“n o i t c e l f e R”
The sun peered through sha/tte-re/d clouds like a light shined on a b ro ken mirror.
em sevol ti ,tub…
trats I dluohs woH
A new moon’s black disc hung high, and the amber glow of the streetlights cut the darkness like awkwardly placed stage lamps. The world; a grim theatre with just enough clouds to blot out the stars on a charcoal paper sky. That’s where I fit in, stumbling drunk down a street that was just as empty as my last bottle. The corner store in sight, appeared to me as a brilliant light, a pop up ad, a psychedelic canvas of candy wrappers and newspaper stands, potato chip bags, and porno mags all-encompassingly embraced by the blackness dead of night.
It was as if before I walked through that door, before I entered the store, I were flying lonely, through the deep depths of the sea until I’m out of sight, or even further out past the planets, past the satellites. Once I’m in the store and look back the glass has metamorphosized into a two-way mirror. Everything on the inside was a mimic reflctionoitcelfer, crisp and clear, and on the other side dark drowned in fear. That’s where I fit in again buying my beer.
As I stepped back outside the wind stirred up rustling the trees, putting a quite hum on the background of the night. It didn’t make much of an impression though, just numbed the silence. Numbed it like alcohol in the blood. I cracked the first beer open as a mist began to drift slowly by my blurry fingertips. Each puddle I passed held the image of my shadow silently moving through it. Each streetlight flickered like a heart ready to die and as I passed them one by one they went out. I popped another top, and poured the beer till it was empty, poured it down into my waiting mouth.
Farther up the block, distant in the black, under a tree there was a man standing on the corner. I caught him swaying back and forth in the breeze. To and fro. In the same rhythm as the gusts of winds hitting the trees. A hanged man, but one whose feet were firmly planted on the ground. I squinted further to focus, only to notice that he had stopped swaying, and his head was turned to face me. Motionless. He was just another outline to me like one of my shadows that had escaped a puddle. Although in the black night, he was clearly of great height and his body poised and ready to strike. The rest of the streetlights went out like someone flipped a switch. I thought of going a different way. Stumbling a bit. It would have been smart, but the beer had something to say about it. “You Got Problem or Wwhat?” my speech slurred. “WELL” I said. The man stood straight and I stopped dead, the beer in my hand nearly slipping away. The man just turned around, without a word, disappearing into the darkness around him.
I exhaled. The streetlights flickered back on with the hum of the bulbs. I dropped my bag, the foam fizzing out over the pavement colored black with my blood. Protruding from my chest was a shiny, metallic, skinny new limb that retracted as I tried to touch it. I fell to the ground and turned over face up. My ears echoed the beating of my own heart, and the beating was becoming slower, and my breathing was becoming shorter, and my vision was becoming darker. I caught the last sight I would ever see. Standing over me was the one who must have been in the shadow of the trees. The tall lanky figure had turned out to not be a man at all, but a monster of some kind, a monster whose giant eyes held no image, but the emptiness of the night sky, and whose teeth seemed more like knife blades then enamel. Those teeth. They were like giant jagged metallic spearheads that almost appeared as if they were trying to smile in the dimness as everything went black.
gnidaer dehsinif eh sa detiaw I
Jason sat there behind his big oak desk, looking over my story. The afternoon sun was blindingly coming through the office windows behind him, beaming off his balled head. I sat there in his uncomfortable vinyl office chair silently tapping my fingers against my knee.
“OK, that’s enough of this.” He said as he dropped my story on his desk.
“What you didn’t like it?” I said.
“It’s not that I don’t think it would make a good story. It’s just that I feel the town wont want to read about the death of one of its citizens so soon after it happened. I mean even in a story, it’s really just a matter of tact, right?”
I looked at him my brow furled.
“I don’t know what you mean. I had a nightmare last night, and the story was just a play off that. I was up half the morning writing this.” I said.
Jason’s eyes were blank, half rolling. I watched him glance to the phone on his desk.
“Look, you probably just saw something on the news and it got incorporated into your dream that’s all. Plus the police said the drunk kid died of some medical condition.”
At this point I’m still not sure what he’s talking about.
“Sorry, I’ll try and come up with something else.” I said.
“Good. How are you otherwise? Is the divorce finally over with?” He asked.
My expression turned sullen without any intent of it, and then I just let my eyes look to the floor.
