Flash fiction story
I'm dying. We're dying. Humans are not meant to go without sleep. The sun broke the sky a few hours ago. It was day five.
My skin hurts. The bruises on my forearms are turning an angry black. Very soon they will start to bleed. Jack's right arm is bleeding and his eyes are rubbed red raw.
"It's your turn," he says. It's my turn to pinch him awake.
But when I look into his baby blues—my mind races. I see the days.
Day one when it began and the world coming to a halt.
Us running on day two when it all fell apart.
Day three when Jack slapped me awake and day four when we got cornered on the very roof of a random coffee shop.
I see all the things better left unsaid.
But most of all, I see the one mantra Jack has muttered for days.
Don't fall asleep, baby-doll. Don't fall asleep.
"I am so tired." I yawn and the sound carries. The metal door to the roof groans. They can hear it. The roaring desire to fall asleep in my body.
Jack yawns too and the metal door shakes with a scream. Jack broke off the door handle last night with the emergency fire hazard axe. Luckily for us, the door can only be opened from the outside. Our side.
I pinch Jack's left arm automatically and he pinches mine. The tiny flash of pain helps and I stop slumping forward...for now.
"You're really pretty," my mind thinks and Jack's blue eyes laugh. He chokes out a ruffled voice. Laughing burns energy, 10-40 calories to be exact.
But Jack was pretty. I started thinking that on day three after he lost his glasses. His hooked nose turned into a button nose and his acne scarred skin blurred. It looks clear and clean now.
"If you thought that before, we wouldn't be in this mess."
"More like thanks to my aversion to coffee," I lie easily and Jack's eyes laugh once more. I was never a good liar. I loved coffee. Well... I used too, before day one.
Jack asked me out for coffee on day one –back when his acne clawed skin freaked me out. Now...other things freaked me out.
The wind whistling. Bitter silence. A comfy bed. A feathered pillow. I even feared to close my eyes.
We couldn't fall asleep. If we do, we will literally become breakfast.
Creatures who couldn't fall asleep were hunting us.
The metal door screams and I shudder further inside my skin.
Don't fall asleep, baby doll. Don't fall asleep.
"If we survive this... still want that coffee?" My eyes widen.
"No bloody way."
"A chai then?"
Yes, I nod. Chai was safer. Coffee started this. A new brand called, 'Liquid Fire Espresso,' came on the market a couple of weeks ago. One cup and you were guaranteed no drowsiness all day. And it worked... a little too well.
It was any coffee-drinker's dream come true and coffee drinkers, all around the world, stayed awake throughout the night and day until their minds broke from the lack of sleep.
And they went crazy. I will never forget the news headlines and footage. People scratching out their eyes because of the hallucinations. Cars driving into buildings and people running around wild, screaming.
People falling down. The non-coffee drinkers. They were tackled. Held down. Arms and legs, pinned down underneath a sea of crazy bodies, screaming for relief.
They craved sleep and so they got sleep, they only way they thought they could.
They ate it.
"It's a date then," Jack yawns out and his whole body suddenly gives out. Bony knees, clothed in dirty jeans, knocking together and I am too late to catch him. His hands skid across the hard gravel and they bleed.
He winces and curses, but they fall on deaf ears.
A deafening roar makes the metal door rattle and I can't breathe as I watch the top hinge start to loosen. The bolt bounces up. Shakes left to right, before it pops out.
Jack yawns out again while he clutches the floor and he's all skin and bones. Pretty with his blurring face but thin. He's lost so much weight. His bones shake beneath his dirty blue polo shirt while he fights off sleep.
A second roar comes and it is a howl. The second bolt in the door bounces and jumps out of its home.
Blur and blood paint my vision. Bones clutch my face and Jack's lips are moving. They melt like goo. Slowly, falling off his face.
Don't fall asleep, baby doll. Don't fall asleep.
Bones pinch my cheeks and I wake up a little more.
"Save me a chai in heaven," Jack mouths out and his voice loses its squeaky pitch. He's all whisper.
Goo brushes my mouth and I gag on a breakfast I've long since lost on day three.
With an almighty heave, Jack stands. Bony knees knocking together while he scrambles for the door.
His jaw locks on a yawn and it's silent underneath the third howl.
The third bolt jumps away and the door falls forward. From the dark, hands with ripped skin prance forward through the gap.
Hungry for relief. Hungry for sleep.
"Don't fall asleep, baby doll!" Jack yells out and he is grabbed. His skull crashes on the metal door, knocking him out cold. Bony knees knocking together. Bones rattles around underneath his dirty polo shirt and those hands lift him up.
He weighs nothing and he slips through the dark.
The roaring stops.
All is silent.
Then the munching on flesh starts. Teeth grinding. Blood.
Cherry red liquid leaks from underneath the door in a pool.
Bits of jean material fly through the gap like confetti and bits of polo shirt float in the blood.
He's gone. Jack's gone. His clean, pretty face. His bony knees. Just... gone.
Don't fall asleep, baby doll.
I hold my breathe when the door screams again.
Look to the sun and yawn my last.
They roar again.
The fourth flies free. My legs lurch up. My own bony knees knocking together when they first one runs through. Empty eye-sockets trained on me.
Don't fall asleep.
Not going to happen.
I run when the second roars out free after the first. The fifth and last bolt is gone.
And I fall... right over the ledge.