The street lamp outside blew, sending shards of glass pecking at my window. Sleep would be hard to come by tonight.
My alarm went off. I groaned into my pillow. I didn't want to get up, but there was no point in staying in bed. I struggled out of the sheets. They bound me to my mattress, damp fabric clinging, taking what little energy I had left.
Snaking my legs over the edge, my toes seeking the floor like a forked tongue, I stepped into a thick black goo. It covered the toes of both feet, my right thigh, and my left buttocks. Picture a dark vacuum-sealed plastic package. Or one of those shiny latex fetish catsuits with a zipper over the mouth hole.
I gasped for air and sucked in evil, thick as crude oil. I tried to go to my safe place, but I had a hard time remembering where that is.
The attack lasted for three minutes. I know because I counted off the seconds in my head to distract myself from the pain.
Meeting an angel should be pleasurable, not painful. I suffered electric shocks, crashing thunder, crushing darkness. Iron needles pierced my head behind my eyes.
I directed my sight at him, but my vision slid off the edges of his body...
… six black wings, opaque and massive as the point of no return.
I teetered on the verge of a personal event horizon.
Samael spoke; his voice throbbed inside me.
Samael spoke, and I knew him; "chief of Satans" and "the great prince in heaven" ~ accuser, seducer, and destroyer.
“You waste yourself,” he said. My heart cramped.
“You don’t deserve to live.” My throat cramped.
“Say your prayers.” My stomach cramped.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I huddle, cower, hide and weep…
The pain in my stomach brought me to full consciousness. My physical-self was out of sync with my mind; the way TV images used to have white shadows back in the 60’s. I felt dizzy and nauseous. I stood, bent double, head down. I held onto the bedside table. I took a couple of steps, then ran, tripping over the bathroom rug and crashing to my knees before the toilet. I threw up all over the seat. I threw up until nothing came up except bits of my stomach lining.
When the heaving stopped, I collapsed onto the cold tile floor. I pressed my cheek down, trying to cool my fever. I lay there hyperventilating.
I have the flu.
I moved my face away from the vomit-splatter near my nose. Hallucinating because of sickness is better than coming face to face with an incarnation of Lucifer.
I rose to my hands and knees. I crawled, inch by inch, pulling the bathroom trash can along with me, you know, just in case. I knew I was close to my destination when I felt the rug burn my knees. I stopped by the bed and rested my forehead on the mattress. I took three deep breaths and heaved my body back into bed.
I lay there, naked, unable to pull the sheet over myself. I didn’t bother to try since I knew I was alone. The breeze from the ceiling fan cooled me. Tiny clicks on the wall by my head, like the soft tapping of fingernails on a mirror, drew my eyes up.
“Hitting bottom will be like sitting on a mountaintop by the time I finish with you.”
Sunlight bled through my sleep crusted eyelids. I burrowed under my blankets. After half a day in bed, my body ached. I hurled my pillow across the room and watched it land on a sneaker. Dirty clothes littered the grey carpet. White ankle socks with filthy soles cavorted with cotton grandma panties, and jogging suits never once used to break a sweat. I wanted to go back to sleep, to dream, but my bladder screamed. Sharp stabs like a pointed Bowie knife pried my thigh bone from my right hip.
No more Technicolor, Surround Sound, virtual reality happening in my head until bedtime. My dreams might be scary as hell, but that was so much better than my tedious reality.
I should do laundry, clean the dishes in the sink and vacuum the popcorn pieces. The excitement never ended. Since it was Saturday morning, I didn’t have to drag myself to a mind-numbing job. No boring cubicle surrounded by colorless people who wanted everyone to be as detached as they were.
My waking world was a gray photograph without highlights or contrasts. I didn’t even have the pleasure of a decent black and white image. Numb. I was numb. I couldn’t even feel my body. I had no idea where my flesh ended, and the air began. My physical world was as flat as bubbleless champagne. I wish I could drink like an alcoholic except I’d fall asleep, drool but not dream. No point in that.
I plopped myself down in the dusty, brown recliner facing my daytime companion. I turned on the TV; the only thing I managed to turn on these days. A few hours of mindless entertainment and I might find the energy to do something, anything. I glanced at my journal. The guilt and castigation started. Bargaining with my inner child lasted two hours. I still didn’t let her out to play.
I paused the DVR so I wouldn’t miss a moment of scintillating entertainment. I moved for the first time in hours to get a soup spoon and the ice cream carton from the freezer. When all else fails, eat and let the carbohydrates numb you up even more. Legal. Easy to get. Effective. The recriminations would come later.
The spoon fell out of my hand and landed on a fuzzball by my foot. I picked it up. I wiped it on my pant leg and took another scoop of chocolate peanut butter swirl. The spoon fell in slow motion, tumbling bowl over handle. It landed on the wood floor, splattering melted dairy like a cheap crime scene knockoff. I stared at it. A tear dropped from my cheek and mixed with the mess. The world was out to get me.
No. That wasn’t true. The world and I didn't relate. I never muster enough of anything to connect with an alternate reality outside my front door. I looked at that door. It was your standard wooden door, not even an inch thick in some places. I saw a stone wall rising above my head, dwarfing me, growing larger. It expanded to circle me until in an oubliette encased me.
My breathing ragged, it came in short, rapid gasps. I hyperventilated in childish ridiculousness. I snapped my mouth shut. A lack of air caused my vision to blur and white pinpricks of light pierced my eyeballs. I sucked in a lungful of oxygen. I flung my hands out to grasp the arms of my chair. My fingers struck my journal. It slammed onto the melted ice cream with a wet slop. I stared at it and knew my worthlessness.