“Hey don’t worry about it man. You know what, I get off here in a few minutes. You want to head over to the bar for a drink with me?”
gnimoc ti ees I t’ndid yhW
I put back a shot of bourbon. Jason, put back his,
“If you want to write another story for my paper you can. It just has to be done by Thursday so it can get to print on time. Why don’t you write about what happened in your life? Draw off that for inspiration.” He said.
“I don’t know, I don’t really want to think about it. It still makes me sick.”
“Man, you got to pull yourself together.” He said
“I heard writing about things like that can be therapeutic. Plus its not like you’re so busy doing anything else.” He said.
I put back another shot, “What time did you say the young man I wrote that story about died again?” I asked.
“The drunk kid? Oh right around 2am I think.”
Then Jason’s phone started to ring.
“Hold on a sec.” He said, as he put one finger in the air. I know it’s a woman on the other end by the way he changes his voice. A real alpha male in charge type of voice with just a spin of class curled on the end of it. Jason’s not married. I wouldn’t go as far to say he’s a womanizer, but he definitely enjoys the single life. I put back another shot as he got off the phone.
“The bachelor life must still be working out well.” I said.
He paused for a second and I watched his pupils shrink just a bit. His eyes glanced up at the ceiling just for a second.
“That was Janine my secretary, there’s some papers I forgot to sign. I have to get back before she leaves. You don’t mind right?”
Then he was out of there quicker then my last wife. Sorry, that was a bad joke. I made myself sad with that joke.
The first drink in silence is always the worst. Drinking alone. I don’t think anybody who does it means it to be fun. No, it’s just a way to drown out your despair, a way to wash over all those bad memories. Yet somehow those memories are all you think about with the more shots you take. Maybe that’s why I do it. Maybe I deserve to be reminded, I deserve to be hounded by the bad decisions of my past. Melodramatic. That’s the sign of a true alcoholic. Another sign is this. I swig back my sixth shot. Shot, that’s good word to describe how I feel about a lot of things. “Shot.” The bartender filled my glass again. Shot, the sound of broken glass, and a women screaming, a dead boy in her arms. With each drink the sound is numbed a little more. I was about two revolvers in. “Leave the bottle.” The scene played over in my head. The shoot out.
I was still cop then, ducking behind my car, shooting at a tall, lanky, shadow of a man in an ally way. It was night. One of my bullets went through a window. I could hear the glass from it break. The man ran off. When the lights came on inside I could see the silhouettes. A woman holding a boy in her arms. Sobbing. The boy was ten years old. I was fired for reckless actions. Endangering the public. Needless to say, I never carry a gun anymore. Yea, all my shots come from bottles now.
By the time I stumbled, tripped out, walked from the bar, night had already entered full swing. All that was left to do was walk the two blocks back to my hole in the wall apartment and crash out. I just wanted to get back there and close my eyes, to leave this world behind. I just wanted to not be conscience anymore. I didn’t even see the street as I walked. I couldn’t even feel the cold air penetrating my jacket. Instead I just focused on the glimmering wet pavement under each light.
Then in my eyes that glimmering wet pavement became the dew of a memory clinging to my old kitchen windows. My mind went hazy like the flashback of a bad movie, clouded over in thought of morning sun shinning through the dewdrops, causing a rainbow across the kitchen floor. I saw a mug paused airborne, tipped sideways. The words “I Want A Divorce.” Shouting through the air as it spiraled down. Coffee splashing across the floor and glass fragments scattering like insects when the lights go on. “ecroviD A tnaW I” The coffee mug ran back into its nest and the glass picked itself up. Then the lights go off and with a smashing sound it happens again and again like a television rerun. After a commercial break headache it continued. The caption on the bottom of my mind read, one year earlier…
I was sitting in the living room watching my soaps. It was the middle of the day. My wife walked in, arms crossed. The bottle of Jack in my lap not nearly as heavy as it was only thirty minutes earlier. Her words don’t get through at all. All I hear are gunshots.
“Max you can’t keep dwelling like this it’s unhealthy.”
“It was a horrible thing that happened, but what’s done can’t be undone.”
“Let’s move on with our lives please!”
They were just snippets of what I heard from her during those last few months.
“What did I say you can’t keep staggering in at four in the mourning every night smelling of booze.”
“For Christ sake you promised me you weren’t going to drink anymore.
Do you even remember?”
“If you don’t do something about this I’m going to leave you Max.”
“I’m going to go away.”
That is just another way my mind liked to torture me when the drinks were wearing off. It enjoys feeding me memories I’d rather forget.
