he removed the needle, dissected his instrument, sealed the vial, and walked out of the room, closing the door.
My room was a nice room, or so the doctors who put me in there twelve years ago said. It was a white padded room with a shatterproof glass window facing outwards towards the green woods. I was positioned in the center of it strapped atop a padded white table. Always strapped. Always that is except for an hour every other day where I was permitted to roam my room as I wished, unstrapped.
It was not an adventurous life by any means, but it suited me. Every now and then instead of walking, I asked for a source of media, a newspaper was my favorite by far. What joy it is to riffle through the pages of a freshly pressed paper, to inhale the warm scent of ink and compressed fibers. What unmitigated wonder to experience, second-hand, the dangerous world in a detached manner.
To read of conquest and deceit without carrying the bloodstains upon my own hands and teeth. My teeth have not been well as of late either, the kind men who come to me every other day (the off-day of when I am allowed a bit of freedom) have neglected to brush them regularly, so they give off a horrendous odor. I am sure, thinking back on it, that that is why the doctor did not acknowledge my request, my breath was too putrid.
He has come every day now for twelve years and ninety-nine days, and every day draws my blood.
It is quite an experience, today he missed my vein for the first time, this has never happened before. I have lost a bit of faith in him.
So has Night. You are probably wondering who Night is, well let me tell you, but first I must describe the most wonderful thing that I just saw not two days ago because I forgot to tell you earlier and might as well now before I forget again. Just shy of two days ago I was strapped to my chair, as I usually am, and was facing the window to the woods, when all of a sudden I saw a robin flying.
Now this is not an uncommon occurrence, especially in the woods, but this robin was different, it had a hint of white around its red breast, I have not seen that before in a robin and was astounded by it. Who has seen that before? I don’t know, I may be the first man on the earth to witness it. Perhaps it is the next stage of robin evolution? Maybe the white on its generally red breast serves as some sort of ploy to help it survive, maybe it is camouflage. I do not know really.
Night is my closest companion. He is a black dog who sits in the corner of my room. He has crimson red eyes with no pupils and has not jowls or lips, simply yellow teeth. If I did not know him so well I should fear for my life, seeing as he looks closely related to a hound of hell. I first noticed him since before I even came to this peculiar place. One day I was making a sandwich at my house in New England (its been so long since I have been out and about I simply remember it was in New England, a fine name for a place New England is, simply stunning in my thoughts), and while I was slicing some tomatoes, I looked up, and there he was, Night, sitting upon the top of my refrigerator, just staring.
Now, needless to say this frightened me very much, seeing how he looked rather evil at the time. I immediately cried out and raised my knife in a defensive manner, but he simply stood there, eyeing me (or so I think, for even to this day he has no real eyes, simply crimson red almonds fixated in his sockets). So I went back to slicing my tomatoes, and when I looked back he was gone, and so I though little of it. I thought little of it that is, until he appeared again, this time it was in the shower which I was taking.
It was a peculiar experience, I had just finished the last of a certain bottle of shampoo but my hair was not clean, so I stepped out and got a different bottle from under my bathroom sink. It was not the same scent, so for that whole day my hair smelled a strange mix of coconut and strawberries, since then I have always made sure to avoid that awkward occurrence by only allowing myself to wash with a single type of shampoo per bathing.
Night was there when I stepped back out, and I remember my heart beating faster and thinking strange thoughts about life, and more specifically death. He leapt at me and ripped my arm open with his yellow teeth. I screamed and fell back into the bathtub, passing out. When I awoke my left arm was a bloody mess and right hand was covered in human skin and blood, but the strangest realization I had was that my hair smelled of two different aromas, queer as the rest of it was as well.
After that, he started visiting me more and more often until everywhere I went he would be there, when I was out at a supermarket, I would see him watching me from a corner, or atop and isle, or out from under a clothing rack I would see his red eyes peering at me.
While I was with my parents, he would be in the room somewhere. When I was falling asleep he would perch himself on my chest and stay there until I awoke the next morning. Sometimes he would trick me by pretending to be something he wasn’t. Once he was even a stool. But I knew it was him. Stools don’t bleed. And bleed he did, he was constantly drooling blood from his lips, I don’t know why, but he loved it. For whenever the pool got too big, he would hunch down to lick it up, and return to watching me. Sometimes he let it alone, and it turned into white butterflies who flew into the ceiling or the sky and became the stars, and his hunger yearnings would start.
‘Sam,’ he would say to me, always exactly the same words, ‘I am hungry. Will you feed me?’
And always I would respond to his question with, ‘I’m sorry Night, I have no blood to give you, I need it, I live as well upon it.’
‘Very well,’ he would say, then pounce upon my neck, burrowing into my veins, and I would remember no more of that night. He only did this at night. I always loved the night, it is when the world is at peace, people are trusting and naive in the night. Paris is a wonderful city at night, it is a nighttime city.
I remember this one restaurant that I always visited when I was a free man in that city as an exchange student, it was a falafel joint in a ratty neighborhood. It had an oaken sign with three knots and a diagonal grain (which always made me think of the ocean. I love the ocean. I once sat and watched a seagull eat its dead offspring, and I thought about how it must feel to be that dead bird, and have your own mother ripping your flesh away and how me must have cried to see that and how his mother must not have known, for why else would she devour the flesh of her own son? And how the whole world is filled with death and how I am on that road as well and how none of us, try as we might, will escape the inevitable death.
