s l e e p
I woke up this morning to my heart about to pound out of my chest, my whole body shaking. I guess I had a nightmare? I still can’t remember any of it, but I did have to take some pain meds so that my lingering headache wouldn’t interfere with work today.
I’ve been trying to focus on work all day today, but something keeps nagging me. Well, I say “focus”, and I say “work”. I mean, I’ve been trying to finish this little game on my computer that still looks like I’m working. It’s taken me three days, and I’ll finish it whether I have to keep compulsively glancing behind me every five minutes because my brain’s still hung up about whatever I dreamed about last night or not. It would be really nice if it wouldn’t do that. I’m also trying to distract myself from thinking about it too hard, since the memories seem to be just out of my reach, and it’s pretty frustrating.
This time when I absentmindedly look back, I nearly have a heart attack since Catherine is standing there, and I was definitely not expecting that. It’s been a while since Catherine’s stopped by my little workspace. She had started out just giving me odd looks, then graduated to little greetings, then to scaring the shit out of me. She’s worked here for about a month now, I think.
“Damn it, Catherine!” I exclaim, throwing my hand to my chest. I can feel my heartbeat.
Wait...wait a second. Catherine was definitely in my dream last night. I know it. This feeling in my chest, she was definitely there.
I shake my head a little while she laughs awkwardly. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I didn’t know you were so focused on your…” She leans forward a little, squinting her eyes to see what’s on my computer. I minimize my screen, but not fast enough. “Paperclips? Anyway, I came over here to, uh, possibly invite you to this...event I’m trying to get together this weekend--It’s not completely set in stone yet, but I just wanted to let you know about it.” She clenches her hands together to the point that they turn a slight red.
“Uh...okay? Thanks?” I manage to say before she very quickly turns around and goes back to her desk.
I could’ve sworn I just saw a shadow creep out from under my desk and follow her, the shadow of something that definitely wasn’t actually there. Maybe I should lay off the coffee for a while.
I woke up this morning in exactly the same way as yesterday, except now I know for absolutely certain I saw Catherine in that dream. I saw Catherine, and something was after us.
My head felt like it might explode. I took more pain meds.
I spent most of the morning at my desk with my head in my hands, staring intensely at the stack of sticky notes behind my keyboard, trying not to let the lights get to me any worse. My head hurts so bad, I keep thinking I see shadows darting around. Is this anxiety? It feels like someone’s always behind me, but if I turn around to look too fast, the movement makes my headache worse.
“Hey, are you doing okay?” Catherine asks. I nearly hit my head on my desk, but thankfully I wake up enough to catch myself before that happens.
I fell asleep?
I groan. “Sorry, Catherine, I guess I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night or something. Can I help you?”
“Oh, it’s just, about Friday…” I glance down at my hands as she talks. Why am I so shaky all of a sudden? Why do I suddenly feel like I need to run? I think this is anxiety. I should schedule an appointment with someone.
“...so, do you think you can come?” Her deep brown eyes stare at me expectantly. Have her eyes always been that dark? Or have I just never noticed?
“Uhh…” I sneak a glance at the calendar on my desk, empty as it always is. “I should be able to-”
“Oh, that’s great!” She smiles. “I’ll definitely have the details for you tomorrow.”
The intense feeling of doom and dread filters away as Catherine gets closer to her desk. I wish I could trade desks with her; all the lightbulbs above her are out for some reason.
I slept for an hour and a half. An hour and a half. I managed to have the lights out for maybe thirty minutes last night before I was overwhelmed with this wild manic state or something where I was convinced there was something lurking through the shadows, waiting for me to fall asleep. I think I must have been hallucinating. Can you get hallucinations from awful headaches? I don’t know. I spent most of the night in a corner with my knees to my chest, darting my eyes around so that nothing could sneak up on me.
I really need to make that appointment.
