See Jack Hunt

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Chapter 5

The loft, Addison Circle.

Wednesday morning, 2:12 am . . .

You know that feeling, at like o-dark-thirty, when you have to take a piss so bad that you don’t know if you’re going to make it to the bathroom? Well, I’m running the gauntlet right now, trying to avoid smashing my toes on all of our expensive furniture. Because if that happens, I’ll be on the floor, curled-up in the fetal position, hurt and pissing all over myself.

As I’m running, I see things vibrating all around me. Lamps are blurry they’re shaking so much. End tables look smudged. Chairs look like humming birds’ wings they’re oscillating so quickly. The only thing that seems solid is the cold tile floor beneath my bare feet.

I know what’s happening, but I’ve got to pee so bad that I can’t stop to watch the world melt all around me.

At this point I’m just hoping that our toilet isn’t bouncing around. Because if it is all excited, like everything else, I’m going to make a real mess. One of those unexplainable messes that ends up in me tapping my thumbs together while Ricky scowls.

I high-step my way into the bathroom and luckily the shaking and vibrating of everything starts to subside. Of course, everything is now bent and warped. Mirrors that were rectangular are now oddly stretched trapezoids. Paintings are hanging at impossible angles. The toilet is twisted—quite to my advantage—into something that resembles a long urinal.

Everything is wrong-shaped and demented.

And all the colors of our world have been replaced by shades of grey.

Tones of melancholy.

Cold, lifeless color.

Like what deep space is probably like on an average day.

This is the place between dogs and wolves. Somewhere between the Land of Sorrows, and the place I used to think of as just earth. And as good as it feels to relieve myself in our mangled toilet-urinal, I know that something creepy is about to happen.

The last time I was stuck in this half-alive, half-dead middle-ground I was communicating with the girl I thought I was deeply in love with while she conned me into usurping God’s will. In the six or so months that I can remember of my life, that was one of the more thick-headed things I’ve done.

I walk slowly out of the bathroom, ducking because the ceiling is lower and bent at one end. Glancing back and forth, I expect to see spooks using our loft as a playground. But to my surprise . . . they’re curiously absent. And while this should comfort me, it doesn’t. It only means there could be some more complicated, or nightmarish reason I’m seeing this.

Like that old joke: What’s worse, the monster you can see, or the one you can’t? So, I’m taking short cautious steps toward the staircase, peeking slowly around each corner. I should see something unnerving any second.

I peer down our staircase trying to pick out the shadows from the furniture, and even that’s quite difficult. It’s all just jumbled weird shapes down there. And as bothered by this place as I am; as frightened as I know I’m probably going to end up being . . . I hope it’s her.

Kristen.

Even though I know she would only be stopping in to kill me, putting an end to the monster I used to be, I still would risk it to see her. Put aside, for a moment, that she’s physically dead, or was. Forget that she duped me into letting pure evil walk the earth, thereby guaranteeing that my soul was forever lost and I had no chance for salvation. Take all of that leading-me-into-the-Deadside stuff and what you’re left with is that . . . I was in love with her.

And I can’t even explain why I felt this way.

I didn’t even know her for more than a couple of weeks. But I know that some part of me really cared about her. I’m glad I don’t remember killing Kristen. And I’m probably better off without the memories of my erased life. No amount of hugs, and self-help books, and psycho-pharmaceuticals would be able to clean that up.

Ignorance may not be bliss, but it’s a lot better than eternal guilt.

I tiptoe down the steps, shifting my weight slowly from toe to heel, just like in Ninja Warrior 4—you know, where the white ninja sneaks up on two hundred yellow ninjas and takes them out one by one, only to find out later that they were all his cousins. Anyway, I’m all stealth mode, now.

When I get to the bottom I kneel down for a moment, just letting my peripheral vision grab things that my brain can sort out. If this is an Evil ambush, I want to have a fighting chance at hauling ass. Ricky’s advice is to apply liberal amounts of head butts and knees to the balls, but I’m not sure if that would do any good against the 23 Evils. Might just make them want to toy with me before they do me in.

I don’t even know if the undead have balls.

As I sit there I wonder if this is all an elaborate dream my mind is weaving for me. I wonder if I’ve just wet the bed, and am waiting to awaken? I guess I’d rather be embarrassed than dead. But a 30-something-year-old guy soaking his sheets is a pretty horrible concept to grapple with.

Perhaps this is one of those fugue states that my doctors were telling me to expect? That’s a condition where an individual wanders away from his home or place of work for extended periods of hours, days, or even months. Psychiatrists see it as a symbolic escape from conflicting events or emotional indecision. And I’ve definitely got all of those going on.

I pinch myself, and it hurts. I’m not sleeping, I guess. I count my fingers, and move each and every one, reciting my name silently four times like I was taught.

Jack Pagan.

Jack Pagan.

Jack Pagan.

Jack . . . whatever. I’m awake. Good news is I didn’t wet the bed. Bad news, I’m halfway to hell, waiting for something unpleasant to happen.

And then I hear it.

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