Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Tapping on the Window (TDC Part 1)

I’ve always had a disconcerting bond with the supernatural; or at least so it would seem on the surface. Despite constant evidence to the contrary throughout my life, I have remained a sceptic when it comes to the paranormal- the unexplainable- because I believe that the human mind is a flawed machine, one that feeds delusions for whatever reason the context demands.

Life- however- seems somewhat determined to prove me wrong. I have had more supernatural experiences than any person living on this earth; at least to my knowledge. All of that comes later however, I believe I shall begin with the very first contact I had with ‘the other side,’ for the simple reason that it seems the most appropriate.

When I was six years old I lived in a secluded house a good ten minutes from the nearest town. My father was a moderately successful writer, and my mother was his moderately successful publicist. Despite their limited success, they had come into a decent amount of money which allowed us to live in house I found myself in at the time. It was a beautiful home, large and spacious, and was positioned in a good location; it was surrounded by an encroaching forest aside from a slight clearing where our garden sat.

I never really liked the forest. It was dark and foreboding, and generally didn’t appeal to my childish sense of mystery and curiosity. I was always terrified to look out of the window at night, because I knew the forest would be there, just slightly in the distance- watching- waiting. I often had a terrible feeling the trees were moving closer each night, but I never dared look, how could I? The fear was far too great.

It was on one particularly windy night, when the trees shook and shivered violently, that my little brother found his way into my room.

“Tommy? What are you doing?”

 I remember not fully understanding what was going on- I don’t believe I was fully awake- but knowing without a doubt that it was Tommy who was in my bedroom.

“There’s a man outside of my window, Timothy.”

If I didn’t understand what was going on before, I certainly didn’t now. A man? Was it possible?

“I’m scared; can I stay in here with you tonight?”

He held his shabby teddy firmly to his chest and was visibly shaking.

“Don’t be silly Tommy, there isn’t anyone outside!” I wasn’t as certain as I sounded; I’m sure.

“Can- Can you check?”

“I-I-“ I really, REALLY, did not want to check, but I was the elder brother and I felt a sense of responsibility. I agreed.

I made my way across the darkened landing, and slowly opened Tommy’s door; it protested with a frustratingly eerie creak. I remember seeing a square of black on the opposite side of the room. There was nothing visible inside the frame, no trees, no stars; nothing. For some reason, I wasn’t content with this evidence, I needed more, so I edged closer. As I drew nearer to the window, some of the outdoors came into view, I could see the trees that made up the forest; I could see the garden fence. My heart was pounding relentlessly. I do not know how I built up the courage to look out of that window; it was so unlike me- at the time.

My face was so close to the glass that my breath could be seen on the window. I could feel the cold night air leaking through, but there was nothing there- nothing outside- and that was the main thing; there was nothing there. The garden- whilst disturbingly still and silent- was empty, as was the forest, at least as far as my childish eyes could see.

I returned to my room to find Tommy already snuggled under my sheets and fast asleep. I wasn’t going to wake him, and truth be told, I didn’t really want to be alone now, he had put the fear of life in me, I needed some company. I edged into the bed beside him and lay awake for a long time- for how long- I do not know, I lost track of time, but it seemed to drag on eternally.

It was that night that I heard the tapping on the window for the first time.

And no- it wasn’t anything else- I wasn’t mistaken. It was separated by perfect intervals.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

So gentle, so slow, so unsettling.
I closed my eyes tightly, wishing it away, and it stopped; but there was no chance of me sleeping now.

When the morning came my brother woke up with a jump. He seemed to be afraid that our parents would find him in my room and think him a coward. He quickly left for his own room and begged me:

“Don’t tell mum and dad.”

I didn’t. I wasn’t going to mention anything. Like they would have believed me anyway.

Once the sun was fixed in the sky I went out into the garden and gazed into the forest with mild trepidation. Even during the day it was dark; it was fantastically eerie. The trees towered high with perfectly white barks, and they were all so close together, they seemed to be conspiring with each other.
When the night came again I had forgotten the events of the previous night, it had all drifted away like a bad dream that simply ceased to be.

It was only when my door creaked open slightly and someone shuffled in that I recalled. Tommy crawled into my bed, not bothering to ask this time, and shuffled up next to me.

“He’s there again.”

“Tommy, we went over this before!”

I didn’t have time to say anything more- Because there it was- The tapping. It was slightly louder, and somehow more urgent this time.


I closed my eyes tightly and imagined it wasn’t there again, just like before; but this time it didn’t work.
So we both just lay there, listening to the muffled tap, tap, tap.

There comes a point during any moment of intense fear, where even though you anticipate that nothing good can come from an action, you do it anyway, because if you didn’t- the fear would only continue and ultimately become unbearable. In this case, I could not continue to lie there listening to the unyielding tapping without knowing what was causing it.

