FATALITY - D.H. JAMES
You’re returning from the city after a long night. It’s now 3 AM and you need a bed. The city speeds by as the cabbie tops 110mph. Lights blend to streams. Rainbows of neon and florescent, the only rainbows you know.
The cabbie slams to a stop outside your building. You fling the money at him as he speeds off after another fare. One more will make or break him.
You hit the convenience store under your building to buy some fluids. Hydration will be key, never let me down. Well, there were those few times but not tonight. Your inward dialogue is suspect. You know you will hurt. But lying to yourself is all you’ve got.
You reach to the bottom of the refrigerator and grab the largest bottle you can find. As you turn towards the counter you see a fat, long arm reach from behind. You hand off the bottle and begin to fish for change.
“You married?” asks the man behind the counter instinctively scanning the bottle.
“No,” you reply, seeing him for the first time. You notice he is well-fed with a drunkard’s red face.
He lets out a small laugh. “Ah, am I to assume no children?”
You quickly lay money on the counter. “No, no family,” you respond in an uninterested monotone.
He laughs again, this time more condescending. “A person should have a family, can keep you out of trouble.”
You grab the bottle as the man stares at you. It will be a long time before you return to this store you tell yourself.
You rush to the elevator. The four floor ride takes longer than usual. You drink a large gulp. Dehydration is setting in and you must head it off.
You exit the elevator before the doors fully open and turn right, wearily closing the distance to your door. You punch in the code and step through, letting the door fall shut behind you.
You walk to the couch, dropping your clothes along the way. Again, you take a long drink, but this does not satisfy your thirst. Two liters aren’t going to be enough, you think. You chase more, but this seems to make you thirstier than before.
You finish half the remains in one gulp. This does not help. You feel of fever. The night got me, you think to yourself. You lean back in the couch as you continue to grow hot. Something doesn’t feel right. You glance at the water and notice an odd, swirling shadow.
A static noise develops in your ears. Your brain slowly begins to come to a boil. Hotter and hotter it grows until fire is raging in your head. Dizziness sets in. Delirium is soon to follow.
The fire begins to spread rapidly through your body. You strain as millions of lightning hot pinpricks begin to rage beneath your skin. You gasp for air but it is thick. Your mouth boils upon contact with oxygen. The pressure forces a moan. Your eyes roll back, panic sets in. You gasp.
A hungry hand grabs you around the throat as you’re yanked from your seat by a fat, long arm. Your senses become static. Your consciousness becomes lost.
What happens next you cannot know. You have no will to be against. You are inanimate for the time being, but this will not last long.
There is a breath in the air. You hear a heartbeat, one beat, two beats. You recognize it as your own. You breathe deep and feel oxygen blanket your throat as your tongue is enveloped by a fusty odor.
Your eyes begin to burn as your retinas are penetrated with the speed of light. You recognize indistinct shapes swaying as if conducted into action. Waves of grey lines are rising and cresting against the shadows of your scalded vision.
One distinguishable shape is noticed symbiotically leading this orchestral blur. You breathe deeper than before. Your eyes are beginning to function as your senses diffidently start to react to the world. You scan the room again. Focus is beginning to return and people are becoming discernable.
You notice a small group of people sadistically bound, their eyes darting between you and the leader. You see the leader laughing jovially and walking back towards a large rectangle. You squint trying to fully focus and realize it to be a chalkboard.
Drawn on it, you see a hangman’s noose, but the leader quickly moves his portly body in your line of sight. The crowd’s momentum begins to build as a rhythmic chant forms. The noise becomes deafening and you strain to free your hands. No use, they are hopelessly fixed together.
Your heart begins to rapidly beat. You notice the heat and stench in the poorly lit room as a mix of debauchery and sweat engulfs your senses. This forces you to gag for an instant. Slowly, feeling is beginning to return to your body.
You look back to the chalkboard and see the leader pumping his hands in the air as he is turning towards the crowd. They are becoming rabid, tearing at the air with downward thumbs. You quickly look back to the chalkboard as the leader reaches his fat, long arm towards the noose. He completes the last leg of a hanging stick figure. You move your eyes left and see letters. Straining you read:
Y O U
A __ E
__ E A __!
You feel your feet fall from under you.
The City on the Edge of Forever (1967)
2 hours ago