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SHORT STORY: Four Words

“How are you today?” she asks.

The words fly through the distance separating them, like a vulture’s beak seeking putrid flesh to satisfy its hunger.

And within…. 

The scream echoes, everywhere and nowhere, its owner lost in dark obscurity: running without feet, hyperventilating without lungs; blindly seeking an escape from a torment that possesses neither form nor space. 

The relentless pursuers grasp with chains, unfailing in their efforts to capture not hands and feet, but rather guts and chest. Metallic bands tighten in vice-like grip, wrenching all hope from his soul. Only despair is left untouched, permitted to sing of extinction’s allure.

A melody of horror – sounds so sweet to gods of pain – sends evil tendrils through heart and mind. Like sirens sent from eternity’s black fires they coalesce and then capture him, merciless as they feed off his unending anguish.

They taunt him, laughing. 

“You’ll die like this,” they call.

“Will that end it? “

For death might not offer relief. What if his spirit lived on, a mortal demise securing nothing but unending despair? 

Briefly he rages against his tormentors, streams of his fury lashing in every direction. But the succubae of his soul inhale deeply, his anger’s substance offering fuel to their ruinous power. 

Their mockery transforms his tirades into howls. As devils are empowered by the fists of his mind, so heaven becomes his target. Maybe angels will heed if demons will not. But heaven’s silence matches hell’s noise, his wails only amplifying the sounds of the fiery pit that is his home. 

Sapped of soul’s energy, he finally succumbs. Like evil sprites his tormentors leap to his shoulders, from where they may evermore feed him destructive lies… or truths. 

But all this must remain hidden.

And so, smiling he replies, “I’m fine, thank you.”

I wrote this while in the midst of a severe case of depression, trying to capture the feelings that thrashed around my body and mind. Apart from my wife, I don’t think anyone had much of a clue what I was going through; my mask worn expertly through years of practise. When we look out at the sea of faces that walk on busy pavements and through shopping centres, how many of them are also wearing similar masks? We can’t know, for certain, but there will be many. For those without depression, please have compassion and be non-judgmental. For those with depression, we’re not alone – it only feels that way.

jeffreycollyer.com/2015/05/14/four-words/

photo credit: my mind is collapsing via photopin (license)

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