I made my way- slowly- to the window. I pushed my middle and index finger through the blinds and pried them open slightly. There was nothing there. The garden was empty. The forest- for a moment I think that I see something move in between the tress, just a shadow; just something. At the last second, just before I released the blinds so they could snap shut and seal me from the outside world forever, a white eye appeared in the gap I had made.

Naturally I screamed. I fell back from the window and onto the floor, my mouth dry, and my heart thumping in my chest. How my parent’s didn’t hear my scream I shall never know. I scrambled back into the bed, where my brother was shaking more violently than ever. I remember telling him that everything would be fine. I told him that nothing could get us while we were inside, and while we were together. But I didn’t believe a word of it. The tapping continued long into the night and only stopped when the light began to shine through the cracks in the blinds.

At breakfast, I decided to question my mother.

“Mom, does anyone live in the woods?” She looked at me, slightly amused.

“No honey, there isn’t another village for miles past the forest.”

“No- mom- I mean, does anyone live IN the woods?” She raised her eyebrow slightly, clearly confused as to why I was questioning her.

“Well I don’t think so honey, why would anyone want to live in there?” To this, I shrugged my shoulders. Naturally there was no plausible reason for someone to live in the forest. My mother asked if I was feeling alright, placing a hand on my forehead and discovering I was somewhat above what she considered ‘normal’ temperature. She then commented on how pale I looked. I wasn’t going to tell her what had been going on. For one, she wouldn’t believe me, and also, I knew Tommy didn’t want her to know.

As if he knew I was thinking of him, he appeared in the kitchen at that moment and joined us for breakfast. He seemed to have recovered, but I could still tell by his eyes that he was terrified.

Night inevitably came once again. To my surprise however, my brother didn’t visit me, and there was no tapping to be heard- anywhere. For some time I simply lay there, waiting for it to start, waiting for something to happen. Several hours into the night I finally allowed myself to believe that everything was fine, that everything was normal again, and it was at that point I allowed myself to attempt to go to sleep. That was easier said than done however; I was still haunted by the eye I saw at my window, I still trembled in fear at the shadows that lay in wait in the forest beyond the garden. Sleep wasn’t about to visit any time soon.

Then I heard the back door slam. The noise reverberated through the walls.

I froze- paralyzed- Someone was in the house! The door had been opened- someone must have come inside! I listened intently; all of my senses hyperactive. I waited for the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs, or the sound of doors creaking, or slamming, or any sound at all. Nothing came after that. The house remained as silent as ever. Nothing stirred, nothing moved, nothing made a sound.

It took me some time to realise. If no-one had ventured inside, it must mean that someone went outside. At that thought I became aware of exactly who would have gone outside. But why?

I knew I had to look out the window; I had to see for myself, with my own eyes. But if I was scared to look out of the window before, I was absolutely terrified now.  I had to face my fear. I had to do it. I wasn’t going to peer through a crack in the blinds this time though, no, I had to do it quick, like ripping off a plaster. I placed my hand on the thin string that controlled the blinds and pulled harshly.

At first there was nothing but darkness.

Then the sea of swaying trees came into view- the branches gently waving at me. I moved closer, so I could get a better look. The garden came into focus, there was nothing there, but the gate at the back was open. I looked on to the forest.

There he was.
My brother.

He was clutching the wrist of a man- his teddy clutched tightly to his chest. The man wore a hood, so I could not see his face, but I could see his dead, white eyes staring directly at me.  He raised a skeletal hand and waved, slowly and surely. My brother stared at me also, his eyes shining- glazed over and vacant.

Then they turned, and disappeared into the forest, slaloming between the thin white barks of the trees.

After the shock passed I ran into my parent’s bedroom and jumped onto their bed. I shook them wildly, screaming at the top of my voice. They woke with a start, clearly fearful and frightened just as I was.

“What is it honey? What is it?”

“He took him!” I screamed, amongst other incoherent nonsense, “The man took him!”

“What? What man? Took who?”

“The man in the forest! He took Tommy! He took my brother! Tommy!” I wailed and 
pounded the sheets with my fist. My parent’s looked at each other, terror in their eyes, their faces white as chalk.

“Honey- you don’t have a brother.”

The next hour or so was a blur. I remember my parents trying desperately to console me; my mother cried quite a bit, my father was the one who did all the talking. I showed them his room, but when I went inside there was nothing except for a few boxes and old junk that came from the house my parent’s lived in before they had me. I didn’t understand, he was so vivid, so real, how was it possible for him not to exist?

