by A. V. Cheshire
The man in the room is not all there.
It is difficult to see him – different parts of his anatomy slipping along increasing lines of soft focus. When he speaks his words are those of a detuned radio, fuzzy and indistinct. Every now and again the frequencies align and a single word will leap out with crystal clarity. The room has no door, no windows. There are no light fixtures either. despite this the room is bathed in an autumnal glow that is everywhere at once.
There are no shadows in the room.
Apart from yourself and the who who is not exactly there the room is empty but for an old school blackboard. The man is no help – corporeal but more like a statue than a person. You have more luck talking to yourself. Memories crawl behind your eyes. You know who you are just not how you came to be. For a while you stand listening, making sense of what words you can hear, but for every third that comes through the static and whine you forget the first.
You approach the blackboard. Finding a piece of chalk in the gully you begin to write the words out. Excitement creeps as a narrative begins to unfold bfore you. Sign and signifid amassing. Meanings spreading between one another like roots. A tension begins to build inside you.
Getting to the bottom of the board you flip it around on its hinges urgently. On the otherside are the words you have just spent the past hour writing out immaculately. Bubbles like nitrous pop in your mind. You spin it around again. The words are still there. You reach out and touch them, rubbing the palm of your hand back and forth on the rough surface, expecting the words to blur and disintegrate, but they don’t.
You can feel chalk dust on your skin regardless.
Panic sets in. You are losing more and more words with each passing moment. With no more blackboard real estate you drop to your knees and begin writing frantic on the floor. You try your best to write in short, straight lines but they quickly become crooked. Soon sentences stretch and sway as if caught in a hidden breeze which freezes them on the spot. Your kneecaps begin to ache as you move across the floor, like a child drawing rainbows on the summer pavement.
When you run out of floor you turn your attention to the walls. You become aware that when you run out of walls you will have nothing else to write on. The thought like a lead gets stuck in your throat.
You don’t know how many days you have been in that room when you reach the final wall but you ache from head to toe.
The end is coming.
As you squeeze in one more word everything becomes silence.
The man is gone
and you are alone
with nothing but the words
to keep you company.
A. V. Cheshire has been known to lose himself. If found please return to nearest non-franchise coffeehouse.
#1 by Adrian Ford on April 1, 2012 - 12:15 pm
Compelling but baffling, understandable and impossibly erudite. Loved it.
#2 by A. V. Cheshire on April 1, 2012 - 1:52 pm
Thanks Adrian ^_^
#3 by Anthony on April 1, 2012 - 2:54 pm
Absolutely loved this.
#4 by A. V. Cheshire on April 1, 2012 - 4:31 pm
Thanks Anthony. After I wrote it, at some point last year, I had an idea of doing a whole series of flash pieces based around this concept. My primary inspiration when I wrote this was old text-adventures like Zork (Games that are sometimes called ‘Interactive Fiction’ these days).
#5 by Joy Manne on April 4, 2012 - 7:49 am
It’s the 4th time I’m reading it. Depth after Depth.