I See Darkness in My Dreams

I see darkness in my dreams.

The darkness hints at a sense of peace just beyond the tips of my outstretched fingers.  But it is never truly reachable, like a woman for whom you bare your soul but she refuses to give yours even the slightest of glances.  It is a short-lived respite and I welcome its frigid embrace for the quickening moment that I am allowed; for I will soon wake up, and that is never pleasant. This brief moment of darkness–this gentle kiss from the Night Mother–is all I now await; all I now desire; all I now portend.

It is always the chair I first notice when the darkness begins to recede. Then my hands. I can never move my hands. The chair is my seat and my arms are bound to its arms and my legs are bound to its legs; though I cannot seem to feel my feet. Why is it her face that I always see when I open my eyes? Why can’t I open my eyes to some other sight, just the once? Her face is full of hatred and malice and revenge. Deservedly so.

How many times must I endure this?

Once upon a time, I had a bit of a bottle problem, or that’s one way to put it. I had a numbness, well really the numbness was all I experienced any longer, and the bottles made it less so, at least for a while. I was lost in a sea of the past when time was my artistry was worth something. A time that seems so long ago. A time before the destitute wretchedness my life had become. A time when a brush in my hand and a palette of color in the other was my sorcery; my true magic. A wave of my hands could record the very essence of all emotion, and the results were coveted more than gold and jewels, more than the elation and proclamations exclaimed at the height of erotic passion, more than the temporary powers granted a victorious election. But, that was a time long past, if ever it truly existed in anything more than my imagination.

My bottle problem was less of a problem for me so much as it was a problem with the self-proclaimed and self-entitled aristocracy permeating this damned society. It’s like a disease with no cure. Bottles are easy to come by and I needed little else. Not thinking myself a burden on society, other than my apparent insult of having to be looked upon when the occasion arose that one of those pretentious haughty pompous supercilious cane-toting trolls happened to walk by, I simply awaited my death whilst numbing my numbness with the bottles.

This woman was not a troll.  She found pity when she looked at me and decided to act upon her pity. She did this, not only for me, but for a great many others, in spite of herself, and with little regard for her own well-being. In fact, despite the wrath unfolding before me, I believe she is a good woman still, and always has been; the epitome of goodness if there is such a thing. She is a woman that can bend your own desires to coalesce with her own before you even realize what had happened; and after the realization hits you, you are glad that it happened. She wasn’t particularly pleasant on the eyes, in fact, she was a bit plainer than most and her figure reminded me more of a wooden box than the luscious curvature you envision when you think of a typical woman–well, it was more of a rectangle, but it doesn’t matter. She was kind and gentle and patient and wise and all the good things that entice you trust a person. And trust her I did.

She convinced me to give up my bottles, and for a short while, I chose to help her in whatever way I could. And for a moment, I think I felt something beyond the usual numbness, though I can no longer recall what that something was beyond the hollow space of love I once felt for her. In addition to helping wretched old souls like myself, she also ran an orphanage, and I was good with the children. I think I truly loved them in my own way, but it was for her that I took care of them. It was for her that I taught them to express their artistry. It was for her that I helped them learn their letters. It was for her that I read them bedtime stories. I loved her. She loved me. She told me as much on many an occasion. We shared a bed. We shared a life for a while. The numbness was abated.

But it did not last.

The numbness never really leaves you once it has taken hold. Thus, I began to consult my old bottles on the occasions that she would not notice, mostly in the dead of night during the sleeping hours. It is strangely difficult to sleep when you feel nothing at all, and the bottles numbed the numbness if ever so slightly. It was one of these occasions that I committed the worst sin of my wretched existence.

The bottles not only numbed the numbness, but also the senses. And, on one of those nights, I accidentally (at least I think it was an accident) tipped over a candlestick, which tipped over another, which tipped over a third. The dry wood of the orphanage burned rather well and I was powerless to stop it.

She managed to save five of the twelve children before the orphanage collapsed on itself.  Half her uncomely face was burned beyond recognition. I managed to stumble outside before getting injured.

So here I sit in this chair. Strapped to it. Offering no resistance. I shall never offer resistance no matter how many times this repeats. In point of fact, I lost count quite some time ago.

Tears and snot and all the fluids of despair stream down her face as she screams at me. “WHY!?” she screams. Occasionally it descends into some desperate wail or a sullen sob. Sometimes it is a whisper. Sometimes she can not speak it aloud, but her eyes scream it louder than her voice is even capable.

I offer no answer. I will not offer an answer. I have no answer. She deserves this bit of vengeance.

