He had no idea how he got there, or how everything now is just a still frame. All that was visible was his bloodied arms, an electronic watch on his left wrist, and million of shattered glasses in front of his face, and the road up front where a lonely sedan motionlessly lying with a lazy road signal. Displays of shops and cafés can be seen all around.
All of his senses were wide awake. A sobriety so harsh that even hundred cups of coffees would fail to produce the same effect. There is a glass splinter dug deep in his right hand. He can feel it. He can feel the pain, he can feel the serrated edges of the splinter tearing through the fibres of his flesh, splitting his shattered bones and crushing his capillaries. Globules of blood standing frozen around his injured hand. The next piece for an abstract art installation. He never felt a pain like that before: excruciating, deadly, silent pain. Electrochemical signals from his neck, spine, leg and hands are slowly drifting towards his brain. He has a lot to endure, and pain is the major villain. He wish that it'd be something that can be accustomed to, but no. It is a something that only doubles in magnitude, leaving you ever weaker.
He can hear, to some extent, a low hum of no known origin. All that has filled his ears was this hum, and nothing else. A hum so quite no one would notice it. If silence ever uttered a sound, then this would be it. The idea of silence having a sound has crossed the mind of this boy an infinity number of times. And what's an oxymoron? But the hum was not always faint. This hum would become so loud it would hurt his ears. More electrochemical signals to swallow. It was like an old stereo playing an empty cassette, where an invisible hand from beyond the void turning the knob up, second by second, increasing the volume. Its volume increases slightly over time and then completely goes back to its imperceptible state, giving the boy a frame of reference to measure the passing of the time.
Brightness never waned. It was always bright, and the colours were fresh and vivid. It was a bright clear day. Luckily, his eyes were just a few inches away from the rays of the searing sun, otherwise, he'd also feel the slow death of his cones and rods. Sometimes the colour, just like the hum, did not sit still. The world would become so bright, that it'd makes his eyes throb from the pain.
Where is he? Why is he suspended in the air like that? Is it this the purgatory? The fifth circle of hell? He wondered. He thought of every possibility he could with his limited knowledge.
Being an ordinary teenager, with ordinary urges and ordinary wants, he had no interest in philosophy, but now he had all the chance to ask questions. What is time and what is existence? But there is nothing to feed his hungry brain and this left him with only one thing in mind, and that is he doesn't have knowledge. There is nothing to satisfy him intellectually, and he had to come up with something that is both sound and valid.
He was ready to jump in the next bus that would take him to the arcades. He loved the arcades. He'd spend all of his money to buy more tokens to play Fighter And Sorcerer. But this time around, he will never arrive to his destination.
There wasn't anything atypical that Sunday morning. He woke up like he would for any day. Had a good bowel movement, a shower and a hearty breakfast of egg and bacon. He kissed his mother, waved to his dad and rushed to the bus stop. He had his little portable cassette player with him, nodding and tapping to a mix tape of fantasy metal. He stood a bit farther away from the stop, and as soon as the bus stopped, he slipped in without bothering to pay or look at where he sat. Sunday Bus drivers were already too tired to bother themselves with those pesky mall punks, and it was best to leave them than to build a headache.
He was busy listening to his Draconian Cave Master's track to bother looking with whom he sat with, but the light-reflecting linen attracted his interest. It was a young man wearing a robe or a toga of some kind. He looked at the man and all he thought was a peach with sandy blond hair on top of twisted tissue paper.
The man, with a smiling face, glanced at him and immediately went back to his sightseeing. The boy maintained his gaze at the whitely draped man. He thought for a minute that this man might be a LARPER. The kid loves these kind of things. His pocket money always went into buying assortment of Computer and Tabletop Games, especially those fantasy games. Books and games recounting the tales of Warlocks and Wizards are piled in his room. Those are the things that interested the boy.
He took off his yellow headphone and drew a short breath.
"Excuse me," said the boy.
The man looked at the boy sitting next to him.
"Yes," said the man, in the most humble manner possible.
"Are you a LARPER by any chance?" Said the boy.
"No," said the man, who apparently knows nothing of what the boy is enquiring.
"Why are you dressed like this?'
"Well, I am supposed to be Jesus," said the man. The boy looked like he is about to burst in laughter. Before he'd do the enforced laughter. He looked around. And there were people in all weird and ancient costumes.
"We are staging a play in a church, you see. That's why I am wearing this costume," said the man.
"I see," said the kid.
"Say, are you going to the church," said the man.
"No, why do you ask?"
"Why don't you go to the church?" Asked the man.
"I don't like it," the kid replied.
"Well, you should like it. It is a place of contemplation. It will calm and release you from all the troubles," said the man.
"It's the least you could do. Visit his house and chant his name, glorified be his name," the man did not even took a breath.
