Mark

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story about the rapidly declining mental state of a schizophrenic.

Submitted: December 04, 2017

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Submitted: December 04, 2017

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He, the entrancer of all women, the pinnacle of all dreams, the suspector of all things innocent, and God of at least two religions, and trombone player, fumbled for his security card at the dorm entrance. It wasn’t his fault.

The cold had done it. It had numbed his hands like it always did on Tuesdays at 2:32 a.m, in a subjectively different manner from how it numbed his hands at 2:31. He cursed the damn cold with a foggy breath and pulled off his glove, exposing the phalanges of his hand that appeared hypoxic in the sub freezing temperatures. The key card smiled at him as he grasped it between his depressed fingers, relishing in its superiority. Its plasticy covering flashed the dim streetlight back at him as he held the card against the scanner. It angrily beeped in disapproval, and the peculiar man jumped in surprise. He scowled at his card and tried again to no avail. Grunting, he slid the card back into his leathery wallet, slid the wallet back into his thick, dark colored trench coat, and resheathed his hand in his glove, even though right hand was far too cold for the glove to help.

He protected the cold, black glass with his black gloves to give his glassy eyes a better view of the dorm room lobby. Richie sat back in his recliner with his scarlet security hat draped over his face. His large chest moved up and down with even breaths as his feet intimidated the computer screen secured on the desk in front of him. Each respiration inched his toes a distance back and forth, almost touching the screen but then falling back before they could commit to a relationship. The lobby was empty except for the spider that wove its cobwebs too close to the lamp in the corner, and the saddened plant, drooping its leaves in lament for its despicable situation. They cast a surprisingly gloomy shadow over the room.

But the peculiar man started patting the glass with his hand. Richie started to sit up, but was ignored by a voice appearing behind the peculiar man. “Mark?” it stated.

“Why are you outside this late?” it accused.

Mark seemed a little startled by the stern voice but didn’t let it get to him. He just glanced over at Philo and smiled. “Oh”.

Philo gave Mark a confused glance and pulled out a security card from the pocket of his khaki shorts. “Need help?”

Mark stood still for a second, but then nodded and stepped out of the way very quickly. Philo forced a smile that looked way too real. He stepped in front of Mark in his red flip flops to press his card against the scanner, but it didn’t seem to care about Mark. Mark didn’t seem to care about it either, because when he picked his head up from the scanner to look through the doorway, Richie had woken up and unlocked the door. Although he would normally wait for Philo to go through first, Mark grabbed his bags, jumped ahead and opened the door for himself. Philo firmly grasped his hand and stopped the door in its tracks. He stared into Mark with a smile of friendliness and a gaze of death.

They both remained still for a second, but then Philo interrupted it apologetically removed his hand from the door to let Mark enter. The room was much warmer, but a cold kept ebbing at the back of Mark’s head. He walked with a sweat towards the elevator at the end of the hallway.

Richie yawned and swerved his chair to the passersby. He stretched his arms wide with a hat in his hand. “Late night Mark?” he stated without any much attention. Mark just nodded and held his belongings close and continued down the hall. Philo walked up to the desk and started a conversation. Richie didn’t seem to care.

“How’s it moving, Rich?” he proposed. Richie sighed and pulled his security cap back over his sleeping mind.

“Sure thing man,” Philo stepped back and laughed at a joke, swung his arms. He twisted back towards the hallway. Mark was already in the elevator and anxiously waiting for the door to close. Philo cranked his head into view as the door started to slide shut. “Hey, hold the door man!” he shouted from down the hall. Mark pretended not to hear him. As the door hurried into closing, Philo’s foot interrupted , slowing it down to a halt. Mark stared at the expected intruder and found his own hand on the open door button. Philo stuck his torso through the door as it opened.

“Phew, man,” he stated, not tired. “You almost missed me there!”

Mark wished he had his trombone. It always made him feel better. He tried to make his lips curve up but kept pressing the open door button instead. Philo glanced down at the buttons and asked which floor Mark’s room was on. Mark traced the intruder with his eyes as he moved towards the button. He froze.

Philo squinted at Mark, but didn’t point out his awkwardness. “It’s okay, I already know.” He pressed the door open button. Mark did too, again. Mark looked at Philo, and Philo looked back at Mark. Mark pushed floor 17.

The elevator ascended at a snail's pace. Thankfully, Philo was really good at conversation.

“Hey,” He tossed into the elevator. It didn’t land anywhere. He shut his mouth again. Mark wasn’t eager to talk.

“So, um,” He tried again. “How have you been since, uh, your mom died?” He stated with a blank face. Then he smiled.

Mark became dyspneic. The elevator opened up to the sky and stars began to flutter in his eyes like kites. He turned to a still smiling Philo, and released an exasperated, “fine”. Philo look confused, but nodded his head and agreed. He sat back against the rising elevator wall. He looked up to the open sky, too. The sun told him it was at least 2:32 a.m.

