By Xávier G. S. Ferguson
There comes a day when the stars which look down upon the people of the world must fall, as must I. If I die, time will keep going, just not for me. But one day, time itself must end. As everything mortal dies, so will time and space. The liars and blasphemers say that there is no forever, but they lie as we group them into their categories: liars and blasphemers. A liar would say that everything ends, and he is wrong, or is he right? Time will end. But… how? How will it end? Many a night, I lay pondering forever. Eternity. Infinity. What did it mean to not have an end? Everything has to end. Logic says so, but there has to be something after. After death. After the afterlife. There has to be more. I don’t know how. Forever can’t exist, but it has to. After the end, there has to be something. But what. Many minds these thoughts have poisoned: many poor innocent people driven insane by something without an end. How many people has infinity ruined? It is more than one would think believable.
And I know I am one.
Nights after hard days work lay wasted while I laid in my bed, pondering what lies after forever. I wanted it to stop. But I couldn't help myself. The more I tried to banish them, the more the thoughts came. Sadly to say, I have reached the point where I know not to sleep. My dreams have been filled with hauntings. I accomplish my sleep when I am awake.
Yesterday is gone, and today has come. Last night was another sleepless night. But something unusual happened. I dreamed while I was awake. I lied there, my thoughts torturing me, and I decided to shift my gaze away from the ceiling, and onto the floor. The floor was an ocean of shadows, as it always was. In it, rested demons. But tonight, the ocean was indeed a black ocean. It moved. Black waves of mist rolled as if they were an ocean in a storm. Waves threatening to kill me. But lo! In the corner, I saw a light being lit in the bottom of an ocean. The black clouds of the sea parted, leaving a bare bit of floor exposed, lit by the light. It was a stage. I could tell this much. A stage where a show was about to take place, and I was the audience. I focused my eyes on the light, and I noticed it was a campfire. A small fire, built in the middle of the floor. Through the mist (from under the bed, it seemed) came the performers: six rag-dolls. I had no memory of them. They seemed to be hand stitched. In the place where the face would have been, there was a mask. Unlike the rest of the decaying doll, the masks were ornate, and beautifully painted in vibrant colors. Moving onto the stage, each performer took its place equidistant from the flames. They began to dance. Bouncing and swinging, synchronized around the flame. Inwards and outwards they went, but never once did they move closer to the flame than their original place. The dance looked as if they were afraid of the flame, yet worshiping it. I hadn’t paid much attention to it at this point, but I heard music playing. Of violin, and organ, and piano, and lyre, and flute, and horn. The rag-dolls danced in beautiful choreography with the music, and the flame at the same time. Still, each performer never moved closer than its perigee.
I loved them. I loved everything about their dances. But the time came when the act was finished, and the tiny dancers left the stage. I did not want them to go. I wanted them to dance forever. Forever. But forever did not come. The light was extinguished, the music ceased, and the black, misty curtains closed once again on the stage. The tiny people were gone. Maybe for forever.
Today, I quit my job. In the morning, at the hour of nine, I got into my bed, and stared at the stage in the corner where the dancers had appeared. The dancers: were they real? Whatever they were, I did not care. The day passed, without a morsel of food. The night came. Hours passed into the twilight. The black ocean once again descended. Not until the midnight hour did the light in the corner ignite once again. My dancers returned from under the bed, and I once more heard the music playing. This time, it was faster, and more malicious. The dance, too, matched this music. I watched every movement they made. Eventually, the dance reached a halt, and like the night before, it ended.
Twenty four hours, again, I laid in my bed waiting for the next performance. My thoughts came and went, muttering like a ceaseless jabberwocky. But midnight came, and the dancers came. Tonight, their dance looked quite violent. More so than last night. The music, once again, matched the dance. And the exact same way as the previous night, they vanished. When the third act of the performance had ended, I didn’t know what to think. It wasn’t the same. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to see them again.