Eventually, she comes close to me and gently presses her knife through my chest. Everything she does is gentle. She is a gentle soul. The last thing I hear before descending into darkness is her whisper through her tears, “I love you.” Thus ends this cycle.

I see darkness in my dreams.

The Bathroom Window

When I was a boy, I shared a room with my brother.  We lived in a small square house. I’m not kidding, the house was remarkably square from the outside.  I’m pretty sure it was the exact same dimensions on each side, but that’s not important.

My room was across the hall from my parents’ room.  They were the only two bedrooms in the house.  The hall was tiny, about twice as long as it was wide, and had one of those old-timey floor heaters in it–the kind that’s basically just a huge grate in the floor.  I still don’t know how those heaters worked, I just know that I used to stretch my legs across it in the morning to get warm in the winter. Our bedroom was at one end, my parents’ at the other, and in-between them was a bathroom.  Imagine a small room about one and a half the width of a doorway, and twice as long.  That was the hallway.  The bedrooms were on the ends, the bathroom in the middle, and the other doorway opened into the living room.   The bathroom was the only one in the house.

The house was old and had been placed there, not built, or so I’d been told.  It was off the ground, sitting on a frame of those big concrete bricks, about three feet off the ground.  There was a crawl-space beneath the entire house, that usually only my dad would go into whenever there was a problem with the plumbing or something.  None of that is relevant to this story, though.  Not really.  But now you know what the house looked like I guess.

I had nightmares most of my childhood and would sneak into my parents’ room almost every single night.  I was terrified of what I imagined in the dark.  I always slept with a light on, as well, and that didn’t end until I was in my teens.  But it wasn’t without reason.

The bathroom had a small window.  The house set high above the ground, the window was high enough that it was above chest-level, and the neighbors were across a ditch that my dad had planted a row of trees along, and so there was never really any need to have a covering over the window.  Oh how I wish there had been one, though.

One night after I woke up and was on the way to my parents’ room, I looked at the bathroom window as I walked by, and there was a fucking face staring straight at me.  Excuse my language, but I’ll never forget it.  I was maybe five or six at the time.  It was plain and I couldn’t tell its gender.  It didn’t move and I couldn’t see any hair on its head.  In fact, I couldn’t make out a head, really, because it was so dark.  I thought I might be imagining something, but then it blinked.  It blinked slowly.  I didn’t even get to finish seeing its eyes open all the way because I got the hell out of there and dove between my parents in their bed and cried the rest of the night.

That wasn’t the last time I would see the face.  It wasn’t always there, and I didn’t always go to my parents’ room because I was too scared of the bathroom.  When the fear overtook me enough that I had no choice but to go to my parents’ room, however, I always made sure to run by the open bathroom door.  Sometimes the face was there, sometimes it wasn’t.

After that, I refused to go to the bathroom by myself.  My brother was almost exactly ten months older than me, believe it or not, and we were still taking baths together. We still always peed together, too, though mostly because I made sure to go when he did.  If I never had a chance to go with him, I’d just pee my pants.  The same went for number two, which we couldn’t do together, for obvious reasons.  As gross as it was, it was better than going into the bathroom alone, and so I would just wear it until somebody figured it out.  I was young enough that they would help me clean myself up, and thus I wouldn’t have to be in the bathroom alone.  I would also wet the bed no matter whether I was in my room or parents’ room.  I’m sure my parents just loved being peed on.  I’d try to keep it in my space, of course, but they’d always roll over into it eventually.

I never asked my parents to put a curtain or something over the window.  We were poor and I had learned to never ask for anything.  Plus I never wanted to inconvenience someone, especially my parents.  I was pretty sure they hated me do to my overbearing shyness, my peeing and pooping problems, and my being scared all the time.  I’m not even sure it ever occurred to me to put something over the window, until that one night.

On the very last night of my life that I went to my parents’ room, I woke up staring at the bathroom window.  I don’t recall walking there.  The face was not there, however, and instead, it looked like the sky was falling.  Stars and other shapes streamed down from the sky, or across the sky, really, but away from me.  I’m still not sure why, but that sight somehow gave me the courage to face the face.

The next night at bath time, as my brother again whined about not wanting to take a bath with me, anymore, I granted him his wish.  I said I would take my bath alone.  I was terrified, sure, but I had decided to face my fear.

Right after I shut the door to the bathroom, the light flicked off, and there was the face in the window, again.  I panicked and tried to escape, but the door would not open.  I banged on the door, but nobody came to open it.  I screamed at the top of my lungs for help, but it was as if nobody heard me. I turned toward the window.

The face was saying something and I still don’t know what.  I ran to the window, took the towel I still had in my hand and draped it over the window.  The house was old, and there were small gaps between the window frame in the wall, and the towel caught there and stayed.  The lights flicked on, and I found that I could open the door, again.