I found my way back to my bed and passed out for the night.
gninrom txen ehT
I woke up and patted myself down, looking under the covers to make sure my body was the way I remembered it. With no extra holes. Again, another nightmare except this time I was getting killed wearing a long brown wig, and a dress.
A flash of me, hairy arms and legs, running down the center of a street in a yellow flowered dress.
I can’t explain what deep seeded psychosis of mine was behind this one. I know I should seek professional help, but this was a new low. I shook it off and headed over to the kitchen, clicking on the TV as I did. I made myself a bowl of cereal not really paying attention to the morning news. I poured in the milk and turned around. Before I could even get the first spoonful to my mouth I dropped the bowl. It shattered and sent milk and little o’s flooding across the floor. I stood there, the heaping tablespoon still clenched in my hand. My mouth was open. My dress was on the TV. I mean the dress from my dream, being modeled by a girl who was found dead that morning. The report continued to say, murder was suspected.
“There are no leads or suspects at present if you have any information please contact…” I turned it off.
The girl’s face frozen in fear fully imprinted itself onto my memory. All too familiar to my on visage as I was killed by what could have only been the same monster last night. I grabbed my boots and headed down to the car still in my bathrobe, going to the scene of the crime. The block was exactly the same as it had been in my dream. The police caution tape set up with cones around the chalk outline where I had fell, but that isn’t where it happened. I had, she had ran down the block a little ways before that thing caught up to her. Now where was it? Right… behind the building on the corner that’s where it hid waiting to ambush me. I ran over to a small dumpster that had been moved away from the wall. It was a good place to pop out from. All that waits there now was a small piece of red cellophane. I pocketed it and headed back to my car, going through my phone for the number of an old colleague. A police friend I used to know, another lifetime ago. He used to work in the mortuary, maybe still did. I left a message then I made a second call to Jason, but it only rang once and then went straight to voicemail.
The sun still hadn’t reached the half way mark in the sky. It was warm for an October day. The fact that it was close enough to Halloween that someone wearing a mask wouldn’t look to out of the ordinary had already crossed my mind. That’s where I entered. Driving, not sure where to go, grasping the little piece of red plastic. Just fondling it between my fingers. A sign for the fall carnival was plastered on a passing bus. The carnival always brings a certain crowd of people to the town. If the guy responsible for the murders was wearing a mask there is a chance I might find some information from him there. I dreaded going back to that carnival, but it was the only action right now.
I went home to get changed, to grab my old badge. They let me keep it. The badge I mean. It was all I had left. I still couldn’t help but think though that I had to go back to “that” place again. I promised myself I never would, but promises are for the past, and it doesn’t make any difference now anyway I guess. I mean my wife left me right? I’ll explain later.
The carnival had just opened it’s gates for the day. Maybe it’s because it was bright outside, but the entire set up was much more rundown then I remembered. Rust just peering through the paint on all the rides, duct tape covering the rips on the torn tents, even the people look tired of this life. The long faces and quite eyes of everyone I questioned, maybe it’s just me who was tired. When someone’s eyes look down while they’re asked a question they’re usually trying to remember something. If someone’s looking up it’s usually a sign that they’re making their answer up. Just picking something out of the sky you might say. That’s just something I got while being a policeman. You get good at reading people.
I questioned the women running the goldfish game, talked to the twins who operated the roller coasters. I had a word with the fat man who mixes the music for the gravitron, a chat with the bearded lady and alligator man. I even spoke with the knight, but nothing. They all seemed sincere. Yet no one could help me. There was only one person there I hadn’t talked to, and I’d been dreading it since I decided to come back in the first place, but like I said it was the only place left to try.
The fortuneteller’s tent sat alone at the end of the lot. The sun seemed to beat down on me as the tent grew closer. A girl in a purple and black dress with gold stars embroidered across it came out and waved me over. “Bienvenidos” she said as I entered the little room. Her long black hair seemed to flow forever to the floor as she sat down waiting for me to join her at the small circular table. She began her little fortune telling speech; the whole, look into my crystal ball, hold out your palms, close your eyes spiel.
“Hey, before we get to far into this I’m looking for Carla is she around?” I said.
The girl was silent for a moment giving me a strange stare while squinting her eyes just a bit. She looked down and said,
“Carla hasn’t been part of the show for five years now. After my mother kicked her out.”
“Maybe it’s none of my business, but why would your mother kick her out.” I asked.