“I mean personally, I’d find it so weird to not have a mom. She’s just such an important figure to me, you know?” He said awkwardly. “Like, she’s been there for me my whole life, and all my best memories are with her.”

Mark’s breathing rate increased a little.

Philo looked at himself in the reflection of the metal elevator wall. He seemed very flat today. “Especially when we all went to get ice cream. Dad, Mom and I. Those were the best moments. Whenever something good or bad happened, Ice cream was the celebration or the solution. You know those kinda moments?”

Mark breathed a little bit faster.

Philo didn’t stop to check if Mark knew those kind of moments. Those are the best”. His reflection still looked flat. “Dad was the best too. He just never seemed to get over mom’s death like I did. I could remember how sad he looked from that prison cell. I never asked why, I just knew he was sad for some reason.” He smiled now. “Damn. Those were the good old times.”

Mark couldn’t stop it anymore. His breath raced.

Philo turned to Mark, walked close to him. “Don’t you miss those good old times?” He stammered. Someone whispered into the back of Mark’s skull. “I honestly don’t know how you could possibly live-” he was breathing down Mark’s neck now- “without knowing that you have your parents available to you at any given time.” The words singed every hair on his body. Someone was poking him in the back.

Philo tried to make eye contact with Mark, but Mark refused to turn. He couldn’t. The elevator might not have been moving anymore. Mark couldn’t tell.

Philo laughed hysterically and tilted his head back. His feet began to pace around the elevator. “Do you know how unbelievable you are?” He said to the elevator. Then he turned back to Mark. “You honestly told yourself that you could live content in this mental shithole you live in?”

“Philo,” Mark whispered.

“What was that? You have something important to say?” They both waited for Mark to say something in the silence of the elevator. Something was stabbing Mark in the back. The elevator opened up in the ambience of the room.

“Hmm?” Philo asked again.

“Please stop,” Mark whispered again.

Mark tilted his head sideways, perplexed. “Oh,” he said, maniacally. He exhaled through his nose. “Oh!” he stated. The elevator doors slid open to the roof of a tall building. The cold bit Mark’s face like a baseball bat. Philo walked through it. Mark waited for the doors to close.

Philo took slow steps and threw his hands behind his head. His head shook as he looked around the campus. It was too dark to see any of the trees, the streets, the houses, the other dorms, the ground, the moon, or the elevator. Philo was visible, though. The rusted outline of the building vents and A/C were visible, though. The edge of the roof was visible, though.

The elevator doors wouldn’t shut. The stars glared down at Mark with a weighty gaze, inviting him to exit with force. Mark pressed the close button once. Philo’s head picked up at the sound of the click. The doors wouldn’t shut.

Philo turned back to Mark, face bloodshot with insanity. He froze, and then smiled once again. “Mark,” he said calmly, “Why don’t you come out onto the roof with me?”

Mark felt every drop of cold sweat trickle down his spine as he pressed the elevator button once more. He didn’t look up to meet Philo’s eyes. He still heard him though. “Mark,” Philo said from the inside of Mark’s head, “Why don’t you come outside and meet your mother?”  Mark’s eyes blurred. His head carried the weight of the world. He pressed the button once more.

“Mark,” Philo whispered into Mark’s ear, grabbing his hand, “Why don’t we go out onto the roof?” The intruder’s hand began to crush the grains of Mark's carpals. Mark shook his head rebelliously.

Philo paused for the last time. His khakis shorts looked awfully pale. “Well,” he stated plainly, “Isn’t that a shame.” He let go of Mark. Mark looked up at him. Then his mind went black

***

When he opened his eyes again he was standing next to Philo before the edge of the roof. There was a busy street below them. Taxis and cars were racing by under the pale orange streetlights. A bum sat on the corner of two blocks, shaking his can to the passing vehicles. A couple walked across the cars stalled by the red light. Dim yellow lights shone behind a couple of drawn blinds on the walls of the city apartments, shielding the night owls in a veil of privacy.

Philo had his hands in his pockets. He looked down at the street scene playing out before him. “You know mark, It’s been really hard for me these past few years, you know?” He said without looking up. “Sometimes I’m glad I’ve made it as far as I have, but sometimes I just don’t see why either of us should keep on going.”

Mark didn’t tell his legs to move, but they did. He took a step up onto the ledge of the roof. He desperately tried to move his lips, but nothing came out.

“It just isn’t worth it. It’s too tough for me, and too tough for you.” He said for the last time. “Mark,” he whispered.

“I don’t want to anymore, Philo,” Mark tried, eyes watery with sadness. “I don’t want to,” he confessed, sobbing. He wiped them once more, and blinked. He lifted his fearful head, but Philo was gone. There was no one on the roof. There was no elevator behind him. There was no street. It was just the campus floor laid out below him. He looked down in disbelief.

Mark chuckled.

“It’s just a little too cold out, you know?” Mark giggled, slipping his black glove back on his right hand. He jumped off.


 


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