A friend - Nils Blondon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story of a confined man, starved of companionship.

Submitted: October 21, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 21, 2011






I can feel the tension in my solar plexus right above my ribs where I think my heart should be.  It’s settling in now. Entrenching itself in my body like roaches in a dead fridge.

The lamp sways from the ceiling. It paints the walls orange and yellow, and the light drives the shadows deeper into niches of my cell.

This room is windowless and barren. No paintings on the walls, no dust on the surfaces, no cobwebs decorating the corners. There’s just enough light to allow to see my body and the appearance of the room. I survey the cuts on my knuckles and the drops of blood marbling the linoleum floor.

There doesn’t seem to be a way out of this Iroom. No doors, at least. I crawl across the floor, from wall to wall, looking for a soft spot in the blocks, a crack that I could begin digging from. Maybe a weak point in the surfaces. But the room is masterfully built. Flawless, even.

I decide to pass time by counting seconds. It was never apparent to me how slowly time moves. Once you actually observe it fade, it’s nearly motionless. The seconds seem to lengthen. As I reach the three thousandth second, I can feel my nerves grate against each other. Like sandpaper rubbed against a brick wall. I notice too that I’ve been clenching my fists. My nails have dug into the palms of hands, creating bloody grooves in the skin.

I’m not sure how many seconds I’ve been here now. I know that since I stopped counting, I’ve went from hungry, to famished, to somehow satiated, as if my body us cannibalizing itself. The room becomes breathy, and for a moment, I believe that it may be alive. I entertain the idea that maybe I’m stuck in a painfully lucid dream. Maybe, in this dream, the inanimate have been given sentient features. Perhaps the walls have lungs, and the blood on the floor isn’t my own, but rather, that of the floors itself. I decide to bite down on my tongue, attempting to use pain as a means to connect with reality. The pangs are too sharp. I taste the blood, metallic and acrid, and conclude that no dream could produce that kind of authenticity. I am indeed imprisoned in this room.  The breathing I hear is my own, echoing through the through cell and being magnified by the emptiness.

The pouches are forming under my eyes now. Like two semi-luminous crescent moons placed under my sockets. Two days in the room. No sleep. I can’t bring myself to rest. I feel that if I rest, I’ll miss my chance for escape. Nothing changes in the room. I place my index finger on my wrist to measure the pulse. Entertaining myself by hastening, then slowing my breath, and observing the gradations.

Four days. No sound, save the hum of my pulse and lungs.
Suddenly, like a long dead friend entering a dream sequence, something happens.

Scratching on the floor. Something like tiny claws sliding over the colourless tile. The big toe on my right foot aches. It feels as though teeth are clamping down on the flesh above the nail. I prop my head against the wall, glancing down at my foot, and notice a creature gnawing at my to. A parasitic little form with teeth like rusted daggers.

 A rat.


I allow it to chew at my foot, taking notice of its face, very much like that of a woman fresh from the shower. Hair slicked to the skull. Natural appearance, unblemished by caking make up, eyes like empty holes punched into its skull be the tip of a pen. It is a confusing creature. Wrongfully vilified, exterminated, portrayed as a bringer of great evil.

I rid myself of any prejudices, taking time to observe its beauty, before realizing that I’m experiencing an alien feeling, and for a moment the shadows are lifted from the room and the tension in my chest fades.

The rat is done with my toe now. He begins his crawl up my ankle, upwards to the shin, before resting at the knee like a mountaineer breaking at a rock ledge before continuing his ascent. 

The rat explored the room for hours. At one point, he crawled onto my face. I allowed him to look into my eyes. His whiskers brushed my retinas, but I didn’t recoil. At any time I could of brushed it way, but the contact of another being was too comforting to dismiss that easily.

I watch it travel from corner to corner, sniffing at the walls, and wonder how it was it got into the room? Did someone come in as I was passed out and place it there? Was it meant to torment me?

It attempts to climb a wall but fails, and as it gropes upward onto the brick, I notice its tail. A disgusting, hairless ligament as long and bloated as a garden worm.

The tail meanders behind the rat. It’s a desultory, redundant appendage, as useful to the rat as an appendix is useful to a human. I watch it for a moment. Bile churns in my stomach and I vomit. It splashes across the room. The acid burns my dry lips. The rat takes notice, head tilted skyward, probing the air for the stench of my bile. It scuttles towards the pool, and begins to lick it from the floor.

The tension in my chest reasserts itself.

I look at the rat, but no longer do I see a potential friend, but a longstanding enemy. A scourge. A prop put in place to torment me. I watch him lick the bile from the ground, and as I do so, I can feel the rage take hold of my arms.

That creature, that thing, he doesn’t even know what’s about to happen to him.  He finishes with the vomit, and begins moving closer to my hand. It’s difficult to see, but I can feel his claws on my finger, his whiskers and nose surveying my thumb as if it’s a piece of garbage its preparing to feast on.

This is my chance.

I clench my fist around its head, curling my fingers inwards towards the palm around its face, channeling everything I have into destroying the rat. It screams, it’s cry partially muted by my hand as it’s being crushed.

Slowly, the outcries stop. The rats body drops from my hand onto the ground. I fall asleep to the hum of my lungs and my pulse. 

© Copyright 2018 Nils Blondon . All rights reserved.

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