“My slut of a sister slept with a stranger.”
My eyes looked down.
“We knew as soon as she couldn’t tell fortunes anymore. Once you give yourself to someone you give them part of your gift too. At least that’s how it works for us. So do you want your fortune told or what?” She said.
“Maybe some other time. I’m looking for someone” I smirked,
“I guess if you were a real fortune teller you’d already known that.”
She glared at me and there was a hint of disgust in the way she curled her lips.
“What you’re looking for is right here.” she said, and pointed just past me. I turned around and just beyond an empty space of park there was a tall man taking tickets for the house of mirrors. He was standing just in the shade, so I could only make out his height in the outline as the sun was lighting up everything else.
The man stood alert, staring, the outline of his head turned to face me. He came out of the shade directly into the brightness of the day. I approached him, squinting, my eyes blinded by the light after coming out of the dark tent. I watched him watch me as they began to adjust.
“Do you do anything besides tear tickets?” I asked.
“Who wants to know?” His voice was grim and deep like someone who burnt their lungs on too many cigarettes. I flashed my badge tilting it so the reflection of the sun struck his eyes. “Yes, all I do is tear tickets,” he said.
“Are you kidding,” a little man walked over from behind the ticket fence “This guy’s the best knife thrower in the world you should see his act.” He zipped it after noticing my badge. My phone started to ring. It was the colleague that I called earlier, the one that works in the mortuary down town.
I turned my back to talk to him, and work out a few arrangements to see the bodies. When I turned back around the two men were gone, and the house of mirrors left to fend for itself. I shouldn’t have turned my back on them, but there wasn’t time to waste. They were releasing the bodies the next morning. If I wanted a chance to look them over I had to get there soon.
I hurried back to the car. A man was setting up his cotton candy wagon for the day. I almost rushed right past him, but stopped asit came to me, foggy like wiping off the mirror after a hot shower. He was wrapping each cardboard cone. I reached into my pocket and lifted the cellophane to my nose. It smelled sweet, it even had the slight stick still to it from whatever candy it was wrapped to. I put it back into my pocket and continued to the car.
I was in front of the body of the young man within the hour. The main character of my story had seen better days. His skin was pale, and as frail as fallen snow. His eyes were closed and his toe tagged. As soon as I pulled the sheet from off his chest I could tell this was no natural death. No disease or defect could cause these open wounds, five of them over his chest as if Freddy Kroger poked him with all five fingers. The reports said he was stabbed in the back five times with a blade long enough to come out the other side. There was no evidence of a struggle, no fingerprints found, and no weapons recovered.
“The girl had similar wounds.” A voice said, coming from behind me.
I turned around. My friend was standing there.
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t see you around, so I let myself in. Where is the girl’s body anyway?”
“She’s over in autopsy, but I don’t think they’ll find anything that’ll help you.” He said.
“Is there anything linking the two?” I asked.
“Nothing. They were both young, alcoholics. Both still had liquor in their stomachs. The girl had just lost her fourth job in the past year. The boy didn’t have a job either. Apparently his girlfriend of three years broke up with him about a month ago. They questioned her, but seems like a dead end.”
“Heh, just bad luck. These kids getting stabbed like that. I can relate. Can’t say I feel sorry for them though.” I said. “It seems like they were throwing their lives away anyway.”
“Hey Max, just lay off it. You know you can’t go around impersonating a police officer. You’re going to get yourself into trouble.” My friend said.
“Well, I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.” I said.
I walked out, my footsteps clapped quietly on the tile floor like an awkward applause as the doors swung closed behind me.
Once I was on the street again I knew I was lost without another clue. Should I even continue the case? Normally in my routine this would be the time to drink it up, and forget the past. Maybe I should drive by that carnival again, I thought. Track down that knife thrower or have a word with the gypsy girl although I didn’t really want to. Especially since that would mean me breaking my promise twice in one day. My promise to my wife. Sorry my ex-wife. Right, I said I’d explain.
Three months into our marriage I was a heavy drinker, but unlike now I only had a drink with company. I just didn’t know when to stop. I had taken my wife to the carnival and the fortuneteller had slipped me her number. My wife and I had just had an argument. She kicked me out; it was over me being drunk of course. I called up the girl. Carla was her name and spent the night with her. She apparently had seen me at the carnival earlier with my wife. She believed in love at first sight. The next morning I snuck out before she woke up. I haven’t been back to a carnival since.