When I walked out, my parents wanted to know why I hadn’t taken my bath.  I asked if they heard me screaming, and they told me to stop playing and go take my bath.

I never saw the face again, but I always made sure to cover the window with something before shutting the door.  Eventually, it became habit, and I found myself unable to close the door without covering the window, first.  Often, the towel I would hang there would just remain there for days until my mom would take it down to wash it.  I always made sure to put a new one up before closing the door, though.

After I grew up and moved out of that house, I thought about the face less and less, and eventually figured it was just my overactive imagination.  That is, until I was out drinking with my brother one night, and I casually mentioned the face in the bathroom window as a joke.  He went white as a ghost and whispered, “You saw the face, too?”

I Have a Guardian Angel

I am an old man waiting to die. I’ve lost all desire, all drive, all interest in, well, anything at all. Heh, I don’t seem to do anything but sit here literally waiting to die every single day. The world took pity on me, probably because I’m so old, and stuck me in this place, which is barely better than living on the street.  At least I get food every now and then.

Let me tell you my story.

I have a guardian angel. I know most folks believe they do, but I’ve seen mine. I’ve interacted with it on many an occasion. In fact, she is part of my very first memory.

When I was four, I lived with my family in a small house in the country next to a lake. My father had built a pier so he could easily dock his fishing boat. It was a small lake, but damn was it fun. There’s nothing quite like having a large body of water to play in when you’re a kid.

Naturally, I was so young that I don’t remember much of that time, but there is one thing I remember distinctly: my mother warning me against wandering too close to the lake alone. But, I just couldn’t help myself. I loved the water and I loved to play in it even though I hadn’t quite mastered swimming. The water itself was a gorgeous crystal-clear blue and you could almost see the bottom, not like this bullshit we have for lakes in this area. You can probably guess what happened next. I fell in when I was alone.

Nowadays it seems absurd to think a child could get that close to a lake without supervision, but this was the country and a very long time ago. Children were never watched closely in those days, it just wasn’t necessary.

I drowned that day. I know I drowned. I very much recall running out of breath as I flung my arms and legs trying to reach the surface before everything faded to black.

I woke lying on the shore with a strange woman looking down at me. This woman was very tall and wore a bright white suit. In fact, I almost couldn’t tell where one part of the suit ended and another part began, but I remember studying the tie and tracing its outline with my eyes. She was enchantingly beautiful. In fact, she is still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Her face held a blank expression, a lack-of-emotion that I would get to know all too well, and as soon as I was coherent enough to pay attention, she told me, “Do try to be more careful next time.” I blinked and she was gone.

Three years later, our house burned down for reasons I don’t recall, if the reason was ever actually found in the first place. My mother, two brothers, and our three dogs did not survive. My father had taken me on our first hunting trip and, upon our return, we discovered the remains of our house with their charred bodies inside. I’d never felt such loss or horror. I can still see the way their bodies twisted together, huddled in the center of the common room as they were, a twisted mass of charred flesh. Even the dogs were in that pile.

I still grieve for them despite the years.  Those seven years were the happiest of my life.  Father and I moved to the city after that. I don’t think he could stand seeing any sort of nature, anymore, much preferring the paved streets and never-ending concrete of the city. He never stepped into the country again. We found a run-down old hotel apparently just awaiting destruction, and just kind of moved in.

It was a month after our move to the city the first time my father hit me, and I don’t mean a spanking. He punched me straight in the face and sent me flying backward. We had no money, he had no job, he couldn’t get a job, and what’s worse, he wanted me to look for a job, as well. But even in those days, who would hire a seven-year-old? I had asked around every single day. He broke my nose that day despite my efforts.

The second time he hit me was the very next day. He got drunk, though I still don’t know how he paid for the booze, and this time he was not content with just one punch. That was the second time I met my guardian angel. In my scramble to get away from my drunken, violent father, she appeared just outside the door I was heading toward and beckoned me to follow. I got up and ran.

She glided along, floating in front of me, always out of reach, leading me to where I did not know. The path I was led became etched in my mind (it still is, in fact), and it ended in a wide alleyway. She gestured toward some kind of small makeshift building in one corner and I moved in the direction she pointed. I turned around and she was gone.

Four children emerged from the little building. They were all my age and they would become the best friends of my entire lifetime. Indeed, one of them even became my wife, but I haven’t come to that part of the story, yet.

The beatings continued, but my sense of family and loyalty would not allow me to abandon him. I even found myself trying to help him in whatever way I could. I managed to find a factory job and gave him literally all the small amount of money I made, which was barely enough to afford our rent.  He didn’t feed me or love me.  He didn’t offer me anything but beatings and disdain.

