My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the category “Madness”

The Seeker

In all my years as a detective on the Kent police force where, admittedly, I wasn’t inundated with out-of-the-ordinary cases, this was probably the strangest.  if I hadn’t had been there, I’d have laughed it off. I was, however, so I didn’t.

Being close to London, we had our share of dead bodies turning up, the majority of them unwillingly dead.  Then we had the willingly dead, the suicides, which normally entailed jumping off something high, into something deep or into the path of something heavy and fast-moving.  The story of The Seeker is none of the above.

Why The Seeker?  Well, his circumstances brought to mind that old song by The Who, we named him that in the station and it stuck.  When we have our pub get-togethers the case still gets referred to as The Seeker and yes, we smile about it now; certainly more than we did when we found him.

We were called to a semi-detached house on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells one morning.  It was June and the glorious English two-week summer had been and gone and had been replaced by scattered showers and lower than average temperatures.  The bin men had become concerned at the lack of refuse at number 31, The Rise.  Strange, they said.  Not like him, they said.  Never goes on holiday, they said.  Would you mind checking?  So Davis and I pulled up outside number 31, between downpours, and knocked on the door.  Receiving no response, we circled the house, round to the back garden.  The only window open was the small hopper window, impossible to get through without removing it.  10 minutes later, Leatherman multi-purpose tool in hand, the window was off its hinges and Davis was head first and arse last through the hole.  I could only hear his muffled voice.

“Christ, it smells like your armpits in here.”

“Just open the door and let me in so we can confirm the man’s gone off on holiday and get back to the station for a coffee.”

The key turned in the kitchen door and it swung open.  Davis was right, the place stank.  I would, however, contest that my armpits smell like that.  The mewing of cats came from the landing above our heads as we walked through the hallway.  We looked at each other, no words needed.  Something wasn’t right. The stairs creaked as we made our way up. The cats scattered as we reached the landing, at least five or six of them.  The stench was almost unbearable.  A reluctant room-to-room followed.  We found him in the small studio room, still sat at his computer.

With the help of Martins on forensics the story was pieced together and it went like this.

The man had had an addiction.  No crack, meth or needle chill for The Seeker, no.  just good old Google.  He’d played chicken on the information super-highway and lost.  Too much information can kill you – ignorance is bliss.  He should’ve listened.

Only afterwards, going through his browser history, did the full extent of his addiction come to light.  He’d researched everything from an aardvark’s anal glands to a zebra’s zoonosis.  During this month-long bout of browser fever, he’d starting neglecting himself then he’d started neglecting his cats.  The official cause of death was dehydration; he’d sat and sat until his body was so drained of fluids he’d just collapsed.  He’d even rigged up some form of hose system to an old washtub so he didn’t have to get out of his seat.  No eating for The Seeker, he was nourishing himself in a Wikipedia frenzy, feeding off a You Tube drip and, slowly but surely, Googling himself to death.  Somewhere during the course of this derangement his dehydrated body gave up and his heart gave out.  At least we hope it did.

After all, the cats had to eat.

The crawling night

The cheap quartz wall clock ticked its way through the dark minutes and hours in the studio.  It wasn’t loud yet he was convinced he could still hear it, even with the door closed.  He turned his face from one hot side of the pillow to the other. Still sleep evaded him.

The mind plays its darkest games in those still hours, when fears are more real.  The swoosh of the scythe, like a knife through silk, is only a stroke away, and death stalks those wakeful thoughts.  Car crashes become unavoidable.  Work-related accidents a matter of time and media-induced paranoia of acts of terrorism places packages in every hidden shadow.

He flicked on the small book-light under the duvet and read a chapter of his latest acquisition, a paperback fiction bought at the station when the tannoy announced the cancellation of the train, and the drizzle continued unabated.

Satisfied, he flicked off the light and closed his eyes.  He twisted.  He turned.  His brain churned.  Damn it.  His ears strained for the faint sounds of the wall clock but this time he could hear nothing.  Content, he tried the new breathing exercises he’d been shown and tried to relax.  No good.  His mind shifted up to fourth.  He was awake.  A sigh passed his parted lips and, rising slowly to avoid making noise, he got out of bed.

He sat at the desk in his studio.  He opened his notebook, took a pen from its holder and listened to the clock tick its way through the dark minutes and hours.

The night, the chemical night

Every now and again my long-term sleep problems find their way onto the written page; it’s how I feel when I pick up the pencil. I can’t tell of flowers when I see monsters.

