In all of the time that I’ve lived alone in this house, I swear I’ve closed more doors than I’ve opened.
I pointed the gun at the sick bastard who killed my wife. He sobbed as he feared for what was to come. I pulled the trigger.
If only he spoke and tried to reason with me then maybe he could’ve lived. But that was obviously not going to happen. After all, he was born just a few minutes ago.
Grandpa Tim was a bit of a recluse, as my family liked to say. He lived out in the middle of nowhere in an old, dilapidated house. But when he came around, everyone listened. No one argues or disobeys his commands, as strange as they were.
For example, the time Tim convinced my Aunt Betty to purchase a life insurance policy on my Uncle Bill. Betty argued but gave in to Grandpa who insisted on paying for the policy. Two years later, Uncle Bill passed away from a sudden heart attack. Aunt Betty received a huge payout that helped Uncle Bill’s wife with the funeral costs.
Sometimes his advice would be to get checked at the doctor, even if you weren’t sick, and they would find a life threatening tumor inside you. Other times, it would be to stay home from work on a certain day and then you’d see a twenty car pile up on the highway in the news. Grandpa Tim always knew exactly when to call.
When Tim died, I inherited all his possessions including his house. The lawyer instructed me to check his mailbox for a letter Tim left me.
I found myself opening a door in the basement and then almost fainting when I saw the endless cavern of hourglasses as far as the eye could see. The closest hourglasses to the door had the names of my family members etched on their bases. That’s when I saw the sand in my parent’s hourglasses about to run out. I called them and told them to not get on the plane heading to Tim’s funeral. The sand in their hourglasses refilled.
The first time I saw one of them was almost twenty years ago, as I walked into a patients room with Catherine, the nurse assigned to train me. The patient lay in bed, eyes closed, chest rising and falling slowly. Coiled around his neck and draped over his left shoulder was a writhing, black, snake-like creature that appeared to be composed of shadows that had somehow gained substance.
I tensed up immediately, nearly dropping the medication cup in my hand. It took everything in me not to scream. The only thing that stopped me was Catherine’s calm hand on my shoulder. When I turned to her, the look on her face said more to me than any expression I have seen before or since. ‘If I had warned you beforehand,’ that look said, ‘you wouldn’t have believed me. It’s there… But you better act like it’s not.’
Since that day I have seen more of them than I can count. Always in the rooms of terminal patients. And always three days before that patient dies. They start in the dark corners, slowly moving closer as the hour approaches.
Over the years I have come to accept these creatures as a fact of life, never questioning their purpose or origin. Mostly out of fear. But now, these are questions I must ask. Because as I write this, I am watching one of them move from the space under my dresser to the nightstand near my bed.
I don’t understand.
I don’t even feel sick.
I had been blind from birth, and by God, I was bitter about it.
From the moment I could carry one of those hefty Braille books, I studied. The optic nerve, light diffraction, pharmacology. The autobiographies of anyone who’d suffered as I had. I knew that someday, someone would be able to fix me.
I jumped at the chance to participate in the human trials.
The drug worked overnight. I was speechless at the blurry black and white world that sat before me. I had been given such an incredible gift. Enough vision to recognize faces, even enough to read! But I wanted color.
And so I lied. I cried crocodile tears about how the doctors could never understand my pain. About the cruelty of the false hope that they’d given me.
And they upped the dosage.
My eyes opened and I smiled at what could only have been 20/20. But I still envied all of those naturally sighted. Children who talked about their shapes and colors. Men and women who could drive. I wanted better than perfect.
They upped the dosage once more and I could see like no person had ever seen. Through walls, the nurses’ uniforms. My mind raced at the possibilities. I was superhuman. I couldn’t resist the temptation. I begged the doctors to give me more. Promised that if it didn’t work this time, I’d leave the trials.
It’s two days later and I’d do anything to be 20/20 again. Blind again, even. Because now I see far too much. I seeThem.
And believe me, they do not like being seen.