Counttonine Counttonine Counttonine Counttonine CounttonineCounttonineCounttonineCounttonineCounttonine
A heavy thud.
Dogwood felt himself fish hooked back into consciousness. Jerked out of a strange reverie. Something about his childhood. Something his mother had said to him.
‘What you did to that boy…’
The sterile, yellow light of his room gave him a jaundiced look. It made all the padding on the walls look piss stained.
Maybe they were. Had he pissed on them? Probably not. His bladder felt like an overfilled water balloon.
He had the distinct impression he was going to end up swimming in urine before it was all over.
Count to nine, Dog.
He spent a few moments laying there, on his back, staring at the ceiling. His eyes locked on the source of the light, letting his retinas burn – letting his brain scream a cease and desist.
It helped the creeping chill spreading through his bones. The jitters, threatening to overtake him. Like the promise of the sun setting in the west, he felt the moment fading – felt the light slipping away.
Tiny men hustled and bustled inside of him, filling all the little compartments – all the little console rooms, all the switches and gears. A bunch of retarded children, twisting their controls in opposite directions. Turn the car left, one said. No, turn it right, said the other. Why don’t we just let it sit still, said the third midget.
A bunch of fucked up programmers and IT guys trying to play with the same system. Click, click, click.
Count to nine.
Dry tongue swept over parched lips. The distinct feeling of trying to clean tree bark with sandpaper.
He tasted copper on his tongue, heard the faint echoes of screaming in his ears. Distantly, he felt a throb between his shoulder blades. Pain blossomed there in a small garden of bruises and cuts.
The light above seemed more and more distant, though his eyes were still glued to it.
A fly buzzed close near, circling his ear.
Dogwood pulled himself to his feet, leaning heavily against the wall.
He looked around, trying to assess the situation again… trying to grasp where he was.
“Fuck me,” he coughed. Something slimy and wet shot out of his mouth and splattered on the floor.
It looked like gristle from a steak. A cackle from the recesses of his memory answered.
‘Reminds you of Joel, eh?’
“I’ll piss down your throat.”
‘You’re talking to yourself again, Dog.’
‘Make sure to write a thesis about this. Naming yourself after a pretty tree fixes all your problems.’
His head throbbed. It felt like someone had played a symphony with fucking gongs.
Sweaty, crusty hands gripped at the pealing surface of his padded walls. He figured it was all white once. Clean, white, new.
Now, they were either discolored from piss, sweat, or blood. Or all of the above.
Amazing how you could find an allegory for life in the padding of a loony cell wall.
Pressing his ear against it, he almost felt like he could hear it all… hear the cacophony of blended up whispers and screams. The desperation of imprisoned minds, trying to claw their way out of a pit that just kept getting deeper and deeper and deeper…
Dogwood swayed where he stood, his dry throat contracting. He was thirsty. So damn thirsty.
‘Fucking dog… what did you do to that BOY?’
His vision focused again. A door, with a small window.
It was bright – the light outside had a warm, welcome glow. He could feel it from the other side of the room. Feel it like a child felt the sun in an open meadow on a warm summer day. Felt it like the first kiss of spring after a cruel winter.
Behind him the empty, yellow light of the room continued to ebb. He could see it trying to sneak up on him, just out of the corner of his eye.
Felt all the little men inside, coming out for their shift. Coming out to twist him up.
The fly buzzed near his ear again. This time, he heard a faint giggle with it.
“Leave me alone,” he croaked, hurdling himself towards the door. He flung his body towards it, towards the warmth and the light.
He stumbled, tripping, and collided forehead first with the unyielding metal body of the door.
‘What did you do to that boy?’ she screeched.
‘COUNTTONINE,’ she commanded.
The darkness slithered along his spine… licking his synapses, fondling his tendons, caressing his frontal lobe.
‘Don’t you want to play, Doggy?’
Like a child learning to walk, Dogwood lifted himself up on quaking knees. He felt a blanket of palsy drape over him. Hands shuddered and went into paroxysm of hungry motion – smacking his chest, slapping himself. Pinching, pulling, twisting, tugging.
The little idiots that were trying to tear him apart from the inside.
The light outside of the window was still radiant – still promising an escape. A panacea.
He reached for it with both psychotic hands – with his body convulsing where he stood, repulsed by warm glow.
He reached out… and exploded into a frenzy of laughter.
Count to nine, she said.
Thud, the hatchet came down.
Count to nine. He would never reach ten.
What did you do to that boy, you fucking dog?
He screamed a laugh, the fly laughing rapturously near his ear.
The dark shuddered around him.
He heard the light sigh.
Piss ran down his leg and into his shoe.
This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Dogwood…
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars
These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Nicholas Brack, Dogwood Daniels and Jinn Zhong) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast. Listen to the episode here: