When Pain Wakes Us from Our Dispassion
Part 10: When Pain Wakes Us from Our Dispassion
“Did you see that?” Andy asked.
Just as the words left Andy’s mouth, Petra splashed the rubbing alcohol over the wound.
In a vain attempt to distract from the pain, Petra bit the naked flesh of his other shoulder. At the same instant, she bit the naked, uninjured shoulder on the other side of his body. She wanted to distract from the pain.
For the first moment, Andy saw red. The cascade of peroxide blinded him with pain.
Then he felt her teeth. The sensation bent his mind towards awakening. The feeling was a revelation. Every inch of his body tingled as though his body came to life for the first time. When her teeth penetrated his skin a secret cage inside his brain unclasped. A flame of ecstasy burned down the river of his bloodstream.
A beast leaped free from the darkest recesses of his mind even as the alcohol dripped down his arm. Now that it was free, he knew he could never tether the creature that roamed free throughout his brain. Every drop of blood in his veins rushed into his head at the same instant, erasing all of his thoughts simultaneously.
The last time he felt such complete and utter exhilaration was as a child rolling down a hillside in newly fallen leaves.
“What did you see Andy?”
He forgot that he saw anything at all. For a moment, he experienced hysterical blindness. The world around him turned to white. A flash of brilliance flooded his brain and overpowered his sight. Even after her mouth released the flesh of his shoulder he could still feel it. He could feel each indent from her preposterously straight teeth. He had seen something, but he didn’t want to think about that now. He didn’t want that feeling to go away. Even now, he knew it was drifting away. He had not thought about what it felt like to roll in the multi-colored leaves of autumn until that instant when he felt her teeth break his skin. Now it was drifting away again and he wanted to reach out and grab it. There was no way he could explain it to her. There was no way he could ask her to do it again. If he put the feeling into words he might never be able to experience it again. There was a secret magic to not knowing what her action might spark inside him. She had to do it freely. And he had to receive it unknowing. That was the mysterious recipe of lust.
“Did something move?”
It took an effort to lift his arm. The alcohol had constricted the torn flesh around his wound. He refused to utilize the other arm in hopes her mouth might return. He pointed his finger at the stove. Then he drew an invisible line through the darkness from the stove to the counter on the far side. He let his finger settle in the empty space where the shadows gathered deepest.
“Maybe it was the drugs?”
“I don’t think so.”
“We wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t tricked you before. You practically fell off the cliff because you saw something that wasn’t there.”
“No. I did. I actually saw something move. Right before you poured the peroxide down my back. I was distracted. My wind drifted away. But that doesn’t change anything. I saw something.”
Andy slipped off the counter. He picked up his shirt and covered himself. He felt a shiver pass over his back just thinking about what he saw again. Whatever it was was shroud in the dark and shadow that mingled in every empty corner of the room. He didn’t want to believe it was the effect of the chemicals he ingested on the beach. He wanted to believe the things that he saw were real. He didn’t want to question the message his eyes were sending to his brain. So he made his way to the stove. He stepped carefully because he couldn’t see what was near his feet because of the soup of dark.
Andy inched his way along the counter to see the corner of the stove better. It was nearly impossible to make out anything but the contours of objects. Where a shelf began or ended was all that could be determined through the murk. The subtler the shape the more impossible to differentiate.
Andy moved into the corner of the room where he watched the shape move into the space beyond the oven. He got down on his hands and knees to see better into the area where the stove ended and the counter began.
“What are you doing down there?” Petra asked.
He put his face close to the floor. The floor was cool against his cheek. He wanted to get so low he could see the lines of smeared dirt.
Shadows moved under the stove. But the object that created the shadow couldn’t be determined.
“Even if what I’m looking at isn’t really there, that doesn’t mean I’m not seeing it.”
“The floor is kind of gross.” Petra pushed her shoe across the slimy smear on the floor. It was as though grease had been spilled decades ago and it had never dried.
“It is gross.”
“What do you see, then?”
“There is something on the floor under there.”
“What do you mean, something on the floor?”
“I’m trying to see.”
“Is it moving?”
“I think it’s a button.”
“Like a button that you push. On the floor. Like a button on the floor you push.”
“Why would you push it?”
“I don’t know what it is.”
“Maybe it’s for the oven.”
“Really? Why would there be a button on the floor for the oven?”
“Why is there a button at all?”
“Can you reach it?”
“I think maybe if I can move the oven.”
“Move the stove?”
“Well, it’s on top of the button.”
“But what does the button do?”
“I want to press it.”
Andy popped up on his knees. Then stood up.
“You can’t move that.”
He tried to force his way between the stove and the counter. He gestured that Petra should come closer and help him.
“Don’t you want to know what it does?”
“You said you saw something move.”
“I know what I saw.”
“What did you see?”
“I saw something moving.”
“What do you think it was?”
“Help me move this.”
He pushed as hard as he could against the stove with his back.
“That thing must be made of iron,” Petra said.
The legs of the stove made a high pitched screech across the floor.
“It’s moving,” Petra said.
“I told you.” Andy waved her to come closer.
Petra bent her legs so she could push her back against the oven. The two of them dug in their heels and the oven ground its way across the grimy floor with a howling scream.
“Do you see it?”
The two of them hunched down in the space opened by the moving of the giant appliance. Andy put his hand down on the knob protruding up from the floor. There was a square of silver screwed into the floor where the switch originated.
“Well are you going to push it? You did all that work.”
“Give me a second.”
“What do you think is really going to happen? This place has been abandoned for years. Nothing is even hooked up in the place. You’re going to push it and it’ll just go click. Click. That’s it. What would it even be hooked up to?”
Andy put his finger on it. He applied pressure. Nothing happened.
“See, that’s what I was trying to tell you.”
He leaned on it with the weight and strength of his shoulder. The mechanism wouldn’t budge. The next thing he did was stand up and put his foot on it. He pressed his foot as hard as he could. Still it refused to show the slightest indication it could be moved. Then he stood on top of it. The contraption fit in the ball of his foot, so he had to balance precariously in order to place his entire weight on the button. Nothing moved.
“You had your fun,” Petra said. “Maybe we should find the others.”
Andy stepped off the steel cylinder protruding from the floor.
It wasn’t until he removed his body from the object that it began to recess into the hole at the center of the silver frame. The button descended into the floor.
“Did you see that?” Petra said.
Petra’s hand trembled when she pointed to the floor.
“Really?” Andy said. “It worked.”
“How did that happen?”
“I don’t understand either?”
The wall beyond the stove and the counter began to tremble. It was minor at first. Almost a vibration. Almost imperceptibly, if it weren’t that their senses were heightened by how difficult it was to see in the gloom.
Andy began to stretch out his hand to touch the shuddering wall. But Petra slapped his hand down. She was terrified of what was causing it to move.
The wall began to shake and thud. It began to grind like an ancient gear trying to turn against age and the ravages of time.
They both covered their ears with their hands.
“What’s happening?” Petra said.
“I can’t hear you,” Andy said.
The wall was moving. It was pulsating and shivering and thudding like the pipes in an old house when the furnace comes on in winter. The thudding magnified into a banging. That was when the wall began to open. It moved very slowly. But it was opening. It was revealing a new space beyond the room where they were standing.
Petra grabbed Andy’s arm.
Andy’s stomach crashed like the sea when a storm brewed on the horizon. He tried to hide the trembling in his fingers. He worried Petra would feel his terror radiating off him like a heatwave. The wall banged as it shuffled its course along the rusted tracks that were revealed in the recess of the floor. Opening, what lay beyond the far side began to reveal itself.