My father explained to me later, once all the commotion had died down, that I was a twin, but my brother was stillborn, the umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck whilst he was still in the womb, and he was starved of oxygen before they could get him out. They didn’t want to tell me any of that until I was much older, but my father thought the only way for me to accept the truth was to explain it all.

The weird thing? They would have named him Tommy, had he been alive, I would have had a little brother named Tommy. Yes, Timmy and Tommy... stupid, I know.

My parents had me checked by several doctors after that, none of which could find anything medically or psychologically wrong with me, one explained that children often have these kinds of experiences when they are younger, that it is quite common to experience hallucinations and have imaginary friends and such. I imagine that may have put them at ease a little, but he was wrong, to this day I still have experiences similar to the one I had during my childhood. I still believe that there is an explanation for it all, one that isn’t paranormal or supernatural or whatever you may wish to call it. All of it is an illusion- a hallucination- concocted by our own creative, deceitful and devious minds. Or maybe- maybe I am wrong about it all, and there are spiritual forces at work. All I know is… That wasn’t the last time I saw my little brother. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Words Over Coffee (Part 1)

I’m a fan of social media. The lack of intimacy in the interaction with people via social media means I feel irreverently comfortable expressing my cynicism and general loathing of people via sarcasm, without the repercussions you would experience should you do the same thing face to face.

For example, I feel assured that if I decide to tell a girl I barely know from my high school days that she should stop posting half-naked pictures of herself on Facebook because- let’s face it- she isn’t really all that pretty, that there will be no consequence in my day to day life. Sure, I may have people delete me, or block me, or maybe even send me a nasty message, but at the end of the day, who cares? Words mean next to nothing when it comes down to it, especially via Facebook.

Twitter is very much the same. Unless you are a celebrity, or a person of note, in which case, Twitter has the power to destroy your career if you decide to make any bold, sweeping statements. I’ve seen it happen, politicians and celebrities alike getting virtually bludgeoned to death by the masses of followers who disapprove of their antics. It can be quite amusing at times I suppose.

The point behind all of this, is that whilst I remain utterly confident communicating via any social media sites, I find myself sadly lacking in that regard when it comes to talking in person.

The responses I would usually give pop up in my mind, but I don’t have the confidence to verbalise them, mainly because there is no certainty that I won’t get a slap across the face or a fist in my gut. I much prefer a swift poke, which can easily be returned, with no hard feelings.

Also, whilst I am by no means a popular guy, I imagine that if I did say all the things that came to mind, it would not take me long to become a social pariah. Walking down the street and pointing out each imperfection is a perfect way to get yourself killed. ‘Smoking those cigarettes is so cool; it takes my breath away, but not as much as it does yours! No, but seriously, you’re gonna choke and die.’ Maybe you think I’m a total dick. Maybe you are right, but if overexposure to the internet doesn’t lead to cynicism, I don’t think anything would.

So, you can imagine, when I got a message from an old friend asking to meet up, face to face, I became somewhat anxious. We had a lot of history. Melanie was my high school love, who never loved me. To top it all off, the friendship we did have ended rather badly, after she had dated a string of numerous douchebags who treated her like shit, and I decided to tell her as much after she was left broken-hearted; again. Maybe it was insensitive of me, but after years of that kind of psychological and emotional torture, your patience starts to wear rather thin.

If she had said: ‘hey, let’s have a catch up on Skype’ I would have been in my element. Instead, I have to go meet her for coffee, and all those old emotions, and all the things left unsaid are going to be running through my mind. There is little chance of me avoiding the encounter however; it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I arrived early, and found myself a good spot, on one of the comfy sofas, rather than the purposely uncomfortable wooden chairs. I know that before long the place will be full of people, and these people will be forced to sit on the uncomfortable chairs, and will immediately begin searching for a new seat. They will glare over at me spread out on the cushions and feel nothing but envy and loathing towards me. Isn’t that brilliant? I especially enjoy the moment when a group decides to vacate one of the comfortable spots. People then swarm to lay claim to the newly open booth, it really is amazing how low a person’s priorities can drop when in a coffee shop.

After waiting an uncomfortable amount of time, especially with the people leering at me for taking up a double sofa booth by myself, I began to wonder whether she would turn up at all. Of course, my doubts were misplaced; she wasn’t going to miss this for the world.

I caught a glimpse of her approaching the entrance of the shop. My initial reaction was a mixture of both anxiety and happiness, but that was soon replaced by plain horror and disbelief. There was someone with her. There was a man walking behind her. Who the hell was he? What was this guy doing with her? Who the hell was he? What the hell was this?

