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16 min read


Author since 2015 1Story 1 Follower

When he emerges into consciousness, he is only aware of the darkness sheltered by his eyelids. He recognizes it as a darkness permeated only by the abstract designs from his mind, a distinct black unlike the bright blindness when the eyelids shield an outside light. He experiences nothing else.

Initially, he finds nothing wrong and expectantly waits for his body to transition from sleep to consciousness. He is not without his senses—he hears his steady breathing, feels the small hairs on his feet as they run over each other—but his face tightens when he realizes what he cannot detect. Beyond his own sounds, there is silence. As he breathes through his nose, he is not sure he inhales anything. The air holds no scent, no age, no texture. He lies with his back against the ground, but he cannot sense the surface. Instead, he feels only the growing pit in his stomach.

He sits upright abruptly, flicking his eyes open. He immediately recoils and claps his hands to his face as a white invades his eyesight.

Frozen, he sits, feeling nothing. Cautiously, he parts his fingers slightly. Light does not appear to flood in; instead, a white simply exists. His pupils dilate and contract waveringly. He drops his hand and grimaces. A groan slips from his mouth.

He finds himself in an endless void of white. It extends to the limits of his vision, but, unable to see a horizon, he does not know how far he sees. The sky and ground bleed seamlessly into each other. Even his shadow is nonexistent, offering him no clue to whether there is a ground or if he simply cannot comprehend his floating state.

He touches his body, attempting to ascertain his existence in any manner. He feels himself but becomes aware that he has no clothes. This seems trite compared to his circumstances, but it further disarms him as his thoughts tumble into each other. First, why is he not wearing clothing? Second, what does he normally wear? Third, and most disturbing, who is he normally?

His hands come to his head to grip tufts of his short hair as he groans again. His thoughts form as a language and he understands that language; he grasps basic concepts of logic, math, science; and he vaguely recalls bits and pieces of human history. But his personal life is as blank as his environment. He has no hint to what his life was, or is. He cries and moans, realizing he should have a past, an identity, but he cannot discern anything.

He wipes his tears on the back of his palms, telling himself a grown man does not cry. He cannot convince himself that this cliché has any meaning, nor can he even place his actual age to signify he is a grown man. Looking at his chest, hands, legs, and genitals, he assumes he is older, but he cannot be sure. He cannot imagine his face (except his nose), cannot give himself a physical identity. Darkly, he imagines himself as only a hovering nose above a headless body.

Tentatively, he stands and takes comfort that he at least has this faculty. His environment remains unchanged, a white, encompassing abyss. Staring blankly at what does not exist, he questions what he should do. He feels no hunger, no thirst, no fatigue, but he feels no sense of satiation either. He bleakly assumes this will be the norm. He wants to understand what is happening to him, but he cannot justify any reason for going to look for an answer. He sees nothing other than white; would it change in a hundred miles in one direction? He stares blankly ahead, sighs, and walks forward. He reasons he does it because he can.

This, itself, becomes a challenge; he continues to have no sense of the ground. He is able to walk sufficiently, but his mind stresses as he continues aimlessly forward. His feet stop consistently on the same level, but it is as if his feet are dead, fake appendages sewn to the bottom of his ankles. In frustration, he jams his toes underneath his feet as he walks, taking comfort as a slight pain creeps along his legs. He is something, even if his surroundings are not.

He begins to count his steps. He weakly hopes this will measure the distance he has crossed, but again, he does not feel any kind of wind as he walks, and he does not know if he is even covering ground. Instead, he uses his steps to vaguely measure time.

At one thousand steps, he grows bored and stops counting. He laughs quietly, happy that he still has this emotion. He laughs again, finally recognizing he has a voice. Taking delight in this discovery, he begins to rattle off sentences as he walks.

“I don’t know who I am. I don’t know my name. Perhaps I’m John; that seems like an appropriate name, but it doesn’t feel like mine. I don’t know what my name should sound like. I don’t know a damn thing in this damn place. Damn…damn…damn, damn, damn, damndamndamndamn-”

He stops because the once-interesting word has no meaning. He does not speak again, and he does not like how it felt when he did. His voice was dead. It didn’t echo or fade. It just came and went.

And so he walks in silence. He has very few thoughts to accompany him; he has no memories or images to help him. He only has his immense boredom and his longing. Without any specific desire, he finds himself with little reason to leave his current path. So he continues, searching for meaning, finding no trace of it or reason to stray from finding it. He resorts again to walking with his toes curled in, enjoying what pain it offers.

When the red fades into his vision, he yelps delightedly and runs after it. He does not question its existence; there is nothing there to trick his eyes. He stretches his legs as long as possible and yelps again as the image becomes clearer and more defined. The red separates, becoming a central figure surrounded by wisps.

