Monday, March 11, 2013

Dragon Fire Frights: Mephitic

How I wished the mire had taken me that ill-boding day. Or maybe it had, and what lies before you is the leftover, inedible carcass of a man. My dreams decayed: putrescent past the point which not even the most wretched rodents could nibble for nourishment. Yet despite this, I have defied all that is natural by preserving this pathetic existence.

On the morning of my aforementioned misfortune, most unusually, I had been late. As the court's stenographer, I was to be there by 8:00 A.M.. My alarm was set to an hour before the trial, but I had a horrible habit of convulsing in my sleep, and unconsciously, I'd knocked the clock off my nightstand, causing it to shift the time.

Left to the mercy of my circadian rhythms, I awoke half an hour later than scheduled. I realized my predicament upon casually strolling into the kitchen, where I could see the correct time mounted on the wall. Panic stricken, I rushed back into my bedroom and dressed myself in hasty, sloppy desperation.

With crooked tie and wrinkled clothing, I ran out my apartment door, down the stairs, and arrived at South Center Station just moments after the 7:45 train had departed for downtown—circumstantially leaving me with only one opportunity to keep my job: a shortcut through the marshland.

This would not be a suitable option for most. But having grown up here and spending many afternoons playing in the bog as a boy, I knew of a passage which went underneath the bridge, through a subterranean tunnel, and would take me within a few city blocks of the courthouse. Also, a recent drought ensured that my ankles would remain above any sewage.

As I made my way through the wet land, a faint cry could be heard in the distance. And before the choice was made, my legs had already begun moving toward its source. For the marsh held many hidden dangers and had swallowed up many a poor creature in its time, and whoever was back there might need rescuing; I could not ignore that.

Wading through the murky waters, I came upon the unfamiliar; something I had never seen before: a lone withered willow atop a muddy knoll, whose surrounding vegetation was rotten and reeked of death. But the crying which led me there had suddenly ceased, and not a soul was within sight.

I trudged up the slope and inspected the sickly thing when an unnatural sadness overwhelmed me. I could again hear the weeping but coming from all around. Then to my horror, a black tar oozed from its branches and trunk, and a blast of vile, slimy, noxious water gushed forth, onto my face, filling up my mouth and nose, soaking through my suit and into my skin. Its pressure overpowered my gravity's center, sending me tumbling backward into the muck.

A seemingly endless torrent of sludge exorbitantly expelled itself from my stomach while I sank deeper into the putrid filth. And the odorous intensity, of which, had rendered me completely mad. It was hours before I gained back enough sense to meander through the swamp and head toward my flat. When I reached the building, the doorman placed a cloth over his nose. But I could still see his horrific grimace and eyes begin to water; his muffled voice mumbled something I didn't care to hear. I cursed at him to open the door as I could not get to the shower fast enough.

After tossing the sullied suit into the bin, the remainder of my day and night was spent in the bath tub. I scrubbed and scrubbed until I bled, exhausting a collection of soap bars to no avail. And no matter how scalding hot the water seemed, I could not become clean. Oh, what I would give to feel that way once more.

I finally gave up and went to bed. And though exhausted from my ordeal, it was not a restful sleep. My body itched and felt as if bugs were crawling and hatching underneath my flesh, and the fumes of the stench condemned me to plug up my nostrils, lest I lapse into a madness, again.

In the afternoon, I was rudely awakened by a pounding at the door. My neighbors had called the super to inspect my unit. For overnight the strong smell of decay had filled up the hallway, and they feared I may have expired. When I opened the door to greet him, the feculent air flowed outward; its potentness stunned his senses, causing him to violently gag. The explanation I attempted fell on deaf ears, for the sight of my lacerations and dried, cracked skin combined with the foul, abhorrent odor was too much. He demanded I get emergency medical help and wouldn't hear an argument against it.

An ambulance came to carry me off. The men were all warned of my condition and donned strange breathing apparatuses. When I arrived through the hospital doors, right away, the staff recognized the danger I posed to the other patients: not just by infectious contamination but by the debilitating nature my affliction can have on others' sanity. After several vain attempts were made to isolate me in a private ward, it was decided that I would be temporarily stored in a place where the smell could bother fewest living things as possible: the hospital's morgue.

They brought a bed down for me and placed it as far from the corpses as they could. The first night was remarkably cold and dark. A faint light flickered by the mortician's work table as his shadow shuffled across my curtain: which behind it, I could also hear his morbid musings. But even worse was when I'd been left alone and could have sworn to sounds of ghostly moaning emanating from the deathly vaults. Again, I did not sleep well.

When morning came, I was served a sort of breakfast, but it tasted stale, rancid, and moldy. Even the orange juice seemed to spoil immediately upon contact with my tongue. I could only pray that science could cure me of this horrid curse which had robbed me of even the simplest joys. But my hope was quickly waning.

Not one specialist or medical prodigy had ever before encountered an odd case like mine. The amount of white coats that came to my bedside could have made me a small fortune if I'd charged admission. And with all their gadgetry combined, they could find nothing wrong. It was as much a mystery to them as it was to me.

They had multitudes of questions, and I tried to answer them all. I told them everything I knew of the wicked tree from the marsh, but they insisted it was not there. This only increased my frustration as my patience was already worn too thin.

Another week went by and no longer could I remain in such cruel conditions. A furious attempt to check myself out was met with the revelation that I no longer had such a capability. "You're quarantined for public safety" is what I was repeatedly told. But they did assure me that a solution to entomb me somewhere a bit livelier was in the works; how thoughtful of them.

Although I had few friends and even fewer family among the living, none were allowed into the morgue, let alone to enter my makeshift chamber. Soon even the doctors stopped coming, and only a nurse bringing my dinner would drop by, but without ever uttering a passing hello. And when one is left in such solitude, strange habitual behavior often arises: it started with thinking aloud, then speaking to invented characters, which worked up to conversing with my cadaverous cellmates.

Lately my itch has gotten much worse, and I can not scratch it because it's underneath my skin. So I peeled it back to scratch the other side; it feels so much better now. And I no longer notice that repulsive stench. Frasier tells me it's because I'm becoming like him. But I just feel sleepy now; I think I'll have a nap.

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