Oliver Sanswicky is a young man who enjoys being alone. Unfortunately, he is consistently disturbed by various visitors, all who want something from him. While Oliver isn’t always particularly certain what it is these people want from him, he very much knows that all he wants, and all he’s ever wanted, is freedom.
This freedom is merely at his fingertips as he struggles with the horrible thought that his reality might be out of his control.
We all fall down.
The thing about things was that things never stayed the same. He thought about this a lot while he was sitting in the small closet feeling his brain melt and melt and melt. While his brain oozed from his ears and drip, drip, dripped onto the crooked floor, slanted just enough to set kinks deep into his muscles.
He was supposed to be writing. He could hear the words violently whirring about in his mind. A swarm of bees, a flock of crows…
A murder. A murder of crows.
He sat quietly, pausing on this thought in horrific fascination while his fingers slipped through his feathers and he stroked the spines of several before he settled on one feather specifically and tugged at it. With a small pop it broke free of his skin. He could feel some pain when it gave into the pressure of his pulling. Sometimes he wondered if his bones were hollow to match his feathers.
Sometimes he called himself a bird when he hated himself the most.
Right now was one of those ‘sometimes’.
And suddenly a thought propelled his stance to a more progressive one. He leaned forward in his chair and hunched over his sheet of paper and he would listen as the scratching of his pen to paper was the only thing he could hear.
The only thing he could hear against the loudness of the memory that pounded against his skull. He would see it vividly in his eyes. A murder of crows flying from the trees, from a threat unseen. He would see the eyes of Monty, his friend… his…
Monty’s eyes wide and staring, a fear struck through them etched visibly with the arc on his dark brows on his face—
Shit. He was bleeding again. The bird—yes he definitely called himself this now—was watching as drops of blood collected on his thick paper. He watched the paper suck it in deeply, greedy, like the ink dripping off his pen. He could feel himself breathing tightly.
He reached his hand up to touch his nose, dab the small trail of blood that was now running down to his lips. He pulled his hand back to see a dark red on his fingers as white as the paper below it. Entranced he pressed his fingers to the paper and he let the words write themselves in red, red, red.
He leaned in to read them but he knew what they said and he wasn’t focusing on the words and their meaning but more on the letters and how they were shaped. Because they were a writing that wasn’t his. He snapped his gaze up to the words he had written about crows and a murder—
And back to the red, red text that wasn’t his and the words were shaping into words that weren’t his and they were saying, like whispers in his ears, You’re mine.
He shoved himself back in his seat and hit the rickety sliding door, then he stood quickly and could feel the ground sway while his head grew tight with dizziness. He took a deep shaky breath, gripping his head tight trying to anchor himself again.
Then he fought through the sliding door of his closet, nearly tripped over his bed to the hallway and gracefully stumbled to the bathroom to hurl the very little contents he had in his stomach.
The cold of the porcelain was much more inviting than he would have liked to admit to himself. He could feel a pressure behind his left eye, pushing, and throbbing. Coming in waves. He sighed. He reached up to feel the blood from his nose had dried into crust.
He shut his eyes and tried to focus on the silence… until he realized that the silence wasn’t silent anymore. He could hear it in sync with the throb of his head.
The sound of his doorbell was loud against his eardrums, although he wondered if his visitor knew by now he could let himself in. The bird never really understood why his visitor didn’t bother, its not like his visitor ever respected him very much to begin with.
He wondered for a fleeting moment if it would stop no matter how long he sat here and waited…knowing that it wouldn’t was what propelled him into motion. He pushed himself up shakily and for a moment he paused to regain his balance and let the world stop itself from pitching out from under him.
Then he started forward, down the long hallway past two doors. Walking became easier the more he focused on that and not on the insane pounding in his head that only grew more severe the closer he got to the front door and—
He pulled it open with a quick rough jerk against the seven door chains he kept locked on it. He paused for a second while he realized that he forgot this was why his visitor couldn’t get in.
Then the bird let his eyes fall on the far more muscular posture of his visitor. A boy he was only now noticing was a man whose eyes were narrowing in on him.
Dark eyes on a face that pretty much exuded the air that he didn’t want to be fucked with today.
And he said, “Hey don’t fuck with me today, Sanswicky.” Which pretty much cemented that fact.
The bird leaned himself on the doorframe for support. He adjusted his glasses and made a small gesture that Monty overlooked because it wasn’t a particularly friendly one.
“I’m serious. What the hell have you been doing? I haven’t heard or seen from you in days. You owe me kid. I’m the one keeping this damn roof over your head.”
The bird only blinked. It was hard to be afraid or panicked when his head was already doing a fine job trying to implode in on itself. He sighed and shrugged and made several more gestures with his hands.
“What do you mean?” He imitated the gestures, Not Done. In the most incredulous manner possible. The bird didn’t even flinch when Monty slammed his hand hard against the door for effect. He probably would have on any normal given day, but, he supposed, today wasn’t entirely normal.
He supposed, then none of his days were normal—
“Sanswicky, I’m talking here dammit. Where the fuck are those plans?”
To which the bird sighed and rubbed at his face and repeated the gestures, Not Done.
