May 8, 2004

The Journal.

I have no way to judge time here. Only a single flame swirling on a mounted wall torch keeps me from eternal darkness - though - though there is the strangest blue hue emanating from beyond the barrier of my cell. Perhaps it is the barrier itself. I know not. Nothing is natural here.

I have only to look into the corner of this page - this greasy journal page - to know that this book is not natural. I'd even venture to call it - sinister. Hee hee - it does, after all, open from the left.

Bah! All books do! At least - as far as I can remember...

But look (and I am looking) at the corner! The thing has dated itself! Just as well. I know not the date, nor the hour. I will have to take it on good faith that this filthy book knows what it's talking (or writing) about. Gods know that I certainly don't!

What do I know? My ass hurts! That's what! I've been sitting on this cold stone floor for hours, if not days. Not a chair, bench or bed to rest myself on. Only the cold stone. The cold, gritty stone.

At first I simply stared at the flame on the wall - very eerie. I don't remember lighting the torch. I don't remember Wassel (if that is indeed the foul creature's name) lighting it. I don't think it's necessary to relay that I don't remember it being lit when I was first thrust into this dark place.

Wassel - Wassel - Such a strange name, and yet - it seems common enough, somewhere in the back of my mind with which I am losing all touch. Or perhaps it is with those nether regions in my mind that I am now embracing - shunning all that is good and sane, while gathering all that is dark and - well - insane - into the small, unused corner of brain matter.

This path of thought hurts to follow - hurts to follow. Thinking too much on unnecessary things. Yet I feel I must write something. This journal -

Wassel gave it to me, bound in black leather. I know not if it is truly black, but in this strange light, everything seems like a variant of the evil shade. The pages feel like parchment, thick and greasy, making it seem as though any words I write upon its surface will slip and slide straight off the page.

I couldn't hear him approach. Can't hear anything beyond my cell. It's like my own little world. I could barely make him out in the dim light, his short stalky figure lumbering towards me. At first I thought he might lumber right past my cell, ignoring me as I hoped he would. No such luck. He seemed to hesitate; small, stubby hands extended forward, fingers moving quickly in a meditative gesture.

He turned then, his horribly stooped shoulders moving first, the rest of his rag-covered body twisting to follow suit. The torch in my cell gave off enough light to illuminate all the wrong places on his face, making my heart sink and my skin crawl. Breath caught in my throat, I tried to lower my gaze to his hands, his fingers still moving furiously. It took more effort than I was willing to exert in order to get my heart rate down.

"Looossssse ssssomething?" The words sounded as though they had oozed from an open wound, causing my stomach to clench. If I hadn't felt sick before that (and I probably did), I certainly was ill at that moment. Yet they were the first words I could remember hearing, and the sound of them not only made me ill, but also startled me into looking back up into his face.

Perhaps one of these days I will venture to ask Wassel where his teeth went, or where he learned that uncanny drooling trick.but for now I shall let it pass, as I can't seem to convince myself that it would be a good idea. After all, I'm sure it was just a trick of the light making Wassel's saliva appear to be a different colour than what saliva should truly be. Of course, I'm only assuming that the normal colour of saliva is clear (which Wassel's certainly wasn't.) and that my perception of saliva is the same, if not even somewhat similar to what other people's perception of saliva is.

The issue of saliva aside, the moment he spoke I found my eyes fixed on his.interesting face. I completely ignored the meaning behind his words, staring instead into what I perceived to be coal black eyes. And I do not mean that his irises were black.I mean that he had no irises, no pupils - just black. I am certain that the moment I locked eyes with him, I lost a part of my soul - if I even still have one. I feel - significantly emptier at the moment, and I also feel as though I am pouring what remains of me onto the pages of this journal.

It was only when Wassel moved his left hand away from its twin, fingers moving as he raised it to twist a long lock of greasy, grey hair from his head that I was able to look away from his eyes. My eyes slid down the gnarled slope of his nose, past the cracked lips and empty, gummy grin, over to where the lock of his hair was now entwined around an impossibly long fingernail.

