By Jael Strong
Part One: Worms
The man steps up, out of the gushing green of the woodland. He is barefoot. Each segment of his rustic body is covered by a thin film of dust. His hair is matted. His clothes, a shredded covering for his body, add madness to the sight. He moves forward, partially hunched over, sniffing at the ground. His hands hang at his knees. His knees bend at the joints. His joints crack from the movement. A scurry in the corner of his vision catches his attention. He makes no sound. Slowly he inches forward toward a moist pile of dirt. He is down on his knees.
While on his knees, his hairy hands come together in front of his chest. His blue eyes squint at the burning sun. He pulls his fingers apart from each other and sinks them into the soft ground. Deeper, deeper his hands go as he pushes apart the soil. Creepy crawlers wiggle out of every hiding place. They scurry over his thick appendages, as he digs deeper, deeper into the ground. His knees gently push into the earth causing the ground to move. He leans over further; his nose and mouth are inches from the ground. He pauses. He breathes deeply the freshness of the wet earth. His hands fly at their work again.
He feels the slimy life wiggle between his fingers. Its thick body tries to burrow into his knuckles. He clutches at it. He pulls his fist close to his eyes and stretches his hand open. Yes, he has captured his prey. But this one is too small. He tosses it to the side. Again, he is digging. He is close to his victory. He can see a wide tunnel in the ground. He digs toward it. He captures it. It is thick and lively, and it tries to wiggle away as he brings it closer to his eyes. Finally, it is under his gums. Down his throat. Into his stomach. He is satisfied.
The man rises from his slouched position. Red clay of the earth sticks to his knees. His hands are moist from the hunt, sticky from the kill. As he walks back to the shelter, he rests his hands on his knees. Moisture from his hands causes his knees to drip heavy red droplets. Around his mouth is a thick ring of dirt. Mud sticks to his nose. He has a grin on his face. He is satisfied from his kill. He has enjoyed his breakfast of worms.
Part Two: Chair
The man walks at his usual pace into the tough undergrowth of the woods. There is no path. With ease, he manipulates his steps over and around poison ivies and rotten logs. Though in the light he had been a slouching monster, in the darkness he is a gingerly creature. He can now see in the distance a small rectangular form with a carved window made from infested timber. This is his home.
This “house” consists of one room. The outside is made from fallen trees. The inside walls are sanded. The floor is made of the dust of the earth. In the room, there is a solitary object, a wooden chair dragged in from the abandoned belongings of someone else. It sits alone in the habitat.
Coming inside, he feels the coolness of a clean room. There is a whispering as the door flashes open and he enters; there is a rush of cheering as the door closes behind him. He shivers. The floor is covered by the tracks of his own feet. The smell of the room is of must and rot. It is mixed with the fresh smell of flowers coming through the open window.
There is a small opening in the wall farthest from the door. As the man crosses the floor to go to the middle of the room, to where his chair is, his eyes are pulled toward the tiny porthole. No objects can be seen except the light; the light is blinding. He instinctively raises his hand to block his eyes from the light.
The man walks silently to his chair. As he sits, his long legs cause his knees to automatically touch his elbows, and their redness spreads deeper into his skin. His eyes do not droop. He only leans forward to sit comfortably in his chair in the middle of the room. His toes curl up underneath his rancid feet.
As the sun falls and darkness overtakes the room, the man does not move. Not only does he not rise from his seat to walk, but he also does not move his hands or his feet. His head stays at a set angle. His eyes have a steady gaze pointed at a crack at the bottom of the doorway. Every once in a while, he bats an eye. This is his only movement. He has no need to move.
Part Three: Pain
The man’s mind drifts. His body drifts backwards in time and space. He feels his hands over the tops of garden flowers. Sand sifts between his toes. The sun beats down onto his back as he wades into the water. Swimming, swimming. Freshness washes over his body.