I should’ve called in sick today. I can’t keep my eyes open. That weird feeling has gone away a little, but damn, I wish it would go away completely. I can’t get anything done, and I don’t usually even want to. Did corporate drug me so that I’d want to do work? That would suck. Can’t say it’s not working though. I’d give nearly anything to be able to focus on work right now.
Catherine doesn’t manage to sneak up on me today, only because the closer she gets, the more I feel like I’m about to vomit.
“Oh...my god, you look awful. You look like you haven’t slept in two weeks. Why are you here?” she asks. I groan.
“Thanks, Catherine, I was really going for that ‘dead’ look.” I have to focus on my breathing so I don’t accidentally spew all over her. “Honestly, I haven’t slept in a while, and I think I’m getting sick.” I sit quietly for a moment. “I think I might be going crazy, Catherine. I’ve been having these awful dreams that I can’t remember and I think I’m hallucinating?”
To my surprise, when I look back up at her, she isn’t looking at me like I’m an idiot. She actually looks concerned. “It sounds like you really need some sleep, dude. I actually have some stuff that helps me out when I can’t sleep, if you want to try some!” She darts back to her desk before I can answer. She moves really fast. Has she always moved that fast?
When she returns, she hands me a few, tells me to take them with water. I don’t remember much else. Somehow, I manage to make it home.
It’s dark. Dark and hot. I can’t see farther than three feet away from me, and it feels like my chest is being crushed by a giant constrictor. Hell, it might be. I can’t turn my head to look. I can’t move at all. It feels like there are a million beetles crawling up my legs. I would give anything to be able to move.
I look down as far as my eyes will physically go. At my feet, the beetles are swarming, forming a pile. Two piles, I can’t tell exactly. I can hear all their tiny little legs scuttling across each other. It feels like they’re holding me in place, holding me captive until something else can get to me.
It feels like whatever has been in my room.
The piles are getting bigger, and whatever’s around my chest is getting tighter. It’s getting hotter, too. I shouldn’t be able to breathe anymore. My lungs feel like they’re melting.
They’re making a person. The beetles are making a person. The beetles are a person, and its face is almost touching mine. Its face isn’t even five inches from mine. Its breath is hotter than the air around us. It shouldn’t be breathing. I shouldn’t be breathing. I can’t breathe.
It creeps even closer to my face. It’s changing. It’s not made of bugs anymore. Its eyes are dark pits, staring hungrily into mine.
It’s Catherine. It took Catherine’s face.
I shouldn’t have taken those pills. I knew sleeping was a bad idea. I knew I should have stayed awake. I knew I should have made that appointment.
I didn’t go to work today. I woke up three hours after my alarm was supposed to go off, wishing I could split my head open to let the pressure out. It was the worst headache I’d ever had. My whole body was shaking, I’m surprised I managed to get the rest of the pain meds in the bottle down.
I remember the dream this time.
Catherine had emailed me the time and place for tonight. Turns out, it’s her birthday. I’d be such a dick to turn her down a few hours before her birthday dinner. I’m already feeling awful that I didn’t get her a gift. I didn’t know it was her birthday.
I should be going to a doctor.
It’s a nice restaurant. I feel underdressed in my work clothes. They’re the nicest I have, it’s not like I didn’t try. Dimly lit, the lights look like candles, that kind of place.
I didn’t realize it was just going to be the two of us.
We sit down and order. I’m grateful for the dark. Catherine looks really nice, but the lighting makes her eyes look like pits. I can’t look at her for long. I just want to make it through tonight. Can I please just make it through tonight? I promise I’ll make that appointment. Hell, I might go to the ER.
Catherine’s talking about some drama I missed at work today. I can’t focus for shit. I feel like shit. I feel something on my leg.
The waiter brings me a hamburger.
I unfold my fancy napkin so I can use the knife to cut my hamburger in half. I’m feeling oddly
self-conscious that I ordered a burger at a place like this, but I like to stick to what’s familiar, especially with my head like this.
A small beetle runs out of my napkin. A beetle was in my silverware. I didn’t imagine that, right?
I accidentally drop the napkin and all my silverware with a clatter.