"Looossssse ssssomething?" he asked again. At least, I think that is what he was asking.

"Most definitely," I tried to reply, though no words escaped my lips. I appear to be mute. My senses have been stripped from me, and only when they see fit, do they return. Try as I might, I could not voice my words, bile rising in my throat as Wassal laughed at me.

"You'sss not eating?" It was expressed as a question, though he seemed to know the answer. "Wassssel knows you sssick if you'sss not be eating."

Against my will, my eyes flitted over to a full tray of indescribable food in the corner of my cell.

"I'm not hungry," I mouthed, wondering if he knew what I said.

"You will be. You'sss all get hungry sssooner or later. Wassssel watchessss. He watchessss." The lock of hair he had been twisting around his fingernail seemed to leap away from his hand with a mind of its own, and the small man (or creature of some sort, it's hard to tell) stepped closer. I found myself inching along the wall of my cell away from him.

"Who are you?" I mouthed again, not really wanting to know, but curiosity is a bastard.

"I isss Wassssel. I sssay thisss many timesss. You are not asss sssmart asss othersss."


"Others?" I inquired; curiosity quite peaked at the mention of others, and I almost ignored the eeriness of talking without making sound. Surely there couldn't be many people with the absolutely horrible luck that I seem to possess.

"Oh yesss. Many, many othersss. Too many for poor Wassssel to count. Too many. Too many." It was impossible to tell if his eyes actually shifted, being no colour distinction to indicate movement. But his face seemed to withdraw in a thoughtful expression, his empty grin taking on a hint of genuine pleasure. "But Wassssel visssitsss them all, he doesss." the creature's eyes shifted back to mine with a certain cunning I found rather unsettling. "Wassssel findsss thingsss. Sssmall thingsss. He givesss back what he findsss."

"Gives back?" I knew immediately that whatever this Wassel character had to offer, I wanted nothing of it. I didn't even want to know what it was, having no recollection of losing anything, yet - I could help but envision decapitated rats or a pail of rotting fish guts. Disgusting yes, but so was this character before me, and while his intentions may not have been evil, his tastes and sanity certainly seemed iffy.

"Yesss, yesss, givesss them back. Nice Wassssel. Wassssel findsss them hissself."

Well, you can imagine what I thought at that point.

"That is - thoughtful of you," I murmured silently, praying that he would take his leave.

"Oh yesss!" Wassel exclaimed, clapping his clawed hands together with a gaiety I simply could not share with him. "The bosssesss sssay that Wassssel isss very clever. Wasssel agreessss, of courssse."

"Of course," I mouthed, but stopped short. Clever to find things for people who seemed to be prisoners? Makes little sense - little sense. "Who are these bosses you mentioned?"

Wassel stopped moving his hands and fingers, this arms falling limp to his sides. His grin, empty or genuine, turned upside down.

"Eh?" He was obviously confused, thought I suppose it doesn't take much.

"These bosses," I repeated, "who are they?"

"The bosssesss," he replied, shrugging.

"Yes, I gathered that," I sighed heavily, though I couldn't even hear the expulsion of my own breath. "But WHO are they?"

"The bosssesss," Wassel said again, with the same careless shrug. "Theysss be the onesss who runsss this place, isss all."

This place?

Had I been in a better state of mind I may actually have put real effort into pursuing what "this place" is - but I was not in a better state of mind, nor am I now, as I try to recount (as best I can) how this whole journal business started - alas, I suppose I'll just have to write that question down and ask him later.

"Tell me Wassel," I started, slightly confused at the sudden wariness that masked the creature's face. "Do you know why I'm here?"

"Wassssel knowsss why everyone isss here," he replied, pressing his fingertips together to form a peak with is hands.

"And why am I here?"

"To wait," he shrugged.

"Why am I waiting, Wassel?"

"Only you knowsss that," spread his hands out then, palms facing up. "And the bosssesss."

"But I don't! I don't know anything, Wassel. Surely you can give me a straight answer on some subject of my identity?"