It was through his drunken and violent rants that I discovered that he blamed me for the house fire. If he hadn’t taken me on that hunt, the house surely would not have burned down.

Factory work was hard.  Actually, that’s an understatement.  I worked 12 hours a day, every day, in a harsh environment, and was severely punished for the slightest transgression. If I was late, I was made to work naked for the entire day. If I didn’t meet quota, I was weighted for an hour or more, which meant carrying a huge weight around my neck that I sure as hell couldn’t hold up properly and then made to walk up and down an aisle for everyone to see. Beatings were common and they happened in front of everyone. Furthermore, injuries and even death were also common, often occurring weekly.

My friends took care of me, though.  They made sure I ate.  They begged me to stay in Camelot (our name for the little building we shared.) They were there for me no matter what. I miss them all terribly. Harry, Boulder, Chicken-leg, and Susan, my dearest Susan.  Boulder and Chicken-leg were hit by an automobile when I was 15.  I can hardly recall their real names.

As I had grown older, and what with the hard factory work and all, I had also grown stronger. Strong enough to contend with my father. It was shortly after Boulder and Chicken-leg died that the incident happened. In fact, it was because of their deaths and my grief that I would not put up with my father any longer. He came at me that night in his drunken stupor looking to hurt me yet again, but I was having none of it, and I punched him square in the nose just like he had done to me eight years earlier. Only he fell down and did not get back up.

The guilt of killing my father still haunts me and it is only made worse by what I did next. I ran away. That was the third time I met my guardian angel. After the incident, I fled and found myself in the commercial district, crying my eyes out. She appeared next to an army recruitment center and gestured for me to come to her. I enlisted that day. I had to lie about my age, but what with the War seeming inevitable, they didn’t question my lie.

The Great War began and I found myself in actual combat. I was not alone, however. Harry had joined after hearing that I did, and by some miracle, we were in the same company.

I will not recount the horrors I experienced in the War. Just know that it was far worse than anything I had yet experienced, and clearly that is saying something considering everything I’ve just told you.

Harry did not survive the war. He died in my arms, in fact. I do not wish to relive that event and will not say any more about it.

This is getting way longer than I thought it would. I will give a shortened version of the remainder.

The fourth time I met my guardian angel was just after I had returned from the War. My state-of-mind was not well (they call it PTSD, now), and I did nothing but drink. One evening in which I wasn’t completely shit-faced out my mind, my guardian angel appeared and, in the same manner as before, led me to a small restaurant just outside the city. It was where Susan worked.

We married six months later. I was wholeheartedly devoted to her, and damn it, I still am. She gave me four children, Harry, Steven, Elizabeth, and Catherine.

When Harry was seven and Steven was four, Harry accidentally drowned Steven as they played in the bath. Four years later, he intentionally killed Elizabeth by punching her repeatedly during an argument. He was put in a mental facility where he died in an accident with a malfunctioning ECT machine.  Catherine died of cancer two years after that. Susan’s grief was too much to bear and she committed suicide by blowing her own brains all over the wall with my .45.

I attempted the same, and just before I pulled the trigger, my guardian angel appeared and that was the second time she spoke to me. “You have more to do in this life before it ends,” she said to me. So I didn’t pull the trigger that day.

I attempted something of a normal life for a while, but there was nothing for me, so I tried to jump off the Golden Gate bridge.  I even made a special trip just to do it. Again, my guardian angel appeared to me and told me, “It is not time to die, yet.”

Ten more times, I made an attempt to end my own life over the following years. She always appeared to tell me the same thing, “It is not time to die, yet.”

Eventually, I didn’t care what she had to say, anymore. I rarely had a job, rarely had a home, spent most of the time living on the street, was constantly sick with some chronic cough or some other ailment to which I would find no cure, and did horrible, horrible things to survive when I couldn’t stand the hunger any longer, even at one point going so far as to pleasuring closet homosexuals in a filthy bathroom stall just to get some money to buy food.  I stole regularly, lied to everyone I came across, and became everything I hated in the world.

The only possession remaining to me was the .45 my dear Susan had used to end her life. I had saved it just for this occasion. I didn’t care what that damned beautiful bitch had to say anymore and pulled the trigger with her standing right in front of me. Click. Nothing.

She smiled at me for the first time in my life, and it was not a welcoming smile, it was wholly evil. “Tortured souls have the sweetest taste of all souls and the more ripe, the sweeter the taste, but the taste is ruined if they don’t die naturally.”

