who is that?
quiet hours. the dissappearance of standard thoughts. the tv static drones and i hold my hand out and wriggle my fingers. i don’t know what to make of that hand. it is not my hand. don’t know what i looking for. a birth mark? a ring? a slight discoloration at the wrist so i can blame this feeling that the hand belongs to someone else on something real? what is it when you feel like your entire body is a phantom limb? what is it when you feel like your skin will slip off from you? what is it when you’re barely there, barely anywhere, tethered by the thinnest strand to your body, a red string of fate from my finger to my soul and
I wake up. I am in a bed. The rest of the room is gray and unfurnished, and there is a window that lets in moonlight.
Bedevil is asleep next to me. She shifts and sits up once I’ve disturbed her.
She has no face.
There is no sound. There is no smell. I feel nothing under my fingertips as I drag them along the sheets. There is an immense gravity well pulling me toward the door. Vertigo stirs up my chest as I sit up and take shambling steps to the door.
Bedevil walks next to me. And there is another, and one more beside him, all with no faces.
Each step darkens the room more and more. Bedevil disappears within the shadows, a drop of ink disappearing into a vial. The other images follow. Just ghosts vanishing into the night.
I take up my post again at the threshold of the door. I am afraid. I can scarcely remember what I’m doing here or why I’m doing it, only that I must hold the door. If I don’t keep it from the door, it will take me. That is all I remember now that night falls on me.
Who haunts this room with me? Bedevil. Two others with my height and build. More I have seen wandering the hallway beyond the door I guard. Epione. Oracle. Flashfire. Many others.
They have no faces.
That is important. They have no faces. Why?
The hallway groans, the floorboards creak, and the darkness thickens so much I could reach out and drag my fingers through it, and bring back sludge. A deep chill worms under my skin. It is the only thing I have felt in this place.
A hand rips out of the darkness and seizes my wrist. A face surfaces from the shadow. Megajoule, the only face I’ve seen in all these nights. His eyes are dark, black holes that absorb the light around them, and his mouth is a cavern. Like his face is a mask stretched over a chasm. He smiles, no teeth, and says,
“Gabe, how long do you think you can keep this up?”
Memories flood my mind with images of gore and pain and blood. My friends minced into pieces, the children I failed to save a heap of corpses, the masks I’ve failed zipped up in body bags. It wouldn’t seem so dark if Megajoule wasn’t so bright, his successes planted in my brain as firmly as my failures. The weight presses against me until my muscles scream for relief.
Falling into the ocean, falling into knives. It’s a cruel joke of a fight.
You can’t look. If you look, it wins. If you look, it takes you.
God help me.