starphotographs: This field is just more space for me to ramble and will never be used correctly. I am okay with this! (Default)
starphotographs ([personal profile] starphotographs) wrote in [community profile] rainbowfic2017-06-06 04:21 pm

Rain Cloud 12

Name: starphotographs
Story: Corwin and Friends
Supplies and Styles: Portrait
Characters: Spenser
Colors: Rain Cloud 12 (I looked everywhere for it)
Word Count: 7,100ish
Rating: R
Warnings: Choose not to warn.
Summary: Technically speaking, you always have a future. Spenser is planning for his.
Note: Title yoinked from a song, because that’s a thing I do. :P

“...So, When My Carcass Finds Itself a Mishap (But I Avoid the Room With Center Drains)”


It’s surprising, how many questions you can deflect with “because I ran out of good ideas.”

...Shit, I’ve been starting to suspect that it might even be a good explanation for why most people do most things, even if they don’t know it yet. But, I can’t know for certain. I’m not most people. I’m only myself.

And, speaking for myself, only myself, I’m starting to see a pattern forming here.

“Why did you leave so early?” Because I ran out of good ideas.

“Why did you just give up?” Because I ran out of good ideas.

“Why are you eating that?” Because I ran out of good ideas.

“Why break something you were just trying to fix?” Because I ran out of good ideas.

“Why did you go on living?”

Because fucking I ran out of good ideas.

*****


I’ve know it for a while, exactly how I wanted to go. I even figured out how to make it happen without having to wait around.

You build a machine with two basic parts. One part coaxes the clouds out of the sky, the other stirs them up with a pulsing beam. You put the machine in your car and drive both of you up to the top of a hill, flip the switch, and wait. You clear your head. You ask this world to take you back.

And it does, with an enthusiasm so great it destroys you. A body not built to last; a sky that can’t know its strength. The last thing you ever hear is both your eardrums bursting.

...Yeah, that’s real nice and all, but it’s a little more complex than it sounds.

I’ve been working on the blueprints for months, and they’re only about half done. And they’ll stay about half done, because I’ve found myself out of my depth. I wasn’t out of my depth when I started. Back then, I could look at words and shapes and make them mean something.

Way back when, just getting started, I knew exactly
how I wanted to go. But I didn’t know exactly when. The day of completion. A week hence. A few months. Ten years. I figured I’d know the time when it came.

And, when it came, I really did know. Because I sat down to work and couldn’t.

I think my problem speaks for itself.


*****


I’m lying on my old futon in my new apartment. “Apartment” is kind of a misnomer, on account of it’s an uninsulated attic, and I have to drag myself to the gas station across the street if I need to brush my teeth or take a crap.

But, I’m in it, and it’s mine, so what the hell else could I possibly want?

(I know exactly what I want. I can’t make it happen.)

The futon is under the filthy skylight. Four dirty panes, blank whitish sky, the whole horrible sun just out of sight. If I concentrate, I can see myself from above; shadows carving my body up into uneven quarters, my heavy skeleton pinning me down from the inside.

(If I could concentrate, I wouldn’t be here to picture it.)

I can’t even remember the last time I fell asleep. Dark hands are reaching out from behind my eyes, and I can sometimes hear the air talking to me, like I’ve been hanging around in the waking world so long that it started to notice me and is trying to strike up a conversation.

I don’t know how to tell it that I can’t fucking understand a word it’s saying.

I don’t know how to tell it that, for the first time in my life, I don’t really have much to say for myself.

Fuck, I don’t even know why I bothered to lie down in the first place.

(“Because I ran out of good ideas.”)

I try to imagine myself being quartered. I can’t concentrate.

I close my eyes and clear my head, lying as still as possible, trying not to breathe. After about half a minute, I allow myself one breath and one thought.

“So, this is what it’s like.”

Another half-minute.

“Yeah, but you won’t even be around to enjoy it.”

(Breathe once.)

“Not being around is the good part.”

(Exhale.)

“It won’t matter how it happened once it’s done with. Quit fucking dragging your goddamn feet.”


