A Passage in the Dark
by Nelson Vicens
I woke up as I was walking down Colmare Street. Hands numb in my jacket pockets, my chin swelling with snot. I wiped it off and let the mucus saturate the cracks in my knuckles, which a gust of wind promptly bit, stealing the fog of my breath into the void of the sleeping city.
Colmare Street ended before I knew its name, and I was left at the corner of blackness, standing on the precipice of the grimy curb, towered by shapeless buildings that bled into the black pool of the moonless night sky. I was not lost though I did not know where I was, for I was on the last journey that would ever matter, even then I knew this. Somehow these dripping gutters and empty avenues were the arteries of a longing force that drew me deeper into the aimless night.
I turned left into the street without lamplights to be consumed by the shadows of the city. Neglected rot surrounded me, clinging to decrepit homes whose broken windows eyed me as I strode closer to the darkness of my destiny.
There was no wind here, no sign of life apart from the withered leaves that skittered across the pavement before me. The veiny branches above looked on at their fallen children but I kept my head down, trusting the pull of the silence, each step a solution. A pungent warmth filled the fabric of my jacket and I knew I was close.
At the end of the street stood a looming mansion with boarded-up windows and a spray-painted, barely legible NO TRESPASSING sign, but it did not apply to me for this was once my home. The sky behind the outline of the shaven shingles and proud chimney should have bore a red hue, the dawning of a new day, but it was still inked in blackness. I knew not then that morning would never come, that for the rest of my granted perception I would be plagued with a perpetual darkness, so I pushed past the creaking metal gate wrapped in defiant ivy and made my way through the overgrown lawn. To the left and right untamed nature spawned hellish unearthly lacerations had I chosen to turn my head from the ajar front door.
I did not knock. A warning would be unwelcome to the depths of my lost years. I walked through the familiar front hall, watching the markings of my youth revive before me on the peeling wallpaper. A rocket shipped in to space, a smiley face unfinished before mother took hold of the tools. Faint giggling and laughter glowed from the musky living room, and I chased the shadow of a ghost. No one was there. All the rooms were vacant save the faint swelling of the place, as if the walls were breathing once more, reawoken with my touch.
I climbed the weary steps and lifted my burden in to the cell of my former self, where nothing had changed. For a moment I admired the yield of before but then realized my bed was missing, replaced by a subtly swinging crib. Sweat slid down the sides of my chest and I threw my jacket on the floor as I stepped past it towards this anomaly of the past. Before I could peer into the spawn of my life, a hand reached out and gripped the edge of the comforted crib. It was wrinkly and shaking as it pulled up a figure, hidden in the depths of the corner of the room. A man with white hair emerged from the pit, struggling with the buoyancy of the trembling crib before spilling on to the floor, extinguishing the fire of his efforts in a heap of naked, wrinkled skin. My heart pounded against the sternum, skipping until it floated in to infinity, afloat within the gravity of time. The man stamped his hand against the floorboards and slowly arose, lifting himself to roughly the same height of my head. He looked up.
The man had no face. The skin about the edge of his cheeks, forehead and chin folded inside his head, around the edge of a boundless abyss that sunk deep into an emptiness filled with all. I stared into this nether galaxy, absorbed within the black hole of a limitless chasm, and he stared right back at me. Somehow, though the man had no facial features to speak of, I intuitively sensed a burgeoning sadness exuded from the cavity of his façade. I took a step closer as he stumbled upon mine. Face to face I peered deeper into the extent of his forsaken wonders, magnetized by the reaching shapes and folding countenances morphing into countless limbs spread across spiritual wastelands, scraping across seas of indescribable color and subterranean landscapes echoing within even deeper gulfs of subtraction. In a trance, I whispered words to myself now held only by the sticky residue of his cavernous expanse. For a moment, only, I thought I glimpsed the pearl of my becoming, only to witness it showered by comets of planes never before distinguished by man- erased within the flux of the ever-changing face before me.
The man smiled and I raised my hand to touch him. He did not move. I grasped for where his nose would be and entered deeper, elbow squeezing past his eye. It is from here I tell my tale, emit the woes from which I’m steeped. I thought from here I could touch the soul of the eternal, and never sleep, but only gentle eyes do I see weep. All around me are empty signs, a faux profundity that keeps me reaching, reaching, hoping I will hold on.