Something is off
I was cleaning out some of the junk in my Dropbox folder last night and found this piece buried among dozens of partly finished blog posts. It was started in early 2011 (I think I wrote it very late one night while I couldn’t sleep), and last touched in August 2011.
There is no sound, almost pure nothingness, just a mild ringing in my ears. It has always been there, or at least I think it has, assuming it is there at all and not just a figment of my imagination. Maybe what I believe is a ringing is actually what silence sounds like. Maybe I’m losing it. Entirely possible.
Something doesn’t feel right. Something is off.
The lack of sound is one thing, where ever I am it’s extremely dark - can’t see the hand in front of my face, dark. The only exception being the dull red glow coming from a digital clock nearby. It’s 10:47. I’ll assume pm based on the apparent lack of light…
The last thing I remember was leaving work on Friday afternoon and catching the bus home, just like I do everyday. I don’t however remember the actual bus ride itself - it’s worth mentioning that this alone isn’t particularly odd, I quite often arrive at my destination without any recollection of the 40 minute journey I’d just endured. It’s not that there is anything wrong with me, I just tend to zone out, headphones in, gazing out the window at the not particularly interesting world passing by. But what happened on Friday?
The darkness brings an assumption of night time, but is it still Friday? The throbbing ache on the left side of my head, and the sensation that I’ve been asleep for a week suggest it is most definitely not Friday. And this is not Kansas.
I haven’t moved since my eyes opened, still in a state of uncertainty due to the surrounding darkness, scared to move for fear of injury or falling or stepping on something. That is reasonable, right? No one likes stepping on cockroaches in the night or walking into door frames. I can’t stay here forever though. Especially since I’m not exactly sure where “here” is.
Feeling around carefully, I seem to be on a bench or a table. It’s hard and uncomfortable I know that much, probably explains why it feels like I’ve been lying here for a week.
Sitting up. I hear what sounds like an elevator, but whoa, really should’ve done that slower. That disconcerting sensation of all the blood rushing away from your head as though your about to…
Right, well whatever I was lying on before I’m not lying on it now. I suspect that if I could see anything that I would have noticed everything fading to black as I sat up. Well, at least I now know that there’s a floor. Quick glance across at the clock, it’s now 11:38, guess I really did blackout.
Normally my eyes would have started to adjust to the room, but I still can’t see anything except that stupid clock, it is taunting me. The glow from it’s display isn’t helping at all. It isn’t bright like you might normally expect, almost like the batteries are running low.
Shuffling slowly across the floor towards the clock, the floor is smooth, consistent, vinyl tiles maybe? Confirms one thing, I’m not at home - nothing but carpet and cold, hard tiles there. Oh how I wish I could feel my carpet underneath me right now. The clock is sitting atop what feels like a small wooden chest of drawers, there are handles, but they either don’t open anything or they are locked. Locked seems likely.
I reach up towards the clock, feeling around for a power cord. Nothing, must be batteries. I grab it and shake it in the hope that it will somehow magically become brighter. It doesn’t. Flickers a little and stays disappointingly dull.
Why of all the dark rooms in existence am I in this one, why couldn’t it be your typical dark room with a sliver of light peaking out from beneath a door. For all I know this room doesn’t even have a door. Craziness of course, it must have a door, how would I have gotten in here otherwise. Must find the door. There’s that elevator sound again. This time joined by what sounds like faint muffled voices. Distant voices.
I decide to work my way left away from the drawers, feeling slowly along the base of the wall desperately hoping to stub my fingers on a door frame. There is nothing immediately next to the drawers, I must have moved three or four metres along the wall by now - I wonder how big this room is, hard to tell in the dark.
Eyes still aren’t adjusting. Odd or not, I can’t decide. 11:43. That was a long five minutes. Wait, what was that? A door? Different to the noise earlier. Closer. Or am I imagining things. I need to find a way out. Reaching a corner, I at least know that the wall doesn’t extend forever, still nothing that resembles a door frame though. Moving down the second wall I run into something.
Well, not ‘run’, more like shuffle slowly into something. It isn’t as big as the drawers, and it’s cold, metal. Two handles on the front, a filing cabinet maybe, a small one. I yank on the bottom handle, not expecting anything, but it opens. Almost scared to stick my hand into the open drawer, but poke around slowly to see if there is anything in there.
Files. Guess that shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did. Feels like half a dozen or so, but not much good to me, the light from the clock is not even remotely sufficient enough to read anything. I toss the files aside and try the top drawer. Nothing, it’s definitely locked. Odd, every filing cabinet I’ve ever seen has a single lock that secures all the drawers at once. But, hey, why would this be a normal set of drawers, nothing else about this situation is normal.
The voices are still there. No clearer, no closer, not concerned. Feeling my way around the filing cabinet there is something wedged underneath it, feels like another file, but I can’t pull it out. I shove the cabinet, but it doesn’t budge. Sure, I’m not the strongest guy in the world, but I should be able to move a small filing cabinet without too much difficulty. But not this one, it doesn’t move a millimeter, like it’s bolted to the ground. Why would it be bolted down on top of another file?
I’m back to the table that I had awoken on an hour ago, it’s right next to the immovable filing cabinet. My eyes seem to be slowly coming to grips with the light levels, I can’t make out any defined shapes, just patches of dark and patches of not-quite-as-dark. I use the table to pull myself up, and slowly move along the length of it. There is nothing else on the table. Cleared off before I was put there? Still doesn’t explain why.
Absolute nothing helpful in the room. 12:01. I’m clearly trapped in here, but oddly calm - or at least calmer than one should expect in such a situation. Maybe it’s the idea that I can’t find a way out, so there mustn’t be a way in for anyone or anything else. Obviously the logical part of my brain thinks that theory is bollocks, but the rest of the brain is running with it. I’m ok with than, I’d rather be calm than hideously scared.
I sit up on top of the table, leaning against the walls in the corner of the room, just gazing straight ahead, hoping that the blurry shapes become clearer and I can work out where exactly I am. The muffled voices have faded, and there has been no noise since what sounded like a door 15 or so minutes ago. Maybe there was no door. Maybe I imagined it.
My gaze dips every so often toward the clock which I have sat down in front of me. It is amazing how much slower time moves when you’re actively watching it. Despite only waking up a bit over an hour ago, I’m feeling tired, not a physical tiredness, all mental. A million questions all running through my mind at once, zero answers to be found.
I can feel my eyes wanting to close, I force them open, my body doing that weird twitching thing where you almost fall asleep and then wake suddenly with a falling feeling. I’m not falling though, I’m still sitting atop the table, leaning against the wall. Eyelids drop again, I don’t fight it this time…
Brief dreams of other places, other faces. The where and who I’d rather be. The things I’d rather be doing and how I’d be doing them. The fear that prevents me. Routine, constants, the avoidance of change that I see no personal benefit in. I’m asleep, but conscious that I’m letting my brain deep dive into nonsense. Force myself to wake up.
Awake again, the darkness, the previously discovered calm returns. It returns just long enough that when I feel something grab my shoulder I spin around, reeling back in the process. Extremities tingling. The darkness drains away, muffled sound trickles in. I stare blankly at the face that’s appeared behind me.
“Sir, the bus route ends here. You need to get off…”