***

The night;
star-less, aimless.
Fitful twists and turns and sweat on the pillow
tempted by sleep, made
hidden in foil
just within reach,
enticing, seducing.

The night;
I give in,
because I’m damned if I do
and I’m damned if I don’t.
Irrationality becomes normality
as sleep descends:
a benzodiazepine dream

Daydream
The day is for dreaming
What you could be
or want to be
What you could have been
or will be

The night
I avoided its darkest depths
lest from my pharmaceutical dreams
I returned; empty.
Trapped
in their batwing-leather embrace
to wander alone.

The night,
the chemical night.

Flash Fiction Friday 146: Colours frozen in time by Chris Farley

My ever present and never diminishing thanks once again to Morgen.
I’m still unsure as to whether I should be disturbed about the fact that I sat in a pub looking at a tattoo and invented this story around it…

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and forty-sixth piece in this series. This week’s is a 436-worder by Christopher Farley.

Colours frozen in time

The tattoo was the first thing I noticed; it was beautiful. She sat opposite her friend drinking Belgian beer from a huge glass and I saw it as I walked past, making my way to the men’s room.

Her thin, white arms poked out from her even whiter t-shirt, then a waterfall of colour burst from the sleeves of the t-shirt. Three lotus flowers, red, green and pink, one on top of the other. But oh, the arm. How could something so pale and delicate suffer so much pain? I returned to the bar and pretended to look at the game on the big screen. Her friend rose from the table and headed for the toilet.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Sorry, I couldn’t help…

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The shrink and syllable

Message / psycho / disyllable

Sounds like an English pub name, in fact, should I ever own a pub (dangerous Farley, dangerous) it wouldn’t be a bad one.  I digress.  This piece came from an early morning idea of opening the dictionary, closing my eyes and jabbing my finger three times and seeing what words were found…the first two were ok. At 7am I really had to think about ‘disyllable’ though. Anyway, I gave myself 20 minutes for the exercise and it rolled out like this:

***

He sat there staring at me, just wouldn’t drop his eyes. I could feel myself squirming inside, uncomfortable was not word enough for how I felt. In some far off corner of my brain though I rationalised; he had a point, some twisted logic that made his argument plausible. He waited.

“You must understand Mr Brunton that I am not an expert in that field.”

Yes, but what do you actually think doctor?”

Well, I suppose if I had an opinion I could proffer it, I guess I can’t see the harm.”

He waited. I cleared my throat. I wasn’t so much worried about his reaction, I found myself wanting his approval. I held his gaze.

“The first thing is you need to stop thinking everything is some kind of subliminal message, with some hidden agenda. It really isn’t like that. You…”

“Doctor, you work for the system, you would say that.”

“System? What system? I am a psychologist Mr Brunton, you came to me remember?” I heard my tone change. No matter what the situation I’ve always kept a lid on my feelings. Impartiality is my middle name. However, with this psycho sitting in front of me thinking God knows what about me, whilst the colour drained and returned to his face with every fleeting emotion that raced through his mind, his eyes constantly wandering round the room. I could feel tiny bubbles of anger rising up, like champagne in a flute glass.

“There is nothing untoward about it,” I continued, “and I really don’t see the problem Mr Br…”

“Ah! But you wouldn’t would you doctor. For you it isn’t a problem you’ve ever considered. How many people go through life blatantly ignoring fundamental questions such as these? Too many I shouldn’t wonder.”

“Mr Brunton.”

“You ignore these things at your peril doctor. These issues must be confronted, they have to be…”

MR BRUNTON!” I was now shaking visibly and any trace of impartiality had flown out of the window or crawled under the door. “Mr Brunton, I am not an expert in either linguistics or grammar, therefore I will now find you the contact details of the Oxford English Dictionary, whereupon you can contact them yourself and ask them just why the word “disyllable”, which means a word containing two syllables, itself actually contains four.”

My Private Bedlam

My room is cramped
No furniture anywhere
The walls are soft
Like pillows
My cold tea in a plastic cup
My jacket fits
White, if a little tight
My pills are good
I feel no pain
In my private Bedlam
My madness is mine
And mine alone

Are you jealous of me
and my freedom?
You think I should be hidden
That I’m trapped
Soft cell prisoner
Yet every time I close my eyes
I see a myriad of worlds
Where you could never go
Where you do not exist
In my private Bedlam
My madness is mine
And mine alone

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