Lines of contrast and static faded back into visuals. Visions of pine trees, a blue sky, and clouds in shape of what your mind deciphered came into near sight. Familiar sounds of civilization greeted me once again. I was awake; I was alive. And here I lied, near the broken sanctuary of our worlds source of “evil” and “wretchedness.” This was a place where you could spend countless days watching the river flow--or catch a glimpse of adventurous young adults taking their chances at discovery in the woods nearby while the night fall would present silent horrors that would lurk at the corner of your eyes as you shot up on spank or took a moment to become aware as your mental awareness tinkered with your perception. This place would be the start, and most likely the end of me.
It all began with a theory of living. I’m no scientific mastodon or heartless politician, but a young man with nothing but the clothes on his back and a powerful, yet hidden mind seeping with ideas
and dreams that consist of what I’d like to call “the blueprint of life.” My name is destiny, the crystal ball to manifest the courage of the lost ones to move ahead; My name is agony, the blockade
of pain that halts progression and tears apart that growing inspiration that we as humans look so desperately for; My name is sympathy, the power to bring down one at the cost of bringing down
oneself; My name is Rory.
Where the World Begins and Ends
The world around me started to reveal itself. I grasped my head tightly. A sharp, stabbing pain shot through my skull and to the back of my eyes. Struggling to look through blurred vision, I saw a decaying spot all around me; my spot under the bridge. The walls of this area were tagged in graffiti that were decades old. Tags of various gangs in the early nineties and names of wandering friends decorated these walls from top to bottom and horizontally all along. The weathered, crumbling concrete floor and the diversity of the wall art near it were like a beautiful, but hectic mess on par. Everything down here is pure and wonderful to me. I was partially sober at this moment and I had greater and more true appreciation for these things than usual.
I attempted to stand up from my resting place on the ground; balancing as if I were hanging onto dear life at the edge of the universe. The sunlight beaming in through the trees now looked white and brighter than ever; glowing intensely as it passed into the corners and revealed the remaining darkness. I stumbled over to the colorful walls and began to vomit uncontrollably. A bit of blood and stomach acid painted the floors. It added a style the surroundings. Sweat started to run down my grime covered face and black blotches formed in my sights like a Rorschach illustration in motion. The once small world around me felt as if it had grew. The light headed feeling dawned and began to distort objects as well as create a hallucinogenic induced-like figure off in the distant woods which caught my attention instantly. It was a dark shadow that stood motionless; almost human like. It had no eyes or facial features but still gave off that uncanny feeling of being stared down.
“It’s not really there, is it?” I thought. It was most certainly there in my eyes.
Down the narrow dirt trail leading into the woods, I saw the slim shadowed man swiftly moving from one area to the next like a grand illusionist getting closer and closer as he moved spots; almost teleporting in a way. My heart raced with fear as I wasn’t sure if this was a figment of my imagination or an actual demon ready to invade my soul. Demons aren’t real though! I knew that but it was hard to believe myself. The fear was- growing stronger as each second passed and I was inclined to not think straight.
The man got closer and my heart shook like a stampeding riot. I could hear the beating clearly through my ears in an echoed sound. My knees shook and my lungs and brain felt like they weren’t receiving any oxygen. The mild wind felt freezing cold while the formerly intense light disappeared and invited the darkness back. Then; at that very moment, I heard a horrifying shriek rush through my ears followed by a loud ringing. All I could do now was let go, fall. Head first into the concrete forced a reverberation of vibrating and numbing pain throughout my body. In this state of paralysis I could only move my eyes around and try to scream, but no sound could make its way out. I felt a slight cold liquid submerge my feet and legs. Unconsciousness pulled me back into the darkness once again and I submitted.
* * *
The dark was overwhelming. I heard very faint and intolerable noises that sounded like they came from the depths of my mind. They got louder and clearer. Then, I heard a river; followed by vehicles. I opened my eyes and woke up once more. The pain this time was even stronger than before. The back of my head was searing. I felt the irritated area and rubbed gently on the spot where dried blood coated my raven-black hair.
