The Box of William Granville Solomon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
William is in a box. Why is William in a box? He doesn't seem to be in Accrington anymore.

Submitted: July 03, 2016

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Submitted: July 03, 2016

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All at once he awoke, his mind, suddenly startled, sputtered into life.  Immediately he could sense this had been a mistake and he should have stayed asleep, but unable or unwilling to turn back he pressed on.  He was aware he was lying on the ground, tucked into a foetal position, the warm breeze on his skin told him he was outside, and naked.  Feeling in no immediate danger and actually being quite comfortable in comparison to the past few weeks he decided to stay put.

“Sight” his mind rather pompously exclaimed, a reminder that he could not in fact see.  Now either he was blind or his eyes were simply closed, he hoped desperately for the second option.  Bracing himself for the worst he activated the tired muscles of his face and attempted to open his eyes.  It went better than he had expected, he definitely wasn’t blind which was a bonus, but he also couldn’t see.

“Swings and roundabouts” he thought, blinking manically, he tried to fight against the harsh light and tears that filled his field of vision.  Slowly bit by bit the world around him came into focus, blues and oranges flooded into his cortex.  He squeezed his eyes shut again, not quite ready for the reality of where he might be.

“Fuck that for a game of soldiers” he said, to no one in particular.  “Deal with your nudeness before your location”.  He said this with the stoic confidence of someone repeating a well-worn phrase of sage advice.  So he sat up instead.  Once again, he immediately knew this was a mistake as his head hit a hard surface above him and he slipped back into his foetal position.  As a trickle of blood wound its way down his face, he decided to go back to sleep. 

“Maybe things will feel better after a snooze” he thought, or said, he wasn’t really sure anymore as a combination of sleep and a probable concussion took him once again into the darkness.

Awaking with a start, his body suddenly stretched itself out and he quickly discovered the narrow borders of his current, unknown housing.  As he opened his eyes, confident, almost cocky this time about his none blindness.  Rarely for him, his cockiness was indeed rewarded with sight, a much easier proposition this time as the light had significantly faded to an evening gloom.  Rolling onto his back he attempted an assessment of his situation.

“Am I in a fucking box??” was as far as he got.

He was in fact in a box, akin to a large glass coffin, barely large enough for him to turn around.  The reasons he might be naked in a glass box were currently a mystery, and the events leading up to this predicament were hazy at best.  He could remember shouting, there had definitely been lots of shouting, and it appeared any argument had been well and truly lost.  Unless ‘they’ were in a smaller box, this thought briefly raised his spirits and he allowed himself a little chuckle. 

“You’ve got to laugh or cry!”

Moments later he had decided on the latter option.  In between sobs and murmured swearwords he managed a quiet, whimpered;

“Why the fuck am I in a box?”

The following few hours were spent fighting a fllod of tears and mucus which took over his every sense, and dripped depressingly onto the bottom of his box. 

“Stop being a twat!”

This command was followed briefly, however, he soon returned to being a twat, bawling and crying like a fresh born babe.  Noticing the growing pool of fluids on the floor of the box, he found himself suddenly house proud.  This was HIS box after all, and if was going to spend his last few hours of life here, he damn sure wasn’t going to do it lying in a pool of tears and snot.  So he tried his first bit of housework in a very, very long time.  He found that bare arms did not make the most absorbent of cleaning implements.

“Cleaning tools, cleaning implement, cleaning stick, washing whatnot?”

He mulled the phrases over in his mind, deciding finally that people nowadays make far too much fuss about living in their own filth and also he wasn’t very good at housework. 