"Yeah?" Said the boy.
"Yeah. I mean, he made this whole universe just for you. And he died for your sins! You do believe in God, right?"
"Church is a wonderful place. You can meet up with all kinds people sharing a common belief."
"Why don't you come with us to the church, instead of basking in sin and living a vain life!"
"That's an awesome proposition," said the boy.
"Well, what do you say?" Asked the man in the calmest possible way, waving his hand.
"Sorry, dude. Just not today," answered the boy.
"All right, but you only have a short life. You might regret these decisions," said the surfer Jesus, raising an eyebrow and waving his index finger.
"Thanks, but I will take my chances."
"Well, here is our stop," said the man, before he'd leave the seat.
All the people in the costumes left the bus, one by one. And the Jesus figure turned back and grinned to the kid. The kid just nodded, as he felt the man was friendly enough to grant him his approval. The watch in his hand displayed the time; it was six hours and twenty six minutes into the morning, and the sun began its daily walk above the Earth. He caught up the first bus that's on its route. White stripes painted the sky, as early flights rushed to far cities. The bus fluorescent lights has flooded its interior, aiding the cool, strange and dreamlike atmosphere that has infused itself in the bus. All the better for him. You won't find kids like him. All boys his age sit down, stock up in brewed malt and bleached cooked taters and have an all night stand in front of the T.V, only to doze off at dawn's break. Rarely you would find someone who would sleep right after nine o'clock news. Thanks to his behaviour, his parents are now waking up as early as he did. Early birds that gets the worm you could say, but this little bird ended up as a prey.
The driver of the bus does not seem to have a love for rushing into the day, and it took a full twelve minute to get to the nearest stop. The slow pace of the alien world is a good motivator to shut the eyes and escape back to the dream world, which has been calling him since his awakening. He lowered the music a bit, and sat on the windows seat, embracing his head with his arm and finally fell victim to Hypnos. Everything was grey, and hazy figures were shuffling into a suburban house, and creating a fuss in the neighbourhood by screaming at each other to the top of their lungs. The scene then turned into a mountain road, that it looks like it is in some familiar East Asian country. He saw himself walking down on a highway road, in the middle of the desert. Desert weeds, cacti and rocky hills is all he could see. His throat felt so dry he wasn't even able to chuckle, his parched lips bled from its cracks and his eyes couldn't bare the sunlight. He could see a mirage upfront, and he could see the sweltering heat, producing shadows on the road. He tilted his head. Squinting, he finally gave a look at the Arizonan sun. It was the same old sun. It wasn't as much as bright as the way he thought it would be, but it hurt just as the same if he'd looked at a real sunlight. The sun rays transformed into red beams, and the sun itself became a red giant. An electronic music from the Seventies' space documentaries replaced his thrashing music. What a catchy tune. The red beam became a blank screen. Diamond shaped crystal and paisley fractals replaced the desert. The crystals shot spectral beams to his eyes, just as exactly the sun would. His body, grew heavier and his breathes stronger. The world melted and washed away into a bright fresh red womb-like landscape, it was the light blocked by the eyelid's thin membrane. The far future space music turned back into medieval goblin heavy metal.
The eyelids gaped involuntarily, allowing the sun-gazing eye to shift. Ah, what a pleasant pain he thought. It was one of the few pleasurable pains enjoyed by mankind, but too much of it and the man will lose his most precious senses. He opened his mouth to let a new batch of oxygen, whilst raising his arm to work out his tender muscles and tendons. He glimpsed at his electronic watch, and his eyes widened. It was half past ten. He looked out of the window, it was the far end of the city. The bus driver didn't do anything to wake the kid up. Why bother? The boy briskly stood up, and waited the next bus stop to come, to take ride the first one to come to take him back to arcades. He thought that the sleep was worth it. Only great vivid dreams come in the early onset of the day. He had already forgotten the previous dreams, but the image of the desert stayed with him. He smiled, remembering the unexpected encounter with the Jesus dude. What a fun day.
He sat down for the bus to come, and planned to utilize the same tactic he did this morning, and it gladly worked for him again. The bus layout's wasn't much different than the one before it. He wanted to go and sit all the way in the back, in the raised platform seats, but there was a seedy looking man. A man in a hood, muffled with a scarf, in the end of the spring. Instead of going there, and annoy the thirsty creeper, he sat exactly where he sat before. He tried to raise the volume of the cassette player, but before it could completely shut his ear, he heard the man coughing and grumbling to himself. Now, all he could hear is his Knights Of Dirkshire. He raised the volume so he won't sleep again. His mall is just three bus stops away. He did wanted to wait to the last minute, he stood up near the front door, and stowed his player and its accompanying headphone in his pocket. Awaiting for the bus stop to come to him. The bus, out of the whim, started to speed up. "What the hell!" Exclaimed the driver. The bus did did not heed the commands of the driver. The boy, still maintaining his position, became shocked at this new discovery. And from no where, something collided the tail of the bus. Something faster and heavier than the bus?
