Thursday, January 11, 2007


Illustration courtesy of Luciano.
He sat up screaming. Blood and saliva dripped from his mouth. His arms stuck straight out, fingers extended. His muscles were on fire, his blood boiling. A raging animal, caged inside his head, pressed against his skull and clawed at the back of his eyes. His scream was interrupted by a hiccough. He gagged. He coughed, coughed up blood. The pain subsided slightly with his silence. He hiccoughed again and electricity shot through his torso. He lowered his arms and tried to breath. With erratic breaths he looked around the room, up the walls, over his body. His eyes shifted, but he saw nothing. He hiccoughed again and his vision went white. Slowly the darkness of the room returned. Pain was everywhere. It was outside him digging its way in. It was inside him clawing for a way out.

One image filled his memory. A face. A familiar face. Brandon tried to remember who the face belonged to, but all he could remember was the dream that preceded this nightmarish consciousness. He had dreamt of his father. His father was there smiling at him. He was telling a young Brandon what a good job he'd done. Brandon held a baseball bat over his shoulder, a curious bat, made of bone. As the young Brandon smiled back at his father, his father began to look solemn, distraught. "Dad?" Brandon asked, looking for assurance that his father was alright. But it wasn't his father. His father became someone else, someone familiar but obscure. Then the man who used to be his father stabbed Brandon in the arm with some unseen object. Young Brandon was astonished. He stood, looking into the familiar face, wanting to ask what he had done to deserve such violence. Then molten lava erupted from his arm and traced its way up through his shoulder into his chest and head. He had woken himself up with a scream.

The lights flicked on and a panicked Maria was standing in the doorway. "Are you alright? What's wrong?"

Brandon looked up at her through a haze of pain. She looked distorted. The white of her uniform bled into the white wall of the hallway behind her. The glaring fluorescent lights poked at his eyes like needles. He looked away, down at his arm. Still inserted in him was a suspicious syringe, empty now. He yanked it out, the additional sting minimal compared to his current agony. "No, it's just me, Dr. Tyler. Go back to sleep, Brandon," the syringe seemed to say to him. Dr. Taylor. The face in the dream was Dr. Taylor. Brandon looked down at the syringe in his hand and let it fall the floor. He hiccoughed again and breathed acid into his lungs.

"I don't know, he just got up and screamed 'He tried to kill me!'" Maria explained to the hospital security officer. "He had that in his arm when I came in," she pointed to the floor by the hospital bed where an empty syringe rested, "but he yanked it out right before he ran out." The security officer nodded and continued to write in his note pad. "I was scared to death. He this ... crazy look in his eye."

"Are you alright?" the officer asked.

"Oh yeah, I'm fine." Maria crossed her arms, as if hugging herself. "I just hope he is."

"So, I said, I said, 'Listen, bitch!' I said, 'Listen! I'll park my dick up your ass if you don't quick squawking at me," Tom said, obviously drunk. "So, then, after I left the parking garage thingie, I see her again at Swashbucklers, and I'm like--"

"What happened to your door?" the girl on Tom's arm interrupted. She, too, was drunk, but not as thoroughly as Tom, and was looking for an excuse to get Tom to change the subject.

"What the fuck?" was all Tom could think to say. He pushed open the door, disregarding the bloody foot print and the cracked jamb. Standing inside his apartment, in the middle of the living room, was a demon dressed in Tom's clothes.

The monster wore one of Tom's shirts with a horn protruding through a hole in shirt one shoulder. There were various holes in the arms of the shirt and the legs of the pants with shards of bone poking through. A pair of unlaced work boots adorned his feet. And a stocking cap crowned the distorted figure. There were crimson streaks down its face, and a blood stain on the sleeve of one arm. He stared at the two people in the doorway with bloodshot eyes.

The girl screamed one long scream and wet herself just a little bit. She tried to run, but Tom had a firm grasp on her arm and held her in front of him, shuddering himself. The figure stood motionless.

When she stopped screaming, Tom released the girl and let her shrink back through the doorway. "What the fuck, man," he suddenly bravely said. "Who the fuck are you?"

The figure looked at Tom, not menacingly, but confused. "It's me, Tom. It's me, Brandon." He paused, waiting for his friend to recognize him. "Brandon Collins."

Tom squinted his eyes. "Brandon?" Tom finally recognized his buddy. "What the fuck, man?"

"I just got out of the hospital."

Tom looked over Brandon's bloated and disfigured body. "Looks like they should have kept you a little bit longer."

"I had to leave. Someone tried to kill me."

"And they did this to you?" Tom ask sympathetically.

"No." Brandon sighed. "I already looked like this."

Utterly confused, Tom tried to make sense of the situation. "So, why'd you have to fucking break into my apartment, man?" Tom asked pointing to the door. He saw the young woman standing in the doorway, only now beginning to calm herself. Tom, as if suddenly remembering his manners, introduced the two. "Oh, Brandon this is Lindsey ... from Payroll. You remember her."

Brandon nodded. "Listen, Tom, do you have any drugs? Any painkillers?"

"Just Tylenol, man."

"I already took all that." Brandon had previously downed half a bottle of headache medicine, but it had only abated his suffering enough to think somewhat clearly. Brandon could feel his body swelling and the pressure increasing in his skull. His whole body ached. He also felt himself getting woozy. He knew this was a result of low blood-sugar content. While his body produced abnormal amounts of blood, it still only produced normal amounts of insulin. He knew he needed to get sugar into his system soon. "Do you have anything sweet? Any candy? Anything with sugar?"

Tom was confused by this line of questioning. "Maybe some soda in the fridge?"

Brandon shook his head. He'd already used the only can in the refridgerator to wash down the pills. "Look, can I borrow some cash. I need to get some sugar into my system or I'll go into shock."

Tom, drunkenly compassionate, handed his old buddy his wallet. He leaned in an pointed over his shoulder, whispering, "Listen, if you need a place to stay tonight, you can have the couch. I might even let you have sloppy seconds."

"Thanks for the offer, but I'll just take the couch." Brandon wished he could joke with his friend. But the pain was returning to his muscles, and a throbbing was beginning to drown out his thoughts. Humor was not something he was capable of at the moment. He took a twenty out of the wallet and handed it back. "I'll be back soon." Brandon shuffled out the door.

After a long silence, Tom said to Lindsey, "That dude is fucked up!"

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for that illustration, Luciano!


Circa Now