As she got closer, I could see her more clearly. She looked amazing; far better than she ever did when we were friends. She had become plumper, but that was definitely a good thing, she was always on the skinny side, and she had a habit of wearing a little too much makeup, but now she seemed to have settled for a more natural look, and it suited her perfectly. Here is an example of what I was thinking as she walked towards me:

She is incredible, oh god, I didn’t bother to make any effort- oh Christ- who the hell is that guy? What is he doing here? She looks so good, why has she brought this guy with her? I’m not going to be able to do this, oh crap, oh shit, oh god. He is huge, goddammit, why? Is this really happening? She looks so beautiful- she is getting closer- oh god-

“Hey!” she opened her arms to embrace me.

“Hi!” I cried out, mimicking her tone as best I could. I managed to embrace her with the same enthusiasm.

For far too long, she didn’t acknowledge the guy stood beside and slightly behind her. She simply stared at me, as if waiting for me to notice him, so she could then introduce us. I may not be good at talking, but I’m just fine at keeping my mouth closed, so I didn’t say a word and simply returned her gaze. Eventually, once the shop had closed and re-opened once more, the mystery man gave a little cough, and that seemed to wake Melanie from her reverie.

“Stephen, this is Metro.”

How I managed to stop myself from bursting into hysterics at this point is beyond me.

“I’m sorry?”

“Metro” she repeated, slightly louder, as if it was my hearing that was the problem, not the fact that he was named after the underground.

“I see, nice to meet you.”

I go to shake his hand, which he somehow interpreted as a fist bump. I mean- who actually does that anymore? However, this inevitably resulted in me grasping his fist with my hand and shaking it enthusiastically. For some reason, I didn't stop shaking for quite a while, but then again he did not seem to object either. I still consider this to be one of the most awkward moments I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing. One thing I did take from the encounter however, is this:

Clearly Metro is a few carriages short.

“Can I buy you a coffee?” I turned to Melanie, as I felt somewhat more comfortable addressing her than the towering beast of a man who stood in front of me.

“You can do- skinny latte please, and Metro will have a hot chocolate, he doesn’t like coffee.”

I resisted the urge to ask Melanie whether Metro is actually able to speak, or whether he simply communicates through a series of grunts. Perhaps he uses binary code? Although that would require some understanding of numeracy.  

I realise at that moment that I am judging this guy I have only just met because of my feelings towards Melanie, so I dialled back my hatred of him for the time being, in the unlikely case that he may actually have turned out to be a decent human being. I went to the bar and asked for a skinny latte and hot chocolate- small- no cream- perfect. If they could have made the hot chocolate without the chocolate I would have asked for that- but then it would just have been water- and I’m sure even Metro would know the difference in taste- no Stephen, stop it!

I do not remember agreeing to buy Metro a drink, but I was in no position to argue, the guy was bigger than me. He had a five o’clock shadow on his face, he was probably about 6’5- I imagine- and was wearing jogging bottoms and a tank top, or a wife beater as they are sometime known. Then came the moment when I brought them their drinks and I sat down opposite. I can’t help but feel that the whole situation would have been much easier had she not have brought her ‘companion’ with her.

“So, are you guys-“

Interestingly, it was Metro who spoke this time.

“Yes- we are.”

“You didn’t let me finish- I could have said anything from that point- I’m pretty sure I was gonna ask if you guys were members of a suicide cult.”

Melanie laughs, Metro glares at me.

“You always did have a wicked sense of humour, Stephen!”

“And you always had an adorable laugh.” Goddamnit! I still cannot believe I said that, but the words were out, I said them. Shit! I didn’t want her to know I had any admiration for her, of any kind.

She blushed slightly.

“What, are you still in love with her?” Metro then demands, clearly unimpressed with my compliment.

“I- What? No!”

“Good! Because if you were, I would have to break your legs!”

I needed nothing more to go on, this guy was an asshole, a first class douchebag in every sense of the word, and I hate him now as I hated him then; with every fibre of my being.

“That won’t be necessary.”

“It better not be.”

“Metro, calm down, yeah?” Melanie soothes.

She seemed somewhat embarrassed, although not nearly as much as she should be having this dick by her side, she is trying her best not to show it, but I can tell. She brought him along for a reason, and that reason was to show him off, and make me feel inferior, she wanted to prove that I was wrong when I said she dated dicks, and no-one else but dicks. If that is what she is trying to do, she had already failed miserably. I said the word ‘dick’ three times in that paragraph; but I stand by it.

“So how have you been?” I ask, trying to restore some sense of normality.

“I’ve been well, I’ve just finished my first year at uni, I’m studying law-“


“-And that is where I met Metro, he was such a charmer-“

I think I may have snorted at that point. In what world was he charming? In the prehistoric era, I imagine he was, by far, the most charming specimen out there, but not now, not in the modern world.

“You’re studying law?” I interjected, before she had any chance to tell me any more of the origin of their relationship.