“Did you see that?” I hiss at Catherine. I had meant it to be more of a whisper. I didn’t want to cause a scene.
She looks confused. Her expression doesn’t change when a beetle runs out of the collar of her dress and onto her cheek, scuttling across her cheek.
Shit. Am I still asleep?
The light above us flickers. That’s not Catherine, all right. I could’ve sworn I was awake. I can read the menu, I can’t read in dreams, right? I’m awake, right?
Catherine, or rather, whatever it is that’s sitting in front of me, smiles a little too wide.
I don’t think it matters if I’m awake or asleep. If I don’t do something while I can move, I don’t know if I’ll have the chance again.
I can’t risk it. I can’t live like this.
I grip the knife.
I’m not dead
Hi! It’s been a while. A whole year, at least. I joined this app when I was a junior in high school, and now I’m a junior in college. Wild, right? I want to start writing again. Looking back on a lot of what I posted, it’s mostly vents and me using writing to handle issues with myself, which isn’t a bad thing...but yikes, you know? Seems like a completely different person. Growth, in any way, is a wild thing. Here’s to more growing up in the new decade.
Thanks for being here with me, even if we don’t interact. It’s nice thinking someone else might see something I’ve done, even if it’s my high school rant poetry.
Thoughts on the Otamatone
The blue instrument that sits on top of my desk gathers dust. It hasn’t been played in months, mostly because of the voice it possesses, like the bleating of a young sheep combined with the resounding flatness of a buzzer. It stares at me with its loveless face, its dull expression, its understanding shining through its black eyes but lending no more sympathy for me. Its tail on top is twisted the wrong way, its mouth is stuck in a strange imitation of an underbite as though it is contemplating its life with clenched teeth. I stare into its small eyes and we remember the days we used to have, alone in a room with no concern of anyone else being bothered by the music. It would be introduced as the greatest instrument, and would instantly make everyone at the shows laugh with its absurdity. Its dumb face would break into a smile as it would sing out. That face hasn’t smiled for a while now. It just sits, unmoving, on top of my desk, collecting dust.
#prosepoetry #poetry #music
drive in the dark
same road as yesterday
and every day before
alone with the radio man and no air
he talks between songs
sometimes about some “news”
that’s happened in the city
but mostly he lets the music play
the air conditioning is broken
but air from the outside
gets in through the holes
that still haven’t been fixed
I’m alone in the dark
no one else in sight
struggling to stay awake
just trying to make it in one piece
They were two unstoppable forces, each moving at frightening speeds, not listening to what anyone else had to say. They didn’t think about where they were going, instead letting their roaring energies carry them to where they needed to be.
But then they crashed together, putting a hard stop on anything keeping either of them moving, and in the chaos of their waves, they couldn’t stay afloat.
Character sketch- Julia
She sighs, her shoulders drooping. The door to the classroom is propped open by her arm, also holding a load of books. Her face is slightly red, her breath uneven, as though she was trying to hide that she had nearly run here in the hope of getting an end seat. Her eyes scan the room feeling the other student’s reflexive stare boring through her skull. She tries to locate an empty seat without making eye contact. She knows the students aren’t really judging her, but she can still feel her face beginning to burn an even darker red. She pushes a stray piece of windblown hair back behind her ear and hesitantly moves toward the side of the room, finally leaving the door to close. She is not small, but looks like she is trying to be--her head is almost low enough to be at the level of her shoulders; then again, her shoulders are almost scrunched up enough to be at the level of her head. She clutches her books closer to her chest as she approaches a row of seats, where one of the last remaining spots waits in the direct center. Taking a deep breath to prepare herself, she begins to slowly climb to the folding chair, incessantly apologizing to everyone she accidentally steps on, even though everyone knows it’s not her fault. The rows are far too close together for a class of this size, and the room even smaller.
He stared at the blood on his hands, breathing heavily. He had collapsed to his knees beside the body of one of the Council’s guards.
