'Dance of the Dream Man'
James was standing in front of the blue door; someone had left it open. He pushed it and it opened with a rehearsed creaking sound. Allowing a thin shaft of daylight to spread in an arc across the floor.
James swallowed hard and in his head it was very loud. He gingerly entered the small room following the beam of light.
The light ended before the opening of a tiny bathroom. Looking inside, it had no windows. Just a shower bath combo with a shower curtain pulled closed all the way around in the right corner running along the wall. The toilet was to the left in the other corner but the room was so small they were almost touching. The sink was in the small amount of space in the right corner closest to the door in front of the bath. The bathroom was tiled all around in a black and white pattern that went from the floor to the walls. The ceilings and places untouched by tiles were the same desert tan colour as the outside of the building. The toilet seat matched the patter, the porcelain was naturally white but the seat and lid were black.
There was just something off about black in a bathroom, it hid the dirt but it also felt dirty.
There was a loud dripping noise coming from the bath tub.
James approached the bath and gripped the edges of the shower curtain which met at the corner of the bath.
He parted them swiftly, like ripping off a band aid.
The bath was full of a brown dark liquid, a putrid rusty water that had a dank smell. The bath itself was filthy, the gaps between the black and white tiles were black with mould. The shower head and bath fixture were also covered in the same black mould. He examined the taps and the shower head but there was nothing leaking.
Remembering himself he set to looking about the bathroom for any clues. Shy of sticking his hand in that filthy water and draining the tub there was nothing of interest in the bathroom. He could have stuck his hand down the toilet, but why would he do that?
He left the bathroom and returned to the bed/living room area.
The bed was un-made and showed signs of a struggle, the satin sheets were half off the queen sized bed. The long red curtains were drawn, the chair in the corner of the room was empty and there was nothing on the coffee table. The room smelled like sex and cheap perfume.
The old TV was in the same place as his dream but the screen was dark.
“Dream?” As he said it he started to feel light headed, his heart started to race and he couldn’t get it to stop. “Was it a dream?”.
He stumbled and knocked the TV off its stand leaving a large crack down the centre of the bevelled screen.
James collapsed into the chair in the living area and tried to catch his breath, he closed his eyes and tried to centre himself, stop the spinning. It felt like something unnatural was happening. Like his brain was rebooting, trying to make sense of two memories overlapping.
Just like that he felt something poking him from the side of the seat cushion. He put his hand down the side to see what it was.
It was a business card.
‘Dr. Alphonso Moral’
It had the second love symbol on it with a phone number on the back.
Now he started to remember, he had gone there, but something had gone wrong.
He shambled out of the room, a sheen of sweat across his brow. The sun was still high but the fresh air made him straighten up a little as he walked back towards the office.
The office was still open; he must have been gone only twenty minutes.
Like before the old man wasn’t at his desk so James rang the bell. There was something off about the front desk though, there was something missing and he couldn’t quite place it. The fan was still going back and forth and although it offered some breeze it was slight and pointed in the wrong direction. He tried to turn it around but it was affixed to the desk somehow.
He rang the bell again, remembering it took at least three rings for the old man to know you were serious.
On the third ring he expected to hear some commotion in the back but there nothing, just the TV on like before. An infomercial about old people losing the remote was playing. Advertising some kind of device that would let you find it, necessarily he thought what would happen if you lost the device to find the remote too.
He rang the bell a fourth time but still he couldn’t hear anything.
James sighed anxiously. The old man must have gone out or he was sleeping in the back. All he really wanted was to use the phone. He couldn’t know for sure but he was pretty certain he was in a hurry.
James went around the counter and put on a loud but unthreatening voice.
“HEY- ERR, OLD MAN? I JUST WANNA USE THE PHONE, I’LL BE GONE IN A SECOND. I THINK I BROKE ONE OF YOUR TV’S I’LL PAY YOU BACK FOR IT, DON’T WORRY”.
James entered the back room through the little alcove beyond the beads. The beads making an unnerving cacophony of clacking noises.
The old man was asleep in his chair facing away from the alcove towards a large TV set on a stand not unlike the ones in the rooms, sitting in the corner. A long hanging mirror on the wall next to it.
The phone was on a small side table against the wall on the right as soon as you entered the alcove. It was a weird novelty phone in the shape of a football. Which was particularly odd since he hadn’t noted any football memorabilia of any sort in the lobby or anywhere as he looked around now. The room was ‘cosy’.