He does not stop running, but as the image becomes more concrete, his smile fades. His strides soundlessly clap to a stop by the new object. He bites his index finger and stifles a sob.

A bloody human skeleton lies before him. The ribs that remain jut upwards, dangling stray pieces of flesh. The skull, broken from the body and cracked open vertically, sits in two pieces, both polished to a bloody sheen. The rest of the skeleton remains mostly intact, baring strands of muscle and skin but little else. There are no organs. Only the blood still moves, staining the bones and pooling on the ground. It does not dry.

Two paths of pooled blood stray from the skeleton. In one direction, the pools had been separated by equal distances, each forming an oval-like shape. Following a path opposite to the first, the pools had been placed irregularly in a mostly straight line. The pools here appear almost triangular.

These images attack the man. They blind him, disorient him. He stands motionless, uncomprehending of his situation. Instead of offering meaning, his first encounter provides him with an omen. Suddenly, he feels an urgency, and he cannot bring himself to like it.

He sprints away from the corpse, following the oval tracks. He does not know why he chose this path as opposed to the other—why he even chose a path at all—but he runs regardless, hoping this direction will save him.

The wet footprints quickly fade, becoming droplets and then nothing. He still runs, untiringly, praying he is somehow following the same direction. Again, progress is lost to him, and all that is left is his urgency. He glances behind his shoulder at one point and discovers he can no longer see the corpse. No faint streak of red, nothing. The footprints have disappeared as well.

As he turns his head back to what he assumes is his path, his next stride overestimates the distance to the ground, curling before touching, with his foot connecting with the ground far behind him. He crashes forward, his arms shielding his head as he tosses over himself. He lands on his back, his limbs sprawled clumsily about him.

Besides some dizziness, he feels no pain as he sits up, nothing seems broken. But he does not stand up, cannot bring himself to. Quietly, he begins to cry. He slams his hands against the ground, curses meaninglessly. He looks aimlessly about himself and curses again. The white offers him no sympathy, no familiarity in its absolute similitude.

Slowly, he stops crying and stands up. Clenching his teeth, he walks forward. After a few steps, he stops, turns deliberately, and walks. He suddenly swings his next stride sideways and begins moving in a new direction. He stops. His body—taut—begins to tremble.

The nothingness spans everywhere. He spins slowly amidst it. The white does not blur as it spins, does not change. It just exists, robbing him of his direction, his physicality, even his urgency. He longs to see the skeleton.

Then, a dot fades into his sight. At first, he spins another full circle without noticing it, but on his second rotation, he pauses and follows it with his eyes as his body continues to spin. His body stops once the speck registers. It is a speck, a defined, dark speck. It is something else.

The man sprints toward it, his strides stretched to their longest. His arms churn uselessly at his sides; his neck stretches forward.

The speck becomes larger, elongated. It becomes a man, a dark naked man, clashing with the white. He is running too, more slowly, almost perpendicularly to the man. Eagerly, as he continues to sprint, the man shouts for his new acquaintance.

He is just close enough to see the other man’s eyes. The other man slows and glances to his side before running faster, away from the man. Confused, the man quickens his pace as well, yelling for the other to stop. The two continue at similar paces, but the man does not feel himself tire and still chases after the other. He notices the other man limps and rejoices when he realizes this is slowing the other down.

The distance closes. Lunging forward, the man grasps the other’s shoulder and drags him back. The other man swings around, throwing his right fist toward the man’s head. Alarmed, the man barely dodges, the punch clipping his left ear. The other punches at the man again, toward his stomach. The man bats the punch away and grabs the next one coming for his chest. As he struggles with the caught arm, he reaches for the other man’s right arm and grasps it after another punch. The man hurls himself against the other, both falling to the ground.

When they land, the man finds himself on the back of the other. He quickly grabs hold of both of the other’s arms and pins them down. His face now hangs above the other’s scalp. The other twists and fidgets underneath the man’s body, and his legs kick backward helplessly.

“Stop it!” the man yells, his voice coming out dead. “Why are you doing this?”

The other does not respond and continues to struggle.

“Stop, please!” the man yells again. “I need your help. I need to know what is going on here.”

The other man again does not respond but has stopped moving. He is crying.

“What’s wrong with you? I’m not here to hurt you.”

“Get off me,” the other sobs dejectedly, his voice hollow and strange.

Pausing, the man slowly steps off the other, preparing himself in case the other reacts violently. This does not happen, however, as the other stands and faces him. Although he has stopped crying, his eyes are still watery and flit from one direction to the next. His naked body shudders as if from cold. To the man’s alarm, he sees darker splotches on the other’s body where blood had stained the skin.

“You killed that person,” the man says softly.

The other glares at him, opens his mouth to speak, and groans angrily. Finally, he mumbles, “I didn’t kill him.”

