Right now. Right at this very moment. The moment we are sharing through the medium of a page and the words it contains a man is washing blood from a nine inch blade. His hands are shaking and not just from the chill of the brown water that alternately dribbles then vomits from a rusting tap.
The bathroom is stark. You know the type. Single, naked bulb throwing diseased shards of light into your brain, alive with a frequency on the ragged edge of your hearing. The floor tiles might be white under the patina of despair, shit and god knows what else. The ones on the walls are much the same but with more graffiti to hide their shame. The mirror above the sink keeps showing the same re-run of a man washing a knife. He looks familiar but he’s changed. Hollowed out. He has no idea why he is cleaning the knife but he doesn’t stop.
Someone screams in another room. The thick walls dull the piercing edge of the sound but it can’t paper over the rawness entirely. The knife starts shaking again. Three more broken screams follow in quick succession. Then nothing.
The man knows he needs to move but the message is getting lost somewhere between his brain and his limbs. They will find the one he killed soon. Then they will find him and the favour will be returned. Unlike the thing he killed with a single panicked thrust, his will not be a simple death, nor will it be quick.
A single, straight corridor is all that separates the man from the world he knows. Far from this small corner of hell that seeks to engulf him. The thumping of his heart plays a rhythmic counterpoint to the spastic flicker of the strip lights overhead. Closed doors dot the walls on either side at regular intervals. Six, seven, eight, ni…
The door to his left is open a fraction. Not enough for anyone, anything inside to see him pass. Not enough for his shadow to squeeze inside and give him away. And yet the sounds from within draw him closer. Every drawn breath that sucks the air from beyond the door is filled with the coppery taint of death. The sounds are far worse. Wet noises, slippery as a slaughterhouse floor and thick with corruption. Entering the room holds no future, but is it any worse than the eternal haunting of not knowing? She couldn’t still be alive. Surely…
He pushes the door a fraction. Enough to put his head around it for one glance. Enough to know. The noise is everywhere, pervasive as the dark. His eyes strain to adjust to the blackness and fail. He pushes the door an inch, and then another, and then…
The man holds his breath, lungs burning. Something diseased licks against his cheek and he punctures the silence with his screams.
Right now. Right at this very moment. The moment we are sharing through the medium of a page and the words it contains a man is howling along a corridor as a hundred portals holding back death click open.
How do I know this? Because he’s mine. I dreamed his very existence.
And with enough will and imagination I might even be able to save him.