There were more of those plants wilted in the corners of the room. There was no furniture apart from the easy chair the old man was asleep in which looked like real leather, real old leather. There was a small table next to the chair but it was knocked over with an upturned bowl of chips next to it. He must have just knocked it over while he was sleeping. The floors were hard wood for lack of a carpet. There were just some beaten up looking rugs with floral patterns. There was another beaded alcove which must have led to a kitchenette and a bedroom if he really did live here.
James quietly picked up the phone’s receiver and started to dial with the card cupped in his other hand and the receiver cradled in his neck. There was another mirror on the wall above the side table and James looked at himself for a brief indulgent moment of vanity. He looked a little younger in that Jacket he couldn’t remember buying, not that it mattered. The cut above his eye looked ok and his neck wasn’t hurting as much.
As the phone started to ring he noticed something in the mirror he’d missed on his way in. There was something out of place next to the TV, in front of the long hanging mirror. The phone was still ringing while he looked closer at it in the mirror above the side table. It was some kind of heavy rectangular object, four wooden corners embossed with a brass trimming. The brass seemed to be rusting but only on one of the corners and along the sides of the object adjacent to that corner. Possibly it was supposed to be sitting in the corner of the room and those parts were never polished.
He couldn’t see much else from that angle so he took a step the right and craned his neck, he didn’t want to turn around and whip the phone off the table. He was on hold; the music was some French woman whining about something or other.
There was a plaque on the base but he was too far away to read what it said. But in his new angle he was able to see a small fuzzy shape and he remembered what was wrong with the desk scene. ‘Fido’.
The stuffed Chihuahua from the front desk had taken up legs and moved here and was lying on the floor. A cold sensation gripped his gut and he swallowed hard as his eyes craned up from the dog lying on the floor. His jaw tightened as he saw a pale set of eyes staring back at him reflected in the hanging mirror into the mirror above the side table.
The old man was slumped in his chair, his hairy white arms hanging off the sides. His lifeless cloudy eyes staring into the mirror. His head was a mess of blood and bone and brain matter, caved in with the corner of the little stuffed mutt.
James licked his lips frozen. A man’s voice came on the line.
“Hello, who is this?”
“I’ll call you back”. James said as he hung up the phone.
The basement of 3627 Belvedere heights was still again and then after a moment the sound of scratching heels of an overpriced pair of shoes. A cell phone beeped into existence and a neon glow passed over the dark black dirt floor of the basement like an alien spacecraft. The light scanned the ground until it came to a set of bloody black crocs. Without warning the light fell on the body of Carter Sable, he was half the man he used to be. The twelve gauge at close range had shredded his lower body to the point where it looked like he’d been attacked by a wild animal. The force had lifted his torso off the cradle of his hips, his intestines lay cold and rigid on the dark ground like some silly prop in a budget slasher movie.
Upon seeing this Con’s head snapped to the side and he puked all over his expensive shoes. He sucked in a lungful of sooty air through his nose and collected himself. He spat a gob of bile into the dark and started to hurriedly check himself for any wounds with the light of his phone. After a feverish pat down he didn’t find anything but a few powder burns and the start of some bruising around his chest. He scanned around again and saw the generator was shot out. One or two small calibre bullet holes had cracked the fuel tank and damaged the motor. A quick flash around the room was telling. As well as the flood lighting there was a set of four portable work surfaces laid out in a crude ‘L’ shape. They were littered with industrial chemistry equipment.
He sighed, His legs still worked, he dragged himself to the bottom of the stairs and there she was again. Bathed in the beam of natural light. Harri was sprawled out elegantly at the top of the stairs.
Con started up the stairs carefully. The pain in his chest now was more evident when he shifted some weight around. One maybe two broken ribs. He steadied himself with the bannister and pulled himself towards her.
She appeared to be unconscious, how she made it to the top of the stairs was anybody’s guess.
She was facing into the basement on her front angled in, her head was down and she wasn’t moving. Her left arm was stretched out with the compact Glock 39 she kept on her ankle dangling from her trigger finger like a toy squirt gun. He leaned in painfully and snatched up the gun. The acrid smell of burnt powder assaulting his nasal cavity. He stowed the gun in the back of his pants and checked her pulse again. It was still faint.
He lifted her arm and started to slowly pull her up onto his shoulder angling her around so he could walk her out of the basement. The pain in his chest was unbearable and as he lifted her he thought he might throw up again. He swallowed it and let a slow boil sheen of sweat drain down his face.
Once he had her on her feet it wasn’t so bad. Just a dull ache and a slow burn. He took her out the way he came and before he knew it he had her in the car and down the street.