The forces of motion, flung the kid out to the front window, shattering the sturdiest glasses in the industry into pieces. And there he remained. He remembers. He remembers what happened that day. Was it today? He cannot tell. He doesn't know what made him go like this. What went wrong? He cannot remember much. He cannot see much. He is losing his memories, by each passing moment, and so did his sanity. Having no person to talk to, and no new information to absorb. The brain sets out to make its own reality to contain it. Lose touch with reality, forget reality. That's what the brain has been telling him. Absurd observation of a mystic replaced the enquiring mind of a rationalist. Does a six faced die become a shy faced honeycomb? The sharpest hallucination echoed in his head. Pre-recorded vivid dreams were replayed in his brain. No, this is no place to tell the difference between a dream and a hallucination, the lines between them has been carefully blurred by the childish brain.
Once again, his eyes gaped. But there was no warm sun to welcome him. It was a cold fluorescent light. He woke up in an hospital bed. He took a long gasp as though as he had been under the water for decades. His parents were around him, all sobbing at the happy revelation. He is finally awake. Will he remember them? His mother hurried to the side of the bed to embrace him. But she did not stood too close to his face, she did not kissed his forehead. He was happy. It was a coma. It was all a dream. All relieving emotions showed up, but only the tears of joy were absent. He looked at his family. None of them looked at him, save for his mother. For a mother loves transcends body. All of them were gazing somewhere. All of them avoided eye contact with him. After years of silence, he tried to say something. He wanted to say something. But it came into him, and it came into him really hard. He screamed. "I want a mirror!" He cackled, struggling to utter through a dry throat that hasn't broke the silence since time unknown. The parents refused to oblige to his request. He stood up, and they all tried to keep him calm, and to bound him to the bed. They knew it was a matter of time, so why not now? He saw right through their ploy and what they are trying to hide. Their creased faces betrayed them. He stood up. He walked towards the room's glass that's beside the door. His heart was beating faster than a frightened cage bird. His reflection became clearer as he drew himself near to the glass window. He saw his face through the bandages covering his face. A hairless, toothless, dried off, inflamed bulbous infant face, gleaming from moistening creams. He tried to cry, but his tear ducts has been irreversibly damaged. His mother tried to approach him once more, but the kid sped away as soon as the mother wanted to embrace him. He left out to the ward. He wasn't imagining it. He touched his face, and he reaffirmed that he indeed had a toad-like skin. He ran off down the stairs and out to the streets. His father and some nurses followed the escaping child.
The outside wasn't better. He took a long look around. Each element maintained its position firmly. This can't be happening, he thought. His father came to a halt, along with the nurses, in front of the hospitals door, screaming the name of his only dear son and waving him to come back. What is keeping him from coming out, pondered the child. He did not care, and he went out to the street, and finally veered into the city. A morning's rush hour jam only heightened the perception of emotionless. He went in, from block to block, looking for a place to run, and a place to hide his hideous visage. And there, he saw it. It was the crumpled bus! It was him! He went on to look at himself. What made him look so hideous? He looked at his face that looks like as it has been pounded by thousands of hammers. A literal representation of a bloody pulp. His arm, looked like a limp rubber. It's the same car facing them. He went around the bus, to see what punished them, and what turned a nine tonne vehicle into a tin accordion.
He fell to his knees from looking at this thing. He dropped on all four on the debris. "This is a dream. This is a dream. This is a dream," he muttered to himself. That thing is none other than his own face. A giant newborn head wrapped in sixty metres of wet bandage. He stood up, gawking at this thing. He wanted to touch this thing, but he had no courage. Out of habit, he tried to brush his hair, but all that brushed his fingers was his wet crispy scalp. "No," is all what he said while shaking his head. He writhed, twisted and soiled his gown. He couldn't handle it any more. He looked at this baby giant face again. and he noticed something. A giant dilated eye gaze was fixed at him. He gulped. Of all the things that just happened, he turned around pretending not seeing any of that. He knows that something is amiss, and there is nothing he could do to fix it. At this point, all he had to do is to move as far away as he could from that flesh statue with the moving eyes. And he increased his pace at every second, and before he realize it, he was panting and running at his maximum ability, telling himself not to look back. He felt it. He remembers this feeling from back in the old world. That feeling when someone has their eyes scanning every inch of you, and turn to look, only to find out that they just averted their eyes away from you, and you were right all along. He ran from street to street, and block to block, hoping not to see himself, or his floating face. But he broke the only rule he imposed on himself: That face is in few feet behind him! He sprinted. He run in short steps. barefooted on sole tearing asphalt. His eyes was on the street ahead, continuing doing what he was doing. That thing, that was following him all the way, moaned. Its moan sounded like a whale cross-bred with a nocturnal mammal. This sent shivers down to his spine, as no such abomination should exists or that even if it did, make that kind of grotesque bellowing.