The man comes up out of the water. Drops rest on his eyelashes. He smiles. He can see the whiteness of his own teeth. He flinches. The brownness of his teeth causes him to flinch. He relaxes. He can feel his arms lift a soft pink bundle. His baby. Beautiful little girl. His arms rap around her as his arms have done countless other times. His arms engulf a laughing woman. They stumble as they both run into the water. They are happy.
Again, the man’s mind drifts back to the child. He lifts her; she laughs. It’s all so peaceful. He hugs her and kisses her on her pink cheeks. But she becomes a goblin snatching at his neck. The more he tugs her away, the more she clutches at him. Fangs sink into his jugular and he sinks to his imaginary knees.
The man’s body begins to quiver and his mind reenters the dream world. This time he is holding the women in his arms. They are both smiling. He starts to kiss her lips, but he is taken aback. A snakelike tongue comes from her wrinkling face. Her eyes pierce his skin. Her arms fall from behind his neck and become one with her thighs. A giant body, she wraps around his abdomen and crushes his ribs. The contours of his mind begin to bend and the scene starts to shutter.
Through a cloud of tears the man bends over in pain. He watches his visions disappear into the darkness. He stretches his arm out to the doorway and clutches his fingers deep into the palm of his hand.
Part Four: Low
The man’s nails pierce the palm of his hand and drops of blood fall onto his knees. He stares at the stains on his legs. Without warning, his heart gives way to bursts of pain, like the feeling of a sword pushed deep into his chest. He pulls his hand in close to his beating heart and pushes his palm against his breast. Blood smears over his chest.
Before the man realizes what is happening to his body, he falls to the floor. One hand clutches at the dusty ground while the other searches wildly to stop the pain in his heart. Now, the man is low to the ground.
He shakes. His arms and legs thrash in desperate defiance. His body convulses against the hard dust of the earth. He smacks his head sharply against the floor. Uncontrollably, he shakes. His fingers and eyes twitch. He no longer has control over his own body.
The man struggles to regain himself. The pain is crushing. The pain in his heart mutes his screams; no one would hear anyway. As he pushes his body against the floor, his eyes meet the window. He sees the bloody moon mocking his futility. The man tries to stand up, but is unable to muster his strength. The veins on his neck and head grow. He lets out a howl at the bloody moon and his heart bursts.
The man’s lifeless body lays still on the cold earth. The stirring outside his doorway causes no movement in him. As the clouds cover the moon and a dim light comes over the earth, blood begins to trickle from the man’s open mouth. Smooth and thick, it forms a small puddle around his head. The man becomes part of the earth.
Part Five: Birds
The man is lying silently on the ground. He is dead. There is a small hole in the roof. The sun is starting to shine brightly outside. The sun shines in on the hole in the roof. As the sun comes into the room, it starts to cover the man with a bright blanket. This is his funeral covering.
The birds fly out to the sky when they see the morning coming. First one, then another circles around the hole in the roof that is sheltering the man. They peer in at the body. They don’t see the wretchedness of the blood and the bones. Rather, they see the meat on the bones. Hungrily they look down upon the man.
One of the birds boldly lands upon the hole in the roof. The others still circle above. The bird that has landed peers further in at the ground and the body, contemplating the dive. The man is not only himself a source of food, but he has also gathered around him the insects and worms of the region. This sight causes a flourish of excitement in the bird. The first bird swoops down upon the man.
Other birds pass overhead. They stare at the lone bird feasting on the body of the man. They want this too. One after another they fall onto the man. Each bird takes his turn pecking at the insects scurrying over the body of the man. All of the birds are feasting on the man.
The man is almost devoured. The birds continue to peck at all of his digits and both of his eyes. The man disappears beneath the clutter of birds’ feet and beaks. One by one, as each bird finishes his meal, they spread their wings to fly out of the man’s home. They fly from the window and the hole in the roof. They fly from the doorway. The man is gone and the birds are leaving the shelter.
About the Author
Jael Strong is a writer for TheWriteBloggers, a company dedicated to creating professional blogging content for increased internet visibility.