“Fuck it!  Back to business”

As his box clearly hadn’t been fitted with a wardrobe he realised he would be unable to deal with his nakedness.  He wasn’t a man naturally comfortable with his own nudeness, or nudeness in general, it seem too messy, to unseemly.  But with the world as it was; the world of being in a mysterious box that is, he didn’t appear to have a choice.  So next up was location, beyond his box this time, where else was he?  There was enough just light remaining for him to see that he didn’t know where he or his box was.  He could see a seemingly endless flat sandy landscape, unlike anywhere he could remember being before.  He twisted himself round to see what the other direction would bring, and more of the same was the depressing answer.  He was naked, in a box, in what appeared to be a desert, it really must have been quite an evening.  He wished desperately that he could remember some of it, not only might there be some clues to his current predicament, but there must have been some really fun bits, only a proper good night could end like this.

He was going to die in a box, and he would never know why.  That seemed a somehow appropriate end to a confused and aimless life.  He wondered when he would be found, and what they would think.  He imagined the grizzled detective, his life ruined by his obsessive quest to solve the mystery of the man in the box.  He was pretty sure he had never driven anyone to drink or destroyed a family before, and he would definitely be remembered now.  He would have made an impact on the world, at last, there’d probably be books written about him.  He began to wonder how much air was in the box, how long he might have left.  It couldn’t be much; he’d definitely been in here for several hours at least.  There were so many factors; how big is air?  How much was he using? Did crying use up more air?  Less air?  Could you survive on your own tears and snot? He wished desperately that he had listened more at school, not that he was convinced schools taught such obviously useful facts. 

“Fuck you Michael Gove” he spat furiously, “Academy my arse!”

He rather pathetically punched the wall in front of him, it wasn’t the world’s best punch, but it made him feel rather tough and manly.  It also made him feel the air holes in a line along the length of the box;

“Betty Swollocks!”

It would take ages to die now.  Lamenting the cruelty of both life and torture box manufacturers, he tried to process the fact that he would not be dying, not imminently anyway.  On the one hand, he knew deep, deep down inside he didn’t really want to die, his natural human thirst for sheer existence was not entirely gone.  On the other hand, an escape from this box, even a deadly one had been an exciting prospect and one he had begun to feel very comfortable with.  Also a long agonising death was probably worse than a quicker agonising death, or was it?  Not one to deal with complicated emotional problems either sensibly or normally, he soiled himself.  The loosening of his bowels created a great amount more material than he had expected, and its nature was in a word; astonishing.  He felt it hit the back wall of the box and splash up over his body, the smell stung his eyes and he retched, only just managing to avoid further dirtying his new home.

“I don’t want to be in a box anymore.”

A new determination washed over him, he was not going to die, and he was not going to live in a box full of shit.  He was desperately disappointed that this had required some kind of epiphany, surely this was far below the minimum people should expect.  Maybe my expectations are too low, maybe they were right all those years, maybe he should have been more ambitious.  That didn’t matter now, he had a glass ceiling to break through and nothing was going to stop him.

“Glass ceiling!”

He allowed himself another little chuckle, and a piece of faecal matter splashed onto his lower lip.  At this point he decided that jokes should not be allowed in the box, also, he should get out of the box.  He began feeling his way around, looking for a gap or join somewhere along the boxes edges.  It seemed the box was a solid piece of thick glass; he couldn’t help but me impressed with the workmanship, and the effort someone had gone to for little old him.  With subtlety seemingly not an option, he began kicking the back end of the box as hard as he could.  The first strike vibrated through his foot and leg and ended by shaking his brain into an involuntary sneeze, propelling yet more faecal matter into his open mouth.  But his determination was unshakeable now, with each strike of his feet he knew the glass was weakening.  Each and every kick now was accompanied by the sure knowledge that this was the one, this is when it would break, soon he would be free.  However, after an unknown amount of time that must surely be considered more than ‘soon’, he was not in fact free.  The box didn’t seem to be damaged, although his feet certainly were, his determination was spent and to top it all of he was still covered in his own shit. 

“Fucking typical Tuesday…..Wednesday?”