He run farther down. What a beautiful day. Cloudy, but the sun still strikes the earth. The concrete forest of skyscrapers became apartments. The apartments became little houses. And the houses became shacks. The pasture became a wasteland. He revisits the old place, the highway road. How nostalgic. And through out his trip, that thing was still behind him, still moaning. The boy's legs failed him, and fell right on his face, crushing it again. He bled from his toothless gum and the from two slanting vertical slits. His green gown turned brown from all of the seeping fluids. He looked behind to see what happened to his umbilical twin. It too bled, with a bloody gum, and bloody nose, crying from the bloodshot eyes. Its cries no longer resembles that of a monsters, but that of an newborn infant. He lied down, and sprawled on hot tarmac, looking at this thing. "What are you going to do?" Said the exhausted little body. The face stopped crying like an infant, and it looked like as if it is about to sleep. The giant face yawned. However, that yawn did not drew in air, but yielded another giant baby from its largest orifice. It did not looked a lot different from its creator, except it wasn't bandaged, had a softer skin and a lot more wet. The newcomer also started to do the same, while the original is summoning a few more. They multiplied in number. Eight heads became sixteen, and sixteen heads became thirty two.
They covered the whole desert. After some while, they stopped producing. Each new head had its own unique sound to emit. One of them screamed like a church organ, while another one cried like a car horn. One was a whale, and the other was an elephant, greeting each other by touching their temples. Another couple greeted by picking each other's swollen lips, as they cocked sideways. It's their way of communication. Their blaring wails disturbed him. He raised his head, focusing his eyes on the school that swam towards the horizon. He tried to count from nine to zero, but he doesn't remembers the correct sequence or what digit comes after. He tried to construct a sentence and read it out loud to himself, but he couldn't do one which is correct. He was befuddled out of his mind. Few of the heads started to battle out, while others came to watch the underground blood sport. They were social animals with a complex strata. Another bunch tried to fly and challenge the gravitational pull. But new ones kept on emerging from the bandaged head.
Some immeasurable time has passed, and the desert developed into a sea. Some of the heads died, and left mounds of pink flesh and fractured chitin to wander on. The sky is permanently purple from the miasma fumed by the dead. The desert with the heads became a large country. They each formed their own unique municipality, their own culture and society. They waged war, and quickly formed peace treaties and trade contracts with each other. But the boy did not waver and no longer was bothered by them, as he observed the slow colonization of the desert by the deformed heads that looked like him. The bandaged one did not change its location nor its function. It was uncaring and cold to the situation outside of its boundary, while more abominations gushed out of its mouth. When it will this be over? Asked the boy. Finally, a sane question. The bandaged head's eyes shifted from left to right, up to down, all around and quivered and stopped at where the boy sat.
The boy noticed the peeping head. It tried to close its mouth, but the heads are trying to set themselves free. One head managed to skip out, but the next head struggled to squeeze out as the bandaged head closed off its only exit. It yawned one more time, and shook convulsively and then piercingly screeched. This deafening and violent howl caught the attention of the heads. They all turned their mass to see what might be causing this commotion. It's the mother, it is calling them. Like iron towards magnet, the slowly flew back to it. As they congregated, they aligned so as they create a dome around the boy. The light was going out. The head, or a thousand of angry bulls, breathed on the disoriented boy. All attempt is futile against fate, one could say. He felt that his body weighed a tonne. He couldn't lift a muscle, and succumbed to a fetal position. His eyes closed, and the head's breathes got colder on his naked body. All of It is fading, finally.
He hopes that it is the light from the windows in the bus or the window of his house, and wishes that it is all was temporal dream. It took seconds for the eye adjust to the bright light. He grinned, cried and died inside. His stupefaction sobered him. It is the same, bright fresh place where he always was suspended in air. His crushed left hand, and his torn right hand extended their own arms to greet him. And the car in front of him smiled. The demonic hum and the alien bright light welcomed him like a good old friend. He got nothing to say, and there is nothing he could do to help himself out of this; he accepted his new role as the test subject of fate.
And fate ruptured his sanity. New weirder hallucinations and new dreams. Sometimes, they were recurring. And every time, they were slightly different. A giant phallic extrusions instead of giant heads. Brown sludge instead of blood. This has utterly destroyed him. Once sanity is gone, that human, with his hopes and dreams, goes with it. It will be a pitiful biological phenomenon that moans when it tastes pain, and jiggles when it savours pleasure. He is dead and frozen.