The color of blood had always fascinated him, and it seemed the more there was of it, the more striking its appeal.

So it came as no surprise to him when he awoke last Saturday with hands stained in the scarlet substance. He didn't know who or what the blood belonged to- he had long since stopped caring –but it continued to play on his interest throughout the day.

When he came home from work, it was still on his mind. He didn't know for certain why, but this blood seemed very personal to him. He knew it was vain to recall what had happened that night, since all he could remember was a disconnected series of images, mostly violent, so he satisfied himself with forgetting about it and eating some steak at the diner down the street.

His walk home from the diner frustrated him. He hadn't liked his steak- it was too well done, almost warm, in fact, around the edges. And the waiters all seemed to ignore him again when he tried to talk to them, so he felt no shame in leaving a quarter for a tip.

He sighed at the monotony of his life. The grey buildings in the distance seemed to trickle towards him in the fog, creating an aggravating sense of something pressuring him. It was always foggy and rainy on this side of town, he realized. It had been weeks since he had seen the sun; most unusual weather, even for early winter.

Finally he arrived at his apartment building, a lovely shade of crimson that stood sharply contrasted from the other black buildings in the neighborhood. Up the stairs he went again, thoroughly exhausted. He managed to throw off his scarf before he collapsed on his twin-sized mattress, exhaling in exasperation and curling into a ball with his trench coat pulled over him for warmth.

He no longer feared what happened to him at night. He was so accustomed to it that it seemed to him almost like a guest staying at a hotel; he knew it would be gone in the morning, and whatever business it had would go with it. At first, he would panic and have breakdowns, crying and yelling at himself in the corner, but after punishing himself severely at the first sign of collapse, he learned better.

So the swampiness overtook him, like a murky drain that swallowed him and shoved him down strangely shaped tubes and pipes. After what seemed like moments, he awoke again, sweating and bloody.

"Well," he thought to himself with a sigh, "I had better wash up before I go to work."