You get a call every night, just as you’re ready to fall asleep. He asks why you slowed down, why you didn’t ask that girl out, why you’re unhappy, do the people around you love you or are they just pretending. You hang up the phone, yet his voice keeps coming through the receiver; it’s faint and just audible, but in the calmness of the night, you can still hear it loud and clear. You try to drown it out with music and sounds, but like a fly, it still finds a way to be the loudest sound in the room. Sometimes you try to talk to him. “Things aren’t great right now for everyone”, “what makes you think I’m unhappy”, “I’m actually very satisfied and happy with myself”, “people close to me love me as much as I love them”, yet his words are louder than your slowly descending voice. “You’re stuck in a rot”, “don’t lie to yourself”, “they pity you because they know you will have no one if they leave you”. Eventually you pretend to ignore him; “comes in from one ear and straight out of the other” you say, but it means nothing to him; he keeps going, finding new memories to scold, new regrets to bring up, all through that calm and disinterested voice of his. After some time, you’ll…tire out; you’ll sleep and have no dreams whatsoever. Not even your own mind wants to deal with your bullshit or it has no desire to do so whatsoever; maybe this is who you are and your mind already accepted this, but you keep torturing yourself with that humane feeling of hope, ‘all is not lost’ type of thinking. With each passing night and with each moment of peace, your mind becomes more convinced that ‘this is it, this is who we are’. Slowly but steadily, you do too; whatever concept of the soul you believe in, it is weighing heavy on you and the burden is too much. In the beginning you would describe it as a Sisyphean effort, but now you see that you resemble Atlas the most, a punishment for your insurrection. One night, the man calls again, but this time he does not speak; his heavy breathing is all you can hear, as if he’s waiting for you. You try to speak but, your voice refuses to come out; you simply know where he is and how to get there. You put the receiver down and his breathing is louder than anything you’ve ever heard before, you feel his stare longer and harder; he’s not asking…
You don’t take kindly to orders. You question, you refuse to give in, you put all your energy and your focus on refuting anything and everything, yet he has said nothing – he just keeps breathing heavily on the receiver and there is no defense against that. There is nothing you can do that will make him avert his stare; his penetrating and bone-chilling stare that makes you deeply uncomfortable. But, you’re stubborn; “NOBODY’S REALLY THERE”, you scream, “NOBODY IS STARING AT ME”. Then, the thought creeps in: “Why am I shouting then? Who is calling me in the middle of the night? If no one is there, then no one is calling, so why am I hearing the telephone ring and the man speaking to me? How come I know exactly where he is and how to get there?” I have a more pressing concern for you, my miserable, little friend: Why are you already in your car, driving to the man’s house?
The sound of car horns wakes him up from his trance; the bright, green light that blinds him would be the reason why the drivers behind him are angry, and the beeping sound of his car signaling a left turn point him the way. “Fine. I’ll play along for now” he thinks. Curiosity got the better of him this time, or at least, that’s what he forces himself to think; the alternative is much too grave to even acknowledge, so I’ll play along for now as well my little friend. As the road fades into lights and lights fade in the sprinkle of his eyes, my little friend blocked any thoughts from entering his mind. The roads became the sea and his car a boat; he would allow the wind to guide him and without even thinking, his hands and feet became autonomous. The world behind the night became monstrous and he dared not stare at what lurks in the darkness; but, when the light of day started creeping in, he had no choice. A broken city full of despair and decadence, wherever he looked he saw pain and anguish. He would see people walking into these tall, painstakingly detailed buildings guarded by gargoyles and brandishing huge crosses; he could feel the hope they walked in with slowly fade away and replaced with madness and intolerance for others. He saw how idealists would enter the tallest skyscrapers with numbers and signs, only to be given a robot suit and be seated in front of a bright light to suck out any virtue and humanity the world did not organically take. Then, the car slows down; it was his turn.
He steps out of the car and stands in front of the globe; you know what’s in there, don’t you? Everything you aspire: Artistic merit, creativity and talent, a place where you can truly express yourself and find satisfying ways to connect with others, yada yada…ha, to even think that you deserve to be anywhere near that is preposterous and amusing to me and to anyone associated with that building. That’s not why you’re here; you’re here to join those blood-thirsty morons outside, arguing with each other, shouting, and claiming to understand every intention and detail of everyone’s existence and judging it. Don’t look like this isn’t what you’ve been for so long; you shout and you judge, but your voice is worthless, even to their standards. Go on, shout; are you going to “break form” and defend some atrocities this time, or are you going to keep your “morality” and be “nice” or just provide “constructive feedback by critiquing”? Ooh what a surprise; you just stand there and hope someone notices you in-between the millions of shouting monkeys flinging their own shit at each other. Get in the fucking car, you’re burning daylight and the man is waiting for you.
