"I can't see."
Visual sensory requires a four-digit password, if you would like to-- I recite the password, watching the numbers flow out of my mouth and off to some unknown destination. I float in a sea of white space, a world of nothingness. I can feel the straps tight against my chest, digging rivulets into my pale skin. I can hear the constant buzzing of the room, but even that is fading away as I sink lower and lower into this quicksand of artificial sensory.
It's a trap, I know it is, and yet I can't let go. I can feel it pulling me, caressing me into a hypnotic wonder as I fade away into a flux of electrical power. I'm released into a stream of flowing vastness as my world slowly begins to take shape.
More numbers, swimming in and out--I notice they are all prime--coming together and forming some kind of code I can't decipher. They make circles and other odd shapes that hold no meaning in my mind's eye, yet there is a kind of familiarity I can't seem to grasp, like I've seen these things before.
They are black, the world is white, and so far I am neither. The pattern is too bland, I think, before the universe explodes with vibrant colors. First the numbers fade away into transparency, until they're nothing but ghosts floating in an expanse of nothing, and then colors--greens, oranges, blues, reds--seep like dripping blood, coating everything, and slowly take form into concrete objects. Green grass with soft blades below me. A blue sky stretching up to the heavens above me--soft white clouds beckoning me into a childish wonder...
And a house--my house, it builds from the ground up, my ears can barely detect the sound of construction workers giving it a life of its own--the hammers, the drills, the trucks. The siding is white and it's surrounded by a wooden fence, strong and sturdy to keep the dog in the yard, my little Collie my wife and I call Pete.
Sabrina...I catch her scent on the summer breeze. I lift up my arms for inspection, they are strong and powerful, tanned to a dark brown, just waiting to hold her. I close my eyes and inhale--perfume, oils, her sex--yes, there she is, inside this dark chest of wonders.
The fence opens and I glide--my feet skirting over the thick blades of grass--towards the glass door. The house looms above me, an edifice that has drained me of memories and personal sacrifices. I remember what it was like to step into it for the first time, the smell of the carpet. I remember what it was like to make love in it for the first time, the first time we cooked, the first time we curled up into each other's arms and slept.
"Sabrina," I whisper, and the door opens.
Darkness is there to meet me. He loves me, that black void of all colors. He's death, this Mr. Darkness, a man holding the extremes of pain and joy. I fear no evil as I journey into this valley of life--my house--the thickness of its heartbeat throbs in my sensitive ears. Yes, glide me forth, through the dark hallway, above my wooden floors, shiny from today's waxing. The maid isn't here today, Sabrina always says, I must have listened to her for once and cleaned. I can see my reflection on the floor and the wooden banisters of the stairs. And up those stairs? More darkness. Sabrina. Our bed. Sex.
Without thinking, I'm moving up the steps, although my feet still haven't touched the ground once. This is nice, not having to move my legs at all, I wonder if this is what it's like to be a ghost.
No, that's not quite right. You're not a ghost at all, this world is the ghost, and so is the woman waiting for you up these stairs.
The thought is gone before I even get a chance to think about it, whisked off to some other destination. That's a good thing, I don't want to be troubled by such deep thoughts.
Mr. Darkness sheds his black cloak when I reach the upstairs hallway, and I'm met with a pale light. It grows in its intensity as I near the bedroom. She's inside, I can sense her waiting for me.
The door is closed, I reach up and open it, and I can feel my pulse quickening.
"Larry," she whispers. "You didn't tell me you were leaving work early..." She's laying on our bed in her white night-gown.
Work? Early? Yes, I can remember something now, I had something I had to do, some task that needed taking care of.
Sabrina props herself up into a sitting position, and I notice her arms for the first time. They're nothing but black barbs, long tentacles with dry scales. They puncture the sheets on both sides, and the stuffing is starting to come out. The little hairs on them are standing on end, she must have goosebumps.
I near the bed and float just along its edge. Her slitted, snake-like eyes--no pupils for this woman--stare at me seductively. She licks her ruby-red lips, her eyes on me to make sure I'm watching.
"You're looking especially sexy today," I tell her. I can already feel myself getting turned on, my member is throbbing inside my jeans. Slowly, I'm lowered down, until my feet are actually touching the floor.
It's suddenly hot in here, to the point where my clothes are more of a burden than anything else.
"I thought you'd think so," she replies. "I'm glad you came home early."
