“From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw”
― Edgar Allan Poe
I lose my footing and fall to the ground. These damn stones. My lungs burn. I can hardly breathe. I must go on. Must not look back. On no account must I look back.
When it shows itself so plainly, why would you confront the face of horror?
I know it. No doubt. The monster is behind me. Very near. Its moudly stench searches out my nostrils, fills my lungs with foul air. Disgust rises in me, takes possession of my whole body. I must escape. Escape from out myself. Escape my body. To cease fighting the unavoidable.
A simple thing it would be to stand still. The smallest moment, no more than the time it takes to close an eye, and all would be forgotten. Essentially simple. Yet no, something in me rejects this. Something in me does not want to give in, rather to fight. This small essence battles on. Asserts its somehow necessary existence. My legs run, powered by the inherent survival instinct shared by all living things.
Naked survival instinct – it is this that compels me not to give up, compels me to run across this desert of sand and stone. Such heat. A relentlessly blazing sun seeks to liquefy the stones. Yet long before this my skin will fall victim to its fire.
I burn. My lungs. My skin. Flames ravish. I smell charred flesh. My flesh. I cannot go on. I cannot walk further. I must walk further.
Yes. I will choose the moment of my death: now, I will die.
My eyes. They deceive me, as they have so often – a trick. A white house before me. Standing there, as though it has done nothing else but to stand in the middle of a desert, waiting. Waiting for what?
A Fata Morgana? What should a house wait for here? In the midst of nowhere. I must be dreaming. Is everything merely dream? Is death itself a unique dream? Was that it all? A house? Nothing more? Is death waiting inside? For me? Yes, do wait for me, please. For I am coming. My legs cannot carry me faster, but I shall soon be with you. Just these steps up to the veranda. Now is not a time to stumble.
A monstrous shadow over me. The maw opens wide. The creature is nearly upon me, about to devour me, yet it is its sickly breath that drives me on, gives me the necessary strength to rip open the door, to plunge headlong into the innards of the house. With a profound thud the door slams shut behind me.
I listen. Around me it is still. The beast appears to have no intention to burst through the door. I lean myself against it. Nothing. All quiet. Not even a scratching. No rasping breath. Nothing. Does it give up so easily? Am I worth nothing to him? Is there more behind? Am I merely one prey of many? A curious feeling of jealousy slides over me, into me.
‘Did you see the monster?’
To be continued