"The bosssess know everything. That isss all that mattersss. Wassssel jussst worksss here, but he knowsss sssome thingsss. He findsss thingsss. He findsss sssomething of yoursss."

"That's quite all right," I tried to interject quickly, even as he reached into the folds of his filthy rags. I could feel my stomach churn again, and my skin prickle in an icy sweat as my brain once more conjured up poisonous versions of what dear Wassel could possible produce from regions of his clothing. And yet - if it could shed some light on my situation -

"Ssssshhhhh!" Wassel hissed, clearly not taking "no" for an answer. I tried to think frantically of a way to avoid touching whatever he produced, but save batting it a way with a non-existent femur of some sort, I came up blank. (Odd that now, as I'm writing this, I should think of a femur. It seems to me that cells such as my own should be furnished with such things. The long dead remains of previous occupants, their flesh having rotted away no less than a million years ago. So yes, I suppose a femur would work, but I haven't once. Aside from the pure filth that seems to coat this stone floor, this cell has nothing but the torch, my soon to be corpse, and this blasted journal).

I can still feel the ripple of dread-turned-surprise creep up my spine as Wassel's hand returned from the confines of his rags bearing a rather large, black book. How he fit the damned thing in there without it falling out, or without it showing, is beyond me.though at the moment, many, many things are beyond me.

"A book?" I mouthed incredulously; already picturing myself huddled up near the white, swirling flame of my torch trying to make out the words.

"Not a book!" Wassel snapped, clearly taking offence to my interpretation of "Much more than a book! Thisss isss a JOURNAL!" He cried out with triumph, as though he, Wassel, had invented the concept of the journal, and it was his soul purpose in life to spread its use, starting with the prisoners of this place.

And for all I know, it could very well be the case.

"A journal?" Bloody hell - at that moment, my mind leapt from me trying to make out words in the semi-darkness, to me trying to actually WRITE the words. What a ridiculous concept. I didn't even know if I was literate. Yet if it was MY journal, surely I was literate (apparently I am). Unless I covered the pages in odd stick figure drawings that bear no communicable value what-so-ever.

"A JOURNAL!" he cried out again in triumph.



"Yes, yes I see."

"You mussst take it! You mussst not losssse it again!

"I - thank you, Wassel, though - I can't remember keeping a journal - are you sure it's mine? Why would I even keep one?"

Yes, why? Why, why, why? There are many questions I must tack onto the end of that word. So many.

The man never answered my question, but allowed the empty grin to return to his face as he waved the journal hypnotically in front of his face. Admittedly, I found myself following its movements, and probably drooled a little myself.

Before I became completely lost to whatever trick he was playing, Wassel extended his hand through the barrier of my cell. Yes, THROUGH. I'm sure the surface is solid. I have ventured once to touch it. It is like glass, with no openings anywhere. Yet Wassel reached through it, the journal in that clawed hand of his. I could not move to get it at first. I didn't want to. But I suppose I began to think of the many more hours, days, years, eternities I would be spending in this cell with nothing but my bloody torch to amuse me, and I found myself getting to my knees and crawling in Wassel's direction. Somehow, I made it to my feet, and towered over the man as I reached out tentatively for MY journal.

He cackled with laughter as my hand finally made contact with the leather binding of the 'journal'. His own hand snapped back with such speed that for a moment I wondered (with a still growing sense of dread) if perhaps I have leprosy. I can barely remember what leprosy is, except that it's bad, and that I could very well have it, being locked away with no other human contact, unable to speak or anything else.

Good Gods of the universe - I better not have leprosy - or any other disease. How horrible. Now I surely won't sleep tonight, not that I had any plans to. This is bad - Very bad. Leprosy - just writing the word makes me want to curl up into a ball and die. What am I to do?

Indeed - but I can't think of this - I will go mad. Completely mad. Perhaps I was just too CLEAN for him to fathom allowing physical contact to occur - I know not. Whatever the case may be (and I must tell myself that it ISN'T leprosy. It ISN'T!), as I began to turn away from Wassel, unsure of what to do next, his spoke out again.