She spreads her legs and sticks the barbs between them, her eyes rolling up into their whites in pleasure. I don't fail to notice that she isn't wearing panties, her sex is on display for the entire world to see.
"I missed you," she moans. "It's been so long..."
"So long? I was just with you this morning." I move closer to the bed, until I have my hands on both sides of her. The sheets are warm. "I kissed you before I left for work."
"Three months since they closed the lid--"
Before I get a chance to ask her what the hell she's talking about, the barbs spring forth and pull me down.
I'm on top of her, she brings her lips up to mine and we're kissing. Feeling, groping, sweating, I can feel myself fading away in an emotional frenzy. Oh, God, she brings her lips to my neck, kissing my pulse, and I can feel the barbs moving up and down my back. She opens her slitted eyes, peering into mine, and her lips curl over sharp teeth. They're as red as her lips.
"What is it you want most?" she asks, as those razors latch onto my earlobe, letting the blood drip into her throat.
"To stick it in you," I pant.
"Stick what in me?" Her fingers find my belt buckle and begin to undo it.
"My pocket knife, right between your ribcage."
"Yes..." My belt is off, and the rest of my clothes are soon to follow. The barbs move up to my shoulders, and I lift her night gown up over her head. I close my eyes and let her take me to the full extreme. She muffles her moans against my tense shoulder, and I bury my face in her thick hair.
I'm moving once again, only she's moving with me this time. Away from the bed, away from the house and Mr. Darkness. She seems oblivious, my Sabrina, only content on the movement of her hips and the caress of her tongue. The barbs are moving up and down my back, scratching deep cuts that must be bleeding, I can feel it trickling down my skin.
The stars are shining, it's night, the moon is nowhere to be seen. I can feel the wind as we glide, blowing Sabrina's dark hair into my upturned face as we pick up speed. Sabrina...my muse, my temptress, pleasuring me until all my senses are blotted out.
Except for my sight, no matter how hard I try, I can see everything: The sky turning blood-red, the throbbing heart beneath a kitchen knife. I see a small oriental kid crying in the corner of a room, the shadows of terror playing across his teary face. And Pete, our collie, licking the fingers of a scarlet hand. All these things and more, and Sabrina moans as if none of it exists.
I close my eyes, but I can still see everything, hiding just behind the crying in my ears and the cacophony of breathing and panting. I'm the god of sight, the creator of all who dwell within my visionary expanse. The world shifts and I see it. An angel dies and I see it. A star explodes and I see it.
"What do you see?" she whispers in my ear.
"Death," I reply, barely finding the breath to do so.
"Good...you're learning. What is it you learned?"
" Release. Death is a release from physical boundaries."
"Yes, good boy." She runs her tongue up and down my face and then settles on my mouth.
And in that second I let out a release of my own, and our bodies tense up in one final bout of pleasure, before melting into relaxation.
"What is it that you see?" I ask, curious.
"A growing boy named Larry, my husband. A boy I've missed dearly."
I pull away for a second. "But--"
"--Shhhh." She brings her fingers to my lips to silence me. We're flying again, backwards this time. The night grows lighter and the sun comes up from the wrong direction, a fiery globe in a confused sky. On the distant horizon I can see the sea fading away to nothing.
And here's my house, just as we left it, beautiful and dream-like. What more could I have asked for in a house? We enter the bedroom once again, the four-post bed our eventual destination.
Gently, we fall into its warm embrace, cuddling up into each other's crevices. I can feel the scratches on my back burning like hot fire. The muscles feel stiff and exhausted.
I fall asleep, the world going black as Mr. Darkness enters my mind and takes over, stretching out his tendrils to the farthest reaches of my conscious, pulling me, calming me, draining me
But Sabrina won't let me go.
"Larry," she calls out. I can feel the black barbs moving over my hair and coming down to my punctured ear. One of them lifts my head up by the chin, and I can feel her warm breath playing over my face.
"No..." I want sleep, I need sleep, more than anything right now. Let Mr. Darkness greet all the visitors, I'm unavailable at present, I have other pressing obligations. They're waiting for me on just the other side of this door. If only...
"Larry, wake up," she persists. "You have to wake-up." She shakes my head gently, ignoring my stubborn silence. She might as well be speaking to me from a long distance, I can barely hear her. Despite her efforts, I'm drifting away.
"No!" she screams, and suddenly one of the black barbs finds my punctured ear and applies pressure, submerging me in a sea of pain. My eyes pop open and I gasp, my muscles tensing into a stone of flesh. My eyes look up to her slitted ones, and I notice for the first time how hideous they are.