“I thought you were always more interested in hair and beauty?” (Not just in terms of her career)

“I was, but I decided that would never work out, so I went for something more professional.”

“So what do you plan to do with your law degree?”

“I’m not entirely sure yet.”

“So- hold on- you thought getting a law degree, for which you have no future aspirations to utilise it, would be more realistic than completing a health and beauty course, and working in a salon or hairdressers?”

“What is he talking about?” Metro asked, clearly my use of big words had perplexed him and he needed some explanation. To my enjoyment, Melanie ignored him and instead addressed me.

“I knew people weren’t taking me seriously when I spoke about working in a salon- I wanted a little respect.”

Metro, evidently understanding he was not needed in the conversation, decided to take a large gulp of his hot chocolate right at that moment, the key word in there being ‘hot.’ He didn’t want to display any form of pain however, as that could be construed as weakness. So instead he held it in. His face went bright red, his eyes became bloodshot, and streaks of chocolate dribbled down his mouth. I can now truly see how Melanie could refer to him as a ‘charmer.’

“You okay there, big guy?”

It took him some time, but he eventually managed to mutter something that sounded like ‘fine.’ I have to hand it to the guy, it was impressive the way he held it in- it didn’t look pretty- but then the two things are not necessarily synonymous with each other.  Again I had to fight the desire to burst out laughing. Maybe it was because I was so nervous, or maybe it was because watching this guy simply be was just downright hilarious. Perhaps it was a bit of both.

“And what are you doing now, Stephen?” Melanie asked me, again completely ignoring Metro.

Now- I’m not ashamed of my job by any means, but I knew it would be met with mockery from Metro, not that I care about that necessarily, any jokes he could make about my job would no doubt be the basest and most idiotic puns I would ever had the misfortune to hear, the kind of jokes that pop into your head right away, but you dismiss them, because they are so bad they would get a laugh from pity alone, but would get nothing from an actual humorous standpoint. My point being, whilst I’m decidedly neutral about my, let’s be real, average and somewhat dull job, I don’t care to be made fun of because of it, even if it doesn’t really mean anything to me. Therefore, when this question came up, I was somewhat reluctant to answer her, although I knew- of course- that I would.

“I’m an IT consultant.”

Metro snorted, although in my remembrance of the scene, he erupted into full blown hysterics and I threw the contents of my cup into his face. Then from nowhere, there was an unusual peak in my confidence.

“And what do you do Metro?”

He gave me a blank look, I’m assuming he was taking his time to process what I had just aske; apparently questions aren’t his ‘thing.’

“I work at the gym on the weekends- I’m an instructor.”

Of course he was.

“Of course you are,” I said, “That must be so intellectually stimulating,“ I finish.

Melanie snuggles up to him, wrapping her arms around his engorged bicep.

“He’s doing a physical sciences course at the moment, and when he finishes it, his parents are going to help him open his own Gym.” She gushes over him disturbingly.

“Wow- that- that is really something.” At this point, I couldn’t control my laughter any longer, and I actually let out a few chuckles before pulling myself together again. When I looked up at them, Melanie seemed bemused and Metro was staring at me with 

“Sorry- do you even lift?”

“Did you really just use that phrase without a trace of irony?”


I don’t think he knew what irony was.

To be fair to him, I couldn’t give a dictionary definition, but I sure as hell know what it is. I’m pretty sure he threatened me again after that, although I forget exactly what the threat was- it all became a blur of trying my best to ignore metro and trying to be civil with Melanie. Overall the experience was decidedly uncomfortable, awkward, and sometimes amusing when Metro decided to chip in. I do however, recall how the meeting ended.

Metro had finished his hot chocolate without further incident, and had proceeded to work his way through several muffins, which- he made sure to inform us- he would work off later that afternoon. I shared one with Melanie. When I say shared, I mean, I had a couple of bites, and she helped herself to the rest of the muffin without question, despite being the one who insisted that we ‘share.’

“So-“ Melanie began, clearly building up to something, “the reason I wanted us to meet up is so that we could reconcile, I didn’t like the way things ended between us- so I wanted to make amends.”

“I see-“

“Yeah, so I thought we could just get together and apologise to each other-“

“I’m sorry?”

“We both said some pretty dumb, hurtful things, and I think if we just say we are sorry, then we can go back to the way we were.”

“Listen, Melanie- I’m not going to take back what I said- because I don’t think I was wrong in what I said.”


“Yeah- I mean- sure I wasn’t particularly good at putting across what I wanted to say, and yes, I may have been insensitive about it, and I may have been hurtful, and for that I am willing to apologise, but the essence of what I was trying to say- well- I stick by it. You kept getting hurt, and it wasn’t anybody’s fault but your own, and I couldn’t just sit there and watch it happen to you.”