My wife. I let out a deep sigh. My ex-wife. Maybe I spend too much time dwelling, maybe it’s all because of the damned alcohol. You know it’s not the loneliness itself that hurts the most. It’s the not being with her. The fact of losing her that brings all the pain. What I mean is if we never met and I was still alone now it wouldn’t be as bad. Maybe I just feel like I don’t deserve anything or anybody anymore. This is my punishment. I don’t believe in an afterlife or a final judgment, no not anymore. I hate people like that. People who have something good and throw it away. Then just wallow in their own self caused misery. I don’t believe I’ll be saved for putting myself through this endless unhappiness. This misery. No, in fact if anything I’m a selfish person. Spoiled, I just want attention. Is that it? Is that why I’m always moping around? Why all my short stories have to do with failure, how the main character is always the one with the short end of the stick. That’s right the short story. I had to write another one for Jason’s paper. Jason still hadn’t called me back yet. I gave him a call again, but still no answer. To hell with it, back to the carnival I thought. I had some more questions for that knife thrower. I could take another “stab” at him, maybe catch his show.
The place was packed with people by the time I arrived. The blanket of night disguised all the imperfections that seemed so clear earlier. The sounds of the coasters moving over the tracks, and the buzzing of the water balloon and horseracing games filled the air. People laughing and the smell of funnel cakes and hotdogs rushed my senses. However the reason I came back was still eluding me. The tall man wasn’t in front of the fun house tearing tickets like he was that afternoon, and the knife throwing show tent was closed. I questioned one of the ringmasters about it and he said they haven’t done any knife shows since they came to town because the guys been sick.
“I saw him this afternoon, He seemed fine.” I said.
“Yea, well he took the night off, hopefully he can do one tomorrow.”
“Thanks” I said and moved on. I was almost ready to leave. The anxiety of getting cornered by that fortunetelling girl was making me a little on edge. Then there’s a slight movement I caught from the corner of my eye. The little man from that afternoon was sweeping up around the side of another tent. “Hey you” I yelled out,
“Where’s the tall guy you were with this afternoon?” His eyes started looking around nervously.
“He took the night off. I don’t know where he went.” I moved closer to him forcing him to step back into the shadows of the tent. I put on a stern voice and said,
“You better not be pulling one over on me. If anything happens tonight while your friends away. You’re an accessory to it. Got That.” He was quivering now.
“Yea mister whatever you say.”
“I’ll be around” I said. There was a loud applause from inside the tent as I walked off.
By this time the night had fully encroached upon the day and I was just driving around, patrolling the streets. I haven’t had a drink all today. Not a one. Maybe I should become a private eye. Just keeping myself busy, it’s sad that it had to take a couple of murders before I could feel halfway decent about myself again. Elizabeth, I wonder how she has been doing. That’s right it’s been hard for me to even say her name. Elizabeth my ex-wife, I really missed her. Maybe I should check on her, go to that part of town. The part of town I’d intentionally avoided for a while.
It’s about nine o’clock when I turned onto her street. Our street. My heart beating ever faster the closer I got. Was this excitement the love that alcohol had been drowning out? A car pulled out from the side street in front of me. Jason’s car. He began to slow down when nearing her house. I pulled off to the side and watched closely as he pulled into her driveway, and ran up to the front door. I watched him as he pulled out a key and let himself in. I crept cautiously closer to the house keeping the car as quite as I could. All the lights were off except for the one in her bedroom. Our bedroom. Through the window I could make out their silhouettes embracing each other. Then the lights went out in there too.
The dodging phone calls, the urgency to leave the bar, the changing of subjects whenever I was to bring up his new love interests. It all made sense. It all made infuriating, heart breaking, back stabbing, nauseating sense. I was ready to leap out of the car and jump into the house and beat them both to death. I reached in my inner coat pocket for a flask, but I had left it at home. No more drinking for me. Yea right, nothings changed. I chirped out down the block, the burning rubber from my tires filling my nose, the salt water from my burning heart filling my eyes. I was home in no time with the glorious display of my liquor cabinet strewn out before me.
As the bottles emptied they filled some empty void in me. I mean all voids are empty I understand that, but I like that word “void” yea, that’s a good word to describe it. I would also use soulless or vacant, hallow, a blank canvas that I paint with memories. Does the liquor really fill it or is it just numbing the feeling like I was saying before? Can you numb a feeling of nothingness? It felt so good before to not be drinking, now it’s all gone. The first bottle done. I was so close today to apologizing to her; to tell her I still loved her. Thank God I didn’t cause it would have been a lie. I pictured their silhouette’s embracing in the window. I felt the throbbing in my chest succumb to the quench of rye.
