The Monsters (Excerpt from "Mythic Creatures")
by Jesse S. Mitchell
I slept the night off. I tossed and turned my way out of the madness and left all the dreaming mystery of the night before behind in the crumpled, sweaty bed sheets… all pulled off my side of the bed…all pulled and pooled up. I shuffled my feet along the rough wood floor making two thin little rail-like trails in the thick dust all the way over to my window. I peeled open my eyes fully and yawned and watched all my human pets outside make their movements. No matter what ever happens…to me…or to them…all of them…they are always out there…doing the same things, going around in circles…rushing…rushing. I feel sick. I feel dizzy. I feel thirsty. The hush in the room is claustrophobic and close. I shake my head wildly as if that will make the world a more comfortable place to inhabit…if even it would work for a time. I notice that the sun is already very low in the sky. The color of fire red and sickly sweet crackled yellow is covering everything outside…this means I have slept most of the day away…no regrets with that…a day slept away is a day not lived in this hideous shrieking world. Shrieking world filled with tiny drops of blood…murder…and murders…and mistakes…and the marching Nazis…I saw them blown head clean away still firing into the living breathing breaking dawn…they meant to kill me and they meant to kill away the moon and the sun and all the stars as well if they could…I know. I watch the madness of simplicity unfolding on the streets with my eyes aching and watery. Leah walks up behind me. She leans her head on my back. The warmth of her makes me feel soft. I feel at ease. I yawn and hold out my hand and stare at it and touch the cool glass window.
“Are you awake?”
“Yeah, sorry I slept so late.”
“No problem. Are you going to get ready?”
“What? Oh the thing…at your friend’s place.”
“Yeah, ready to get ready?”
“Sure.” The word leaves my mouth like a sigh…like a whisper but too loud, the word leaves my mouth too loud all together. I am in no way excited about the prospect of this evening. The blue veins, sore, under my skin, rolled around when I placed my fingertips on them. I hurt almost everywhere. Down below on the streets the people passed each other and never looked in the eyes of the faces they met…their blues blind. Some of the people smiled. My stomach growls. My head aches. I wipe a bead of sweat off my brow. My hand hurts. I saw I had been bleeding again through my bandages…most likely as I slept. We are ready to go.
I stumble down the stairs to the apartment we are visiting. I stumble and mumble to myself…I hold Leah’s hand, at times, reaching out completely and grasping hard her arm.
“Ouch!” she whispers. “Why do you grab so hard?”
I laugh. My laughter shocks me and it fully annoys Leah…I want to stop laughing....I need to stop...I should stop...I try to stop laughing. I can only laugh harder. I say it over and over...repeatedly in my mind…stop laughing…stop…stop…stop laughing but it has no effect....no effect. I keep laughing and babbling.
“Grab so hard…always grappling and grasping…do I pull too hard…I may fall…hahahahahahaha…”
“Stop acting so strange…even for you, strange.”
We get to the door and we go through…we move our feet…in steps. We walk through the door…like a portal to another world. The street behind us, a dream, a surreal black and white motion picture musical dream....the street behind me folds up and fades as the heavy oak door slowly closes behind us. We walk through the door into another place…a place of red brick walls and off white splashes of paint…a place of crowds and art and wicked whiffs of sinful living. A place of little candle light flickers of space and time and conversation…a nowhere place of liars and children and genius…where nothing is beautiful unless it is all beautiful. Everything has to be so damned beautiful here…always…or else it all falls apart. I walk barely upright past a tiny tall table covered with a British Union Jack…a threadbare red white and blue tablecloth covered in wine stains and candle wax drips. This red brick, smashed windows place…here where the opiates sizzle in the metal utensils…here where the living half-dead haunt the memories of greater men long gone. There are already several people here…I make my way through the crowd. Like Moses, arms out stretched…Miriam singing behind me…head down so no one could look my in my sunglasses-covered eyes…like Moses of the bulrushes…a shepherd, lord of the field…the magician of Goshen…splitting my way through the secret waves of fools. I walk past the waves of fools breaking on either side of me…barely noticing me…taking drinks…puffing on cigarettes. The sweet scent of grass and tobacco and other things I cannot place, burns my nose. I walk like a ghost through a world, I believe for certain, totally drained of any of the sweet air…breeze…water…light…I ever knew it to hold…drained dry…drained dry and thin and empty. I walk like a ghost through a world made ghostly. My head is down. My neck hurts and I rub the back of it with my cut up hand. I can feel a few stares lingering on the wounds. Monsters everywhere…everywhere I can see, monsters staring at me…ready to pounce. Monsters put here to eat me…eat me alive. I can feel madness creeping up my spine and its dreadful shadow threatens to engulf my mind. I can feel the madness coming on…I need to find Leah. Tied into this machine with all these other lunatics…the feeling stalking my movements…I will come apart in this damned place. I will have to come apart. I must find Leah. I need the touch of her skin. The sky thunders in my mind…thunders and shakes…the storms come on quickly…fires and bombs…I can feel the sweat and sticky…sticky…ah the smiling monsters all around me.