“Wow, okay- well- I don’t know where we go from here.”

“Neither do I,” I admitted.

“You don’t need this twat, Melanie.” Metro decided to advise at that point, and he was right, she didn’t need me. Some part of her wanted me to be in her life again, but she didn’t need me, and she never would.

“Okay- well then, I guess this is goodbye.”

“I guess so.”

“Thank you for the coffee, Stephen, it was nice seeing you again.”

“And you-“

And that was it. They left. Metro made sure to give me the finger when Melanie wasn’t looking, but that was that. Which brings me to the point I am at now: sitting in front of my computer screen with Melanie’s page on it. There were things left unsaid during that meeting, and I sure as hell need to say them before we part ways for good. So… here goes nothing.

End of Part 1.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Dear Julia...

Dear Julia,

It has been a year.

One whole year since you were taken from me, one whole year since the entire world went to shit, and for some reason I was left behind to pick up the pieces.

The others still have some hope that things will get better, but I know that hope is pointless, how could the world heal itself after such destruction, after such devastation?

They predict 90% of the population succumbed to the infection. Those are the odds we are up against. The truth be told, my dearest Julia, my hope died with you, I don’t even know why I try anymore.

Dear Julia,

I came home today.

I came back to the place where we began. This house is so full of memories of happiness, it saddens me that it is all gone, that there is nothing left.

Memories are fickle companions, but what's worse is that i feel them becoming distorted, I fear the image I have of you is fading, altering, changing into something that is not you at all, but a depiction of what I believed you to be, instead of what you are.

I do not want my memory of you to fade, Julia.

I abandoned everyone else. They will continue without me, I just needed to be here. I needed to be with you.

Even if you are gone, you linger in this place still. In the darkest corners of the house- and of my mind.

Dear Julia,

I became infected today. I gave in to the temptation, the curiosity; the hopelessness. I kissed death upon the lips, and found the bitter taste to my liking. 

I know you would disapprove Julia; you had such an affinity for living, and would want me to carry on no matter what the cost. But I ask you… and I ask myself, would you feel the same were you in my place, after all the things I have seen, all the horrors I have experienced, all the people I have lost; would you feel the same?

The infection process isn’t instantaneous; it takes several days for it to truly take you away. I wonder if part of you remains, even after you become one of those mindless creatures that roam the streets at night? I don’t want that. I think that would be the cruellest punishment, crueller by far than death.

I will be with you soon, Julia.

Dear Julia,

I awoke this morning, not feeling quite myself; evidently the infection is in its early stages. It would appear to be a common flu, but we all know better now. We are no longer ignorant to the deviousness of this clever infection, it tricks you into believing you are suffering from an illness that appears non-threatening, and then when you believe you are beginning to recover, that is when it attacks.

I live in constant fear of that attack, Julia. I was surprised by my fear; I suppose it has become so commonplace living in this new world that it is now second nature.

I’m almost glad you cannot see the world today, my dear. Nowhere is home, yet everything with a roof is considered a house. I returned to what was left of our home for the end, but it does not look like our home; not anymore. It is almost unbearable to stay between these walls, underneath this roof, where we once shared so much happiness, knowing the things I know now. It breaks my heart to see this perfect haven become a part of the imperfect world I have been drifting through this past year. It won’t be much longer now. I won’t last much longer now.

Dear Julia,

The trees outside our house are bare. It isn’t winter. There are simply no leaves that wish to grow. The walls are cracked and worn, the whole place is falling apart; not that it matters much anymore. Nothing matters much anymore.

The illness seems to be subsiding. I feel more agile and less lethargic. I know what this means though, you know Julia. I know.

Dear Julia,

Is this what you went through? Is this how you felt? I hope you didn’t feel this pain, I pray to god you didn’t.

My skin… it aches Julia, everything I touch brings me pain, my clothes itch and irritate my flesh. I need to get out. I need to get out of my skin. How can I endure this, how could anyone endure this? I am writing this letter with the greatest effort, in some vain hope that someone will read this, and one day put us both out of our eternal misery.

Oh god… My eyes, Julia… MY FUCKING EYES. It feels almost as though someone has forced shards of sand beneath my eyelids. There is no moisture, just pain, and an utter lack of vision.

I don’t know how long this will last before I am gone, I can only hope the end comes soon; I cannot bear this pain much longer.

Dear Julia,

The end is upon me. We will be together again before long.
This feeling is abhorrent, I feel my blood running through my veins and arteries, but it has thickened, and it feels like sludge is being pumped through my system. I have been suffering from bouts of stomach cramps that leave me quivering on the floor. I haven’t eaten for several days; then again, I don’t have much of an appetite.