Eventually, I realize that I can’t just lie there indefinitely. At least not with the way I am now, anyway, fucking pulse and everything. I open my eyes. The sky is still white, but it already looks like it won’t stay that way forever. My head is buzzing from holding my breath. Looking up through the glass, there’s a sense of being deep in the earth, staring up from my open-air grave. Wondering if they’d forgotten to cover me.

(Hey, knowing me, it’s something that could happen.)

*****


I don’t know if the skylight opens. I never thought to check. But say it does. Say I could reach it by standing on my bed. At least enough to grab the ledge and drag myself up.

It wouldn’t be ideal, but it would be easy. All I’d have to do is go against my hindbrain’s better judgement. Heed the call of the void, stand at the edge, unlock my knees, and let gravity take me. Feeling the how the planet reaches out to its own, letting it take my hand at last and pull me in so hard it snaps my neck.

Releasing the stranglehold on life as my final experience of the world. Sounds kind of nice. It’s been forever since I’d felt anything gentle. Anything that doesn’t feel like careening toward a brick wall with a busted wheel and broken brakes.

Maybe I’d want to, one last time.


*****


I didn’t check the skylight. By the time the clouds dimmed to a sick reflective sodium orange, it was time to go to fucking work.

One might question why I even still bother. I don’t really have an answer. I guess it’s that, even now, I still can’t not-do. I can’t not-do, but I can hardly do anything these days. Can hardly sit still, can hardly get out of bed, can hardly pay for the room I might well end up dying in. I don’t have the energy to change direction. I don’t have the energy to rest. I’m a miserable paradox. And so, as do billions of other miserable paradoxes, one day after the other, times infinity, I go to work.

One might question why I’m not the one on the floor. Whoever they were, they wanted to keep on living, and I have a bruise on my jaw to prove it. I’m pretty well done with my life, and I don’t really care what they do with me when it’s over. But they’re lying on their back on the floor, torso split open, the doctor lifting up their glistening liver and delicately placing it in a box. Kidneys, then lungs, then the red twitching heart. Everything in boxes. Me in once piece with my sore mouth and my flashlight. Me, wishing I was the one in boxes.

One might question why I even moved out of the doctor’s house, if this was what I suspected was about to happen.

(I don’t know for sure if this was exactly it, but when I looked at his computer, it was obvious that I was about to be sold on the aftermarket, for one thing or another. I guess I wasn’t ready for such a clear sign that I’d outlived my usefulness, so I ran. Usefulness was all I had left.)

I think about my own tender, shining insides. Separation is probably the best thing for them. Boxed and scattered and sewn, or maybe more like sown, into the guts of better people, freed from the shackles of being one thing. Cut at last loose from the bullying brain, that petty tyrant, dragging everyone else through ozone and alcohol and hunger and thirst just because it thought it knew better.

My brain doesn’t know shit. It still makes me flinch when I touch something hot by accident.

As if it hadn’t already been informed that I want nothing more than to watch myself go up in flames.

*****


Going up in flames is doable. It’s bright. It hurts. I’ve always loved the smell of gasoline.

I’ll put it on the table.


*****


After work, I catch the bus.

I’m not going home. I’m not going anywhere. I just don’t know what to do with myself these days.

(“Because I ran out of good ideas.”)

Staying in one place makes me feel pent-up and sick. Everything is going too fast. I have to at least try to match the pace, or I’ll vibrate out of myself and leave my shredded hollow skin right there on the goddamn sidewalk. This isn’t exactly new.

I used to run around all day punching out windows, but I’ve started getting too dizzy and out of breath.

Or I’d drive around aimlessly until I had to pull over and pass out for an hour or two in my freezing car, but I’ve started passing out while still driving and bumping into poles.

So I guess there came a time when I had to lie down before the world and say, “I can’t go on anymore. Carry me.” My shaking hands and my bus pass for the ferryman. This had to be the last act. What the fuck more can even happen?

(“When the time came, I really did know.”)

I lay my head on the window and watch the sunrise. When the sun is finally up, I watch everyone else. Getting on and off, arranging bags at their feet and documents in their laps, going to and from places. They have things to do. They haven’t outlived their usefulness. They have no reason to assume I’m not just like them.

And they can’t even know they’re wrong.