The Die

A single die lay on the ground at my feet; six-sided, white, and dotted.  It was almost unnoticeable in the bright sun of midday amidst the concrete, yet I did take notice, and stopped to pick it up.  Upon first touch, time slowed for just a moment, or so it seemed; quite like a head rush after standing too fast.  The die seemed heavier than it should have, or maybe it was the heat wearing on me.  Perhaps I was light-headed; the sun did hate me so, and I so hated it in return.  Its great heat had drained all of whatever vigor I had once possessed, and I longed to arrive at my destination and be rid of the foul scathing beast.  I thought it best to drop the die and be on my way.

Even before I had raised upright, there was no mistaking the difference in color.  Was this the beginning of a migraine?  Hues of all variety faintly danced in my vision, mingling with flashes and dots of pure white.  I steadied myself and thought it best to get away from the great ball of torture in the sky before I really did faint, and so I looked for shade.  I spotted a small alcove in front of a building just to my right, and there I sat on the ground.

I sat for a time that I do not know.  My legs were stretched out before me and my arms were splayed out at my sides, and I was leaning against something solid.  And, in my right hand, with palm turned upward and open, I saw the die.  I could have sworn I had dropped it.  It became apparent to me that I was far too weak to move even my fingers, and so I sat in petrified nothingness unable to take my eyes away from the die.

Some eternity later, I began to feel emotion in my state of petrification.  It began as what I can only describe as calm euphoria.  Nothing mattered and everything mattered.  Everything was perfect and also imperfect.  Everything was light and dark at the same time.  This turned into a sort of joy and that joy turned into a sort of pleasure.  It was like I had taken all the good drugs in the world at once and I was delightfully overdosing on my own death.

This would not last.  All emotions came and went over my eternity.  Pain, sorrow, anticipation, fear, surprise, jealousy, rage, love, pity, shame, and so many others became my reality, all at once and individually.  I saw and felt things I had never before.  Two lovers high on some unknown drug in passionate bliss.  A young boy beaten and raped by his father while strapped to a saw horse.  Four passengers in mid crash, their pain and vacuity at the moment of their deaths.  A loyal dog’s joy and excitement as its owner returned home after a week away.  So many church worshipers singing in unison.  An entire crowd of parents and students at a graduation ceremony.  A cancer patient’s pain and despair.  I felt all of these things and so many others.  After a time, I could not distinguish them.  The sensory overload was too much to bear.

A soft voice whispered, “Roll.”

A distraction from my state.  “What?”

Louder it said, “Roll.”

“But I cannot even move.  I cannot even see any longer.  I can no longer feel my body.”

The voice became wholly feminine and soothing, and still, it said, “Roll.”

“I do not know how.”



The voice became louder.  “Roll.”

I said nothing.

The voice turned into a mix of masculinity and femininity and said again, “Roll.”

“I do not understand.”

Louder still, “Roll.”

The sensory overload faded a bit and I became aware of my body once more.  Was the die still in my hand?


The die was, in fact, still in my hand.

The voice became angrier.  “Roll.”

I was becoming aware of my own emotions again.  “To what end?” I asked.


“What if I refuse?”

Even louder still, the voice boomed, “Roll!”

“I don’t think I want to.”

The voice became demonic in tone and drowned out all sensory overload.  There was only the voice.  “Roll!”

I closed my fist around the die.


I refused to respond.



The presence of the voice suddenly faded away.  I felt the sun again.  I felt peace.  I felt relief.  I felt quiet.  Though I still could not see.  I did not attempt to move again for some time.

Slowly, the sun became hotter and brighter.  And, was it getting closer?  I tried to move only to find myself paralyzed once more.  The heat gradually became unbearable.  I began to hear footsteps.


My emotional void began to fill with fear and I struggled to move, but it was no use.  I could hear faint breathing in the distance.  More heat.


The heat was too much.  I could feel malice and rage in whatever was approaching.  The breathing became louder.


I could not move!  Fear had overtaken all emotion.  I could feel my body straining against the paralysis.  I could not move!


It was as if the entire swarm of negative emotion I experienced before had converged on the approaching beast.  Still, it approached!


The breathing became raspy and harsh.  The beast’s animosity knew no bounds.  The beast was close now.  So close!  I struggled and struggled against my immobility.  I began to despair.  It comes!


I was burning!  There was so much pain!  The beast was at my face then!  Its foul breath burning my cheek even more so than the rest of my body.  It felt as if my very soul was on fire.  I could feel its intent.  So much unbridled rage encompassed its entire being and I knew I would never not burn again.  I would burn for eternity.  And then it spoke with an evil voice in my burning ear.

“You should have rolled.”