It wasn’t typical though, nothing like this had ever happened to him before, maybe he was the first person this had ever happened to, that thought worried him.  Or maybe this sort of thing happens all the time, to all sorts of people.  Was the country awash with roving gangs who went about boxing people up?  Were they watching him now from some camouflaged hidey-hole?  Was it a sexual thing?  Most things are after all, maybe if he gave them a show he would be released?  Did they want his hidey-hole?!  Would the fact that he soiled himself hinder his performance, or was that part of the point?  Had they seen him cry?

His mind swimming with questions, and feeling decidedly unsexy; he began a slow awkward grind against the walls of his box.  He tried with all his faltering might to appear alluring, but after catching sight of his reflection while trying a cheeking over the shoulder smoulder, he stopped dead, his self-conscious shame wouldn’t allow this farce to continue.  Never had the phrase ‘couldn’t perform a sexy dance in a box while covered in faeces to save his life’ been more apt. 

“It IS a fucking phrase” he screamed to his unseen detractors.

A sense of furious and righteous anger welled up inside him, at his imagined captors, at the ludicrous situation he found himself in, at every petty injustice he had ever endured, and at each perceived slight that the people of this shitty little world had rained upon him.  People! People had under estimated and underappreciated him his whole life, a life spent correcting the mistakes of fucking people, more successful people, happier people.  It was probably people who had put him in this box, people who had forced this final indignity upon him.  This was it, the straw, the camel was finally crippled.  That it had taken being trapped in shit filled box for him to finally snap, should have been a cause of shame.  But snap he had, and no amount of self-awareness or shame could prevent that now, his mind swelled with 38 years of repressed rage and aggression.  A high-pitched guttural noise, escaped from his larynx, taking several moments to form itself into a word;

“TWATS!”

He spat the word, with as much vitriol as he could muster, and it triggered an almighty tantrum.  Like a spoilt child in a supermarket freezer section he stamped his feet and thrashed around furiously, spit flew from his mouth as cried and wailed into the night.  No ice cream or toy would sate him now, he was in the eye of his own storm, not even the blood flowing from newly opened wounds slowed him down.  He was a manic whirl of arms, legs and fluids, crashing again and again into the walls of his prison.  Then the sound crashed him back to reality and a sense of sanity, a great booming noise, like an explosion to his ears, which had heard nothing but his own voice for so long.  For the briefest moment he feared he was dead, or shot, or maybe even exploded.  However, as his senses returned he looked down and saw that his left foot was free, his toes could feel the sweet warm air of release. 

“You beauty!” He exclaimed, emphasising the ‘eau’ with probably more gusto than he had managed his entire adult life. 

In his excitement he failed to notice that freedom had cost his left foot a great deal of skin and was continuing to cost him large amounts of blood.  His foot, having smashed a whole in the end of the box, was precariously jammed between sharp edges of glass which were begging to find a nice big vein and end his suffering.  But he was drunk on freedom by now, oblivious to the pain, he wriggled his free leg back and forth, trying to make the hole bigger.  When this didn’t work he began again kicking at the glass with his still captured but healthy right foot.  The work was much easier now, and piece by piece the wall of his box began to fall away. Soon righty joined lefty outside to freedom, although the whole was not yet big enough for him to squeeze through.  Despite this, he wasn’t willing to have his feet re-captured, they couldn’t now help the rest of him to freedom.  So, still largely unaware of the pain he began shuffling down the box and pushing himself through the hole.  His legs went with only some slight squeezing, but his hips were another matter, halfway through and he was stuck.  He kicked at the air outside in a vain attempt to propel himself through the hole to freedom. 

“Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey” he said to himself quietly and with all seriousness.

