Drip, drip, drip, drip. . . . .
“The faucet must be leaking again!” Someone retched.
“No. It’s got to be the blood. You know, from her lips.” A new voice broke in.
“But there’s no where for that to drip.” Another joined in.
“There is no blood yet.” Someone screeched in an unearthly voice.
“Yet.” The second voice chimed.
Dimitri lie on his floor. Blankets fused to him by sweat were crumpled around him. The sheets wrapped around his legs and twisted his body so he lay crooked. As he stared at the ceiling, he saw it staring back. In the darkness he heard the room whisper it’s argument in sickening tones. The steady dripping came from above him, and he pictured the woman in the room upstairs. He imagined her long, honey-colored hair falling into her face as she turned the knobs on the faucet. She smiled slightly when he smiled, like his shy obsession reached her. Behind his eyelids he watched is mind’s view of her elegance. She graciously stepped into the shower above and hardly noticed the slippery floor. The scene changed into a darker view, and he watched as she fell backward, pulling the blow dryer on the counter down with her. She shook violently as she crumpled to the floor. The electricity took hold of the water and everything in it. Blood poured from her mouth and stained her blue eyes red. It was almost as if she were staring at him from behind his eyes.
“NO!” Dimitri screamed at the ceiling. The whispers laughed and taunted.
“Can’t handle the blood?” One screeched.
“It’s not real! It’s not real!” Dimitri hardly recognized his own voice, as he scrambled to his feet, only to fall to the floor in a tangle. Crawling across the room, he heard the echoes of the voices. The whisperers haunting voices. He flicked on the light, and for a moment, there was silence.
The sun had been up for two hours before Dimitri turned off the light again. The doctors had told him that his lack of sleep caused him to hear and see things. He was terrified to tell them it was the things he heard and saw that kept him awake. Sitting out on the fire escape and watching the stars disappear, he wondered the same thoughts that he had for fifteen years. Why me? Why them? Who are they? What do they want? The questions never got answered. Dimitri looked at his calloused and worn hands. Years of heavy work had been what had put him to sleep for the years after his thirteenth birthday. Exhaustion was the only thing that drowned out the sickening screeches and grotesque visions that the night had in store. He couldn’t even think of anything pleasant without it being corrupted by the terrible demons that lived in the back of his mind. There was no stopping them, only slowing them down. Two years at St. Johns Psychological facility had taught him that. Telling would do no good. They would drug you and leave you in the dark. You were sick and there was no point in taking extra measures to protect you from what wasn’t there. His only way out of the dark and away from his captors was freedom, so he shut up and they let him go.
Dimitri looked up at the sky and watched the clouds turn pink and orange. Must be around five o’clock by now, his thoughts interrupted by the morning singing. He stood shakily and walked back into the dank apartment that he was supposed to call home. So much had changed over the years that it was hard to remember the small child he had been so long ago. The living room in which he was standing was more of a surviving room. Living wasn’t done here. Only enduring. The yellowing wallpaper peeled in places and the smell of decades past flooded the room. Various stains colored the carpet and were very visible in the blankness of the place. The walls were bare, except for the occasional photograph and a small bed lay tidy in one corner; its bed sheets stiff from lack of attention. Dimitri never slept on the bed. It was too high up to the ceiling and his feet would hang over the edge. . The child’s bed did him no service. Though short for his age he was no child. His light brown hair was speckled with shades of gray and silver. Stubble covered his chin and thin weary lines defined his gray eyes. He would have been an attractive man, if he had had the patience and nerves to take care of himself better.
Dimitri pulled on his dirty jeans and a white t-shirt before grabbing his wallet from the small nightstand and trudging slowly down the stairs. His head hung as the beautiful blonde woman passed him in the hallway. Dimitri smiled to himself with relief. Thank God it had been a dream.
Coffee and a raisin bagel sufficed for his early morning breakfast. In a half hour he would be starting work, constructing the newest building in the city. Looking forward to another days work to take his mind off of things, Dimitri jogged three blocks until he reached the library.
He walked quickly in, taking large strides to avoid being spoken to; he went to the front desk.
