A Foul Dream
By Seth Nicolls
Scattered across the pavement go the last droplets of rain, as even the storm falls asleep. Streetlights yawn in their glass bulbs and the bright neon lures grow tired of their chase. I begin to wonder whether it was worth it to wait five hours for another bus instead of Ubering home then and there. I begin to wonder whether it was dumb to let my phone lose power. I begin to wonder where I might meet people with bed-worthy couches and befriend them or what I could even offer in return. I then wonder whether I’ve spent five minutes on this bus stop bench or an entire half-hour and then I’ll walk off down the hill to burn time regardless.
I keep walking for the comedy of my screaming brain, forever striking at my curdling legs with her electric whips. My brain, Lady Pinkflesh the Wrinkled, so desperate to send a flutter those foul demons of slumber. She will inevitably be transfixed by the hypnotic swirls of their butterfly wings. So foul that scourge of demons, so deep cut their fangs and branching their hooks. So sweet their lullaby, like the call of a tui. Fuck them all, send them back to where they once came.
I stumble down to the harbour with Lady Pinkflesh horsewhipping my undead apparatus to a vacant seat. She takes a moment to settle and focus my eyes. The benchwood paint stretches off the wood like a fern unfurling. The water sits in shadow so that boat reflection can pass with sneaky motors from their mirrorland jaunts. I double tap my legs without end to keep them both awake. Perhaps it’ll only be a moment before the sunrise. How sweet would that be? While I wait I guess I’ll settle for the….
The moon is behind the clouds. Of course. Silly me. They wouldn’t hide the moon, at least not from me. I sit cold and desperate in wait of the moon’s embrace, just to find the weeping rain return from another absence. Pitter patter against the bus stop wall; is it tears or applause? How could I know anymore....
The water becomes distorted, the surface becoming a sheet of camouflage for impossible serpentine beasts. They creep ever closer through the murk and stare up at me with unblinking eyes, like a many-fanged sea leopard starving for a snack. How long has it been down there? How long until it strikes? Will I even catch a glimpse of the beast? I pray for a glimpse of sunrise. But then, over the horizon, comes no sunrise to speak (lest it has been smothered and buried by the clouds). So foolish to wait for sunrise, to act like you’ve been here more than five minutes. Hah! I crack a nervous laugh into the air and break the silence against the ground like so many shards of green glass sticking out of my shoes… god damn it.
I am going to move slowly. Quietly and carefully, too. I am not going to make this any worse that I absolutely have to. Lady Pinkflesh spins between monitors and whips the support systems into working. Do you feel hurt, kid? I’m feeling more hurt by the minute. Are you bleeding anywhere? Nowhere I can feel as I reposition my feet and jutt out of danger as swiftly as I can manage. I look down at many slices and pinprickles across the treading and a deep gash between the second and third toe. I don’t think I’m bleeding though. That’s good, that’s good, now where to put my feet? Behold a sea of broken beer-bottle-glass laying just out of sight, foul sickles in the shadow for some slumbering fool to collapse into. Bear traps lay about, licking their steel lips. The boat reflections have all cleared the lake as the serpent beast prepares to pounce and drag you in. Have you enough time to muster a scream?
I’m trying not to snore, lest I arch my head and expose my fleshy neck to blades and other bad things. I’m trying not to think, lest I bubble over and splatter down into the gutter. Poor Pinkflesh, having to drag around little old me. Poor park bench, bent and bruised by skittery old me. Poor beast out on the harbour, I’m truly sorry I was not eaten. I’m trying not to cry, I’m trying to ready myself to be dragged back through the bounding buses and into depths of my bed sheets. I want to melt away into my duvet. Does not everyone else want the same?
Scattered across the pavement go the last droplets of rain, as even the storm falls asleep. Streetlights yawn in their glass bulbs and the bright neon lures grow tired of their chase. The first ray of sunshine flexes awake and looks down on the harbour. The reflections are in place and the monsters have vanished. The stabbing glass left scattered has been turned to foul mundanity and I am able to stand up once more. I am not bleeding, but I worry about the healthcare of my shoes. They’ve got soles after all (square up). The song of sweet birdies fills the air, my perverted signal to return to sleep. Such a squalid vampire am I! I drag myself away from the waking nightmare and up towards the bus, it’s vomitous graffitti left childish in the morning’s sobriety.
This was not worth it, never was going to be, and yet it’s a sacrifice I continue to make. Madness walks in the early hours, alongside her brother Dream.