What time is it? What frickin’ time is it? That question rolled through my waking thoughts countless times. Why? It had felt like I had been asleep for weeks. Asleep for such a period of time that the hands on the clock had forgotten me as they passed through the hours. That’s how I felt when I finally sat up on the futon I had so cozily fell into slumber on.
After realizing that I couldn’t find a single clock around me in my dark as a moonless midnight apartment, the smell hit me. The atrocious smell that made me gag. My eyes watered, my nostrils stung, and I had no idea what the hell, or what hell, that smell was coming from. I stood up, and stumbled through the dark looking for a light switch. My body was stiff, awkward. My legs fought back as I only took a few steps to the nearest wall. My fingers ached, my back was sore, the sore that you get the day after a four hundred pound linebacker lays your ass to the grass. I was that sore.
I felt on the wall for the light switch that I knew was there, and when I finally felt it graze my finger, I flicked it to zero results. No lights came on. And that smell was still lingering. God, where is that coming from? I thought. Something had to of died. My head throbbed, a headache unlike no other. I sat on the floor, leaned against the wall, and slowly, as slow as my aching body would allow, rested my chin against my chest. What frickin’ time is it? That was the thought as I fell back asleep.
When I awoke again, in the same position that I had fallen asleep in, the smell was stronger, and my calico cat, Mr. Charles, was very intently staring at me. And every hair on that damn cat’s being was on end. I just looked into those cat’s eyes. And for the first time in my life, I saw fear in an animal’s eyes. Mr. Charles was frightened of me. Or maybe, just maybe, that smell was getting to him too. It had gotten stronger since I had awoken the first time to it.
The sun had risen while I was taking my unusual nap. But no sunlight was coming through the windows. It was as if the sky had an overcast and the heaviest fog in the world was choking my apartment building. You couldn’t see out the window, but just enough light made it in to make out my home. And besides Mr. Charles, who was avoiding any space ten feet around me, his eyes never leaving me, my apartment was now home to countless flies. I couldn’t hear their buzzing, but I watched them. They flew around the futon, never landing on it, just hovering over it, by it, around it.
My head was spinning? What was going on? Walking into the kitchen, I turned on the kitchen sink, slid my hands under the faucet, and pulled them back just as fast. The water was scolding, blistering hot. I checked to make sure I had turned the cold nozzle, double checked even. I did. No steam was coming from the water, and how did it get that hot that fast? Making sure I wasn’t completely insane, I ran my hand under it again. Son of a bitch! I exclaimed, my palm on metaphorical fire as the damn water burned to the slightest touch.
I pinched my nose, closed my eyes as tight as they would humanly go, grinded my teeth, and told myself to wake up. This was some nightmare from another night of too much alcohol and one or more horror movies. That was all this was. A nightmare. But I just would not wake up. So, it wasn’t a nightmare. In no way, was it a nightmare.
I grabbed the phone. No noise coming through it. I pushed buttons, slammed the phone against anything within reach, and finally let it slip to dangle on its cord. No noise. Nothing. And then movement out of the corner of my eye. I hid against the wall. Whatever I had seen was in my living room. Whatever I had seen was with the flies, with Mr. Charles. The smell. The smell wasn’t as strong in the kitchen. But it was there, reminding me that it was there.
I leaned slowly, glancing around the corner, and it was three of them. They was like shadows, but in person form. Almost as if the shadows switch places with their makers, the people that light shined on, and their shadows just stood up and took over their places. I watched them, but they never noticed me. They never looked in my general direction. They stood, looking at the couch. Watching the flies fly. And Mr. Charles never even glanced in their way. Only at me. Eyes dead set on me.
The three shadows moved about my apartment, looked over everything, everything but me. And then they just left. But in no time, more returned. This time, five. They looked the same as the ones before them. Shadows, walking damn shadows. And I was scared out of my damn mind. I walked backwards until I felt the fridge to my back. And I slid down to the cold, tiled floor. To just watch the shadows move about. My eyes darted around, looking for other shadows in the fog-lit apartment. And the phone was back on the receiver. I never hung it up. But it was back on the receiver. And then, the shadows noticed me.
Mr. Charles hissed at me. I heard the hiss. It stung my ears, like nails on a chalkboard. Like a thousand nails on a chalkboard through a megaphone. The shadow walked towards me, straight at me, and then standing straight over me, turned around and walked away. What the hell was happening? I had lost my damned mind. And so did Mr. Charles. The damn feline was hissing at me, missing the entire point of the scenario. That walking shadows had invaded!
Everything that was happening, the cat, the shadows, the flies, everything, hit me at one damn time. And I passed out. Right there on the cold tile floor, leaning against the fridge. And when I awoke again, the light, the little bit of light that spilled in, was gone. And I was left in the dark. With god knows what lingering, waiting to do whatever to me. I curled up, pulled my knees to my chest. And I cried. Like a damned baby, I cried. I let the water works roll until I saw light again. The apartment door opened. And in stepped my mom. My mom walked in, the light from behind her spilling past her. And there was my mom. Who had died three years ago.
Mom? That was the thought going through my head as I fell back into slumber.