Ashes and Ghost

I

He awoke to the sound of grey rain pattering on the roof. It was the dream. The same dream again.

As if from above, he saw the fire of the Burning Machine. It made tinny reflections in the black metal of the room. Echoing sounds. Faces? The face of that boy.

He lay staring at the ceiling for who knows how long before getting up. The grit of the unvacuumed floor ground into the soles of his naked feet. He gave a few absentminded combs to his hair before giving up altogether, walking to the kitchen.

Dark and unlit hallways opened up to the cracked linoleum of his kitchen. There, sitting on a small saucer was the dry toast he hadn't eaten the day before. Holding it in his hand, he brought it up to his face. It tasted stale and bitter in his mouth. As he chewed he could feel pressure by the side of his mouth where an embryonic pimple was coming to life. He imagined how he would itch at it and push it until it began its pus-fueled exile out of the pores of his skin.

All of a sudden, he dropped the piece of toast and ran to the washroom. He barely made it in time, vomiting viciously in the porcelain bowl. Green bile was mixed with the crusty toast and assorted other bits of things. As he continued to heave, he thought he heard someone knocking on the front door. Again he heaved, his eyes bulging and stomach cramping, and the knocking, and he heaved, and hands cold clutching the seat of the toilet.

Beyond all sickness now, and beyond all words, he flushed the toilet, sitting back on his heels. Then he got up and washed his hands and face. He walked calmly and smoothly towards the door. He opened it and stared out, but nothing met his blinking eyes. Nothing.

He grabbed his sad backpack and an umbrella, heading out into the pathetic drizzle of rain, passing lanes and houses, grey looking hedges and mossed-over chain-link fences, walking to school in the stillborn morning light.