I didn’t understand. I had those floaty things. My teacher said everyone did. An artifact of our eyes developing, or something like that. I guess he’d been told the same thing, but it did him little good. His parents were concerned, of course, and they brought him to ophthalmologists who were all in agreement: his eyes were fine. When he denied the experts’ claims and doubled down on his insistence that something was wrong, his worried parents got him into therapy.
I guess the therapist helped him a little bit. Malcolm’s paranoia seemed to diminish somewhat and his anxious habits like twitching and blinking weren’t as pronounced. That was good – a lot of kids made fun of the way he blinked. He told me it helped push the things out of sight for a couple seconds.
This city is on no one’s map. If it had ever been, those people have long since died. As have their children. And grandchildren. And great grandchildren. And great-great grandchildren. And so on.
Nonetheless, here the city stands. My source was right. My money was well spent. These ancient structures are black tombs. We’ve set up our camp on the outskirts. The city is far too cold.
September 10th, 2016
Charles kept watch while I slept. He claimed to see no signs of life, but sounds kept him constantly alert. Soft sounds. Soft, wet, and unimposing. Sounds which drifted in and out at the limits of audibility, as if they were whispers, but windblown and damp – redolent of dying breaths and last words.
I heard nothing. My sleep was as black as the structures ahead of us. No sounds penetrated the dreamless morass. For a brief moment upon waking, I believed to have been dead.
Don’t pretend this is anything other than a suicide note. You are reading the words of a dead man whose body may still be warm.
For the last 40 years, I’ve been terrorized by the squirming man. At this moment, his name means nothing to you. If you wish for that to continue, stop reading now.
The squirming man first visited when I was six. I was in the shower. When I’d finished and pulled back the curtain, he was standing there. Waiting. Before I could scream, my mouth was filled.
To describe the squirming man is to revisit decades of trauma. Regardless, I need to be strong and write about him. I don’t want him to be a mysterious figure. I want my knowledge of him to be out there. I want people to know he exists. People should be ready if he visits them; I have no doubt he will once I’m gone.
First of all, get your mind out of the gutter. “Lollipop” isn’t a euphemism for anything else. This is serious.
It’s been like this since I was a kid. I’d never thought about telling anyone because I worried people would think I was either nuts or gay; where I live, those two labels carry similar stigmas.
To be honest, I’m only mentioning it now because it’s starting to get really weird.
First, let me just give you an example of how this all normally works. I work at a pediatrician’s office, so, of course, there are lots of lollipops to go around. I was finishing up my shift when I felt my blood sugar tanking a bit, so I grabbed a Dum Dums mystery flavor lollipop, unwrapped it, and popped it in my mouth. I love the mystery flavors. They’re just so….mysterious.
Recalling the sensation of my eyes bursting before they turned to ash is the only feeling of comfort I can extract from that moment last year.
I was walking my dog on the beach near my home. The beach had been closed for the season because of a toxic algae bloom. The woods in my backyard let out to the beach, though, and I knew enough to stay away from the water.
Parker and I were finishing up when I heard splashing near the shore. I glanced over and saw what appeared to be a school of fish trapped under the thick, algal sludge. I was surprised; the water was supposedly hypoxic from the algae. I assumed the fish would stay away.
The splashing persisted as we walked by. Parker growled. I was concerned, since he never showed any aggression of any sort since we’d gotten him neutered. But as the splashing grew louder and the water grew increasingly turbid, Parker’s growls became ferocious and he started to bark and pull at his leash.
The lights in the sky were a diversion. We should have looked down.
November 20th, 2016
In a matter of days, the following terms will have meaning to everyone in the world:
That which grows through our heels.
That which tastes our skin.
That which fills our pores.
That which empties.
November 21st, 2016
Laura is dead. Gus is dead. Mohammad is dead. Nes is dead.
November 22nd, 2016
Where can one go when everywhere is a trap waiting to be sprung? I feel as if I’m navigating an endless minefield, with every step having the potential to be my last. Everyone is staring at the sky with hope in their eyes. Everyone is going to die.
When I was a kid, I used to play games like “The Floor is Lava” with my brother, Greg. I didn’t like it too much. Greg was far more athletic than I. Older, too. He’d do all these graceful steps and great, balletic leaps that were way beyond anything my pudgy body could do. When I’d fall and lose the game, he’d gloat for a while and then we’d go off and play something else.
My neighbor, Mr. Clayton, would always watch us from the other side of the fence that separated our backyards. Mom said to stay away from him, but she couldn’t stop the guy from watching us play. He seemed harmless, if not a little weird. We didn’t pay him much attention. All afternoon, he’d watch us run races or throw the football around, only leaving his place behind the fence if he wanted to refresh his drink. Every so often, Greg would say, “hi Mr. Clayton” and give a big, exaggerated wave. Mr. Clayton just smiled awkwardly and looked down at the ground. To be honest, I felt a little bad for the man.
On an afternoon in late June, right after we’d gotten out of school and the day after Greg’s 15th birthday, he and I were roughhousing outside. We did that often. Even though he was older and taller, because of my extra heft, we were roughly the same weight. He was still much stronger and more agile, though, so he always got the better of me and pinned me down. After another win by Greg, he had me helpless on the ground while he crowed over me. While I waited for him to get off, I glanced over to the side. I could see Mr. Clayton watching us with rapt attention. His right shoulder was moving back and forth. Even though I was 11, I had a pretty good idea what he was doing.