So carefully, gingerly he began to break and snap the pieces of glass, which had started to feel like they were tightening around his waist.  It was now, in the absence of excitement and sobering up from his freedom binge that he began to notice the pain, the pain and the blood.  His feet were no longer kicking the air outside, it took him several seconds to realise this was because he could no longer move them.  He forced this to the back of his mind and tried to concentrate on the job at hand, something he was never normally very good at, but extreme circumstances required extreme concentration.  Typically, it was at this moment that his mind could suddenly think of nothing else but the lyrics to ABBA’s ‘Fernando’, more infuriating than this ill-timed brain worm was the fact that he only knew around half a verse and a little bit of the chorus.  But finally, he felt his hips loosen and started to wriggle himself free, bit by uncomfortable bit, he edged his way out of his box.  As his face emerged into the evening gloom he screamed a defiant war cry;

“The stars were bright, FERNANDOOOOOOO”

The stars were indeed bright, but his energy was spent, he closed his eyes as a free man and slept.

An undetermined amount of time passed in a deep peaceful sleep, his dreams were of sky and air, and of her.  His dreams were always of her, somehow, somewhere she would always appear; Mary Elizabeth Shaw, but at least tonight she looked upon him with kindness.  In her bright green eyes, he saw only the best of their 2 years together, there was none of the pain or sadness he had made her suffer, which eventually caused those eyes to darken and sink.  The fading of that light had been what had motivated him to leave, to walk away from the only thing that had ever made him happy.  He saw the suffering he caused, but tonight she was happy, for tonight they were happy.

His waking was also peaceful; slowly and gently the faint, comforting smell of bacon roused him back into the world.  It must be Saturday, he was home, it had all been a stupid dream.  The bacon smelled weird, his skin felt weird,

“I’m the bacon aren’t I?” he sighed.

He was, the rising sun had seared his skin a deep porkish red and was busy peeling the first layers from his body.  He opened his eyes, it wasn’t a dream, he had been in a box, for like, a day, and now he was……..

He hadn’t thought much about what might be outside the box, his box.  The sky was clear and almost comically blue, the sun had already begun to move past him across the horizon.  He blinked and smiled, the sun, the sky, he could explain those.  He could think of so many reasons he could be outside, not like being in a box, outside was somewhere people were and went, people weren’t in boxes.  Were people in boxes? Was that a thing?  He wasn’t though, he was somewhere else, somewhere hot, really hot.  He sat up, the sudden re-arrangement of his blood was a shock to his senses, dizzy and blind but buoyed by his new found vertical-ness he pressed onwards and upwards to his feet.  He staggered briefly before taking a wide steady stance and waiting for his head rush to abate. 

He decided to take things slowly.

He looked down at himself; he looked a fucking state, his entire front was burnt and blistered.  Some fairly serious looking wounds on his feet and ankles were caked in dark dried blood, baked by the midday sun, and of course he was still covered in his own shit.  It was this last part he found most regrettable, he had been raised to always be wearing clean, matching underwear, in case of this exact situation.  Ok, maybe not this exact situation, but similar ones.  Ok, not really similar situations, but emergency situations, which this did he suppose count as.  In fact, he had been wearing a brand new pair of argyle socks and a very serviceable pair of boxer shorts last he remembered.

“Well I don’t suppose I’ll be seeing those again”

“Just gets better and better”

Next he looked at his box, like himself it wasn’t a pretty sight, but it was still an impressive construction.  The sand around it was surprisingly undisturbed, there was no evidence of it being dragged here, nor was there a track made by a vehicle dropping it off.  It was as if it had appeared here out of nowhere, again, whatever had transpired, effort and expense had been spent on his behalf.  Buoyed by this feeling of self-importance; he straightened his back and lifted his head to take in is surroundings.  It didn’t take long, he saw sand, some more sand, some more still and finally the sky.  He was in a desert, as ridiculous as that was it was clearly the only answer.  Last he remembered he was in Accrington, has he had been for almost his whole life, barring a weekend in Blackpool, two holidays He felt he should move, go somewhere else, while he still had the strength.

He looked around, trying to find something, anything, that might help him decide which direction to head in.  The horizons were unhelpfully empty, so, as the sun was moving behind him, he figured North must be to his left.  North seemed like the sensible choice, north was forward, north seemed like progress at least.  Before setting off he decided he should leave a note, polite as always, he was concerned someone would come looking, and he didn’t want them to worry. 