“Pick up for Harris.” A mumbled growl escaped him.
The young man at the desk sighed and pulled out a brown paper bag from a cabinet near his feet.
“Don’t know who this Harris guy is but he must sure love reading . . ..” The librarian spoke mostly to himself and didn’t expect and answer from the scruffy looking man in front of him. As usual he was greeted with silence.
Dimitri left in quickly to make him seem in a hurry. He liked when people thought he was someone else. Someone important. Like he was the personal assistant for a man named Harris. It was easier that way so no one would think he was the one ordering the contents of the paper bag. It kept him safe from people. Safe from the doctors. He didn’t want to go back. They thought he was normal again. “Normal, now there’s an oxymoron,” He thought to himself. “Normal are the ones who live by what people tell them. Normal are those who pray to air and expect a miracle. How I wish I were normal . . . . . because then it would be easy. The first night I would have been cured. I would have never had to be this way. Never again see what I had seen. God . . .. God is for normal people. Not for me.”
The sun was up now and the sky painted with watercolors of blue and green. The chill in the air calmed Dimitiri as he walked two more blocks to call the cab.
“Yo! Dem- what the heck you doing?! You were on the clock ten minutes ago!”
Demitri turned around and saw the man who had spoken to him. He was in his late twenties with a Mexican face and a Brooklyn accent. His voice was rough like his features.
“Hey! Donny my man! What you talking about? I’m on time with fifteen minutes to spare-“
“No man, you late. We started early today, and the big B isn’t too happy with you slacking. Make yourself occupied before he calls you. Might soften the blow. . . “
Dimitri looked around coyly, and acted like he’d been there, but quickly to start a sweat. The deflated muscle shirt hung low on his body, and though this made him look scrawny, he fit in with the rest of the workers when lifting heavy metal and working machinery. Yet in the daylight, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Surrounded by tall men who’s bulk filled them out and darkened in the scorching sun, Dimiri stood at a mere 5’10” with a pale skin tone. His muscles were finely chiseled, but his petite body made them hard to see even in the bright sunshine.
“Boulden! Why were you late?! And no excuses this time I want the truth!”
Dimitri looked down at his boss. The fat man had sweat dripping down his forehead and his bright orange vest was stained with grime.
“Well sir, see, my ma, she needed some cat food so I went to get some for her then all of a sudden a crazy guy just comes out of no where and tries to tackle me. I dive out of the way and land in an open manhole! You know how much road construction’s going on here these days! So then after I climbed back out, I went home, and my ma said I smelled really bad so I just- whoa B, what’s with your face?”
The balding man glared at Dimitri. His face resembled a squashed tomato drying in the sun, and his piggy eyes darkened. “Boulden! No more of this you hear! You’re lucky I don’t fire you right now you ungrateful piece of filth! I give you a job I don’t need you for and you waste my time and money! Get back to work!” The small man waddled away muttering to himself and Dimtiri rolled his eyes. When he turned around he saw everyone around him grinning.
“Geeze Dem your such a clown. . . . “
Yeah, he thought, a clown. . . . I don’t even like clowns. . . .
Silvia’s closed her eyes to the blinding sun that shone through her curtains. After a long day at work, her headache had grown worse and the sun wasn’t helping. Getting up, she stretched and thought about tomorrow. She’d be having lunch with Taylor Johnson, a much sought after person in the journalism world. The start-from-scratch businessman had become filthy rich in the last five years and everyone wanted to know more about today’s most eligible bachelor. And who just happened to meet him at the supermarket? Me. Silvia thought diligently about what she would ask him. Her boss didn’t even know yet and soon she would be living the high life as supervisor, or maybe even manager. The firm wouldn’t pass her up now and none of the other journalists were taking the easy way up this time by falling into the sexist stereotype. She’d get her way, and work for it.