Just like before, his hands and feet take over, but this time it feels a lot quicker. The bright orange aura of the sunset distorts his sense of time and before he realizes he’s on dirt road, the night has taken over once again. In front of him now is a tall, dead, fallen tree; that’s as good a sign as any that the rest of the trip needs to be made by foot. He exits the car and immediately breathes in the clean, fresh air of the rural countryside; he says he loves it, but does he really? He never misses it or looks for it after all the time he spends in the filth of the city, so maybe he ‘prefers’ it, but love is a very strong word and he has a hard time committing. What I will say though, he really does love the chilly nights! Yeah, that’s how you know he’s an alpha; that’s how you know he’s seen and did some shit! He’s not a pussy who needs jackets and coats, he’s been is some “heated” situations and he carries that heat with him; its in his fat, smooth cheeks and his chubby, pristine hands – classic trademark signs of an apex predator at his prime. He would need his “edge” as well, because in the middle of the night in a rural, rugged land, who knows what eyes pry on him? All that he knows for sure is that there are eyes out there in the dark, and they are watching him…oh, apex predator had a brilliant idea just now! He got his phone out and in the middle of the pitch-black night, he switched on his flashlight; what a magnificent, fucking idea! Why don’t you yell out for the blind, hungry predators as well, so they will know exactly where you are too; don’t want to be excluding!
He pockets his phone and continues to stumble across the dirt road like a blind person without a stick. The only sound that would break the silence and his footsteps were the occasional groans of hitting a rock. As he kept moving in the dark, he felt like he was getting closer. The man in the house crept into his mind again; his presence felt like a void that would suck him in and drag him down to an endless pit. His remarks would keep bouncing around his head and with each bounce, he would feel alien in his own body like he didn’t deserve it or the privileges he enjoyed that came from the decency of others; he clinched his fists harder each time, so that the filthy nails on his fingers would poke his skin deeper each time and he would feel more pain. That’s all the pain he could inflict voluntarily, anything else would require guts he didn’t have. That is why more often than not, his fantasies were about him getting hurt, but not by his own volition; an accident, an unrelated, unfortunate event that had him as the unfortunate victim. He never died, of course, but he was the talk of the town; his family would cry by his bed and his friends would sweet talk and praise him, and that would be the thing that pushed him over the edge and would persuade him to do more, be more, reach his potential. A push, that’s all it would take; a fall down a cliff.
When he woke up again, he felt nothing besides the dirt pushing up against his cheeks. Then, the pain from his entire body kicked in with the realization of what just happened: Fucking moron decided it was a good idea to travel a dirt road in the middle of fucking nowhere in the middle of the night with no light. Of course, he would lead himself off a fucking cliff; the light showed the scars on his hands, how he nearly broke his neck. He was lucky to survive – they would say – but, all he could feel right now was the pain; oh wait, he just realized it as well. The light; not his light obviously, so he looks up. He’s here. Bleeding and broken, he is where he sought to be, outside his house. He drags himself towards the house and shakily gets up the steps. The man is in front of a fireplace, alone, looking at the sparks bouncing off the flames; he says nothing, he feels nothing. His face is grotesque with hair everywhere and gaping holes where his eyes and mouth would have been; he is not in pain; he is pain personified. He is up from his chair, but he never stood up, he is just up now; the flames flicker and he’s gone. He’s next to you. He’s silent. He starts screaming insults: “LOOK AT YOU. BROKEN, BARELY STANDING, ON MY DOORSTEP. FINISH IT. RIP OFF THE BANDAID. HAVE MERCY ON YOUR FAMILY. ON YOUR FRIENDS. END YOUR MISERY AND SET THEM FREE.”
My little friend is taken aback at this; maybe he had hoped that the man was not as honest as he seemed on the phone. But, alas, like the previous chapters of his life, he was merely daydreaming of something he did not earn. My little friend, you know what to do: Enter the house, sit by the fire, become what you were always meant to be. Defeated and distraught, my little friend starts moving towards the front door. I wonder if he’ll look back and see? See the man that was before and in his darkly-lit eyes, the fact that the house is not for him.
Your alarm rings every morning. You get up, wash your teeth, wash your face, check the mirror; two normal eyes, one nose, one mouth, all normal. You make coffee and you get to work; sometimes you are content or maybe even happy, other times you just want to go home. You try new hobbies and indulge harder on old ones. You call people to catch up, but sometimes they call you and that’s nice. You exercise, you cook, and at the end of the day, you rest on the couch. At some point you call it in, you wash your teeth and go to bed; today was okay, tomorrow can be better. We can do better. You glance at the phone and wander when he will call again; “not tonight” you think as you slowly drift to sleep. No, not tonight, my little friend, but he will call again, and when he does, WE will deal with it together. For the next time and for every time after that; today was good, tomorrow can be better.