I ripped off my jacket and tore the cap off the next bottle. “These dreams are a curse.” I muttered to myself. They’re going to get me into trouble. I’m not going to solve any case, just get fined for impersonating an officer. Why am I even having these dreams? I get the idea to call Carla’s sister, the new fortuneteller. Maybe she wants to have a drink with me. If she’s anything like her sister, maybe she’ll want more then just a drink. Her sister lost her powers from sleeping with me. Yea, I bet. That tall knife-throwing guy at the carnival. He has to be the tall monster. Maybe even the same tall man I had that shoot out with. The one that ended with a stray bullet killing that boy. Yea, all those months ago. Sure, yea it could be him. It had to be. I stood up braced myself, and stumbled my way into the bedroom to grab my gun. It was in it’s case, covered in dust, but underneath was just as deadly as it was then. I kept the bottle to my lips the entire time.
I don’t think I even made it to the door before I passed out, laying face down on the floor.
thgin taht retaL
Hazy clouds with light breaking through them surrounded me and before I knew it I was back at the bar again. This time there was a lot more people in it. In fact it was more like a club then any bar. The music, frantic and the lights were strobing from some unknown source. Everyone’s fighting to get a drink, and the dance floor was filled to capacity. Across from me I can make out the fortuneteller’s sister making out with the tall knife throwing man, Dancing on the floor past them is the young man from story and the girl in the flower dress. Each of them covered in blood.
I shimmied past packs of people, politely pushing them aside. Almost to the door when I encountered an impassable bulk blocking me. If God could make something that even he cannot move then surely this man was it. His black shirt read “Bouncer” across it in bold white letters. He stood taller then the door he was protecting with his arms crossed unwavering. “Hey buddy, I need to get out of here.” He didn’t even look down. I flashed my badge and still nothing. “Hey” I pulled down on his arm so he was forced to look at me. My eyes widened and my face felt pale. I let go of him. His face. Wasn’t a human face. No, it was that same mutilated monster from my dreams. His jagged knife like teeth shined back my look of fear, which was even clearer then his blank empty eyes could ever be. I started pushing frantically to get back into the crowd, horrified only to find that their faces had changed too. Were they always like that, grinning viciously at me?
I shoved my way through them, trying to avoid their claw like hands. Don’t look at their faces. Don’t make eye contact. There is another exit on the other side of the bar. Just make it to the exit. Just close my eyes. Just take me away from this world. Take me away from conciseness. There was some kind of commotion up ahead. I could make out a child shouting just barely over the music.
I broke through into a circle of creeps that had formed around the boy. He wasn’t one of them, he wasn’t a monster I mean, he was just a normal kid. That kid. He was the boy I saw whenever I closed my eyes. There he stood holding a plastic gun up at one of the monsters. The boy had on a red shirt with bold black letters that read “Love Thy Self.” I drove myself to reach him before the monster did, but the harder I pushed the further away I got. Until it was to late, until the monster was already on top of him in slow motion pushing his plastic gun out of the way devouring him right there on the floor. The other monsters just continued to dance rhythmically around them, their bodies swaying with the bass of the stereo seemingly unaffected by the carnage taking place just inches away.
Murder. That’s where I fit in again, beating on the back of this creature begging for him to let the boy go. Just let him go. The monster’s head spun around to face me and I looked deep into those black soulless, vacant, hallow eyes and watched my shadow silently moving through them.
As if the sight of that wasn’t enough to get me to run. The dead body of the boy dropped limp to the floor. I took off through the crowd for the other exit. The creature’s hot breath on the back of my neck. As I ran all the music was being drowned out by the sound of moaning. It was gradual at first, but the closer I got to the door the louder the moans got till there are no other sounds, but them and my own frantic heartbeat.
I swung the door open to escape the mob of monsters. Heaving deep breaths. The view from the doorway changed to that of my old bedroom, our old bedroom. The moaning I heard wasn’t coming from someone being attacked or tortured to death. No, it was coming from my wife in bed with my best friend. Watching them together made my eyes burn and my chest clench up. I’m not sure if I should start yelling or start hitting. Then she started to scream, the monster that was following me entered the room. It didn’t even look at me as it walked past. I didn’t look at it either as it went for them.