The fourth night came after another whole day of waiting. By now, I had decided that I certainly did not want to see the creatures dance once again, but at the same time, I felt like I had no choice but to watch. The creatures would dance. Surely enough, at the midnight hour, they came out of the gloom. No longer did they look amusing, even though they were exactly the same as when I first saw them. Their masks were the same, but they now looked grotesque and hideous, perched on their filthy plush burlap bodies. This time, the music sounded like thunder! The six dancers emerged for the fourth act. There are no other words to describe it: it was evil! The dance looked like a fire of destruction. They bounced around the flame over and over again. No longer did they obey the perigee. They bounced in and out of the flame, burning themselves. Soon, all of the burlap was burned off of their bodies, leaving the painted metal masks on wire skeletons. I wanted it to stop. It had to stop. Soon, the music stopped. I thanked God that it was over, or at least prayed there would be no more. But the dancers did not leave the stage. Instead, one of them stepped forward (presumably their leader) and lit a torch from the fire. The campfire went out, and the six wire dolls retreated once more to their place under the bed. But their torch did not go out. It still glowed under the bed. The entire remainder of the night, the light glowed, and I heard the hideous, squeaky voices of what could be none other than the rag-dolls, now possessed wire sculptures. From what I could hear, it was a throng between the six of them. The party sounded quite merry, but from the tone, any could tell it was a hive of sin and darkness. The noise was the most haunting thing I had ever heard, right along with the music.
I wanted it to stop. I decided it would be better if I was dead.
The noise finally stopped ere the coming of morning. Still, I lay in bed, dreading the night to come. Considering how bad the fourth act was, what would the fifth be like? It was unimaginable.
I left my bed then for the first time in days. I was scared my feet would fail after so long, but they did not. I had the plan all worked out in my head.
I was going to hang myself so I never had to see the evil dancers again.
It was easy, getting it together, I fetched a rope from my garage, tied it to the rafters, and hoisted it so it was eye level with me when I stood on the chair. But when the time came, I could not bring myself to put it around my neck and jump. Voices whispered from every direction tempting me to do it, but I could not. Looking down, the floor of the garage was covered in the black ocean. And it was calling me. At this moment, I lost complete control over myself. My legs gave way and I fell into the gloom.
I do not know what day it is. I could have been falling for a minute, or it could have been a week. I am falling. Without stop, falling. Falling and falling. Deeper into this ocean with every second. Years, it seems, have passed, and now I hear voices! Not infernal whispers, but human voices, clearly audible. This is what they said:
“We found her on the floor of her house.”
“Is she hurt?”
“A few broken ribs… she tried to hang herself.”
“What’s she writing in?”
“I don’t know. A journal. She wouldn’t let go of it. She’s in a trance, as far as we know.”
“Is it Schizophrenia?”
“Not sure. I’m just a nurse.”
“It appears so. She seems to be writing down everything we say.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Certainly a new one.”
“Oh, Doctor Phillips?”
“Every word we say.”
“Interesting. Here, hold this for me.”
“Her heart’s slowing down.”
“What do you mean her heart’s slowing down?”
“Damn! We’re losing her!”
“What are you talking about? She’s still writing.”
“Are you calling me a liar? Look at the monitor! She’s having a heart attack. My God! Get an AED!”
“She’s still writing!”
“Check her pulse if you don’t believe me! She’s going to die!”
“Then why is she writing in a notebook like nothing’s wrong?”
“Oh, no! No no no no!”
“Her heart stopped!”
“I’ve got the AED!”
“She is STILL WRITING!”
“The machine’s broken.”
“I can’t find a pulse.”
“Is she breathing?”
“How is she doing that? Her eyes are open. And she’s writing down everything we say!”
“No no no no no! Come on!”
“This is impossible.”
“This is more than just a mental case!”
“You think? This has never, ever happened before in the history of medicine.”
“She wants us to say something.”
“I said she wants us to say something.”
“Is your spirit writing through you?”