Don't Call it a Gift

By Adam Schultz All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Mystery

Don't Call it a Gift

It’s a random thing, always random. Had I the power to choose, I would. I do not and it frightens me. Were I able to choose, were I able to control just one simple aspect of my daily afflictions, oh the things I could learn. The things I could do, accomplish. Accomplish goals, achieve great, tremendous things. I a sponge, knowledge my water. Soaking up, day after day. Maybe three of them, out of what must be hundreds, were that way. The rest?

Sewer water.

Bubbling up from my bathtub’s drain. Brown and murky, its stinging, stinking hodgepodge of ammonia and methane proving a potent interloper amongst the musky soaps and shampoos. Toilet refusing to flush. Call the plumbers tomorrow. Before or after an affliction? After. Business always after. Always. For today, let the bathroom smell. They’re almost here. A tiny pitter-patter of cloth wings (up, down, up, down, up, down) rising to what I know will be a maddening crescendo, magnified and multiplied a thousand times. From a gentle fwah, fwah, fwah all the way to a helicopter-like FWAP, FWAP, FWAP. Louder, louder. No noise though, besides the wings. Always the wings. Nothing else. It is always silent, save the wings.

Moths.

From a point no human eye can see (not even mine, curse it) comes forth the throng of moths, their silky, powdery appendages going up, then down. Up, then down. Tufts of cloth billow around them, a dust cloud too light to choke, to dense to ignore. fwah, fwah, fwah. FWAP, FWAP, FWAP. All come to see me. Only me. Always me. Day in, day out. Always. Don’t call this a gift.

“Calling all souls,” I murmur. I have to. Can’t stop myself. It’s more than habit. Ritual, nearly, blasphemous as this affliction is.

I always look. Always. No one but me. A tiny studio apartment, furnished to a man’s lack of necessity. No end tables, no coffee tables, no bookshelves. A couch, a trunk, a fourteen hundred dollar TV on its sixty dollar stand. Bare kitchen, no personality save a few scraps of pizza left over from the night before. Even barer fridge. No magnets. Not brimming with contents but lacking them. Freezer’s chock full though. Go ahead, have a pot pie. Maybe some ramen noodles from the pantry. I have four flavors. Coffee and cereal for a sit down breakfast. Everything else is always out, away, like I want to be.

It always lands on my fridge. Always.

This one’s old.

Not aged, no. Just from a longer ago than most. Sometimes these are the most interesting ones. Sometimes they’re downright boring. They may or may not know how to speak my language. I can never tell.

“What bring ye forth?” Ritual. Tradition. Commonplace. Every. Damn. Day. Why even speak in such a way? Tradition?

A twinkle of the eye. It knows it doesn’t belong in solid form. Dangerous. It looks itself over.

Always cream colored. Not shining, but internally lit by something, some force, projecting it here. This one is tall, haggard, bruised and beaten. Swelling, ringed neck suggests a hanged man. Dangerous.

Clothes billowy, ill-fitting, mark of a starved and desperate man. On the run?

“Ye hanged?” I ask.

Slow nod. Eyes growing darker, less human.

“By whom?”

A shrug. As if it matters. I hear this not, yet its impression is powerful.

The light from the ceiling once bright and fake, dims as it becomes fully aware of its newfound density. It tentatively reaches for a knife left boldly, lazily on a cutting board; an attempt at culinary art that failed.

“Be still,” I command, inching toward the affliction. “Be still, I mean to harm ye not. Give me the same kindness if it pleases.”

“Nothing… pleases.”

“At last,” I murmur. Greetings to you, cold, raspy Death.

This was always a crap shoot. Always.

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