I found myself spinning out, clutching my chest from being startled. "What?!"

"What are you going to writesss with?" he cackled, and though I'm sure I hardly deserved it, I felt like a right dolt. "You isss going to have to ussse your own blood. Nasssty busssinessss!"

"I would rather not write at all," I wanted to say, intending only to read what I had written so far - but instead found another object being thrust towards me.

"Not for choking!" Wassel lectured. "No eating and poisssoning! No inhaling! No gouging eyesss out with, or ssstabing anywheresss. Will dissssolve.will not let you do bad thingsss. Wassssel will know. Bosssesss will know. Crayon will know and dissssolve, and yousss will have no more writing in JOURNAL! Will be sssad, and ssso will Wassssel, but bosssesss will laugh and sssay 'TOO BAD!'

His barrage of words was too odd to truly take to heart at first, as he thrust a crayon in my direction. Black, like the JOURNAL - or so it seemed. Blunt, though definitely thick enough to choke on, and hard enough to gouge my eyes out with. I considered smelling it to see if it might actually be poisonous, but for some reason I believed him. There was no way he would give me something to harm myself with.not in a place like this, right? Not in a place where I will soon, undoubtedly, wish for anything, ANYTHING, to get me out of here.

"Keep JOURNAL!" Wassel offered council. "Nothing elssse for you here. Nothing elssse. JOURNAL isss your friend, that isss why he brought it back to you. Wassssel isss too, but only sssometimes -"

"Convenient," I muttered, staring at JOURNAL in one hand, crayon in the other.

"You mussst keep it sssafe," Wassel warned, and I found myself cocking an eyebrow. "Keep it sssafe, and ssspider won't get it!"

I felt my stomach drop at the mention of a spider. I had tried not to think of such a terrifying possibility in this horrible place, but now, as I relay these events to this paper, my fear is brought back ten fold. If there is anything I fear more than spiders on this planet (am I on a planet?), I know not what it is. I sweat ice, I breathe acid, I see blackness, and I taste bile at the mere sight of a tiny arachnid.and I must keep this journal safe from a JOURNAL stealing spider?

Misery. Pure misery. I shall surly die of a heart attack. Die a thousand deaths at the many hands of an eight-legged thief.


I am calm. I am calm. Writing this down helps little, but it is something. Anything.

Wassel said nothing more to me after the spider warning, and I grow tired. I must search my mind for more important things. Questions, I need questions that need answers that need to reach my mind like oxygen. I will write down my questions, yes. Write them down, and when next I see Wassel, I must ask him these questions that he refused to answer when I first asked them.

"Wassel, wait!" I called as he began to walk away. In my hands I held the open journal. Open first to page one. Then page five, ten, and twenty, one hundred and twenty.

Blank - all of it. Not a single page had been written on. I had paid no money for the book, and yet I felt duped. "Wait, there is definitely a mistake!" I called out again. "There is no writing here! This is no journal! It holds nothing! It tells me nothing!"

"Not yet," the creature sang out, never turning to face me as he spoke. He continued to walk away, ignoring me until I could no longer see him.

Gods help me.

a) Who am I?
b) Where am I
c) Why am I here?
d) Who brought me here? The bosses?
e) Who are the bosses?
f) How do I get out of here?
g) Why do I have this ridiculous journal?
h) Can I truly not kill myself with this crayon?
i) Should I try?
j) Perhaps I shall, in a few more hours
k) That wasn't a question.
l) I have run out of questions right now.
m) Perhaps I should sleep
n) Yes. I shall sleep.
o) On the stone floor?
p) AHA! A question!
q) I bet this book would make a better pillow than my arm.
r) I shall find out
s) Right now
t) Gods, I can't sleep, what if the spider comes and tries to take my
u) What if it tries to kill me?
v) Should I consider it a good thing?
w) If this is prison, where was my phone call?
x) Perhaps this is just a dream
y) A very bad dream
z) Wake up!