New story! Enjoy!
I woke up this morning with a sudden start, the way I do most every morning. There was a moment of confusion, of disorientation, of dumb animal panic as I tried to remember where I was and how I’d gotten there. But only for a second, and then it all came back to me.
I’d fallen asleep sitting again, my hands resting on my knees like some kind of imitation of the Buddha, my chin resting on my chest and a thin stand of drool dragging from the corner of my mouth. I’d been awake almost until dawn, sitting in the darkness and the stillness, watching and waiting in the moonlight. I was determined. More determined than I had ever been. I would see the damnable thing, I told myself, even if I had to stay up until the break of day. But like Peter in the garden, I had failed. I was weak.
The hole in the center of my home, in the center of everything, had grown while I’d slept.
I stood up and stretched. My neck and my back ached, my knees were stiff, but I ignored them. I needed to clear my head enough to focus. To perform the necessary measurements and tests. I’d drawn a thin arc in chalk with a line bisecting it at the very lip of the hole when I’d first sat down the night before. The arc was gone now, but the line was relatively untouched. An inch, then? Was that average? Above? Below? Had the void spread evenly, or was it growing irregularly? I needed to get a camera, I thought. I needed to some way to record what was happening, some way to quantify it.
I stood there staring. The wall of the bore was a smooth, ruddy brown all the way up to the floor. It was impossible, in a way. There should have been foundation visible, dirt, rocks. Some sign of the earth upon which my small, lonely house had been built, but there was nothing but the thin layer of hardwood that made up my floor. It was just that impossibly smooth surface, a warm, wet breeze emanating up from the unseen depths from time to time, like the breath of some great and terrible living creature.
“Focus,” I muttered. “Go to work. Put it out of your head. Eat lunch. Come home. Do anything else. Get some decent sleep. It will be different tomorrow. It will be different tomorrow.”
This had become my mantra over the past few months. I’d begun saying it once the void grew too big to ignore, too large to convince myself that it was just an errant spot, a crack in the hardwood, a blemish on the floor. I’d thrown a rug over it. That worked for a while to put it out of my mind, but one day I noticed that the rug was sagging in the center. The facade I’d put up so I wouldn’t have to think about it had begun to collapse.
But I wouldn’t let myself think about it.
Up. Work. Home. Bed. Up. Work. Home. Bed. Up. Work. Home. Bed.