"Tell me about her," she commands, suddenly moving away from me and to the corner of the bed.
"Who?" I try to sit up, but my muscles are too sore.
"Your mother, Larry, tell me about your mother," she says, and I can see the slits in her eyes are shifting from color to color. I want to ask her who she is and what she did with my wife, but my mind is not all there, her words have sparked something--
"What the fuck are you talking about--?"
--moving towards the bed, not taking much care in avoiding the IV drip, and I see one diseased hand snaking out from beneath the covers, wrinkled and deformed from arthritis--
"--there's nothing to say, she's my mother--"
--is her eye open? Do I see her fucking eye open? Oh god, but I keep on moving anyway, my determination has overcome my movement and I inch closer and closer, listening to the sound of her weak breathing--
"--you've been married to me for three years, you know all there is about my mother--"
--as I walk by, the hand suddenly grabs hold of my leg and squeezes. I almost scream out in terror. Those fucking doctors told me she's nothing but a fucking vegetable now, nothing but a bag of bones. But in a matter of seconds, the hand loosens and falls to the side of the bed. The eyes close for the last time--
"--what the fuck would you know anyway? Stay out of--"
--and finally reach down and grab the pillow--
"Larry!" Sabrina screams, and in less than a second she's across the bed with those barbs at the side of my head and her face within an inch of mine. Her mouth is closed but she's screaming somehow, to the point where I think my head is going to explode from all the pending pressure inside. I close my lids, but those slitted eyes--eyes with shifting colors--force their way through, and I think they're going to slice right into my pupils.
And in the heat of all this anger, and rage, and power...I remember.
"I killed her," I whisper softly. "I killed my mother."
Sabrina pulls away and sits back. "How?" she asks.
"I don't know, I--"
--enter the room with flowers in my hand. The nurse outside just got done telling me how sweet a son I am, always spending so much time with my dying mother. It's true, I feel like I spend twenty four fucking hours a day here in this shithole, but the nurse doesn't need to hear that. I gave her the image I wanted her to see--the flowers, the sad look, the exhaustion--and I hope it was enough to drown all future suspicion.
And there's the lady herself, beautiful as ever, with tubes coming out of ever hole imaginable and her brains a pile of mush. It's hard to believe that withered body is worth eight-hundred-thousand dollars. Sabrina's had her eye on our dream-house for a while now, and dying here right in front of me, vulnerable as ever, is the key.
I love my mother, more than anything. This thing is not my mother, or at least that's what I tell myself. The guilt is there, hiding, but I've prevented it from accessing the front of my brain, to the point where it's nothing but a concealed shadow.
I let in a deep breath before moving towards the bed, not taking much care in avoiding the IV drip, and I see one diseased hand snaking out from beneath the covers, wrinkled and deformed from arthritis. I remember what it was like to hold that hand when I was little. Crossing the street ("Don't you ever try to cross the street without Daddy or me again, Larry. Do you hear me?"), getting my first shot ("Just don't think about it, Larry, and you'll barely feel it"), my first day of kindergarten ("I'll be waiting for you here right after school"). It's funny, when I think back, how powerful I thought my parents were. I look at those hands now and see no resemblance to the strength they once held.
Cancer, upon cancer, upon cancer. And to top it all off: arthritis and old age. Would you like fries with that? I know I would. My mother told me that it's like being eaten alive. This was back when she could still speak, back when she could still open her--eyes--is her eye open? Do I see her fucking eye open? Oh god, but I keep on moving anyway, my determination has overcome my movement and I inch closer and closer, listening to the sound of her weak breathing.
Look what I've been driven to. Look what I've become. It's the house that's done it to me. We both fell in love with it the minute we saw it, I don't know how else to explain it. But we couldn't afford it--it seems that the things we want most are always the things we could never afford--no matter how badly we needed it. And now here I am, so close to having what once seemed impossible.
I try to close my eyes to avoid that accusing stare, and as I walk by, the hand suddenly grabs hold of my leg and squeezes. I almost scream out in terror. Those fucking doctors told me she's nothing but a fucking vegetable now, nothing but a bag of bones. But in a matter of seconds, the hand loosens and falls to the side of the bed. The eyes close for the last time.
I'm almost crying but I keep moving. My mother's still alive and I keep moving. I realize I'm a fucking murderer and I keep moving.
