Sunday 19 July 2020

Poem - He Thought He Was Dying

He thought he was dying.
That, at least, is all he can remember
Before everything went black.
He must have passed out,
Though he is awake again now.
Sort of. In an odd sort of way.
He feels strange.
Not frightened.
Not worried either.
Not worried at all.
All the worries he used to have
Are gone, completely.
He can’t even remember
What he’d ever had to worry about.
Nor does he feel any pain.
Only his thoughts feel muddy.
Which isn’t good.
They are blurred
As if he’s had a massive anaesthetic
That has numbed his body - and his brain.
Not that it bothers him.
Nothing bothers him anymore.
Apart from feeling hungry.
That is starting to take over.
A deep-rooted hunger that spreads from his bowels.
He has never felt so hungry in his life,
Though he is beginning to remember less of that life
Each passing second.
It has blurred into a mist which nothing
He can do can penetrate.
Not that the hunger in his stomach
Gives him time for that now.
With a lurch he moves.
Something wet and sloppy slaps against his knees.
He looks down and sees ropes of what look like guts.
His guts, he supposes,
Not even surprised by the realisation,
A realisation which barely registers
Before he has forgotten it as he staggers forward.
Then slips on his own greasy innards,
Falling flat on his back.
His head hits the ground with a sickening crack.

“Bloody hell!” Pete sits up in bed,
And all the tubes attached to the needles in his arms
Tug painfully.
He looks around the empty ward,
Feeling a surge of relief sweep through him.
His heart is still pounding as if he’s run a marathon.
He looks up at the monitors next to his bed
And is surprised they aren’t beeping like crazy.
Still catching his breath,
He lies back on his pillow too frightened to close his eyes
In case he falls asleep.
That was a nightmare he doesn’t want to have again.
But he does.

Synapses feebly crackle with electrical charges
Somewhere deep inside his brain.

His hands flounder across the floor
Till they are firmly placed.
He pushes himself up
And struggles to his feet,
Wobbling like a puppet in the hands of a drunk.
But he manages it.
Leaning against a wall he gazes around.
It is hard to focus.
His sight is blurry.
Most of what he sees are just movements.
Everything else is a series of vague shapes.
Some instinct, though, makes certain movements
More interesting.
If they are slow or disjointed, like his own,
He ignores them.
If they are fast or determined
He feels a compulsion to stagger nearer.
Something about them makes him aware
Of food.
He needs that.
The ache inside his bowels will not be ignored.
Only food can appease it.
All day he roams aimlessly,
Rarely brought to a semblance of awareness
By something catching his attention,
Either by sight or by sound.
But daylight passes, and night makes everything dark again,
And the blurs he can see merge with it.
Then he stops
And falls into a kind of sleep.

Pete awakes with a start,
Panicking at the nightmare that has returned yet again.
Gasping for breath, he raises his head
And looks around the ward,
Still worryingly empty.
He hasn’t seen a nurse for as long as he can remember.
He desperately needs something to drink;
His mouth tastes as if it is filled with dried-up clay.
He is hungry too.
Why has no one brought him anything to eat?
What kind of hospital is this?
Annoyed and worried, he struggles to sit up and shouts,
His voice cracks at the effort,
And he slumps onto his pillow again, exhausted.
It is all too much.
He closes his eyes.

It is daylight again when he climbs to his feet.
A couple of his fingers have been damaged,
Though he does not remember how or when.
They fall off when he moves his arms.
But that doesn’t bother him.
Nothing does.
Except his hunger.
He lurches forward; aware that someone is moving
In front of him.
Whoever it is grows steadily clearer,
A shadow amongst shadows.
It is only when the figure is within reach
Of his outstretched fingers,
That he sees the man raise his arm into the air.
In some barely cognizant part of his mind,
He recognises an axe.
The sharp curve of its edge glints in the sunlight
As it falls towards him.

Pete groans.
He knows he is dying, though he does not know why.
His head hurts and what little there is left
Of his memories are starting to dissipate.
When the darkness comes,
And his dream disappears into nothingness,
He isn’t even aware of the change.

The creature flops to the ground, its head split open.
For one moment the man who has killed it
Is sure it tries to speak through ravaged lips,
Something about a hospital.
But he must be wrong, he tells himself.
These things can’t talk.
Then wipes his axe on the creature’s back
And scans the street,
Hoping he’s seen the last of them today. 

This poem will be published in Phantasmagoria #16

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