Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ulnet Tobe Clands and His Bloody Gums

[Sitting on the floor, legs crossed, hands on knees. Eyes closed, lips turned down, hair poking out, pointing in all directions. Looks up. The one eye gleams in the meager light of the theater.]

The world is but a stage. It's what you do while you are on that stage that makes or breaks you.

[Standing, his eyes out on the crowd.]

Who's next?

***

[Like flies on a wall, we watch, many eyes upon Corn as he scans the audience with his one good eye. The other one, we've seen, may as well not be there. Caked socket surrounding the white filmed orb that looks to be decaying.]

[His shoes clack on the floor with each step he takes, echoing all the way up to where we are perched.]

I'm thinking of a number between . . . one and you.

[Corn points into the audience, his long fingers stretching to impossible lengths as he fingers out the next dreamer.]

[Like the others, fear fills his eyes, covers his face and we see him shaking nervously.]

You have one chance to get this right. Fail and you become like the others.

[We need not be reminded of the other two who have played roulette with the master of nightmares. We still hear their screams when we sleep; see their faces when we close our eyes; their dreams, their failure etched in our minds forever.]

Roll it.

[The man sits straight up, his gaunt face alight as the dream plays out, pouring from his eyes in beams toward the screen. We can see the images skirting through the dark until they reach the silver screen where they seem to splat against the smooth material and take a life of their own.]

***

He awakens, the sun shining through cracks in the blinds. There are no curtains to hold the rays out. He rubs his eyes, blinks and stands without thinking. He shambles across the room, his feet barely lifting off the carpeted floor. A hand runs through his light blond hair and he scratches his butt, the sensation a relief for him.

He shambles into the hallway and down to the bathroom. Rubbing his face with one hand, he peers in the mirror. His green eyes are tired, bags beneath them, red veins within them. The toothbrush is to his right, toothpaste to his left. Like most mornings he begins to brush his teeth, mouth closed around the brush.

Leaning forward, he spits. A trail of red and blue foam and bubbles splat against the white ivory of the sink. Three teeth clink on the surface, one sliding down the drain. He reaches down and lifts out one of the teeth. The roots are missing.

Back to the mirror his eyes see the torn gums and upper lip, the teeth missing the blood trailing out the sides of his mouth and down his chin. In his hand is his shaving razor, tiny chunks of flesh between the triple blades. In the cup to the right of the sink sits his untouched toothbrush.

He spits. Another tooth, followed by gum tissue splatters in the sink. He picks up the toothpaste, squeezes a gob of blue gel onto his razor and begins brushing again. Blood and white foam spill over his bottom lip; part of it tears away and he spits again. More teeth rattle in the basin; a chunk of his bottom lip plops down near the drain, blood and toothpaste all around it.

The man drops the razor in the sink and reaches for the bottle of mouthwash. He takes a deep swig of the green liquid and as he swishes it around in his mouth, tears form in his eyes . . .

***

[We return to the theater, our hearts thrumming, our hands checking our mouths, reassuring ourselves our teeth and gums are still intact. Down in the audience, the man sits, his eyes wet, his lips bloodied, his gums torn and teeth missing. The front of his shirt is soaked with blood.]

***

Gruesome.

[Laughter erupts from his throat, tilts his head back.]

So, what do we have here? What do you now know that you didn't know before?

[Single eye glares at the bloodied man.]

What is it? What did you see?

***

[The Quelchers appear from the holes, one of them crawling through the floor near the man. It touches the man's leg, picks up one of his teeth from off the floor. Pops it into his mouth and chews.]

[They hiss and whisper, their words still not clear but something is there. Something we can't quite make out. Their language is foreign to us but we listen intently, trying to gleam a word or two for our own mentality's sake.]

***

Ulnet tobe clands

Ulnet tobe clands

Ulnet tobe clands


***

[The man looks down, his eyes wide and his mouth open in a silent scream. Upward toward Corn his eyes gaze. He spits. Another tooth flips from his mouth. Hits the back of the head of the woman in front of him. Blood trails down her long dark hair, the tooth caught in the sticky strands.]

What does it mean?

[Corn's voice laced with venom, eyes staring out, one dead to the world while the other one angered and bloodshot.]

[Tears stream from the man's eyes.]

Perchepsion.

[One word is all he can mutter at the moment. Shakes his head and tries to raise hands but can't.]

[The Quelcher crawls up his leg and into his lap. One hand reaches around the back of his head. A gaze that could be construed as loving is leveled on him.]

***

Ulnet tobe clands

***

[The man's voice hitches but he speaks again, his words not quite clear.]

Perchepsion . . . 'Ow I view byself.

***

What else?

[We see the smile come across Corn's face, the razor teeth perfectly fitting together.]

***

[The man shakes his head.]

Cweanwiness . . .

***

STOP!

[The Quelchers cease moving. Their eyes turn to Corn. We see the confusion in them.]

Leave this one. He's close . . .

[They hiss, the sound terrible in our ears, like steam drowning out a scream. They turn and leave, the one on the man's lap drops to the floor. Plucks another tooth from his leg and crunches it between its teeth before hiding in the hole again.]

We'll give you a little longer.

***

[Snaps fingers. Lights go out. A hush covers the crowd. Snaps fingers again. Lights come back on. The man is gone from his seat, placed in a cage on the stage.]

Figure it out, young man, and you can leave.

[Runs finger across bloodied gums, peers at the red liquid.]

***

[Our stomachs lurch as Corn licks the blood from his finger.]

[The lights dim and we are cast in darkness again.]

1 comment:

Erik Smetana said...

quelchers are awesome. one of your best creations IMO.