Stay Inside

Lifeless, empty but ever expanding. I feel it all through the halls. The floor creaks and cracks as if it were hundreds of years old, but I bought it no more than a year ago. I woke up every morning to the sounds of my wife and son—laughing, happy. All those noises slowly faded to silence. Happy doesn’t live in this house anymore.

The pictures I hung of my family are reminders of what I can’t see anymore. Not as if I took advantage of freedom back then. I was distant, cold at times. As things started to worsen outside, inside things were rotting, falling apart. The world fell apart. It was one thing after another. First, we were “strongly advised” not to leave. Now, choosing to walk out a door is choosing to walk into your own death. It’s the world we live in—lived in.

As things got worse, I closed off rooms. Boards and nails, ripped from furniture and cabinets. They weren’t needed. Dark hardwood that would hide shadows that spilled across it. White walls that seem to amplify the dread in the room. The emptiness inside of the house—inside of me. I had nothing left besides the walls. When I was the only one left in the house, when the rooms with windows began to be more dangerous to me, I feared them. I feared them like I feared everything that was happening outside these walls.

The plague sunk its teeth into the people. The coughing millions had gone quiet. They were ignored by most and refuted by the idiocy of the loudest until it was too late. Now I sit alone. The white walls slowly grow duller as time wears them down to a sickly dark yellow that only serves as a reminder of the filth I can’t escape. Boarded windows block the light, block anything from getting inside.

Things start to meld together when remaining in the same place for so long. Home should be just that—home. But after weeks and weeks, it becomes the stomach of the world that swallowed your life whole. I am being digested by a massive creature that has warped our reality into frailty and erosion, pieces falling off as the virus breaks us down.

It started with something that seems simple now but was then so complicated. “Stay inside,” “distance yourselves.” After years of this there were less and less people, less and less reason to leave our houses. The phone stopped ringing, then the phone lines didn’t work at all. The mass burnings of the bodies lasted so long that the smoke pillars reached higher than any skyscraper and blotted out the sun for months. The weather started to match the feelings of those left—cold. The looting, assaults, and murders would all steadily increase as basic systems shut down. With less people came less noise. Cities became graveyards, each building a tombstone. I sit in the same place clutched in anguish of the reality of this existence. Nothing is right here. Nothing feels right anymore. It is much easier to cope when you can’t remember when it was right. Like a foggy memory of playing as a child. You know it happened, but its blurred, barley there. Is the blur saving me? Distorting the parts I wouldn’t like?

When the ground started to give way, it bled for all the pain we caused. I do not mean a flood of water. No, the ground bled. Thick crimson fluid oozed from the soil. It became ankle-deep and we tried our best to carry on. It became waist-deep, and children would go missing beneath the viscous liquid. I could hear those on the floors below me being taken by it. Praying, screaming for help. It became neck-high and started to birth horrors from the flesh and corruption that is laced within the strata. The fault lines cracked like bone—a disgusting crack heard around the world, echoing through empty buildings. Primordial things older than knowledge found their way to the surface.

I peeked. You can’t help yourself when it sounds like the earth is splitting open like a dead man’s skull. You have to look. I wish I didn’t. I wouldn’t have seen the creatures being birthed from the liquid below me. Some grew large like a plant reaching into the sky, blooming spores into the atmosphere that would consume those who dare breathe in the open air. Others walked along the Earth’s soaked crust. Wandering through, not attacking. No. They never attack. Their mere sights attack our minds, tear them apart from the inside. Death would be preferred. Day in and day out we do our best inside. Today, I am losing my best. I want to rip off the boards to the warped landscape and embrace whatever it is. My end? A blank canvas?—What’s the difference? It would be much better than this. This place contorts like a body in the throes of pain. My mind is lost to me like my reality. It lies in the other room, far away from me. Far away from this hell that was birthed. This place is not ours anymore, isn’t recognizable anymore. I am not me. I had to stay inside. 

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