Black Hole, Black Hole

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I continue to keep walking.

Submitted: March 12, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 12, 2008

A A A

A A A


I deserved a hangover. But the feeling in my skull - the placid knocking of my heart as it echoed in my head was painless. My body felt dirty. I was still wearing the suit, but I had come round in a strange environment. I could tell before I’d woken up from the deep slumber that I was somewhere unfamiliar. A cold breeze ruffled my ears and my hair and socks were moist with cold fluid.

I raised my hands to block the sharpness, expecting my fingers to be yesterday’s filthy claws, grime-ridden fingernails at the end of wrinkled digits, but they looked clean and replenished. It was as though I hadn’t experienced the heavy afternoon and evening of drinking I remembered. I sat up at the shock of it, noticing for the first time that I was an indent in a bank of white sand. Pure white shale in hard shards to my right and, beyond that, a transparent ocean. All was white. Whiteness everywhere.

For those first few minutes I dusted myself off, trying to distract myself from my desperate circumstances. Perhaps I had fallen asleep on a train to the coast and drunkenly ambled around until I came to rest on this beach? But the environment was completely alien. A deserted beach, untouched. Nobody around and no sound apart from the gentle motion of the seawater.

I began to walk away from the shoreline, hoping to find signs of civilisation. In the distance, only further whiteness. The sand in front of me lost detail as it stretched away and hit the horizon. I checked my watch to try and gauge time, but it was gone. My mobile phone was also gone. I only had my clothes and my consciousness, but the latter was shot. I had no memory of the previous evening apart from my being bad. Fractured recollections of hurried drinks, an abundance of food and mistimed adulterous come-ons. No details, just one or two freeze-framed screenshots and the occasional line of speech.

I had no option but to keep walking. I kept walking.

I continue to keep walking.

A couple of hours ago, possibly days, I saw a figure in the distance. A completely undefined human form. I began to walk towards it, changing my path. It disappeared as soon as I reached a point where details should have revealed themselves. When I tried to continue walking in that direction I only came to more featureless ocean. Its clear fluid lapped at the blank sand. At that point I began to cry.

I cried for hours. I counted the moans as I sobbed, and taking each one for three seconds, I considered that I cried there, alone for three hours. In all that time, nothing occurred. Not a single sound apart from my own wailing. No movement nearby apart from the endless tide of the blank sea.

I sobbed until the tedium of crying overcame misery. Then I began to walk again, my eyes stinging from the saltwater I’d shed.

After some time, with my feet chaffing against the heels of my leather shoes, I realised that the horizon was a mirage against the expanse of white desert before me. As it dawned on me that I was stuck, I gave up hope and lay back in the sand, feeling the grains mingle with the roots of my hair and slide into the collar of my shirt. I looked up at the sunless sky, searching for clouds, something distinct. There was nothing in the limbo, just my own exhausted body, a blot on the endless, unnamed landscape.

I lay there searching for answers when the recall hit me. Instead of the sudden emergence of a withheld recollection, the memory kicked in like the picture on a repaired television – with a crackle and a loud snap as though electricity had just flooded the gate.

I was back within my last few hours on earth - in a bar at first. A featureless yuppie chain-cavern. I was eating steak, rare, whilst squeezed between two workmates - Naomi and Pete. Untucked shirts after work and reapplied lipstick – the smell of sweaty blouses and fag-ash. I was on a sixth or seventh pint and rounds of shots were arriving soon. I was exhausted after spending two nights in the office to impress my boss, napping for hour-long stretches when the opportunity arose. We were celebrating - my colleagues and I - celebrating winning some key business.

Generally a sedentary man, I spent the evening in the same chair – eating and drinking all I could on the company’s account. Occasionally Naomi would vacate her chair to sit on my lap, purposefully forging an erection beneath the thin material of my trousers then chuckling about it, making whispered promises about what she would one day to me.

‘But you know I’m a married father Naomi’ I told her.

‘Hasn’t stopped you before’ she replied, giggling.

‘But I’m 20 years older than you!’ I laughed.

‘I’m sure you more than make up for it’

When she left me there to go off and play with a new member of staff, I considered the words Mary had said to me when I told her I would be home late.

‘You have a black hole where your heart should be’

She was upset that I would miss our son’s school play, though the boy didn’t seem to mind at all. We argued about it the preceding night and continued to fight the following morning. I left with a slammed door and the last word, driving to work on adrenaline.

I suppose we must have rolled out of the pub in the early hours. In the meantime I had shared a gram with Naomi whilst fondling her breasts in a piss-flecked cubicle, drinking pints into double figures and topping up my creaking liver up with countless shots. Two empty twenty packs of cigarettes in my pocket, crushed and spilling dry tobacco into my coat. A steak with extra chips swam through my gut on a tide of booze. My stomach groaned like a bile bag on wobbly stilts. Every movement of my head blurred the world around me and I promised myself I would get a cab, get home, get to bed.

