The End. – (10/05/24)

Tim was sitting alone in his room, cradling a gun. The room was small, and the lighting was dim with the black curtains pulled shut. The lack of light did not bother him; he liked it that way. Locked away from the outside world so that he could live independently was what he considered the very best of things. He liked being by himself; he had grown used to it. The world in Tim’s eyes was just a simple black and
white, with only a smattering of colours. This was almost literal; he only saw colours in objects that mattered to him. It looked like someone had taken a paintball gun and shot its pellets over items that he cared about. There was a cup on a shelf with a yellow dashing. The paint extended beyond the cup and splashed, just a little, on the wall. A bright yellow skid mark of memory was painted for him to see. The paint on the wall would fade quickly and become just another shade of grey. A drop of red plastered the corner of a picture, purple adorned the corner of a book, and blue sat slap bang in the middle of a painting, and so on and on…

Tim used his left hand to fumble through his collected paperwork. Bills, final demands, court papers, and letters from the DWP have all driven him to this point between madness and sadness. The bills with ones and zeros and the letters with demands he can’t take are the same; he can see no way out of it. It was all fine, and he could juggle it, until he was reassessed as fit to work. He scrunched the first letter up and threw it to the floor. This is a ball, origami for the bone idle. Another letter is screwed up and thrown, and this is an orange. He pointed the long silver barrel of the gun he had been cradling at the paper shapes on the floor and pretended to fire it. Boom boom. You’re dead, fuck you all.

Tim placed the gun in his mouth. The barrel may be smooth to the bullet, but he could feel the little imperfections as he ran his tongue along the insert, exploring all those grooves that are the scaring of the metalwork and will leave traces on the bullet once fired. He pushed the gun hard against the roof of his mouth, and the soft palate took the pressure with the barrel only slightly denting and pushing into the
tissue; Tim rolled his eyes upwards as he pulled the trigger. Bang bang. Now he is dead. Dead to the mostly black and white world he inhabited, problem solved. The scalding heat from the explosion’s pressure burned and blistered his upper mouth. The soft skin cauterised and hardened before the bullet’s lead shattered through it. The skin scratched and ripped as the lead pierced and penetrated with the
ease of a leaf floating through an open window. That was when it happened…

Tim stood and watched as he pushed the girl on the swing. The colours were almost blinding to him. She was throwing her legs forward and then back to build momentum. He held his hands out and pushed the girl’s back; he knew it was making no difference, but he did so anyway. The girl was nine, and he knew who it was. It was his daughter; he had not seen her for half a decade. He was a ghost, walking a memory that had never happened. It was a dream of something that almost once was. He had avoided going to the park, but she had come buzzing home, excited that she had managed to swing herself! He remembered the day, not because he was there, but because it mattered to his daughter. How he wished he had been there. A recollection of regret.

The lead of the bullet continued its journey after obliterating his upper palate. It ripped through the small cavity above and tore at the parts of the head that are never meant to see the light of day. The bone crumpled, like the paperwork, into flesh as the lead passed by. His head was minced as the bullet and explosion did its work; it shredded tissue and bone as if they were nothing.

Sitting on a beach, Tim felt the rough, damp sand between his fingers. The smell of the salt from the sea breeze drifted upwards and into his nose. The sand’s coarseness and the sea’s smell brought a memory into view. He remembered sitting here with his friends at night, drinking and singing. A night with his first love; why did she leave? Was it him? She was exceptional, and she was the one. Him? Well, Tim
had always been ordinary. Nothing special. Help, I need somebody. Help, not just anybody.

They sang. An echo of a happier time.

The bullet pierced and punched into Tim’s brain. The final resting place of his madness was penetrated with ease. The small ball of lead ripped and tore as it mashed through the light grey mush that held all the tales of his life. The smidgin of remaining memories smashed like the soft palate as the lead escaped his head. The soft encephalon breathes in the air as it dies; it breathes its first and then its last in a matter of moments. The bullet wedged itself in the plastic between the glass window and lintel; had it broken the glass, his body may have been found sooner.

The blood, grey matter, bones, and flesh stuck to the closed curtain as his body slumped backwards. The end of one nightmare leads to the start of another. The floor around Tim’s feet started to split and bend. A cloud of black smoke rose from the cracks as the floor elongated and distorted. The twisting tiny plumes of smoke began to form into fingers and nails. The nails dug into the floor and snapped, pulling away from the misty hyponychium and reforming. The rupture in the floor became more extensive as a figure formed.

The figure was made of strands of smoke and leaned out from the fractured floor like a naiad crawling from a well. The fingernails grew into long spikes, and they grabbed Tim’s now dead leg. They sank easily through the trousers and into skin, working like hypodermic needles that sucked the soul from Tim, ten little spiked nails that drained his very being. The soul, spirit, energy, call it what you will, tried to fight back and remain, but the collector was too strong. Soon, the body was empty of its very self and could be left to rot.

The mists started to disperse; they drifted and separated like cigarette smoke in a cinema. It then was sucked slowly back from whence it had come. Being drawn in as if a hologram of steam was playing in reverse. The floor started to bend soundlessly back into shape, and the cracks healed. The room was dim and lifeless, just as it was before.

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