Silvia heard a clunking sound coming from outside the door. Without having to open the door she knew who it was. Demitri Bolden from downstairs. Silvia had higher standards and knew she could do much better than the quiet, skinny man that lived below her, but the way he moved and acted intrigued her. The apartment complex was big and spacious, usually for people who worked desk jobs in large corporations, not shy construction workers. She wondered how he afforded it. Without thinking, Silvia got up from her couch and walked to her front door in a gaze. The mail, she told herself. That was today’s excuse. She wasn’t being nosy or spying, she was just checking the mail. A gust of wind blew in from the outside door, which took a few seconds to close. The hall was empty except for Dimitri. She peeked around the corner at him. His wavy sand colored hair stuck to his forehead and his shirt was drenched with sweat and caked with dirt. Heavy work boots clunked on the floor and though they were heavy with mud, they left no stain on the carpet. Silvia knew she shouldn’t catch his eye. He was shy and she didn’t want to upset him, but to catch a glimpse of the gray blue iris’s that were almost always hidden by his thick hair were enough reason to stare. She stepped out into the hallway and placed a small smile on her face. Innocently checking the mail, she told herself. She glided past him and glanced at his face. His head was down, but his eyes slowly moved up to meet hers. A moment that felt like forever passed as she watched his full lips twist into a polite smile. The slow motion that seemed to have taken over the hallway suddenly released them and he unlocked the door to the stairs. She watched him step down into the darkness and close the door behind him.
Silvia closed her eyes and let out the breath she had been holding. Her blonde locks fell graciously in front of her face as she caught herself smiling. In a daze she walked back to her front door and stepped inside, only to step out five minutes later. She had forgotten to check the mail.
Dimitri tried not to be nervous when the blonde woman passed him. He could smell the scent of her rosemary perfume wafting in the air around him. He was relieved to be back in the safety of his apartment, where the darkness enveloped him as soon as he stepped in. It wasn’t the darkness that he was afraid of; it was what else the darkness hid under its spacious wings.
Clonking down the stairs with his heavy boots, Diametric held tightly the paper bag that had crumpled as it lay in the sunlight all day. The cool air drifted in slightly and filled the small apartment with a chill; he didn’t care. The sun was not yet sinking behind the skyline and he had time to soak up in the precious sunlight before his journey through his treacherous mind took place.
Diametric placed the bag on his uneven countertop and shuffled to his bed. Pulling it out from the corner, he pushed it up against the fire escape window. Silently, he grabbed the bag and carefully emptied its contents onto the bare sheet. Three books fell out, their covers peeling and rough with age. The first one was lettered with fine gold print, and it read, Voices Of Reason, Voices Of Insanity: Studies of Verbal Hallucinations. The second of which didn’t have a name on its cover. The fading blue cover was riddled with dust and smelled like it had been lost in the library for decades.
The third and final novel was in good condition; its pages stiff though its print reasonably old. The book had been untouched since its printing date. The words Interpretation of Schizophrenia: The work of psychiatrist Silvano Arieti.
Dimitri prized his collection of works. They were his only possessions of moral value. They gave him understanding, which was a weapon to face the darkness. He sat quietly on his bed in the sunlight soon to die, and armed himself with knowledge. Arieti’s words became a blur in his mind and he was engulfed in the pages as he searched for some sort of loophole in his brain, like a final way to escape the inevitable. But that was a slim chance. The long years had taught him that there was no foolproof plan that would ensure him his sanity. He would always be fighting, and there was no cure, only treatment.
Beneath the sinking sun he sat quietly, awaiting they’re arrival. Dimitri had grown accustomed to their annual visits. He longed to dull them with poisons, but alcohol or drugs never got him very far; only catching him like an insect stuck in a spider’s web, waiting for the predator to devour him.
The temperature shifted and grew damp with it’s newfound chill. The sunlight filtered out through the trees on the horizon and Dimitri closed his eyes to it all. He heard them now. A simple humming, then turning to song, the words were hard to make out. Low and slow, its melody mournful yet terrifying. Laughter. The laughing that started in a low chant and ended in a child’s high pitch shrill giggling, erupted in the room and shadows suddenly danced dances on the blood red walls. The corners of the room dulled out and became rounded. Faces that belonged to creatures that didn’t belong in his world smiled menacingly at him, their terrible stare piercing through him as he tried to hold his breath. Their eyes shined in an evil manner, making the hair on the back of Dimitri’s neck stand up.