My vision only grew worse, the pain, I couldn’t take it any longer… so I ripped out my left eye; the relief was tremendous, if only temporary. I barely felt any pain during the process, but afterwards, after the blood and mush that was left of my eye was in the palm of my hands, that was when the agony set in. The blood that oozed from my eye socket was nothing like human blood. It was so dark it was almost black, and as thick as custard.

I can taste blood on my tongue. Blood and bile. The empty space where my eye once was only aches now, but everywhere aches, everywhere hurts. This is agony in its purest, undiluted form.

Dear Julia,

The pain has become so natural to me now that I can scarcely feel it. That or the pain has merely subsided as the infection finally takes complete control of my body.

I came down to see you today, with what was left of my vision, for the last time. The basement stank; the putrid fumes of death linger there, along with you.

Your dead eyes stared back at me, and even through one unfocused lens I could see your beauty, your elegance, your grace.

Even though most of your flesh has abandoned your face, and your hair is frayed and dead, I can still see the woman I fell in love with. Despite every obstacle, when I look at you, there is nothing but clarity and I feel assured that my decision to become just like you was the right one.

I will be leaving this world, this form; very soon, I can feel parts of myself fading away, and those parts being replaced with this repulsive infection. But I am thankful, because I will be like you.

We will be the same. We will be together again.

We will be the same.

We will be the same.

We will be

Sunday, 16 June 2013


Day 1

I wake in the morning, content and comfortable under the warm covers of my bed. I have a whole week away from work, and I honestly cannot remember the last time I felt so relaxed. I have cut myself off from the world, just for a few days, just so I can have some well-deserved time to myself. I think I deserve that much.

I dreamed of Jennifer last night. It was the best dream I have had in a long time, in fact, I think it may be the only dream I've had in a long time; most of my nights are filled with nothing but empty space and darkness. I wonder where she is… travelling, most likely, but who knows where?

After a good few hours lying in bed, I finally manage to pull myself out from under the heaps of quilts and cushions and head to the kitchen. I allow myself to indulge my craving for waffles. I bathe them in syrup and eat them as if they are about to be taken away from me. My mind wanders back to work, but I quickly shut out the thought, I dare not let thoughts of work interrupt my stress-free holiday.

I make my way to the bathroom; I could really use a nice, hot shower. As I flick on the light switch I notice the room is unnaturally cold. All of the heating is on, and had been left on all night… how could it be cold? It doesn't matter. A shower will soon fix the issue. I take a look at myself in the mirror. My reflection stares back at me. There is something indeterminably odd about my appearance; I don’t quite look like myself. I move away from the mirror a few steps. My reflection stays still.

I feel my heart begin to thrum in my chest, like it is trying to break free of my rib-cage. My throat has gone dry, and I struggle to catch my breath. None of that matters though. I stare at my reflection, and my reflection stares back. In horror, I watch as my mouth utters the words ‘you did this, you son of a bitch’ and the words actually come out. My reflection pulls a gun from somewhere out of the frame and aims at the roof of its mouth. I pull the trigger.

I see my brains erupt from my skull, and fall out of frame; then comes the blood. I watch it creep out from under my hairline and trickle down my forehead and into my eyeballs and my mouth. I can almost taste the bitter tang of copper on my tongue.

This isn't real.

It can’t be happening.

I close my eyes, and when I open them, my reflection is just me again. Just me. I stumble into the shower and attempt to wash away the memory of what I saw.

Later that night, when I return to bed, I don’t dream as usual, but the darkness that comes with sleep is illuminated by flames, and the light shines on a mass of faceless corpses.

Day 2

I wake up with a headache. My sleep was uneasy, and I woke up several times during the night. I decide to give the bathroom a wide berth for a while; I have a certain, understandable reluctance to visit that particular room today.

I decide to make waffles for breakfast again, in the hope I can find some solace in repetition and routine, and somehow kid the world into believing I wasn't disturbed by what I witnessed. Maybe I just imagined it, maybe I was still dreaming. Like any of it matters. I choke down some aspirin with breakfast and the pain in my head subsides somewhat, but it still lingers there, hidden away behind my eyes.

I know I’m going to have to go to the bathroom. It has to happen at some point. It might as well be now. I slowly open the door, and it responds with a frustratingly eerie creaking noise. I flick the light switch, expecting the worst, but the room is warm, and just like that my anxiety is gone. Still; I haven’t forgotten the mirror hanging from the wall. I make the conscious decision not to look; I will not feed a delusion, or a hallucination, or whatever the hell it was. I turn on the shower and step in, letting the hot water smother me.

By the time I’m finished, everything seems to be back to normal, my fears have subsided at last. I think about Jennifer again, maybe I should give her a call? It couldn't hurt, it might even help… No, I promised myself just a few days free of stress. Jennifer could wait a few more days.