When I arrived I found my keys had gone. Stolen, probably. I knocked loudly on the door and waited, trying to maintain balance. I failed, stumbling slightly and wedging myself against the frame. Marcus answered the door in his pyjamas.

‘Dad?’ he asked, looking up at me, wide-eyed.

I put my finger to my lips and ‘shhhhed’ him, letting him know not to wake his mother. He walked back up the stairs to bed as I closed the front door.

As it locked behind me, I remembered the half bottle of scotch in the drinks cabinet and with inebriated logic decided to finish it before I could pass out. When I reached that pissed-up level I would always challenge myself to finish whatever alcohol lay around the house. I settled in the armchair, tumbler in hand and felt my entire frame tighten as the alcohol slipped down my throat.

I put the drink down and my eyes settled lazily upon the glass. I watched, eyebrow raised as it began to slide towards me, very slowly. I reached out and pushed it backwards, but after a second it began to slide at me again – this time with more pace. I looked to the light bulb overhead and it too seemed to be leaning toward me, stretching the wire it hung beneath, taut. Putting it down to my addled system, I allowed my mind to wander off.

Soon, footsteps tapped their way down the stairs.

‘Go to bed, Marcus!’ I hissed, presuming the boy had come to see me again, but the door fell ajar and Mary stood in her nightgown, looking me up and down.

‘Have a good night?’ she asked, with coldness in her voice, resentment dripping from her mouth.

‘Sorry’ I replied. ‘We were celebrating winning a new client’

‘Celebrating?’

I nodded.

‘Have you seen your face? It’s covered in lipstick’

I stood up, making for the mirror over the mantelpiece to check my cheeks for the clues she’d read, but I fell. My chest gripped itself, causing me to fall. As it tightened, I realised I was heading for my third heart attack. A hand was clenching at my heart, alternately squeezing and punching it.

My head landed on the rough concrete surrounding the fire and my lungs hammered my throat with short breaths. I could feel my fingertips growing cold. I saw Mary through a mist, her harsh features dissolving into shock and fear. She ran from the room, reassuring me that she would get some help for me.

This time it was different. The heart attack was different. I had blacked out at this point, during my last cardiac arrest, coming round some days later in a hospital gown. This time, I could feel the slow process of shutdown for what it was. The line between my pectoral muscles, the seam at the centre of my chest began to open. I looked down, squinting as it was so close to my eyes, ripping the buttons from my shirt as I realised, through the alcohol, that my body was actually splitting apart.

The ribcage broke open, showering a spray of fine blood-mist in front of me. My head vibrated as the sound of mechanised suction kicked up, growling like a leaf-blower. Inanimate objects in the room began to crawl towards me. A newspaper that had been spread on the carpet fluttered on the inward breeze and then flew across the room at me. I watched in horror as it slapped against my chest, eventually succumbing to the gap there and entering the cavity in my torso.

After that, the whiskey tumbler darted across and smashed against my thorax, tiny shards hitting the skin before the broken glass crumbled into the hole. My hands gripped the carpet as lampshades, books and coasters battered my upper body before being crushed by the force of the vacuum, entering my system until the room was stripped bear. For a second or two, it stopped.

Mary was nowhere to be seen in this moment of respite. I disbelievingly clutched at my throat and my body, confused and disorientated, trying to stand. But then the carpet began to rip itself from the floor and the noise started again. When the shag-pile had become entirely detached, it whipped from under me and into my chest-chute. Then the sofa thudded against me, breaking into wooden splinters before being absorbed. The windows smashed and the panes cracked and entered me, the hole in my chest.

Mary appeared at the door and flew into me, feet first, screaming as I tried to prise her out of my chest. She clawed at my nipples, trying to escape, grabbing onto my parted chest hair, but I couldn’t save her.

Marcus flew downstairs, clutching his duvet, which joined him as he slipped inside my heart.

The house followed, brick by brick, breeze-block by breezeblock. Then parking signs, road works, pedestrians, bicycles and cars, all of them scraping their way inside of me. Each alien insertion caused waves and waves of bubbling pain to ripple my innards as I incredulously looked on. Small, unpopulated islands squeezed into the hole, soil flying around my body in clouds of dirt and grass-clods. I finally began to black out into the sweet relief of oblivion as the last drop of the North Sea flooded into the break in my body, and I fell unconscious as the night sky unravelled, a million stars flying at me, being subsumed by the hole in my body.

When I opened my eyes, when all the trouble was over, all was white.

I have no option but to keep walking into the whiteness.


© Copyright 2017 Swineshead. All rights reserved.

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