I only have pieces.
There was a three-day stretch of time shortly after I moved into South Towers where I broke loose of reality, and for that amount of time, I became a kind of amalgamation of Artist and Teth. I became something both riotously creative and utterly savage at the same time. I will do what I can to bring that set of shifting, unstable moments together in a way that can make sense to you, make sense to us. For in that span of time, I do not really know what happened to me beyond me rattling around my apartment, and everything in my mind broke free and became abstract.
Siren was going on a trip with her parents. She would be gone for three days.
Bekah was going on a trip to see her parents. She would be gone for a week.
I was for the first time, left alone for any extended amount of time, and I was fine for the first day. I remember taking a walk that first day after I woke up. It was freeing being without supervision, without anyone to coddle me or make their life about me. I felt like I was a burden to no one, and I walked downtown Springfield with a kind of wide-eyed wonder. I felt sane for the first time in so long, like I could do anything, and I realized that having people around me at all times had made me feel sick. Maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was just a troubled man who needed a little time to himself. With this idea in mind, I went upstairs.
I stripped to my boxers. With company in my house around the clock I was able to be naked or nearly naked very seldom, and it felt good to free myself of clothing and just sit on my couch and look around the room. I tried to watch a show, tried to watch a movie, but the noise of it and the flickering motion of the images passing by were distracting and overwhelming.
Soon I put in a song by Linkin Park and turned it real low. Just loud enough to hear, just loud enough to hum right in the background. A slight pulse, a kind of base coat of vitality and verve. The song I chose was called “Breaking the Habit.”
It is about a person who lives a life of drama who has been blaming everyone else for his problems and decides to take a bit of the responsibility to put himself back together. The song had allowed a breakthrough a few weeks prior and was becoming an obsession with me. I put it on repeat. Then I lit a candle.
I shut the curtains, pulled out the candle. I set it on the middle of my coffee table, and I sat, looked at it, and watched it burn. I got caught. That is the best way to say it. I got caught. I could not take my eyes off of it, could not pull them away, and I watched a fat candle burn six inches without once taking my eye from it. Or stopping to do anything else.
This is when I broke out. Broke loose. Or broke free of all of the reality around me. I soon dropped to the floor and pulled out a journal D had bought for me. It was blue and leather with a decorative quill embossed on it and an ink well. The inside had an inscription he had written. It was encouraging and loving, and I opened the book and wrote the creation myth of the fantasy world I will become engaged with later in life. This is where it first came to life. This is where my world began to spark. When I was done writing that myth, I put that book away and I have never written in it again.
I found my old comp books and I pulled one out that I had used to take some notes in a college class. It had about five pages filled in it, but other than that was blank, and I began to write.
I wrote death. I am not sure why. But I wrote a death for every one of my friends and what scant family I had left. I wrote them all dying. Then I created a girl. She was known to me as the First Girl. She went to everyone who had died in my book and she brought them all back to life.
I pulled a knife from under the coffee table and sliced my boxers off.
See, I had forgotten how to take them off. I crawled to the bathroom and peed in the shower.
I was thirsty, so I drank half a two-liter of Dr. Pepper. I set it in the middle of the room, sat cross-legged in front of it, and told it about love and about death. When I had told this half empty bottle of soda about life and death, I drank it all and threw it behind me. It rattled off the wall, then I heard a noise.
It rose above the din of the Linkin Park song, a rattling and a scream. It lifted into the air like the howl of a banshee and when it stopped, I heard talking. I heard the voice of a person as if they were far away, and I clapped my hands over my ears when the voice said it loved me.
On hands and feet I crawled to my next comp book and started to write the names of the people who loved me. I started to write the names of the people who hated me. I made lists of names of people I knew. Then I made a list of the names of people I did not know. When I was done, I was hungry.
I found a box of Pop Tarts, gripped it with one hand and pounded it on the table with no knowledge of how to open it. I finally grabbed a knife and sliced my way in. I found paper and shattered bits of pastry. I ate it the best I could, then I took the broken bits and I spelled out the words, “I love you.” I stared at them and wept for an undetermined amount of time before stomping on the bits of words until they were dust.
I then went and shit in the shower.
I heard pounding. I ran to it. Crouched low at the door, I pressed my body against the wood and my ear against the surface. I could smell a woman. She smelled as if she was in a hurry.
Please don’t ask me how I knew that. Please don’t ask me any questions at all. You would, if you were to start asking for an explanation, be asking me to make sense of insanity. All I can do is relate to you what happened. All I can do is tell you what I had become.
