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Wormwood

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The world swam around him, and it was dark, pregnant.

Soon, the darkness gave way to a sterile white, clean and dead.

Nothing existed, he didn’t exist anymore. Or he hadn’t before, it was confusing at times like these. It was pre-birth nothing, warm and slow, as if the air was jelly around him. This warm emptiness stretched out into void, forever more. Soon, though, the nothing gave way to something. Sight. Dark blurred shapes looming like ominous pillars, going up and down into forever. The shapes into trees, endless trees. But sound never followed, the world lifeless, not a single chirp of an insect.

He was having the dream again.

It always did. He was in a huge forest, so massive the edges just seemed to fall off the world into the fog. The fog, god, the fog. He could feel it with every breath, sticky and warm in his throat as he moved forward. Hell; it could be backwards, how could he know? It wasn’t like anything could be discerned about the place. Except for, of course, the trees.

Oh, lord help him, there was a lot of them. All around him, there were trees. He put his hand out to steady himself as he moved. It gave, not hard, but soft, like flesh. It was warm like flesh as well, and smooth. He held his place, and a faint heartbeat followed. Tum, tum, tum.

After a long while, they started moving.

Some, not all of the pillars, swayed in near standstill, moving up and down gently, hitting the ground soundlessly. The stalks were obviously alive, but led up into nothingness, and, surprisingly, downwards into the ground as well, a loop, it seemed. Were they so immense in size and stature, his presence was incomprehensible to him? If so, what did that say about what he could see and not see?

Something caught his attention in the distance. A familiar shape, darting from tree to tree. There it was again, the watching shape, looming. It was a shadow in the distance, a shade darker than the trees barely formed, seemingly looking at him. The thing seemed to slide away as he gravitated to face it, if only slightly. It was a lump of gray in the fog, like a charcoal sketch on paper, left as if the artist decided he was bored with it halfway through.

As always, he started walking in it’s direction, like he always eventually did. It was the same as the last 17 years.

He tentatively moved forward, the underbrush breaking apart in silence under his boot. As if on ice, the thing would glide away, keeping the distance equal. It actively kept at least twenty, or maybe thirty feet between itself and him. I was hard to tell in all of the goddamned fog. It never wavered, closer nor farther. It moved, actively avoiding his view but staying just on the edge, the peripheral of his vision, as if taunting, beckoning. Saying ‘come, find me, play with me. Be with me.’

It would move about, dodging his view and kicking up the shadows it was made of about itself like a cloak, as if mocking him. He sighed, taking the warmth into his chest before exhaling. Not again, he would think as always. Not again.

Approaching the God damned thing was useless. It was a menial, redundant task; as useless trying to force the fog that surrounded it to part.

Regardless, he kept walking, sticking to the routine. He had always kept to the routine.

As far as he knew, it was the only thing he could do to wake up.

And then it ended, like a flash, like it always did. I sucked air into my chest, my eyes flying open. For a second, I could make out the blurry outline of the thing in the corner of the room, but it was gone in a second. I put it down to post sleep hallucinations. Hell, it was better than the spiders. Anything was better than the spiders. I mean, they’re only real 20% of the time, but you know. If we really do eat about 5 spiders a year, I probably eat about 70. God damned things love to nest in my mouth hole.

Face opening.

Food chute.

Oh, uh, yeah, I’m getting off track and that doesn’t really matter! What probably matters is an explanation. That he, the guy shitting his pants over a bunch of wood, was me. Or, I am him, if you like it like that.

The name’s Guy. Hi. This is a story about me, I guess. I don’t know why you'd be reading this, or who you are, but hello I guess.

On this particular day, I didn’t really want to get up. To be bluntly honest, I really never did. But the light was shining through the grubby curtains and the air was abuzz with the sound of a menagerie of insects trying to get laid. It hit my face like a blank, ethereal blade, and an annoying one at that. I sat in the sticky summer heat, the morning already warming up the air in the room, the dry cold giving way to humid insanity. I wished the God damn air conditioner wasn’t broken.

I blinked the sweat out of my eyes, my own body taking up the slack for Jerry, the repairman, and his lackadaisical cooling units. As I did, the dust particles floating in the sliver of light danced in and out of my vision. The were probably thousands of skin cells and dust from people who have stayed in this room. Each one with its own story, but only visible in the right light at the right time. Whatever.

I pondered a while longer, before sitting up on my dime store mattress. In one motion, I swept a dead spider off of my pillow, and rubbed my eyes.

I blinked again, my vision growing fuzzy from the pressure, and then returning a second later. Same room I fell asleep in. Was it too much to hope I’d wake up in another, less shitty room for a change? I guess that was only going to happen once, though, I thought. And it wasn’t Tuesday, anyways.

I blinked again, hoping my wish would come true. No luck. Same greasy shag rug. Same old gunshot holes in the wall, (only ten of them were made by me, by the way,) like any good motel room.

Scattered haphazardly across the room were tables, covered in junk. Hopefully, my car keys were still there.

I shuffled out of bed, laying my feet on the cold rug. I could swear it was moving as I put my feet onto it. I made my way to the wardrobe that held all of my worldly possessions, making sure to step on the carpet the least amount of times I could. It felt greasy, and worst of all, cold. My feet somehow migrated sloppily to the wooden behemoth, one right after the other.

The handles of the wardrobe were conveniently covered in some sort of dry sticky substance, which is to be expected in a place like this. With a pull, the sliding door moved, and I groped blindly for the light switch. All I got was meat. Before me lay a corridor, the walls of which were lined with slick, pulsing flesh. It was lit dimly by yellow, pussy nodules lining the walls at random intervals, seemingly grown from the sides.

At the end, a clown stood, doing what I could only assume was playing the banjo. I closed it, opened it again. Same clown, same banjo, the riff from Deliverance ringing hollow through the gaping meat hole.

I closed the door again, deciding it was too early for this. Even then, though, this was only the fifth time this week, so it was a good day, and a Tuesday no less.

I opened the door to the bathroom, and headed to the sink. In the mirror, a kid came into view on the other side. Behind the chipped, cracked mirror covered in limestone and a little SpongeBob sticker with a dick lovingly drawn on, lay the same face I’ve seen day in and day out for the past 17 years. You’d think it’d get boring seeing it, but it doesn’t.

Haha, I’m kidding. It gets pretty awful looking at myself.

I looked expectantly, hoping maybe something had changed overnight in my appearance. No such luck.

I couldn’t help but thinking I looked stretched, worn thin. To be honest, I looked too big for my own skin. But worst of all.

The same goddamn eyes stared back.


Credited to Woodsy

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