Step by step I felt myself numbing out.

Over that month I had learnt how to forget. I had lived in perfect silence and I had almost lost myself completely. Not by my own volition, however. No. All of these things just happened completely on their own.

Step by step by bleeding step, I edged forward. Almost one whole month of solitude. The hardened soles of my naked feet met the cooling, cracked earth with heavy, careless steps. My gnarled toes felt the floating grooves on the ground and enjoyed feeling the small plates crumble with every football. It was like the feeling of fresh snow grinding underfoot. Apart from the incessant pounding heart and sluggish wheeze of my breaths, the soft crunch of dried dirt was the only thing my ears embraced.

Step by step.

It was just me.

Well, an "ever-diminishing me".

The first two weeks had me trudging through miles of thick, tenebrous forest. It was twelve days of solid bracken and bullshit. I bore the marks of its treacherous nature, their crimson impressions now a shiny pink blush. I could vividly remember the sheer delight in realising that the trees were beginning to thin. They petered out into an open plane; the very same plane that — at this point in time - I had been dragging myself over for around nine and a half days. Step by agonising step. Ironically enough, no matter how many steps I took away from the forest, I would never get an inch away from it as it never really left my side. On either side, in fact. Looming — a very real presence. To my utter bemusement, the forest never opened up to the plane at all. The plane simply pierced its darkness, making it divide and stretch out like two verdant, outstretched limbs awaiting an embrace; waiting to wrap me up in its deathly calm once again.

Forest to my left and to my right, a long strip of dead, golden dusty expanse long in my wake and who knows how far before me. Every now and again I'd come across a small patch of grass poking out of the sandy ground and it would drive me wild. I could never quite put my finger on why, though. These small spells of anxiety were set off by just about anything: light breezes, the crepitant trees. Safe to say, I wasn't in good stead. My mind was slowly entering a feral state. I was feeling less human by the second.

But why was I all the way out there in this wilderness? A city-dweller limping over that sun-bleached strip, performing the same perpetual movement over and over and over and over. Monotonous. Torturous. Tortuous. What reason could drive a man this far? What brand of desire could create such madness?

At that time I couldn't quite remember. I remember feeling this pulsating, shapeless anger throwing itself against the walls of my mind. Seemed enough of a motive for me, though.

Anger. What excellent power it possesses. Anger is always this great motivator. It affords us this godlike stubbornness to ignore pains and limits and all of these other things that should slow us down and give us time to think. Some people may tell you that this was hard-headedness, but don't you listen to them. It's anger-turned-passion.

And passion!

Oh dear, sweet, unrelenting passion! Such a wondrous thing.

Passion is one thing that can't be argued nor reasoned with.

Days passed and the nights wore me thin.

Neither by the white blare of the sun, nor the delicate, silvery touch of the moon, did I feel truly safe. Out in the open and alone for twelve day now; soldiering on, seeking some sort of bitter vengeance — one that had lost all manner of rhyme and reason. It had lost its very shape. Something inside me caught onto this putrid feeling and drove it deep within my mind; down winding channels, of the likes I had never known. This Something had opened up these channels, finding some invisible switch and bringing them to light. They somewhat resembled a network of gloomy corridors lined with countless open doorways. I would approach these doorways with caution and they would silently seal shut as I neared.

Step by step.

These mysterious doorways held a part of me that I had once held dear. I could still feel them. Childhood memories. My first kiss. Even my own name had become estranged to me within these nightmarish walkways. As I delved further, pieces of me would flake off and dissolve into the sparse-lit ether.



I delved even deeper and became wrapped, almost caught in this shroud of wonder and bewilderment; feeling lost. More and more, I had felt myself fading away; gradually leaving myself behind: piece by piece. Shedding off a fleeting psyche, an old skin; the one which was falling behind. Shedding off the dead weight to reveal something more raw, more essential; something that could actually cope. This Something was cherishing these perpetual motions, mindlessly propelling me forward with a diligent ignorance to the stark, stagnant surroundings.

This Something would keep its host alive.

Even by shredding it to pieces.

An incredibly necessary evil.

Step. Step…

On I soldiered.

On and on.

Sparsely clothed, I limped through the rising clouds of dust. My thoughts few and far between. In my mind, their loose ends teased me; promising entrance to the doorways they led to. They crept up on me, staying just out of sight, blooming into swathes of sanguine red that I had acquired such a growing hunger for.

The worst thing about it was that they possessed some kind of voice; a mesh of unclear sound that stalked the hallways. A cacophony that I could make no sense of. Long alien murmurs spreading through the darkness, rolling by and moving like a rising tide. Then it would go out again.

It was a brilliant pulsing soundscape.

But there was something else there.

One thing that I could make out.

A word.

It came so close to me, it brought me to a halt.


Once this word had meant something to me.

Something so truly important.

It brought back strains of bilious anger.


I knew it as a name.

I held it so dear.

My left foot fell out of cycle and — for the tiniest of moments — I felt pain. A wonderful, searing pain that, as unbearable as it likely was, was quickly shut out by an unshakable fixation on the horizon.

Wheezing and gasping, my tongue begged for a lick of water. Just a drop. A solitary drop. It was firmly pressed against the roof of my mouth. It had developed the habit of rubbing up against with its coarse surface to remind me it was there; to tell me it was high time to careen off into one of the tree-lines - either one - whichever side had the sun shining on it. At night, I would go thirsty: standing firmly in the centre of the clearing and watch the shadows dart between the trees. Every now and again they would stop and little beady eyes would catch onto the light of the moon. Dangerous or not: only a fool would find out. Leaving the sanctuary of the bloodshot moon that hung over was never in contention.

With every step this damning Something grew stronger. Adopting its own mind and character. Peeling away my remnants, mercilessly discarding whatever it saw fit. Whatever it saw to be weak.

With each damning step, a small part of myself fell away. A skin shed and trodden into the beaten track.

On the thirteenth day, the part of me watching on as my body was being treated as a vessel — the minute part of me that was left — was all but ready to give up.

And on the thirteenth day, I finally reached the end of the clearing and never saw the likes of it again.

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