They have absolutely no way of knowing that I’ve gone around the bend and outlived my whole life. That I’m stuck wandering around in a world that already spat me out. That, no matter where I go, there’s nothing for me there.

(Or maybe they can look at me and know. Maybe they can smell it. Anyone can spot a counterfeit, if they know the signs.)

Every so often, I get off at a stop, find a gas station, buy a cup of coffee, take it back to the bench, and drink it while I wait for the next bus.

I lay my head on the window and watch the sunset.

*****


It’s common knowledge: what you don’t bother to maintain eventually rusts out.

If I don’t come up with something, it’s okay. I don’t have to do anything. Just be patient.

I can’t sleep, so I don’t. I’m never hungry, so maybe I can just stop going through the motions. What the hell is the point in maintaining homeostasis anymore? It’s like changing the oil in something you’re about to drag to the junkyard.
Why?

I read somewhere that, when you don’t feed it for long enough, the body eventually starts gnawing away at your heart. I don’t know when that’s supposed to happen, but it can’t be long now. Most of the meat has already been chewed off my ribs. Almost time to crack through the dry bones and gristle and get started on my soft, red center.

Curled up in my seat at the back, I lay my head on the window, and close my eyes.

I finally get some rest.

A concerned stranger touches the side of my neck and counts to zero. The bus stops in the middle of the street, and the driver calls someone to zip me up and carry me off.

That’s that, I guess.


*****


Lately, I’m never really sure how I go from the bus to back under the skylight. I always feel like I’m watching myself, then I look away, I look back, and surprise, I’m somewhere else entirely. Muffled and headachy, one foot half in and out of reality while the rest of me flaps in the breeze, and that’s on a good day. I can’t make myself stay in my body for very long, lately. If and when I finally get back, it doesn’t want to listen to me anymore, because I’ve been doing a terrible job, and I’m fucking fired, apparently. It’s hard to make myself see straight. I’m always dropping things or unknowingly listing to the side.

I want to wrestle it to sleep, maybe get it back under my command by morning. But my brain panics as soon as it feels my eyelids slide down and lock. I don’t know what the fuck it thinks it’s going to miss. Or why it wakes me up by screaming that I’m about to fall off a curb.

I don’t know how I can get through to it that I want to fall.

Maybe it’ll get a clue if I try to pop the skylight.

So I do. I reach up and find hinges and a little stick of rusty metal to prop the window open. It’s a little higher up than I thought, but I can still pull myself through.

It’s actually kind of exciting.

The ground is only a few yards down, but pavement is unforgiving. I won’t splatter, but I’ll snap in half if I angle it right.

I walk to the edge and relax everything, until I’m completely limp and about to pitch forward.

Yeah. I can feel okay about this!

My brain wakes me up and pushes me out of the cockpit. Before I realize what’s happening, I’ve pivoted around and saved myself. Like in a dream.

I’ve also thrown out my back, knocked the air out of my lungs, and banged up my ribs on the metal roof. This isn’t a dream.

Fucking stupid shitass brain, are you fucking happy now? Congratulations! I’m alive, just like you wanted! Your precious shitty body is also completely fucked up! You could have just let it fucking die, instead of crunching it up like an old beer can, but nope! Nice save! Good going! Not counterintuitive at all!

I eventually manage to prop myself up a little, but I’m not moving so well. I had to just sort of drop myself down on my bed, which wouldn’t have normally hurt all that much, but it was a little rough on my twisted spine.

Maybe I’d just done it by accident. Maybe something inside me was split open and pouring blood, in the way you don’t feel until the next morning, when you wake up pale and dead with a mouth full of clots.

I thought, well, that’s convenient, and just laid there for a while. Until I could take deep breaths, and the pain settled to a dull throb in my joints.

Convenience, apparently, doesn’t exist for people like me. I don’t know why I expected otherwise.

I was alive, and I was hurt, and the futon frame felt bent, and I didn’t know how the fuck I was going to close the goddamn window.

I wanted to cry, but it wasn’t exactly a crying kind of feeling. I just didn’t know what the hell other kind of feeling it would be, so I felt like I should be crying, for lack of anything else to express.

(“Because I ran out of good ideas.”)