Just as the first tears start to fall from my eyes, I take a deep breath and finally reach down and grab the pillow. Soft and cuddly, I put it on her face and begin to apply pressure--gently at first, but increasing as the seconds tick by.
Her hands come up and rest on my arms, and I watch in horror as the fingers slowly wrap themselves around my biceps and squeeze. It's a death grip, I don't care how long she's been dying, those nails fucking hurt. The details are taking on a surreal quality, I think I can actually see the veins in her hands throbbing. I continue to apply pressure, the hands squeeze tighter and I push harder, it's like a domino effect. I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine--I'll press you and you press me.
And just when I think it can't get any worse her body starts bucking beneath me, back and forth hard enough to almost pitch me off. And she's screaming now through the pillow, her voice nothing but a muffled squawk. I can't understand what she's saying--
--Larry, Larry! Get off me!--
--It's all gibberish, probably nothing at all--
--I can't breath, Larry! I can't breath!--
--Just mindless screaming for dear life. But I hold on, watching the tears rain down on the pillow that is suddenly indented with the image of my mother's dying face. This is it, the big C has taken its toll, the train is leaving the station, just a few more seconds and I can go out and tell the nurse--
"--But it didn't end there, did it?"
My head snaps up to meet Sabrina's, she's got a smirk on her face I don't like one bit. I just poured my heart out to this woman and she's smiling.
"Of course it did. Were you expecting a happy ending?" I pull the sheets away from her and I see for the first time how deformed my wife has really become. My god, did I actually fuck this woman?
"Yes...mother dies, you get the inheritance, you buy the house, you and your wife live happily ever after. The end."
Sabrina points at herself. "Does this look like the end to you, Larry?" The night gown is still off and I find myself fascinated by her caved-in chest and sickly ribs.
I let out a laugh. "Well it sure does look like the end for you," I say, and her smile grows wider.
"You're right, it does look that way. But you're wrong. You thought you were always right, but you were always wrong. After you killed your mother you could feel the power practically flowing through that 'ol blood stream of yours--"
"--you had played God, and it had all worked out. Now you were a tough shit who wouldn't take back-talk from anyone, not even your wife--"
"--And somewhere along the line you decided I was a fucking bitch and you weren't going to put up with my shit any more. You decided to play God again and try to kill me--"
"--I would never--"
"But guess what, Larry? It didn't work! I'm still alive, you fucker, you're so pathetic you couldn't even kill your own wife. You were the big man when you murdered an old woman who wasn't even conscious but you couldn't even take me out, you pathetic fuck--"
"--shut the fuck up, Sabrina, I'm warning you--"
"You're one pathetic piece of--"
And I'm at her throat bringing her down for the count, the final count. She's gagging, but she's laughing at the same time, I can see it in her eyes. I decide then and there that strangling her can't bring a quick enough death, and this is when I see the knife out of the corner of my eye. It's sitting on the pillow--nice as pie, and parallel with the bed post, as if it was placed there for this one scene. I snatch it from its resting place, and with a flick of the wrist, the blade is out and ready for work. My hand moves away from her neck and I use both of them to drive it down into her chest, right into the rib cage. Up and down, up and down, it's just like churning butter, except what's coming out of her chest is definitely not butter. It's all red and gooey, and yet she won't stop laughing. Blood is shooting our of her mouth but her body is shaking with giggles, she's making fun of me, even as she dies. In her own little way, she's telling me I've made the supreme fuck-up, and boy is she going to pay. And just as I bring the knife down into her throat her face starts to fade away. Everything is starting to go white again and the numbers--still prime--fill the world until every which way are black numbers. Ones, twos, threes, and I only begin to wonder what's going on when--
--I take in one final breath and the world takes shape. As soon as I see the video monitor to my right--one monitoring my heartbeat and vital signs--reality fades in and I realize what's happened.
I've been tricked.
I've been trapped.
I've been sentenced.
The court system used artificial video and audio sensory to coax me into a confession for killing my wife and mother.
Behind me I see a shadow move, and I can only wonder if they're moving towards the switch that will send me out into the vacuum of space.
I remember back to the campaign of our latest president. He told us voters how sick he is of our crimes, how he's going to raise his iron hand and break apart all that will go against the law. Our criminals will learn to pay for their crimes. 'An eye for an eye,' he quoted.
In this case it would be an eye for Sabrina.
Bio:Simon wrote this story during his senior year at highschool. He now attends Shippensburg University and is an editor for the literary magazine The Reflector. His most recent short story sale has been to Alien Skin Magazine.
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