My eyes peeled open to the ceiling of my apartment, my heart still pumping before my brain could register what the dream was about. Then it flooded over me like the blast of a hydrogen bomb until I’m ready to vomit and I’m clenching my chest as I get out of bed. I was still dressed from the night before, sticky wet with sweat. I threw my coat on and rushed over to her house. I found myself constantly calling hoping for the phone to connect, but no luck. By the time I arrived all the traces of night had receded into the day, and there was not a policemen or siren in sight. The front door was wide open. There was no evidence of a break in.
I hurled myself up the staircase and barged into our bedroom. Her bedroom. Jason lay dead on the floor, covered liquid red in his own blood. His lifeless eyes still open staring up at me. Next to him, a trail of blood that lead to the master bathroom. This wasn’t a dripping trail as if someone was hurt trying to escape. No, this trail of blood looked more like someone was dragged. Their blood soaked, dead, limp body pulled across the carpet. I threw the door to the bathroom open. The mirror, fragmented to pieces, the shattered shards reflecting the morning light in a scatter pattern across the room, and there she was. Sitting on the tile floor. Her back propped up against the wall. She was stabbed to death, sitting naked in a pool of blood.
In the sink lied a singular large knife. A borderline machete. I got you. I thought to myself. They’ll be able to get you from the fingerprints here. The window of the bathroom was open and I looked out to the top of circus tents peeking up over the tree line.
gnorw og I did erehW
I ran, didn’t even bother to get in my car. Just ran. Ran straight for the carnival. The sound of sirens was echoing in the distance behind me. They must have made it to the house, saw what happened. When I got to the gates they were locked tight. Just on the other side I could see him still in his monster costume running for the house of mirrors. I climbed up over the chain link fence and fell down clumsily onto the other side. The sirens were getting closer. They must have known about him too. They must know this guy did it, but I have to get to him first. I have to make him pay for what he did. I have to ruin his life like he had ruined mine.
I ran up the steps into the mouth of the fun house. The only light coming in was from the outside like a mirror filled cave. I made out his silhouette just barely reflecting off one of the mirrors as he turned a corner, into the abyss. The mirror maze twisted and turned and I was right at the edge of his reflection as he slipped away into another.
We entered a large area encircled in all sorts of distorting mirrors. I stood in the center surrounded by the images of the monsters. The flashing red and blue lights appeared quickly and were reflecting through the entire room, bouncing around, coating us in their glow. Fat stubby monsters, and elongated stretched out ones, all of them appearing too real to be a costume, all of them moving as I moved. The sound of footsteps filled the floor. I held the gun to my head, pressing the nozzle hard into my temple till I could hear my heartbeat echoing in my head. I watched as all the monsters held their long knife like index fingers up to their heads as well. Mocking me. Sweating profusely, the hand my gun was in, shaking uncontrollably. I heard someone yell “Stop, put the gun on the floor”, but all I saw were the monsters in the mirrors, and their terrible metallic smiles that seemed to be laughing in the darkness of the room as my breathing was becoming shorter, as my vision was becoming darker, as I pulled the trigger and everything faded to black.
ysae os erew ti ylno fI
(I looked deep into the computer screen, skimming back over my story, pausing as I gathered my thoughts for it’s ending. I continued typing.)
That’s how I would have liked this story to end. Maybe how I wish it really did end, but the truth is I was simply arrested that day. I think back to the day I met Carla’s sister. When she was pointing to what I was looking for. She wasn’t pointing to the knife thrower was she? Her slender finger was pointing past him to the house of mirrors, to what I truly sought. Maybe that was something I knew the entire time, but just didn’t want to believe.
Maybe I just spent my life rushing towards death.
I hate loneliness
em sevol ti ,tub…
I looked out the barred window to the morning light split by scattered clouds. Images of a blood spattered broken glass mirror spiraled my thoughts. It was a long time before they let me near a computer so I could get my story down. Someone once told me it’s supposed to be therapeutic. The rhythmic clicking and clacking of the keyboard keys, the unraveling of my memories into words, but what they don’t understand is that my reflection still haunts me. My reflection off the dim computer screen. Maybe I deserve it. Maybe I deserve to remember as I stare into that reflection. Those cold black eyes starring back at me, those eyes that are just as dark as the deep depths of the sea or even further out past the planets, past the satellites, to a place where nothing shines. A place that holds no image except for my shadow silently moving though it.