I took a second to collect myself before realizing that I was drenched in water almost completely. I was washed up like a pile of waste at the end of the river that ran through most of the forest and directly under the bridge where it divided the bridge spot into two sections. I hesitantly crawled out of the water and up the mound of tall grass while making my way to a shady willow where I dried off to the best I could. I noticed one particular thing while at rest; my body didn’t feel like it was my own and my thoughts couldn’t quite organize any sort of common sense. What happened a moment ago wasn’t something I could be ignorant of and brush away, something just felt too wrong about it all.
The sun started to rise and I started to come up with questions pertaining to everything I was thinking about. I wondered if the awakening after the first blackout was a nightmare, whether I overdosed into a coma, or whether I was still dreaming after the prior collapse. I wrestled around with the ideas for awhile but obviously couldn’t draw much of a conclusion. I brushed off dead leaves that stuck to my body from the water and sat for moments trying to cancel out the nauseous feeling.
“Follow the river back to the bridge or wander around the town alleys?” I asked myself after a long session of meditation. I decided to head for town figuring I‘d find a miracle. I don‘t know what I would do or what the purpose was, but it came to my mind quickly and it seemed like strolling the streets early in the morning was a significant idea. I got up from the company of the willow tree and headed further up the hill and across the highway at the top and walked down the lonesome road until I got to town. Other than the car engines rumbling from a distance, the outskirts of town were dead silent. I walked down a sleeping street then took a turn into a dark alley. Both of the walls of the buildings I stood between were cluttered with witty gang tags. These were the type of gangs that weren’t even familiar with reality, shoddy made groups by a couple of high school students with too much time on their hands.
“Absolutely pathetic” I thought.
Rats dashed out of fallen trash cans and into shadows. Crows cawed from their sitting place up above where they were perched on buzzing electrical lines. My old, dark brown boots slopped over rotten food leftovers and other waste products while walking through the narrow pass. Continuing forward, I noticed a bug light was visible a couple ten or so meters ahead that hadn‘t turned off yet. Under the light stood an elderly man sporting a large grey beard, a navy blue knit hat, an old greasy flowing trench coat and black fingerless gloves which held a lit cigarette that he occasionally puffed on. I felt a nicotine urge coming up while I watched the cigarette burn away in his mouth.
“I need a cig…” I said bluntly while approaching the man. I wasn’t really trying to sound persistent or forceful but it came out in such way that seemed rude.
“…Sir…” I added.
The man had a gravelly and worn sounding voice. He pulled out his tattered leather cigarette case and handed me a square. The possession of a cancer stick once again in awhile had me thrilled and satisfied; but I noticed that the man seemed to flicker like a interrupted TV signal for a split second until blinking in and out of existence quickly. And just like that he was gone like my other made-up figures. It came to me that my mind was beginning to display lies. It projected false rights to keep me briefly satisfied; or sometimes scared.
I’ve reached the point to where I can’t quite trust anyone and now I can’t even trust myself. Attempting to achieve self isolation because of that loss in faith is difficult when you murmur a thousand personal statements to yourself daily, but that isolation is critical and dangerous. Your voice echoes into the atmosphere where it may then become a permanent mark legible to expand like a virus amongst the people and never again to be your own personal statement. Loneliness kills; people kill harder. I wouldn’t put all of my trust on either side; for that would make one the most foolish of them all.
* * *
Blanked out again. I opened my eyes and noted that it was fairly brighter than before when I saw the man. The young sun rose higher while the exhausted moon had sunk below the horizon. The bug light died out and the man was well out of my sight and probably a journey away from reality. My cancer stick was but a filter on the dirty concrete ground under me, emitting a passive essence of smoke; slowly burning the rest of the paper and tobacco away. Had I fallen asleep standing up? Did I overdose on another dark narcotic? I felt as if I ran on a faulty motor. A product of clockwork and doodads crafted by the hands of a young apprentice. There wouldn’t be a place for me in a mechanical city or a mechanical world. Out in the bargain bin for somebody’s souvenir or the trash to rust away with the rest of the worn out parts.
I stretched my arms out and repositioned my stiff neck. My joints cracked like an old, creaking wooden door opening. An unusual fragrance expanded and filled the air around me, like sweet flowers and exotic mushrooms seeping fluid from their bright, spotted head. Although unusual, it was a pleasant smell. I attempted to shake off my confusion, gathered my well being, and headed out of the alley into the now vehicle flourishing commons.