Then I thought ‘will the sea ever die?’ because who’s to say the sea is not its own living entity with a timer on it? I know not if it is or if it is not, and who really knows? Certainly I am unsure of where I stand on the issue, but many great minds have debated it I’m sure, and I am no great mind.) and it said ‘WELKOME TO PARIS’. It made he laugh how they misspelled welcome, but I said nothing of it.
I tried to tell people about Night, but every time I told anyone, they told me that I should not play jokes on them, for there was no dog following me, and even when I would point right at him, they would simply look at me with a queer eye, and generally walk off. Once a preacher tried to tell me it was a demon, for a demon he said could only be seen by its assigned victim and god. But I do not believe in a god, so I guess I was the only being to see it if it was indeed a demon.
You may wonder to yourself ‘Why does the narrator of this book not believe in a god,’ and I will tell you. Once when I was a child, I saw a man, a good man, gunned down in the street outside my house while I was playing with a toy bus. He ran down the street with a bloody shirt on. He was sobbing and blubbering, and he ran down the street with a bloody shirt, and he ran towards my house and tripped just as a car pulled up to him.<
He cried out to god to save him, he pleaded, and promised that he would quite smoking and drinking if only god would spare him. But a man with a gun and a mask stepped out of the car and shot him through his head, right through his head, and his brains blew out onto the sidewalk and the man drove away and I looked after him and after I saw the car round the corner I walked over to the dead man who had talked with god and touched the hole in his head and licked my fingers.
They tasted like copper. I thought of pennies and suddenly realized I was rich. I ran inside and grabbed my lunch pail and scooped all of his brains into it and brought them inside and put the pail into my refrigerator to sell to all my friends at school the next morning. Mother cried and never looked at me the same after that, there was a strange look in her eyes and she didn’t hug me as much. My friends didn’t talk to me much either.
I developed a love of animals after that, especially dogs, I could always talk to them and they didn’t judge me. One of them did though, it was a black dog that always wagged its tail at me and licked my hand and panted happily when I was around, but I knew he hated me. The way he walked away to sleep told me so. So one night I snuck out of the house, grabbed a pick-axe and snuck up on him as he slept. I drove the pick-axe through his heart because he hated me, so I hated him, and that is what you do when you hate someone, you destroy them, and I buried him in my neighbors yard where they never went, and my parents asked me where the dog went to and I said I though he had ran away because he hated me.
Red flowers bloomed on his grave. Sometimes they would call me over but when I got there, they had grown silent and simply swayed in the wind, so I soon learned to ignore their beckoning. About that time Night came to me, and I have told you how we met, but our meetings went on for quite some years until one night I was in a college dorm and my roommate was below me in the bunk. Night sat atop my chest as he usually did, drooling blood upon my chest as he usually did and did not breathe as he usually did. But that night he did not lick the blood up. He said to me
‘Sam,’ he would say to me, always exactly the same words, ‘I am hungry. Will you feed me?
And as always I would respond to his question, ‘I’m sorry Night, I have no blood to give you, I need it, I live as well upon it.’
But tonight he said, ‘I shall have to take it then,’ and jumped into my veins through my neck and I fell asleep. I remember his face, Jay’s, my roommate’s, was contorted in a horrible expression of agony and disbelief that night, and it was covered in red water, and he cried out to god, but god never came. That is all I remember, and I don’t know why I remember it, but it do. I think something terrible happened to him that night, but I don’t know what.
The next thing I remembered was waking up in this padded room and seeing the window and seeing the doctor come in for the first time and draw my blood and how I shrunk away from the bite of the needle for a good while until I ultimately, with Night’s help, leaned to enjoy its sting and the sudden loss of pressure on my vein walls. Night still comes into me every now and then when he gets bored of sitting in the corner, and I like it too, I can forget and time passes a little quicker.
I don’t know when I am leaving here, but I hope it is soon, I am losing patience with the doctor who takes my blood, and the widower who comes to talk occasionally, and the pastors who visit me and pray for my soul and the world outside me who never speaks. I have tested it with Night before, and the leather straps will break if I pull hard enough. Tomorrow the doctor will visit me again, and I also have heard from a mouse who occasionally finds his way into my room that a preacher will be here tomorrow, he is a good mouse and always correct, though I have no idea how. Night says ‘I will enter you tomorrow when a guest is in, and you will be free of this place,’ and I say, ‘I would like that very much.’
So tomorrow I will break these straps of twelve years and ninety-nine days, and once again return to the sidewalk which that man’s brains quivered upon, and my backyard where I murdered that hideous dog, and the sea where I sat and watched a strange ritual, and Paris and that welcome sign that is misspelled, and my college dorm room to say hello to Jay if he is still there, I think he will be, he was not very smart and probably needed to learn more than most to make up for his stupidity, I hope he is still there, he was a good friend to me and Night, even though I don’t think he ever saw him. Tomorrow I will break these leather straps and be free.
“Sam. I am hungry. Will you feed me?”