When Rolemn opened his eyes he ceaselessly stared at the ceiling. No thoughts in his head. Just a harrowing hollowness gnawing at his mind vitality. He lay immobile in his bed, not feeling familiar to himself like he’d crawled into a shriveled corpse. His alarm went off but he was too tired to move, the task was as daunting as a mountain of tedious paperwork. Better to endure the torturous beeping than to shut it. Then his vision began to blur, he thought he was losing focus from staring for too long but when he blinked tears rolled down the side of his face. They kept coming, waterfalls of tears, and he couldn’t understand why. Then he felt his face wrinkle into a frown. As he opened his mouth to exhale a weak sob escaped, drawn out and hoarse. Then an extraordinary poignancy befell him and he his heart split with a pain too great for his chest to bear. As his sobs waned he began writhing. When the writhing subdued he lay on his side, cuddled in his blankets with his pillow listening to the humming hollowness taking over his mind. The tears started to dry, no more could come but he felt like crying nonetheless.
An hour later he still lay immobilized wrapped in his blankets. He wanted a cigarette but the steps it would take from his bed to his desk seemed like a marathon. He was utterly unable to motivate himself to get out of bed. His nose was clogged and caked with powder and mucus, a discomfort that itched to be cleared, but getting enough air into his lungs voluntarily and blowing seemed like another demanding task. So fatigued and dispirited that thinking was like moving boulders over the lanes of the mind. His stomach grumbled.
I should get up and get breakfast, he thought wearily.
But still he could not get out of bed, nothing, not even hunger would get him off the bed. His eyelids grew heavy and drew close once more, warmth enveloped him and dulled his desolate state.
He woke up to a sound of his himself whimpering, shuddering. Soaked in sweat, heart racing, breathing shallow and rapid. In a state of concentrated. A hole had appeared right under his bed and if he didn’t jump off he will fall into an abyss. Reason and logic would not convince him otherwise, the floorboards were disintegrating under his bed and he had to dive that instant. He was falling, and he could feel it from his loins and the tingles in his joints, a current of cold air shrilling past his him. He kicked himself off the bed, dropped on the solid floor and cowered to the corner. Back pressed against the wall, arms clutched over his chest and trembling, he scanned the floor under the bed. It wasn’t melting into chasm, the bed wasn’t sinking into oblivion and a hole wasn’t growing under it. Boding had a firm grasp on his heart.
It will happen, he thought, I won’t be fooled.
Nervously he watched. Nothing occurred and still he wasn’t calm. The bed was playing tricks, waiting on him to dose off again and deliver him to the depths of darkness. A trap. Then a more frightening thought occurred to him: what if it ain’t the bed but the entire floor in my room. His heart rammed into his ribs, breath escaped him and unruly shudders ravaged his limbs. He picked himself up and staggered to the window where grasped at the frame before the floor could dissolve under his feet. His knees thawed under his weight. He retched until he spewed a stream of goo. He felt giddy. His chest tensed, it felt like his heart was about to explode and his chest was being ripped apart, an agonizing feeling that made his body and limbs spasm. Then his world blackened.
When he opened his eyes the third time the right side of his face felt cold, sunk in a pool of his own vomit. He found the smell sour and revolting. He lifted himself and sat on his bum, finding himself too feeble. He examined the puddle of vomit he had churned, nothing lumpy within its contents. It was like soup, brownish yellow. He wiped the side of his face with his hand, and shrugged the vomit on the side of his hand onto the puddle. His temples felt like there were about to rapture and his shoulder ached. Before figuring out what had happened to him a thought jabbed into his mind, hallooing him to a freeze.
I can’t go back, it hysterically went, I can’t go back to the countryside, never!
Images of lonely corridors and iron barred gloomy rooms bombarded his head. Toilets and shower stalls without doors or curtains so you can be monitored, no privacy. Restless cries echoing in the poorly lit corridors. Ceaseless demented horselaughs, moaning and crooning. Clinking iron bars, regularly interrupted bedtime, coerced group rapes and men spatting in his food. Cold group showers from the hose, grown men who have lost their wits. The sly grins, the yellow teeth, drooling mouths, drooping faces – harassment and abuse. The isolation from all external contact, spending months in confined spaces. No peace. The constant way he had to watch his back, men’s hands fondling him in the dark while sleeping and the occasional attempts of group rape on him. Then the drugs, incessant medicating and injections. Images of times suppressed and forgotten.
“I can’t go back!” his voice trembled and tears began straddling his cheeks.
But if you are sick again you should, a calmer and sensible voice responded from within.
“No, I can’t go back!” He shook his head vehemently, regrettably worsening the throbbing headache pulsating through his temples.
You could die, it returned.
I can’t be sick, he thought, if I am I can’t let anyone know. I don’t wanna go back. I shouldn’t be sick. Please God, I can’t.
Sweat broke on his brow and the shivering returned.
A faint knock fell on his door. It couldn’t be Corklin, it had to be a girl or someone who wasn’t acquainted with him. He decided to ignore it.
“Ro,” a soft coaxing voice called.
It took him a while before he put a face to it. Only one person called him that.
Without a care he unlatched the door, stuck his face between the door and the doorframe. His body behind the door. He grimaced, the light too bright for his liking. “What, Sandy?”
He grinned. “Having a grumpy hangover I see.”
“What do you want?”
Sandy’s grin vanished. His eyes narrowed and his nose wrinkling as from disgust. “Do you have a fever or something? You don’t look so well. Are you okay?”
“I’m alright. I’m fine. Hangover, Sandz.” He winced as the headache charged through his brain like bolt of lightning, betraying what he had just said.
Sandy’s face lit with concern. “You are not alright.”
“I just need to rest!” He snapped. “Please, what do you want?”
Sandy held four slices of grilled bread wrapped in serviettes. “I didn’t see you at breakfast. Always heard you saying you like Sunday breakfast. I saved some bacon and eggs and made you some sandwiches.” He outstretched his hands towards him. “Here.”
Rolemn snatched them and shut the door in his face, agitated.
He heard Sandy mumble to himself behind the door. Then the mumbling softened as he started walking away, becoming echoes in the empty hallways.
Rolemn unwrapped his breakfast. Examined it and realized it was made exactly how he prefers it. Buttered, semi-toasted, a squirt of tomato sauce, syrup, supple fried eggs and sprinkled brittle pieces of bacon. A thin thread of fright coursed through his heart, Sandy had been watching him and, for some reason, that made his skin crawl.
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Next chapter coming next week.
Thanks for reading.