Life moved past me in orderly fashion. Men of various ages and backgrounds tended to their daily errands dressed in dark grey, well pressed business suits. Each of them clutched suitcases in one hand and some with a coffee in the other. Corporate puppets running on corporate products. As good as the warm homes and clean, expensive clothing sounded, it wasn’t pleasing nor convincing enough to overpower the mental stress these workers endure on a day to day basis. Deep inside, I knew that they were more miserable than I could ever imagine an average middle classmen to be. I’m no prisoner to schedules or workspaces of said men, but a prisoner to unbalanced qualities of life, which isn’t as bad as individuals portray it to be. With a life like mine, there are all types of new found freedoms. I would much rather die having expression than to be owned and stripped of all my potential creativity. Average people like a John or Joe come into this world as nothing and leave as nothing. Presumed geniuses like Einstein and Da Vinci enter the world as nothing and still, in my opinion, leave as nothing. There is much more out there than answering peoples calls or writing reports or inventing things to alter the way of living slightly. Why advance society through theories and discoveries? Is that what we truly need? Or is the thought of restoration and restarting as a whole overlooked? There’s something we all need as a civilization, but it’s no advancement in the medical field or a uproar of technical advancements. Not at all, but something else; something unheard of, and I believe that us humans aren’t able to comprehend that due to our simplistic nature.
It became unusually dark suddenly, especially at this time of day. The sun burned high above the sky, but it wasn’t enough to kill the gloom. It only represented the time being killed hastily; it’s
movement representing every minute and hour wasted. Shadows reminding us of where to be, waiting to take over when the sun would fall low once more, cloaking the entire city and it’s horrors in
darkness while opening new ways for the night crawlers to scheme through it without giving away their existence. I moved along further into the heart of the city while taking mental note of every
little thing that caught my attention.
After an odd amount of time spent walking, I came into view of a harbor housing ships and hundreds of cargo crates. The site of it rang a bell deep within, something was familiar about this place. Despite the high walls surrounding the area from the outside, I managed to spot a wrecked barbwire fence not too far from my current location. I walked over and inspected it further to ensure there weren’t any jagged tips or if there were any weak, rusted parts I could tear apart. I crouched down and gently pulled up a damaged part of the fence I noticed further up from the ground and cautiously crawled under, being wary of sharp ends to avoid getting nicked. I got up and was now on the inside of the harbor. The grounds weren’t too active with people or security guards. Workers were most likely within the building compound tending to technical checks and communication lines amongst sea traffic. The noises from the bay were loud and ships from afar could be seen in the bluish hue of the waters horizon. Seagulls flew high above circling over the entire property in search of food along the sea shore.
I tried to think about why I even came here in the first place. Something about it subconsciously called me in. I wasn’t hungry for any leftovers from the workers lunches or in need of any place to wash up. For some reason I thought that everything I did had to have a purpose. I couldn’t take a walk around town or lay in a pile of leaves to daydream unless it had a meaningful outcome to it that sparked an idea I‘d pursue. This feeling of trying to over achieve upset me. I wanted to steer these activities of mine to achieving a better understanding of life but I didn’t want the concept to consume me. The thoughts were strong, but denying it could be an even stronger force. Life was about living freely to me and not about living in constant fear of trying to always be a step ahead of your present desires. The thought of even being physically ahead of the present was faulty.
Certain thoughts would jam the gears of progression. You would think that taking a moment to resolve a personal issue would get things flowing, but sometimes it worked similarly to a homicide case
where one idea would lead to a next until eventually leading to a dead end. Thoughts like these were a helping hand to mending the cracks of the walls that you so desperately tried to break to open
the space between you and that intended destination. As much as I tried to move forward and forget it, it would get me either way.
Forklifts and large semi trucks were parked outside dozens of steel garages. I walked close to these as I didn’t want to bring too much attention to myself by being out in the open. I walked along and kicked loose rocks and empty tin cans around the pavement. Examining yellow parking lines and different types of coloring on the ground was hypnotizing. I stared blankly at everything around me while desperately pulling my attention away from what mattered and what didn’t. I felt that nostalgic innocence of taking a relaxing stroll for a brief moment until my attention was directed toward a large, what appeared to be an abandoned subway tunnel that I stumbled upon. It was at that moment that I realized what I was here for all along.
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