I wake up from the dream choking back sobs and wanting to hide from everything. It takes me some minutes to look around and realize that I’m in my living room, safe and covered by the dark from whatever prying eyes that may be trying to look in through the windows. Everything starts to seem alright, but then a cold burn, like a halo of gasoline, infeststs my scalp. My fingertips touch my head and are met with the same sensation.
I’m starting to panic again, but the TV flips on by itself and it’s one of the cable music channels. The screensaver square of those music channels bounces around on the black background of the screen, but instead of some popular current artist, the blue bouncing block reads:
Amduscias feat. Brett Ricardio
I Know Your Secrets
Through the TV comes Easy Listening music that takes the form of Amduscias’ voice. The sound of a man howling in pain plays softly in the background as Amduscias says “don’t move Shamus, it’s already difficult enough drawing the insanity from your head. You’re a good sponge; you soaked up every bit of the lonely man’s crazy. You got a bit of Buer’s staleness from being on that street, but it doesn’t matter. The flavor of loneliness you’ve brought me overpowers it soon enough.”
After a half hour the gasoline feeling on my head goes away. I suck up enough of my fear and paranoia and ask the demon when I can stop doing this.
“You’ll start again tomorrow. Be prepared. You know what will happen if you fail to do what I demand of you.”
I ask my question again, but the music stops. The music channel screensaver lingers, then the TV goes to a blank blue glow.
The phone message from my boss winds down and then he says I’m fired for not showing up for work for three weeks, and I try to get that and everything else out of my head by reading the newspaper I got from the vending machine by the gas station next door.
There’s the usual small town news, but one article which sticks out to me is the opening of a new diner across town. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to go get something to eat. I think maybe I can think of a way to get out of the bad place I’m in, and maybe go look for a new job as well.
I’m going out the door know, and getting on my bike. On the ride over there, carefully avoiding the street where Dr. Shrivak once held sway, I come up to the building. It stands alone and is made of old chipped bricks. For being new, it looks pretty old. As I lock up my bike to a nearby streetlamp, I can’t get the wording of the eatery’s ad out of my head:
“New meats, so delicious, unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.”