Dream of Death
He had been awake three days. He had measured the time down to the hour. 72 hours, no rest but plenty of stimulants. He stared into his own reflection in the shiny surface of the screen. Darkness started to surround his head as his vision began to tunnel. His eyes closed, welcoming the warm bosom of sleep as it enveloped him..
The streets were devoid of life. The wind blew, trying to rouse some life into a tattered newspaper. But the newspaper refused to move. This disturbed him deeply.. this place with its wide streets and gleaming buildings, was dead. The smells were stale. The windows reflected the image of other windows, creating a spacious hall of mirrors. He noticed there were no signs of humanity, no cars or buses, he looked back and even the newspaper was gone. Had he imagined it? Had his own mind manipulated him into thinking it existed just to stir up this anxiety he felt. His dread grew. Feeling a presence he spun around in time to watch a red balloon drifting away. The wind had already given up and the string hung straight down as the balloon drifted upward. He focused on the string. It was white, made of a white plastic ribbon. He scrutinized the ribbon's surface as it move upward, curling and curving in an aesthetically pleasing way. The end that would normally tie around a child's wrist or the handle of a stroller came into view, and a tightness clinched his heart. The knot and loop were tied in a perfect noose. He reached out and gently held the knot between his thumb and index finger. Brows furrowed, he twisted it. His attention was called away by a distant crash. It sounded like a trash lid hitting the pavement. He refocused on the ribbon. The knot was no longer in his grip, the ribbon hung free. The freed balloon drifted away. The dangling end had the noose now, while the end in his hand was smooth and perfect. This jarred him severely, and he dropped the ribbon, expecting it to crawl away, hissing. The ribbon laid still, showing no signs of possession. He stepped on it firmly, producing a distinct snapping plastic sound. Teeth clinched he twisted the toe of his shoe into it, fraying that length of ribbon. As he turned and walked away he measured his pace, as if to not give away his flight from the horrid ribbon and companion balloon. Somewhere a bell tolled. It irritated his ears, and although it had rung out only once, it insisted on reverberating in his head. He held his ears and continued walking. His sanity screamed to be let free. For a moment he blacked out. When his vision cleared he found himself leaning heavily against a granite faced wall. He turned his neck back to look where he had been. The place he had left the ribbon was mere feet away, the ribbon, like the bell, had both ceased existing in his mind. He breathed a thankful sigh to whatever deity had rescued him from his plight. He looked forward, narrowing his eyes to bring some clarity to his mind. He breathed deeply, trying to supply his body with oxygen from the stale air. There was a bus stop. Maybe twenty feet away, it had glass or plastic walls and metal roof that shielded a simple bench. There was a girl.. no it was a woman, and she was sitting on the bench, reading. Finally, human contact. He carried himself carefully to the bus stop. He examined the woman as he approached. His first fear was she may be an illusion, his second was she might flee upon noticing him. She was wearing a ruffled white bouse covered in a tan blazer and matching skirt. Her stalkings were nude colored and her shoes defied his mind so he ignored them. She wore simple tortoise shell rimmed glasses, and her plain but attractive face was framed in long curls of auburn-brown hair. He sat down next to her, two feet from where she sat. The gentle intoxicating scent of a well applied perfume greeted him. He recovered himself and leaned out a bit to take a look at the book's title, hoping to use it to start a conversation. Perhaps he could find out what was going on here. The windows of the office buildings rippled imperceptibly as the woman noticed him for the first time. She seemed to smile and closed her book, holding it out for him to inspect. Puzzled, he accepted the book and examined the cover. The soft bound cover had the image of a country mountain during a stormy sunset. The title itself was only four large symbols, an Isosceles Triangle, an Asterisk, a Sigma and a Fleurette. He first thought about the contrasts the image conveyed, then furrowed his brow at the peculiarity of the title. He looked back to the woman and noticed she was no longer there. Had he imagined her too? And what of this book he still held? He sighed with resignation and scooted down to where she had been seated. The bench was still warm. He reflected on this a moment before he opened the book to see for himself why she had been so distracted by it to not notice the complete absence of life around her. As he began to focus on the page, he felt pressure change in the bench and looked to the spot he had just vacated. The same woman now sat two feet from him and gave him a smile. She obviously didn't recognize him.. was this really the same person? The same gentle perfume greeted him. She leaned over gently to look at the cover of the book. As she did he noticed her shoes were beige pumps with neat little silver buckles. She leaned back against the glass wall of the bus stop with gentle smile. She turned her head to him to speak. Her mouth moved but all that he perceived was a warm glow inside himself as his mind was filed with pleasant images and his nose detected sweet scents he knew didn't exist. He smiled as she mouthed words to him he could only feel. Had he died? Had he gone to heaven? Had he just fallen in love with this gentle siren and her wordless song? Is love not the death of an individual and the birth of a couple?
He awoke suddenly, violently. The jolt of consciousness bored its way into his mind as he fought back against the light of the awakened state. He gave in, and his eyes played across the desk as he lifted his head. He noticed something different about his surroundings. Two posters now appeared on his wall, a large Triangular emblem on one with a red background, and a Fleurette on the other with a blue background. On his desk an Asterisk shaped plastic sculpture, likely a paper weight, sat next to his keyboard. Beside the paper weight was a shining metal lighter, a Sigma emblem affixed to either one of its broadest sides. He looked at the clock by his bed, a few feet away. 3 hours, in three days he had just now managed to get three hours of rest. He pulled open an energy drink and began tapping away at the keyboard. Another three days would pass before the waking world would abandon him to his blissful nightmares.