I couldn’t cry, so I let out a groan and curled up as tight as I could. The air from the outside was freezing, and I was so, so tired. I was scared of what would happen if I stayed awake. My body would never fix itself, and would eventually start coming apart like it was held together with crackly old rubber bands.

(And that would be undesirable… How?)

I rifled through my shit, popped out half the pills in a sheet of antihistamines, curled back up, and started chewing furiously.

(Oh. Not crying. Grinding your teeth. Fuck, you’re stupid.)

*****


I don’t want to go quietly or be hauled off easily. I want to make people resent having to deal with me. Like they always did.

I could puncture an artery and leak all over the mattress, open my stomach and unspool my guts around the room, take handfuls of pills and projectile vomit across the walls and down into my gaping body. Really give the coroner something to think about.

Though, I guess it would be pretty hard to get the timing just right.


*****


I’m pretty sure I spent the whole night grinding my teeth, but I did manage to get some sleep. A few discontiguous hours, anyway. Fuck it, I guess it’s better than nothing.

So, technically, I slept. But mostly, I just hallucinated about shadowy long-necked humanoids holding me down on the bed, muttering amongst themselves, trying to figure out how I worked. One of them forced a shadowy tendril past my teeth and down my throat to check out my insides, and pronounced me hollow. They looked down at me, whispering in total awe, “you’re empty, you’re empty.” Looked back at each other, wondered out loud why I didn’t have any organs, how I’d been walking around without them, and where they’d gone if I’d had them in the first place.

I mumbled, “I guess they’re in boxes” and went back to sleep. It honestly didn’t seem that important. Whoever had them could have them. I didn’t need them anymore.

Soon enough, the sun was up, and all of me was present and accounted for and wide awake on my bed. Sunbeams on the floor, the whole night feeling like it happened in some former life.

I could feel my organs, heavy and squirming and right there inside me all along. My jaw ached like it really had been forced open, but it was probably just the punch I’d taken on the job and all that goddamn teeth grinding. My back and side still hurt. And, even though this was demonstrably untrue, I felt like I was filthier than I’d ever been in my life. My shirt was sticking to me, I could hardly see anything through my glasses, and my hair felt heavy and cold, like I’d just been rained on.

Before I knew it, I was rising from the bed and moving to put on my shoes. I was going to go rent a motel room so I could shower in it. I was on some divine mission to scrub myself. I was barely under my own control, and I didn’t really give much of a fuck. Let’s just see where I take me.

I watched myself from the outside, reminding him that I was probably going to be dead in a few days, if I had anything to do with it. That I was just going to get covered in one or more bodily fluids and have soil tossed over top of me. That I was about to be dirt, and might as well get a head start. That I wouldn’t have to make a good first impression for the next several billion years, so what’s the point? That the morticians could wash me later, if it really mattered so fucking much.

Futility, apparently, is no match for a sticky shirt.

I limped down the metal stairs and out onto the sidewalk. Winced in disgust when the concrete under my shoes remembered that this was still a world with me in it, and kept fucking walking.

*****


I could skip the shower and just throw myself in front of any one of these cars. Find one of those big tall fuckers with the giant tires and the wide grill that comes to your waist. Find someone who drives like I do, speedy, distracted, not really sure of where they’re going or what they’re going to do when they get there, only sure that they need to get there all the same.

They’ll be too focused on whatever they’re outrunning to notice when I dart into the street and throw myself before the wheels.

I’ll know I did it just right if I hear my spine cracking against the front bumper.

They’ll know something is very wrong when they feel the muffled thump.

I’m lying broken on the pavement, the world I won’t miss getting farther and farther away. Not feeling my legs, aorta severed, lungs punctured, gargling a throatful of blood

The driver is standing above me, yelling into a phone. There’s a moment of eye contact, until mine glaze right over.

There’s nothing either of us can do about it now.

(Thank god.)


*****


The cars driving between my apartment and the first motel I come across are all small today. Road rash and dislocations and awkward apologies small. Lawsuit small. Just-makes-things-worse small. I’ll figure something out later.