I step out of the shower and unthinkingly look into the steamed up mirror. The image isn't clear, but somehow, that makes it all the more horrifying. I can see myself swinging. A makeshift noose is tied around my neck and I am drifting lazily, side to side. As the condensation clears, the image becomes more and more visible, and more and more grotesque. My face is puffy and disfigured, and purple, my eyes crusty with dried blood. There is bile dribbling from the corner of my swollen mouth and my lips are cracked and dry, the noose itself is digging into my neck and ripping at the flesh there, I notice that the rope is red, stained with my blood.

This isn't real. It CAN’T be real.

I smash my fist into the glass and hear it shatter before I feel the impact. I pull my fist back and throw it at the mirror again. I repeat the motion, over and over, until I am lying on the bathroom floor among the shards of glass, panting, wheezing; breathless. My knuckles are bleeding, but I don’t feel any pain. I’m too in shock to feel any pain.

I manage to pull myself from the bathroom floor, and when I do, I make the decision to call Jennifer. I need her now more than ever. The phone rings, but no-one answers. I try several more times, but in the end I just leave a message. I hope she calls back. I need her to call back.

Sleep. The nightmares are worse tonight. I can see the faces of the corpses now, but I wish I couldn't  I can hear screaming, loud; as if it someone has their mouth pressed against my ear, and is wailing at full volume. The worst part? I can’t wake up. No matter how bad it gets. I cannot wake up. Please… I’m begging you. Let me wake up.

Day 3

Being able to open my eyes is a relief, but only temporarily. The room is swaying. Everything seems to be out of place. Maybe I am just disorientated, or maybe everything had moved, I honestly cannot tell. I am struggling to tell if this is even reality at all, I am awake, but maybe my mind has lingered in the realm of dreams. More like nightmares.

I stumble to the kitchen, and smash several objects on the way, when I finally sit down, the sensation does not die. The thought of food repulses me. Even waffles makes me feel sick to the stomach, I know that if I even try to eat a bite I will immediately throw it back up. I try calling Jennifer again, but I only reach her answer message, where is she? I run my hands through my hair, I have a headache again, and my throat feels drier than it ever did. I grab myself a glass of water, and do my best to drink it, although finding my mouth seems to be something of a challenge. The water helps moisten my throat, but my headache persists, even after I have swallowed an excess of painkillers.

I don’t want to. But I know I have to… it is the only thing that could hold the answer to whatever is going on here, but oddly, I feel strangely eager to see my reflection again, I know he will be waiting for me, like an old friend…

There is another mirror in the hallway. I will have to do it.

My reflection seems normal for a moment, but it doesn't take long for that to change. I watch as I pull a knife from my pocket and bring it to my throat. I slowly slice at my neck, and the blood pours out, spurting, shooting in every direction. My reflection stays standing still, as if nothing had ever happened. I return its dead stare. Then, I hear myself speak, with a rasping, guttural, gurgling voice- a voice which only a man with a sliced throat could possess.

“You did this to me- to us- to yourself.”

“How have I done this?”

“You cursed us.”

“I don’t understand, what have I done to deserve this?”

“You don’t remember, do you?” I hear myself say, “that must be nice- ignorance truly is bliss- allow me to throw light on our situation- we are living a cursed life, we feared death and so we sold our soul so that we could live, but you do not make a deal with the devil lightly, for he will always have the upper hand.”

“What do you mean?”

“You live a normal life until the moment you are most happy, most content, when you feel as though there is no fault with the world- and that is when it starts- that is when the nightmares begin, that is when we appear, and we will not go away until you end it all. If you do not do so, things only get worse, the visions will grow more lifelike with every passing day, the earth will begin to tremble around you, all of your senses will betray you, the people you love most in this world will die, and they will burn, and they will suffer, until you have nothing left in this world, nothing but the vapid darkness of death. Then, once you have killed yourself, you are reborn, and the cycle begins again, but you won’t remember. You wished for immortality- you have it.”

“I never wanted this!”

I see my dead eyes stare back at me with contempt. I realise that there is only one option. I call Jennifer one last time, and leave her a message.

“I’m sorry.”

I open my medicine cabinet and take all of the pills I have. I fill another glass with water and begin to swallow them, by the handful, until there are none left. I walk slowly to the mirror, and look at my reflection. I am overwhelmed with self-pity, even though I know I don’t deserve any, and I begin to cry. But it doesn't last long. Soon, I can feel the room slipping away. I watch as my reflection begins frothing at the mouth, and I see my eyes roll to the back of my head. As I fall to the floor I embrace the cold arms of death and promise myself that in my next life I will remember, I will prepare myself for the worse, but I know as life slips away from me that I am only kidding myself, and that salvation is nothing but a fantasy.