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Play Something

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My name is Anasztaz Bartoszewicz and I, as my name suggests, am a Hungarian violinist. I had always loved my job, and I had always loved the new people I would meet whenever I would tour with whatever symphonic orchestra I would play with. It wouldn't be very often that I would write my own music. Ne, I would almost always play someone else's written pieces. Even more infrequent would be for me to publicly play whatever I did write. If I write something it is not due to my own will. It seems that nothing I do is something that I get to make a choice on anymore.

I remember how it all began on one night. How my entire world was plunged into darkness because of one “nightmare”. In my dream I was playing a one-man performance. The theater, whichever one it was, was massive. It could have easily been twice the size of The Royal Opera House in London. The more I think about it the more it seems impossibly big. I remember there always being only one man in the massive opera house. Sitting in the middle third row he would always say in his deep, raspy voice, “Play something.”

“Play what?” I would ask even though it didn't feel like I was saying anything.

“This,” it would say matter of factually.

The same sheet music would always appear on my stand. It was the most difficult sheet music I'd ever seen. Yet I would always sight read it perfectly. Whenever I'd play it the lights would all go down except for one over me and one over “him”. Despite having an impossibly bright light shining on “him” I could still barely make out his features. The “man” seemed old. When I'd finish I'd look up to make eye contact with the “man”.

I knew it was no man. Its face was pale and dead looking. Where there wasn't rot I could see the thousands of wrinkles brought on by many millennia of existence. Its eyes were nothing but empty sockets save for the blueish green small round orbs in the center that emanated a hypnotic, sedative light.

I would always wake up in a sweat after that. The dream and all of its horrible images would haunt my mind for days on end. Just as I would forget about the dream I would have it again that same night. It got to the point where I would refuse to sleep. The smallest crackles of the floorboards would send me shooting straight up out of bed and turning the light on.

There was a change in me too. Obviously from sleep deprivation but my mood was unusually sullen. Almost everyone I would see, let alone care for, I'd see as dead, rotting heaps of flesh. These visions brought me to the brink of suicide several times. Thinking back I shouldn't have listened to the psychiatrist. That maggot-filled walking “piece of shit” as the Americans say. The Prozac never helped. I don't even know why that was the only drug prescribed to me. The biggest change, by far, though was the fact that, no matter what the music was, how new it was, or how difficult to play it was, I could always sight read it.

After about a year I stopped having the dreams. Life went back to normal and people looked normal again too. I shrugged everything off as an affect of sleep deprivation. I could still sight read perfectly though. However, now I took it as a blessing. How wrong I was.

One day a package came in the mail. It was not marked and the packaging was black. It was slender but tall and long. It was approximately the size of a music folder. My suspicions were affirmed as I opened the package. Intrigued, and a little happy about getting new music, I opened the folder and all happiness that I had held flushed out of me as fast as the color from my face did. Inside the music folder was the exact same sheet music that appeared in my dream. I burned the music. By now I knew that I had sold my soul in that damned dream... whether I had intended to or not.

That night I started having the recurring dream again. My career skyrocketed though but I went through withdrawals from reality nonetheless. I would lock myself in my room and write music. The demon's voice would resound in my head day in and day out. “Write something,” it would say. “Play it,” it would demand as soon as I would finish writing. By then I had basically dropped off the face of the planet. People knew where I was but never did they dare to interrupt my progress. Weeks later, after accumulating self-written music to the point that wherever I stepped there would be a harsh crunch of paper under my foot, the voice just wanted to hear music. “Play something!” it would demand ravenously and I would mix and match sheet music to please its hunger. The torture never stopped. For the longest time I would mix music to the point where I had exhausted all my resources. Only then was I allowed out of the demons powerful grip.

I tried running away, only sleeping where my body dropped. I'd stay only one night in each place. I went from friends' houses, to relatively high end hotels, to the dingiest motels, to squatting in vacant houses, to sleeping on the streets. Every night the shadows would creep up on me, slowly, like a predator's hands reaching out to its dormant prey without wanting to wake it. My dreams would consist of the demon sitting alone in the opera house or a new recurring dream in which I was completely paralyzed with “him” watching over me for what seemed like hours.

Each morning that I would wake up showed me a new level of destruction around me. The voices would beckon for me to return home. Sometimes they were sad, other times seductively optimistic, but most of the time they were filled with a scalding rage. For the longest time I kept to the back alleyways of buildings where the only ones to see me were the dregs of society and the worthless strays. I had always hated cats.

I would go weeks without eating to the point of near starvation as to not be around other people. Solitude was part of my life for a very long time.

At one point the voices were constant and furious. “COME BACK! PLAY SOMETHING! COME BACK PLAY SOMETHING! COME BACK NOW! PLAY SOMETHING NOW!” would be all I would hear twenty-four hours a day. I had to go back. I had to play something to appease the demon's fury. It was the only thing I could do. So I went back to my apartment. With new resources to last me months I went to work writing. Now I had more music to mix and match so I could spend more time in solitude. Spend more time lulling the beast.

Keeping myself from the rest of the world, I admitted defeat. I gave up on saving myself. I'm not the only one for this to have happened to either. I just have one warning. Don't idolize the “superstars” as people call them. They've most likely sold their souls as well. I can't be certain whether they willingly did it or not... but I can be certain that many of them, like me, are damned.

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