Charlie slowly picked up the gun he had thrown in shock and turned it over, not so much to look at it, but to really think about what Kinslow had just done. Her face wasn’t even half as distressed as his, instead, it was almost a mad amazement.
She moved over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. He flinched back.
Charlie crouched beside him and leaned forward to look at his face, processing everything. He met her startlingly calm eyes with his, wide and terrified.
“It’s a good thing he turned out to actually be one of Archie’s,” she murmured.
Kinslow shoved her away with more force than he had intended. She stumbled and stood up again. “What...what just...what did I just do?” he stammered.
She chuckled and swept her hand in the direction of the corpse. “Do you really need me to answer that?”
“No. No, that’s not what I meant.” He slowly stood up, treating his hands like they were explosives that could be set off at the slightest touch. “What did you just do?”
Her mouth twitched into a smirk. He hadn’t noticed, but despite her calm appearance, her breaths were also unevenly heavy. There was something...different giving light to her eyes.
She shrugged, immediately winced and grabbed her shoulder before she could hide her pain. “I didn’t do anything, hun. This is your work.” She looked again at the corpse, shot directly in the heart. “It’s not bad work, either.”
“No no no no, I know you did something,” he laughed, still in panic. “I know. Something - you did something. I could feel it. In my head, I didn’t-”
“Shhh, calm down, calm down. You sound like a three year old that just broke Mommy’s flower vase.”
Kinslow stopped talking and stared at her. “Are you really making jokes? Does this really mean that little to you?”
Charlie cocked her head to one side. “Does what? This guy?” She poked the corpse with her foot. “Nah, not really.”
Kinslow’s blood ran even colder at the complete absence of emotion in Charlie’s eyes. Any
doubt of what she used to be was far gone by now.
She took a step closer to him and narrowed her eyes in contemplation. “Why? Does it bother you?” She got even closer, so close that Kinslow reflexively took a step back.
Charlie smirked. “Does it...scare you?”
He went to push her away, but noticed blood seeping through her fingers from her shoulder. His eyes darted from her injury to her face.
“You got hit?”
“And you were his karma.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
Charlie had started to laugh before she was distracted by something behind Kinslow. “We need to leave. Like, now.”
Kinslow noticed her sudden tension and slowly turned around to see Archimedes strut in, flanked by bodyguards. A smirk that incredibly resembled Charlie’s was plastered on his face.
“It was a trap. You knew it was a trap!” Kinslow hissed at Charlie.
“Duh, Detective. Thought you were supposed to be observant.”
“Then why the hell did we come here?”
Charlie and Archimedes stared at each other with a nearly tangible intensity.
“Because I’ve got something she wants,” Archimedes said.
Charlie rolled her eyes. “You two are such damn cliches,” she sighed.
Archimedes moved his hand, and Charlie’s grip on her arm tightened. Kinslow could tell she was in pain and trying to hide it. She was good at hiding things, but Kinslow was good at learning people. Even though he understood like he only knew what she wanted him to know, he still felt like he knew her more than she thought he did.
“Yours worked too, huh,” Charlie said through gritted teeth.
Archimedes smirked again. “Yeah, and it seems like I’ve got the hang of it before you have.” He clenched his hand into a fist and Charlie crumpled to her knees with an exclamation.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Kinslow took a step toward Charlie. Archimedes shook his head.
“This doesn’t concern you right now, detective,” he said, his voice dripping with disdain. “It’s in your best interests to just stay out of this. I’ll forgive this…” he motioned to the corpse, “offense. But unlike some, I prefer to only get rid of the ones that cause trouble.” He looked at Charlie and squeezed his fist tighter. She screamed in pain. “So don’t cause me trouble.”
“Stop it! Dammit, what is with you people? Do you like to watch people suffer? Is that what this whole damn Council is about? You just exist to bring pain?”
“Shut the hell up, Kinslow, you dumbass,” Charlie managed to choke out. She threw her head up to give Archimedes one of the most terrifying faces Kinslow had ever seen her make.