I fell asleep by the door. Naked, my ass crusted with unwiped feces, my feet covered in stomped bits of Pop Tarts. I slept, and I can’t tell you how long before I awoke thirsty again. I carried the next two-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper to the middle of the floor and drank. I don’t remember how much I drank, just that when I was done, I prayed to that bottle to let me find a way out of the apartment. Let me find a way back to life. Back to sanity. It was becoming clear that there was a world out there. That beyond this, all of this, was a place where people talked and loved.
I went back to my comp books after praying to a near empty bottle of Dr. Pepper and I grabbed a pen. I grabbed a new comp book and wrote words. Then sounds. The sounds were those of the English language. The sounds the letters make when they are spoken free of words. The sounds words are comprised of. I wrote as many as I could.
That was when I started to write more. I started to invent sounds. Sounds that other languages would make. Sounds animals would make that did not exist. I wrote about animals that had been dead for millions of years and I wrote their sounds. Suddenly I could hear a conversation outside my door, and on hands and feet, I crawled to the door.
I smelled a woman and a man. They were outside my door talking. The door kept braying as they pounded on it, and they began to say things of deep emotion. They loved me. They were trying to reach me. And I loved them. That love was pure for a few seconds. Then it turned perverse. Soon that love had turned to lust.
As the people tried to talk to me through the door, I masturbated to the love they spoke that had, in my mind, become lust. They were trying to reach me, but I was so far from the world. So far from anything sane that it was impossible to find a way home.
They left, and on hands and feet, I went back into the bathroom to relieve myself again. When I was done, I began to build my shrine.
It started as me getting supplies. I grabbed a few kinds of food that I might need to survive the rest of this spell. I brought cans of beans and cans of juice. I brought a loaf of bread and some dry noodles. I brought a few different kinds of meat and a few more bottles of Dr. Pepper. I began to stack them all, and within an hour, I had my shrine.
See, it was a shrine to survival. A shrine comprised of everything I would need to survive. I bowed to it and stood. I walked around it and I wept. I dropped to it and begged for its help. When it did not help me, I went back to the bathroom and drank water from the toilet. I washed my hands and I came back out.
I was back at the comp books, and I drew lines that might one day warp and twist to become letters. The shreds of words that if they ever were put together might one day be the story of my life. Surely that story would end here.
I realized this was the story of my death. When they found me, they would need to know how I had fallen into this. They all needed to know this was always going to be the end for me. A mind like mine could never make sense of the loss of innocence, the loss of love, the loss of family. This mind had been bashed to bits, and when left to itself for the first time in years, it had uncoupled and rolled downhill.
I then drew warped lines on the page, lines they could use to bend and stiffen into letters. All of these lines would make letters that would explain what had happened to me. These random bits of lines would tell the story of what had finally broken me. This was the story of the death of my mind.
I prayed to my shrine. I drank from my toilet. I shit in my shower, and I ate what little bits of food I still had in my pantry. The food in the shrine was too precious to eat. So, I left that alone. I went back to my comp book and wrote.
This time real words. This time a story. Not a story that made sense at the time. Not a story that would make sense for a long time. This was a glimpse into the future. A dream of a life that might one day become. A story about the life I live now. I got a few things right.
I did marry Bekah.
I lived with beasts of man and wolf.
I sang and ate and watched miraculous visions of heroics and debauchery.
I drank from fountains of whiskey and ate at the bend of the river of love.
I went to the curtain and leaned against it. When I passed out, I slumped left and the curtain pulled back enough to expose the sky. When I woke, sunlight had struck my shrine. With the sun came a return to sanity.
It took me the rest of the day to clean up the mess I had made. I showered and climbed into bed. I slept.
A few days later I took the comp books and stacked them together. I took four rubber bands and bound them together. Then I dropped them into the trash chute just outside my door.
Most of this I had forgotten until tonight. This chapter of my life scares me. This is when I decide I should never be left alone. This is when I made the decision to keep Siren close.
Because a big part of me wanted to send her away and just rely on Bekah. Embrace the one I loved and build a life with her. But if anything called her away, this right here was what I would be looking at. I needed as much supervision as I could get.
I would keep Siren around for a long time yet. I was just too fragile. And I could not trust myself to hold it together.
But I had a bit of hope. A ray of light had shone on me. When I had lost my mind, I had built a shrine to survival.
And I had prayed.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.