“Who then?”

The other stares elsewhere again. “Something did. I don’t know what it is. We weren’t able to see it; it just came and…”


The other sobs again.

“And?” the man cries, angrily. He recoils as the other draws closer to him, but, seeing how slowly the other moves, allows the other to grab his hand.

“Look,” the other moans.

The man looks down at his hand held in the other’s and watches in dumb amazement. He finally recognizes how their skins are of the same color, notices the other similarities: the same creases of skin, the same length of the fingers and palms, even the same wrinkles on the palms. He glances at the other’s watery eyes and backs away.

His pulse quickens as he rubs his hand through his hair. He looks around himself and back at the other. His words come awkwardly as he speaks, “We can—we can figure something out. We can think—we can think of something.”

The other turns away and begins to sob more loudly. The man stands motionlessly and stares at the other’s trembling back. He cannot think. In the next moment, the other man is wrenched off of his feet

The man flinches and screams. The other, too, screams as he flails through the air and collapses farther away from his original position. He tries to sit up and scramble backward, but his left foot is suddenly pulled from him and his body slides forward. His body becomes rigid as his stomach is depressed inward unnaturally. The same section suddenly protrudes and rips from the rest of the body. A flap of skin dangles in the air, and the other man’s entrails rise with it in its pinched grasp. Blood sprinkles around his body. He stills cries out, but his face has become expressionless, empty.

The man continues to watch, horrified. Before him, the man’s intestines hang from a suspended piece of skin.

He gasps as the flesh suddenly begins to move, hovering from above the other’s stomach to his head. The portion of skin disappears, along with a length of the entrails. Another length disappears, followed by the rest.

Incredulous, the man lurches toward the other man and leaps onto whatever lurks above him. His chest strikes something above the other man, and he wraps his arms around it as it moves away. He cannot feel himself being tossed about, but as his legs knock against each other and the other man’s body jumps around in his vision, he assumes he must no longer be moving on his own. His grip—around nothing—slips as well. When an invisible, blunt force jabs into his side, he cries and releases the entity, flying and then falling onto the dead man.

Wet with blood, he hurriedly moves onto his hands and kneels over the gutted body, searching vainly for the entity. A moment later something knocks against his ribs, and he is flung from the body. He screams as his foot twists awkwardly beneath him as he lands. He lies still, momentarily in pain.

In front of him, the other man’s chest begins to stir. It seems to inhale slightly, but as it exhales, flesh is ripped from the top along with bits of the rib carriage. The flesh hangs for a moment and then disappears. What follows appears to the man as the canceling of the other man’s body. Legs are stripped of everything; organs spill out; and the skull is split to reveal the brain. It all disappears above the body. There are no sounds of the entity, no suggestion of a beast devouring a meal. All the man can hear is the wet sliding of the organs and flesh and the snapping of bones.

Steadily, the blood shows another image. As it drips and sprays around the body, some of it touches the entity and hangs for a few moments. It streams along the entity’s body, suggesting a long, slender torso. Other streams trickle down gangly appendages, taking longer to slide down the front two limbs. Most unsettling, however, is the blood that gathers around the maw. As the blood paints it, the man glimpses a long, narrow mouth as it flays in four directions to open, like a crimson flower in bloom. The rest of the blood splatters against an arching flap of skin above the mouth, and the man is unable to see anything else. It is too much for him.

Stumbling to his feet, he runs awkwardly from the creature, staggering forward every few steps due to the pain in his ankle. He runs until his steps no longer feel wet from blood. He runs until he can no longer see the body behind him. He runs until the pain in his ankle overwhelms him. He stops, breathing unevenly not due to exhaustion but pain.

He stands on his unhurt foot and surveys the area around him. He bites a corner of his lower lip and chews it lightly. He must not allow himself to see a speck, he thinks to himself. He must not follow what has happened. He thinks quickly back to the other man, of his actions. They met while both were running, he recalls.

He sits promptly and bites his lip.

When the speck appears, panic fills him. What will happen if he is found? Will it be different if he sits? Can he use the other’s help? Is that thing following the other?

His face drains as he has this last thought. The monster is searching for him. So is the other man.

He scrambles to his feet, grits his teeth as the pain returns, and runs from the speck. He counts his steps, telling himself he’ll stop after he reaches a thousand. He’ll sit again and think of something else. That should change things; it would have to. He knows where the other man is; he must keep him behind him. He glances behind; he sees nothing; he continues.

When he hears the voice after a few hundred steps, he turns to look behind him. He discovers the other man is not behind him, but almost perpendicular to him. He stifles a sob and faces forward. He cannot think anymore. So he begins to run faster, away from the other man.

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pesto.pasta avatar
4 months ago

awesome descriptiveness, very unique. Nice pasta!