I check in with a receptionist who already looks like he’s sick of smelling me. I find my room. It has a broken ceiling light, but you can’t shower under a light, so I don’t care. The tub looks dirty, but I’m dirtier. I don’t care.

Once established, I decide I’m hungry, and walk to the fast food place across the street. Five minutes of walking, standing in line, requesting food from strangers, paying with a wad of sweaty bills, and walking again; the whole time thinking, what are you doing, this is so counterintuitive, this is pointless, you’re going back to delaying the inevitable with everyone else, what do you think this is even going to get you?

I admit it’s not going to get me anything. I’ve just developed a phobia of dying quietly on the bus. Or in my apartment. In my car. In this hotel room. Anywhere I haven’t designated for the purpose, of anything I hadn’t directly done to myself.

Death is mandatory. We all have to do it, in good time. I, in particular, don’t have much else left to do. There’s no way to skip it, so the only lenience any of us can offer ourselves is when, where, and how. It isn’t much, but I take what I can get.

And all I can get is whatever death I can find for myself, and a cheeseburger in bed in front of the television.

I’ll take it.

About halfway through, I need to lean over the wastebasket and throw up. It happened pretty suddenly, but I don’t really know what I was expecting. My organs were shriveled up from disuse and burned raw from too much bad coffee. It was too much at once. Kind of a meat vs. meat conflict, if you will, and I’m the loser.

I laid back and stared up at the ceiling, gut muscles cramping, acid burning the back of my throat. Some stupid fuckhead didn’t line the patterns on the acoustic tiles up correctly, and it hurts my brain.

See, I told you that was pointless.

No shit, asshole.

I decide it’s time to do what I came here for on the first place.

Once I’m in the bathroom, I throw my clothes down in a pile. In the mirror, my side is striped purple, my jawline is brown and green, the rest of me is waxy and greyish. I look rotten.

Yeah, I fuckin’ wish.

I decide I want to try something, just to see.

I flick off the light, lie down in the cold tub, close my eyes, and concentrate on the story I’m telling myself. It doesn’t really have much of a plot.

This is a drawer. It’s made of metal. It’s dark, because I’m shut inside. It’s cold, because I need to be refrigerated or I’ll become a biohazard. I’m not really thinking these things, because the time for thinking is over. I made sure of that the day before.

I’m only here until they put me somewhere else. Maybe someone will have to come by and prove its me. I’m imagining either Hal or Tyler. Depending on which one, and what I did to get in, they either throw up or get hysterical or do something else. I don’t do anything. I can’t. I don’t have to.

Now that they know I’m really my corpse and not some kind of placeholder, I can go somewhere else. Like into an oven, or to be laid out on different metal and pumped full of chemicals. That’s anyone else’s call. I don’t give a shit. The time for giving a shit, too, is over.

I’m not my problem anymore.

I made damn sure of that.

I’m in a cold metal drawer, and I don’t feel it.


After I’d convinced myself I wasn’t feeling the tub or anything else, I spent a good while like that, and then I opened my eyes. I was still in the dark bathroom, just another cold, hard, liminal space I’d be passing through on my way from here to the grave.

I stood up and turned on the shower, washing my corpse before I laid it in the ground.

*****


Maybe he wasn’t trying to sell my organs. Maybe he wanted to sell my whole body, to the other doctor in the other lab. Where you’re put down and brought halfway back to life so they can see how long they can hold you there.

It might not meet every single definition of dead, but it wouldn’t be so bad. I’d lay there in my white bed in a long line of white beds, mute and unthinking. Breathing in time with a humming box, my heart and spine strung through with wires on the inside, electrodes on the chest, tube in my arm feeding everything I need into my veins.

I’m like a machine, and things are finally easy.

Maria attends to me and all the rest, and it’s easy for her, too, because I’m not actually in there. But the last person who ever really touched me is the one taking my pulse, and that isn’t nothing. We’re both here, in whole or in part, and all is reconciled. She’s a perfect stranger, and I’m just empty flesh.

I’ve proven that I can be just another task. I’ve proven I can be exactly what she wanted.

We can start again and be nothing in particular to each other, the way it always should have been.