“Who the hell do you think you’re messing with?” she hissed between pained breaths.
Archimedes approached her and crouched, closer to the same level but still above her.
“Not my queen, love,” he whispered, kissing her on the forehead. She spat at him. He dug his nails into his palm and left her a crumpled heap on the floor. Charlie didn’t move.
He laughed as he stood back up. “What’s the chance of that being effective?” he jokingly asked one of the bodyguards.
Kinslow ran to Charlie. Her arm was twisted in ways arms should never go, and bleeding profusely. He felt nauseous just looking at it.
“You should probably take her to a hospital,” Archimedes said, turning to leave. “That’s not going to heal on its own.”
“You’re just...you’re just going to let us go?”
Archimedes shrugged. “Charlie Jupiter is not an asset I’m going to waste. I’d rather not keep her broken.”
Kinslow laughed in amazement. “And you’re saying you can’t fix her? What’s the point of doing any of this?”
“Because now she knows her place,” Archimedes sneered. “That’s how this works, detective. Trust me, I learned from the best.”
She snipped lengths off her hair without a second glance, stopping frequently to skip whatever song was playing or change the station on the internet radio open on her laptop. She would let the song play for a few seconds, occasionally singing along, before apparently becoming bored and moving on. Chunks of her hair fell from her head onto her blanket.
A soft orange glow from the large window to the right of her bed cast the large room in a warm light. The room was a mess: clothes, papers, and random objects littered the floor and any open surfaces. Her desk wasn't recognizable as a desk anymore, it was so cluttered with art supplies, papers, and wigs stuck on lamps instead of wig heads.
The music coming from her laptop was suddenly drowned out by the sound of a remix of a popular Halloween song coming from her phone. She rolled her eyes and tried to continue cutting her hair, turning up her music and switching tabs from the streaming service to the open webcam she was using as a mirror, even though there was a floor-length mirror covered in stickers and post-it notes leaning against the opposite wall.
The phone persisted. She sighed and swung her legs over the side of her bed, blowing some of the hair she'd cut off onto the floor. She looked down at it disapprovingly before reaching to the table by her bed to grab her phone off a stack of files.
"Hey, Archie, why are you calling me?" she answered. "I thought I told you not to call this number."
She paced as she listened, moving first to the large mirror to ponder her new haircut, with some sections still needing to be cut. She made a face.
"Look, I don't care. This is the one job I give you, and you still call me with questions. Always like, 'oh, Charlie, help me, I can't do anything for myself'. That's what you sound like." She listened for a few seconds, but was apparently unsatisfied with the response.
"I gave you explicit instructions, Archie. There shouldn't be anything complicated about it." She walked over to the window, where the sunset cast the city skyline into a dramatic silhouette.
She sighed again. "You know you're the only one I could trust with this, babe. I don't know why you're stressing so much."
A voice could be heard coming from the other end, seeming to argue.
"Hey, look, you'll do great, okay? Okay. That's done. I gotta go, babe. Gotta prepare, y'know."
She flopped on her bed, throwing her arm out and glancing again at her laptop screen, which was still open to the webcam. She looked at her image and made faces.
"Okay. Okay, Archie. I'm going now." She hung up despite audible protests.
Charlie Jupiter flung her other arm out now that it wasn't in use anymore and made an annoyed noise.
#fiction #nanowrimo #crime #mystery
crowds so large there might as well be none
so much noise it becomes a dull quiet
an atmosphere of novelty
where everything is new
and shrouded in a veil of something that no one will understand
that makes everyone understand
crowds moving as one
buildings with unreachable dreams
little food carts with louder voices than their owners
the unseen sky watching patiently
people barely surviving
where no one stands still
or else be swept along
with the forward movement of the crowd
#poetry, #nonfiction, #city
im still here
I'll be here
cause I've got
no one else
it's just me.
you were here
you'll come back
but you'll leave
and leave me
and not know
that I'm here
you act like
I don't know
how you can
but I'm here
come back for