Because in all honesty they weren’t done. He supposed he had been busy…
“…slacking off or what? You had a whole damn month, Sanswicky. I’ve seen you pull shit out in a week.” Monty was gritting his teeth because the bird could make out the tight clench in his jaw.
He signed a few signs of nonsense he didn’t really believe in. He wasn’t really putting all his effort into things these days. He claimed to, though, because that’s what Monty wanted to hear.
In all honesty he was tired and he didn’t feel right…
Monty said, “Three days. Finish it. I’m not kidding.”
And then the bird watched him leave. He stared until Monty’s silhouette disappeared over the hook of the hill. He stared for a long while letting the cold air caress his face mostly because he was afraid that if he pulled away from the doorframe’s support he would fall over.
He had to, though, eventually.
And when he did he stumbled his way over to the living room couch because it was only a few feet away. He sat himself down just in time to spread his legs and cough and cough and cough black sludge between his feet. This happened a lot these days. He supposed it was only natural, after what they did to him.
Sometimes his mind would slip into the past and he would be stuck, trapped remembering needles and voices and pain and pain and pain.
And when he let his mind return to the present he was feeling the burning pain in his veins, the searing pricks in his fingers, the throb behind his left eye. He would shift his focus, looking at the way the wood floor soaked up the inky blackness, as though it were never there at all. As though he were imagining it.
It wasn’t rare for him to imagine things. He supposed that was a side-effect of his past too.
He got up, then, knowing too well he would drown in memories if he thought of them too much. Those were only marginally worse than the fake images his mind conjured up with his magic. His magic had a hard time listening to him. He pressed his hands to the wall of the hallway, only then realizing he had even taken any steps. He’d already passed the kitchen and was already peering down the long corridor with five doors.
One led to the basement and, his workshop, the other: the library, his room, then the bathroom. And finally, the last at the head of the hallway, which was already tugging at his magic strongly, propelling him forward regardless of his want or intent. He stumbled forward, past these other doors, his workshop, the library, the bathroom—
He hooked his hand onto the doorframe and pulled himself into his room.
Today was not a day to spend in that room. The one that made him forget.
Sitting on his bed he felt weary. He should have been working but his mind was distracted. He couldn’t get it to focus, not today. He supposed this was the result of not having slept in the past few days. Admittedly he hadn’t started working that much on Monty’s request…
Sleeping was just very hard these days. He pressed his fingers to the walls of his room, covered with scribbles and scratches made from pens with nibs too sharp. He stared at the words that screamed hate back at him.
Because all he knew now was to hate himself as much as his past hated him. He pressed his fingers hard into the surface, taking a deep breath.
The bird often called himself a bird when he hated himself the most, or perhaps anytime he didn’t know what else to call himself. He wasn’t a man, he wasn’t a boy. He was somewhere in between. Muddy thoughts swarmed his mind constantly, making him feel like nothing.
It made him feel like he didn’t exist. He would press his fingers to walls, to textures to remind himself that he was here. Death scared him too much to fix his own problem. He pressed his cheek to the wall and heaved a sigh and wished, for a moment that he’d be free. That he could slip into a transparency that cut him some slack from a world he didn’t recognize.
Because he didn’t grow up in it like everyone else did.
After a time he lay down, stared up at the ceiling where he always wondered what he ought to cover it with. He thought of many hateful things but his mind always wandered back to the same idea. Wind chimes. He wondered if they would make a difference, pull him back into the present when his mind was stuck in the past.
Even though this was the product of a friend he had lost years ago now.
He shut his eyes and heaved a sigh, focusing on the blackness until his mind drifted into his dreams.
His dreams which were different every time and far more vivid than he had ever seen them before. He was laying on clouds this time which was a good start if he was honest with himself. He was laying on clouds and allowing himself to revel in the feeling of the assumed comfort they would provide if one had such luck lying down in the middle of a cloud someday.
He let the wind caress his face and he enjoyed the gentle swaying it provided as it very casually propelled his newfound sky-bedding forward. If he looked up, he could vaguely see the stars through the twilight setting of the sun.
If he listened hard enough, he could hear the wind carry the whisper of their song to his ears… Their song… which wasn’t so much a song as it was a cheering… no… a screaming?
He listened more carefully this time and found that the wind wasn’t carrying the sound from above but from below. He frowned because that wasn’t right. He found himself listening silently. Trying his best to hold his breath while he focused on it.
Screaming. They were definitely screams. Distant, but there all the same.
He pulled himself upright and found himself stumbling over to the edge of his cloud. He peered down and noticed a billowing of black smoke reaching up to greet his face, slamming into him and worming its way into his lungs through his nose and coughed.
He coughed and he hacked and he swore he was dying for a second before he regained his breath.
Then he was watching the smoke billow up into the sky to block out the stars he wouldn’t be able to see anymore. He stared.
Then he remembered what he was doing and he shifted to another angle on the cloud and peered down and here he saw chaos. A million small bodies like ants scattering when their mound was attacked. He never did this when he was a child but he remembered seeing Monty stomp on ant swarms several times. It made him sick to his stomach.
It was here the screams he was hearing matched the visuals he was seeing. He watched them scatter about in a frenzy. Screaming and screaming and screaming until they were nothing but a ringing in his ears while he watched the visuals blur and blur and blur.
And he could feel the world pitch out from under him…
And then he was falling… And falling…