*****


I wash my clothes in the sink and hang them over the curtain rod to dry, then try to go to bed. I don’t think I can sleep, but I can lie my aching spine out straight on a real mattress. And I can pretend that I’ve been moved from my drawer to my coffin, but that seems silly with the television on. Coffins don’t have outlets. Corpses don’t watch television. That would just be stupid.

Hell, it’s stupid already. The TV is advertising some kind of bogus health supplement. Real People Not Actors are telling their rambling go-nowhere pain stories, and some of them are crying in relief. Are they supposed to be talking to me? Am I supposed to tell them that I’ve already figured out how to make things right, so they can keep their little capsule of brown powder? Do they even know it’s all kind of a foregone conclusion, anyway?

We live our uninteresting, poorly-structured pain stories, and then we finally cry out in relief.

Mortality means literally anything, and I mean fucking anything, can be waited out.

*****


I guess I could just go ahead and sell myself. Or maybe there’s some kind of application form or something. I really have no fucking clue how it works.

Pretty much everyone knows the websites exist. Because of the browser I had to use for work, they were practically my neighbors. I never clicked any of the links, because I dealt with enough dead people on a daily basis, and couldn’t get the appeal of paying to watch them become that way. I mean, people were paying
me to do the killing. My interest was only professional, and, honestly, the dead people themselves were the worst part of the job. Wherever there’s a body, there’s some poor shithead who has to figure out where they’re going to put it.

But, all that aside, I know about them, and, if they exist, they must be getting the people from
somewhere. I could volunteer. Maybe they’d turn me down, because it’s no fun watching people get tortured when it’s obvious they want to die, and die as horribly as possible, but I guess you never know. It might depend on the customer.

Personally, I think I’d do a good job. People always tell me I’m entertaining.

Tied to a chair in a room with a concrete floor, blindfolded. On the other side of the room, they’re preparing the supplies. Gun, saw, sledgehammer, blowtorch, knives, chemicals, icepick, needle and thread.

The floodlights come on, and they start taking requests. I’m in a shitty low-res video on everyone’s screens, waiting quietly. Intact and pristine, just out of the package and ready to be ruined. They vote on what, exactly, is going to be done about me. I hear a stirring of metal not two yards away, and I know I can relax.

Things are being taken care of.

Someone cracks the hammer across my legs while someone else pours acid down the back of my shirt. That makes me yelp a little, so one of them holds down my head and sews my mouth closed. I’m shot in the gut. My shoulder is dislocated, and a set of hands begins sawing at the joint. The motion of the teeth vibrates in my bones. The hammer comes down again on my ribs, and I spit blood between the threads.

I feel my arm separate from my body at last, and the wet warmth on my side and the lightness of that is fascinating, but everything is turning hazy. Whoever took my arm is cauterizing the socket with the torch. A knife splits me open, and someone is messing around with my insides, holding them up for all to see.

I want them to take off the blindfold, but I guess that would ruin the mood, and it doesn’t matter, because I’m really starting to drift in and out, and I guess it’s almost over. I can’t breathe. The icepick is fighting its way through my sternum.

Me on screen, spent and mutilated, smiling so ecstatically that I pop the stitches as one of them finally drags a serrated knife across my throat.

“Good show, everyone!”


*****


Anything can be waited out, but I guess I’ve just decided to jump the queue. People will glare disapprovingly and shake their heads, but they’ll be behind me, and I won’t be looking back.

I watch three more hours of television.

I close my eyes and wait.

*****


Shit. I know one thing I could do. I even wrote myself some instructions.

I’m not sure if I knew they were instructions at the time. I was just going through a phase where I wrote down every last stray thought, trying to find some kind of pattern. Give myself a bird’s-eye view of my mind.

(Actually, I probably just needed something to do.)

Whatever the intention, I’d spent half the afternoon daydreaming about plugging myself into the wall, and I guess something about that was significant.

It’s technically brain surgery, but it’s simpler than it sounds. You just need some good tools and a light touch. As it happens, that’s about all I have left.

You need to pick the right spot. It’s probably smart to knock out the left front.

(Where you’re going, you won’t need words.)

You need a big enough drill bit, but don’t go crazy with the pressure. This part just gets the bone out of the way.

