With trepidation, I opened the cream colored folder. Inside, there was only a single 3.5” High Density Floppy Diskette. I picked it up and flipped it back and forth in my fingertips with amusement. “Really, Charon? A Floppy? At least, he is trying to step into the modern age.”
I opened the bottom drawer of my executive desk and pulled out the chunky, off-white colored Compaq LTE laptop—the kind that were all the rage in the 1990s. I blew off a lair of dust that floated in a swirling cloud past my desk. Ms. Walsh coughed slightly as the dust cloud hit her full on in what was left her face.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Ms. Walsh.” While the laptop slowly processed through its boot sequence, I completed her paperwork and bruskly handed her the Assignment Cards she would need for housing and employment. She looked at the cards with what appeared to be amazement. I wasn’t sure, it might have been confusion or anything else—hard to tell, considering her present condition. I pressed the button on the desk and Charon quickly appeared and ushered Ms. Walsh off to her afterlife.
A familiar blue-white light warmly greeted me. When the blinking cursor finally appeared signaling DOS was ready, I slid the blue disk into the front bay and waited for it to load. Only one file on the disk, an audio file, I typed in the command to play it. The old speakers clicked to life and the tinny, monotone voice of a man began talking. I took a sip of my coffee ☕ and listened intently.
The wastelands stretch across the horizon, barren filled with a stillness that could only be Death. It seems to be alive on this dreamscape—sitting there awaiting my arrival. In the distance, up ahead, there sits a bell tower reaching to the blackened sky. Its image just a silhouette in the darkness– so vague it seems not to exist. It is there where I’ll rendezvous with Death and there my destiny will be decided.
In this, the fabled darkest hour, I cling hopelessly to the embrace of night—a tether keeping me from dropping out of life into the clutches of some dismal eternity. The never-ending winds burning hot on my cheek like gusts straight from Hell. The lifeline sways and I clutch tighter—holding onto what is left of reality. I peer down at my shadow as it shifts and contorts in the flickering light.
Softly, I whisper prayers to some divine entity—any that will accept my devotions. My pleas for mercy go unanswered without so much as a drop of cool summer rain to assure me someone had heard my call in that celestial abyss. I realize there will be no clemency for whatever arbitrary sin for which I have been accused. Once again, I am alone without guidance. No different than any other time in life, I am left to fend for myself—to trust only my own internal drive. A drive that has of late begun to slip into neutral. And, so my journey has begun—my final destiny begins to take shape.
I never expected to quote unquote leave go of my rope—to lose all distinction between sanity and lunacy. I can’t seem to remember when I crossed that fine line or even if I ever did walk across the threshold into the land of the insane. To my satisfaction, it would seem as if I had never crossed that invisible barrier, but I could feel the two worlds meshing.
It never occurred to me that this might be happening. After all, everything has a place, don’t they? And they all were in it, but then again how’s the phrase go…in the depths of a mind insane, fantasy and reality are the same.
In my dreams, I could see the Dawn standing just ahead of me, a vision that excited me so. But, the more often this came into view, the more pain I would feel. And, I longed for the safety of night. Each time, I would return to where the morning dew created a fine mist and signaled the coming of Dawn. And I couldn’t help but to reach out for the Misty Dawn and feel the cool summer rain come falling down upon my brow—followed by a warm sun that would fill my heart and shimmer in the eyes of my love. These eyes that have brought me closer to the pain and fulfillment of my destiny.
In desperation, I would plunge back into the safety of night, dreading the next coming, but abhorring the thought of never seeing my Misty Dawn again. Sometimes, I wonder if they were dreams or nightmares—constantly struggling with the duality of my thoughts.
If this had been a Seven-Eleven, the surveillance camera would have recorded this to be the third day of being crazy (or should I say of the dream.)
“It is not I who am crazy, it is I who I am mad. “
“Well, pardon me, fella.”
I’m really starting to lose control. Bouts of schizophrenia and paranoia rage in my brain like some World Heavyweight Prize Fight, two big bruisers going toe to toe in the middle of the squared circle. I can only sit here and wonder who will be the victor when the fight is done. And when it is done, will I even realize or will I even care. With each bell signaling the end of the round, I slip deeper into a state of apathy and step closer to the decision. I find myself hoping for the next round to be the deciding one, no matter which way the judges decide. But, alas, the struggle continues on.
It has been a week since last I saw the dangling rope above me. I fell from the sky into the dark uncertainty sweeping up around me, maybe this is just part of my madness or is it just a long dream tumbling and fumbling along the highways of my mind? I can no longer recall the ins and outs of my normal routine. The ringing in my ears grows steadily with each passing hour. My fever grows exponentially as if a blazing sun were circling closer around me.
I can feel a breeze so hot pressing against me from the west. The ringing chills my bones like those of the unfortunate souls that lie in the mortuaries. I can only wait till I am at peace alongside them. Hopefully then, the pain will end. But now, it grows darker and the ringing louder.
I woke suddenly. The feeling of coldness pressed against me now like a winter draft—even though every orifice in the house seems sufficiently sealed. The ringing in my ears are rhythmic—the tolling of a church bell? The loud, hollow sound pouring in against my eardrum signals the heaviness of a somber death toll, not the gaiety of a religious festival.
Once again, I dreamt of the tall bell tower with its rusty bell situated inside. Atop the tower, a giant steeple pierces into the clouds above. It feels just like the first time. Is this the same tower? Will I keep having this dream? I feel there will be many more.
“No, there won’t.”
“Maybe, next time it will be real.”
Sleep quickly quieted the argument.
Whether the end or the beginning, I must fall silent now and let the path carry me to where it will. Debate will not change the outcome. It’s coming closer and I cannot stop it. The end of all that I believe is real. Everything will fall into a hollow dark abyss.
My dreams of the bell tower continue to grow more frequent—more real. I know not whether it is my salvation or my destruction. All I know is it’s coming closer somehow.
Though I have tried before, I cannot fight this impending doom, if that is what it is. Somehow, I think that when I discover the secrets of the tower, then my battle will be over. I must search for the key to my sanity, so that I may be able to resume life as it once was. I lay awake shivering and the bell continues ringing in an almost continuous drone. My ears are aching but I must find sleep so that I may find my precious bell tower.
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