He dipped the tip of his right index finger into the well of his ankle wound and carefully left what could possibly be his last communication with the world, across the top of what could possibly be his last home in the world.  He stepped back to admire his penmanship;

W.G Solomon was here

Headed North

Stepping forward again he added what he felt was a vital amendment;

W.G Solomon was here in his box

Headed North, probably

As prepared as he was likely to ever be, he set off walking, north, ish, probably.  With slow, plodding, but purposeful steps he headed in his chosen direction.  He walked for what felt like an age, during which time the scenery around him seemed to stay worryingly still and similar.  He found this extremely disconcerting and kept looking round to check that his box was getting further away, and that he was in fact moving.  Each time he looked he had definitely moved, but his progress seemed to be painfully slow.  The initial giddiness of freedom and movement had been ebbed away by the heat and the effort of walking.  His injured feet and ankles made every step excruciatingly painful but step by step, foot by foot he was moving forward, progressing. 

However, he soon began regretting his choice of direction, second guessing each and every step.  He needed to find shelter and water soon, or all his box escaping efforts would be for naught. 

“At least I’m not in a box”

He repeated his newest mantra again and again, willing his body forward.  With each repetition the power of his words waned as did the strength in his legs. 

“I wish I was in my box!”

“Where the fuck am I?”

The questions kept coming;

“Why was I in a box?”

“What happened last night?”

Or the night before, or had it been before that, his last memory was Friday.  He had gone out Friday, he’d met Justin and Sue, and……………

That was it, the last he remembered, even that glorious first pint was gone, or hidden, either way he couldn’t reach it.  The thought of that cold beer touching his lips reminded him just how thirsty he was.  Too many questions, too much walking, and too thirsty, this wasn’t a good combo he thought.  At the exact moment his brain began to contemplate the possibility of stopping, his legs immediately acquiesced and he collapsed in a heap onto the hot dusty ground.  Sitting up, he decided that if he was stopping, which apparently he was, he would have to at least try and answer some of those questions.  He couldn’t just have a rest, he wasn’t on holiday. 

He’d spent too long on what he couldn’t remember, so he went through what he knew.  He wasn’t in Accrington, he probably wasn’t in the UK.  So somebody had had taken him overseas, put him in a large glass coffin and dumped him in the desert.  It was far too ridiculous to be true, but here he was, in the pickle to end all pickles.  And he was so thirsty, his entire face seemed to be cracking, he felt as if the thick coatings around his lips and nose were choking him of breath.  As his chest became tighter and his breathing shallower, he began to retch, dry vicious retching that tore at his chest.  It was as if his body was rejecting a great feast that it had independently imagined.  It was at this point he became concerned, maybe he was sickening for something, or maybe he was dying.  Either way he found it all rather depressing, he was going to die, and it appeared as though it was going to hurt.  Fighting on was out of the question, he’d spent his life as Switzerland, and damn it he was going to die like he lived.

So he lay down to die, and he felt finally at peace with it.  When he was struck with the sudden fear that there might be an afterlife, he couldn’t do any of that again, even the pre box parts.  Also he’d definitely be going to hell, actually maybe that’s what this all was. Hell, or purgatory, or dying of blood loss and thirst.

His mind scrambled for some last words, a final sentiment to leave the world.  It didn’t matter that nobody would hear it, he would know.  He would know that despite being a lonely pathetic man dying in the desert covered in shit, he was at least poetic to the last.  However, nothing came to mind, it seemed that as usual he had nothing to say, nothing to offer.  This was it, he could feel his body shutting down, his mind darkening.  As his life slipped away, he forced himself to say something, anything, although he was disappointed with the result;

“If I had to do the same again, I would my friend, Fernando.”

And then more quietly

“Fuckwitted little twat”


© Copyright 2017 M.R. Moynihan. All rights reserved.

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