Now cut and strip the cord. This next part is probably the easy step.

(The wires are stiff and pointed. The flesh is almost liquid. The brain itself does not feel pain.)

Even if you’ve lost a bit of yourself, you probably still know how to operate a wall outlet.

Just let the current override your thoughts and cook you.


*****


I somehow got about five hours of uninterrupted sleep, and woke up convinced that I was coming back from the dead. That I was about to smack my head on the ceiling of my drawer or my casket. That the experiments finally worked. Opening my eyes on a concrete floor, to the total astonishment of those who thought they’d torn me apart. Lying however the convulsions threw me down, still plugged in and leaking from the head, lit up and twitching.

Remembering that nothing actually happened. That I’d just been thinking so hard it felt like it had.

Remembering it was time to shit or get off the pot, already.

Wishing I really could just think myself to death.

It was still pretty much dark outside. I didn’t have to leave for a good few hours, walking out at noon next to all the real people, who had a point B waiting out there for them.

I could die right here, in a room with a bed and a toilet. Like a real person would.

As to how, well, at this point, I’m pretty sure I could do myself in with anything.

*****


I don’t have any kind of rope, but I have my shirt and the sheets. I have no idea how to tie a noose, but you can learn how to do anything if you find a good video on the internet. I’m sure there’s some kind of hook or beam in here somewhere. I could made this work.

I could die like a killer.

Terrified and cornered in a cell and without a future, or out in the street in front of a town full of people with nothing better to do.

A little old-fashioned, but it fits. It’s what they would have done to me.


*****


I looked around, but I didn’t find anything. No sickly spider plants, so no hooks. This wasn’t the kind of place where they expected you to have clothes that couldn’t be left crumbled in a musty suitcase. And I’ve heard a million stories about shower curtain rods, but I didn’t particularly trust them, because I’d had a bad experience with one a few years ago. I was at one of Tyler’s parties, emptying out a bladder full of beer. My drunk ass lost balance, and I grabbed for the first thing I could reach to steady myself.

...Well, I didn’t steady myself. I pulled down the curtain and knocked a bunch of crap off the edge of the tub.

I imagined trying to string myself up in the bathroom, and ending up sitting in the tub, cloth trailing from my bruised neck, feeling like a complete and utter moron.

And it’s not like that ever stopped me before, but I just wasn’t in the mood for bullshit.

I pulled on my still-damp clothes, and decided to just check out early.

(If only it were that fucking simple.)

*****


A long time ago, I wouldn’t have had to hang myself. They’d have hung me.

I wouldn’t have had to drill a hole in my head. They’d have drilled it for me.

It isn’t all that hard to imagine. Didn’t that one guy just drive around running spikes through crazy people’s heads? I’m sure some concerned friend of mine would have pushed me right into the wagon when it rolled into town.

I’d be lying on the table, or sitting on the chair, or wherever the hell they’d put you for this, staring up at a man holding something that looks like a big letter opener. Waiting.

And then he slips it in between my eye and my skull, and brings the mallet down.

I don’t know how it feels, but I imagine something inside me going grey, and some great separation that frees me. I’m buzzing, I’m calm.

I sigh,
“harder.”

He gives the end another good whack. More of me falls away.

“Harder.”

More metal slides into my head. It isn’t enough. I can still, for all intents and purposes, speak.

“Harder.”

Blood runs out of my eye socket and down my left cheek. Out of my head and down the back of my throat. I can’t feel my right side anymore, just a huge tingling blank, like static. I try to move my arm, but it isn’t recognizing me. I’m choking, and I can only speak out of one side of my mouth. I hope he can understand me.

“Harder.”

There’s a gush of blood, and the feeling of something scraping the back of my cranium.

I don’t know what happens next. I’m beyond knowing anything now. But, I can’t imagine I’d last more than a few days after that.

Sadly, they don’t do that kind of thing anymore.


*****


I didn’t know where the fuck I was even going to go. I was about to permanently sever all of my obligations, so I guess I could go anywhere I wanted.

Trouble is, I didn’t know where I wanted to go. And I was pretty damn sure there wasn’t anywhere I wanted to be.

I saw myself wandering the Earth forever. Detached, uncomfortable, unable to really stay or go anywhere, dead man walking.

Maybe I should just drive off a fucking bridge and be done with it.

*****


Water is easy.

All you have to do is go against your body’s baser instincts.

Tell it that you don’t plain on coming back up, and that it should probably act accordingly.

Tell it that, billions of years ago, whatever it was that eventually became you was made down here. That you’re just taking yourself back.

And your body remembers.

Your lungs used to be filled with water. Your cells used to travel alone, free and unthinking. And you could be that way again, if you wanted. The world that made you doesn’t care. It knows that not all life is cut out for this kind of complexity. It’ll accept you and reuse you, like it eventually accepts and reuses all things.

The only real problem is that something about it seems a little too similar to how I’ve already been living. It feels like cheating. Like when you stop washing your car because you assume it’ll eventually rain.

Then again, everything feels like that now.


*****


...Actually, the only problem was that I hadn’t brought my car. But, I decided the driving probably wasn’t the important part, and I could just walk right up and fall the fuck off, if that’s what I really wanted to do. So I looked around for bridges, but it didn’t seem like there were any nearby. After a while, it started to feel pointless, so I turned around and went home.

When I finally got there, I sat on my down on my futon. After a while, it started to feel pointless, so I sat down at my desk to see if I’d maybe regained the ability to carry a fucking train of thought.

I tried to work on the blueprints again, but I still couldn’t make them mean whatever they used to mean. After a while, it started to feel pointless, so I calmly walked over to the toolbox, grabbed a hammer, sat back down, placed my glasses in front of me, and smashed them.

I spent a while staring, or trying to, at the blurry shards.

Thinking, “well, that was the most pointless thing yet.”

*****


How many blows to the head does it take before you start bleeding into your brain and keel over?

Would I have to smash my forehead down on my desk about forty or fifty times, until my skull was in shards and my face was black and blue?

Or just once, if I did it right?

Who even fucking knows. That has to be about the stupidest plan I’ve had yet.


*****


Even though I’d already decided it was a dumb way to die, I clunked my head down on the desk, just because I was frustrated and didn’t know what else to do with myself.

It didn’t change anything.

Then again, I wasn’t expecting it to. I just felt like smacking my head against something.

(“Because I ran out of good ideas.”)

I considered doing it again, but I didn’t know what the fuck that was going to accomplish. I tore my toolbox apart until I found my old glasses, and went to lie down and stare out the skylight.

(Back to where I always end up, I guess.)

The view looked a little different this time, because these glasses had a huge crack in them. They weren’t even a real spare. They were one of the old pairs I was too paranoid to toss, even though that made me scared I was going to end up as one of those people who eventually has to use a path too narrow to even turn around on to navigate their own house, because everything else is covered in broken televisions and ancient filthy newspapers.

Then again, I guess it’s kind of a moot point, because I’ve never really had a house to fill with garbage. All the shit I hold on to has to be small. A few pairs of busted glasses. Uselessly short scrap wire. My smiley face mug with the handle broken off, that I’ve cut my hand on several times but still can’t bear to part with.

The blueprints I can’t use.

Above me, the window panes are cut up in disjointed pieces. I imagine what I’d look like from above.

Not tidily quartered by the shadow of the window, but through these glasses.

Chopped and jagged, with nothing quite connecting the way it should.

*****


How you went isn’t going to matter when you’re gone.

It won’t matter if you finish your machine, or break into a government lab and drink all the anthrax, or bleed out in a public bathroom, or drive full speed into a brick wall, or finally see what the big deal about antifreeze is.

It won’t matter, because you won’t be there to care.

You’ll be
dead.

It won’t matter if you leave behind a mess, or a body count, or a toolbox full of old glasses, or a bunch of friends who were never quite sure what happened to you. That isn’t your problem. This won’t be your world. You won’t be debriefed at the end.

You won’t exist.

As far as you’re concerned, nothing else will exist, either. You can’t think of what you could’ve done differently when you’re dead.

You’ll be free.

You’ll be finished.

Just remember what people always say about tedious jobs:

“Think of how glad you’ll be when it’s over.”

And then think of what it must be to not be anything at all.


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