Damn the heat and the sweat, I have been in this room for a week, and I am not well. I think I have some kind of a bug. However, it may just be my mind again. It tends to do things like that to me when I am unoccupied and shut in for long periods of time.
The cheap, coarse shades are drawn over the windows, and there is a soft orange glow on the edge of all the furniture, giving the place a quality both angelic and monotonous. Deirdre is still away at her mother's and she will be very upset to hear that I haven't been to work in several days now. However, that cannot be helped. You see, my bones ache a great deal. It is hard to walk, and my skin feels rather stiff. I am also not very hungry. That is a good thing, because if I were, I wouldn't be able to walk to the refrigerator. This comfortable recliner that I sit in has become more like a hospital bed, or a tomb.
The TV drones on with the same boring shows and over-produced commercials, and there is a fly that keeps buzzing around my head - driving me insane. I wish I could swat it, but I can't manage to lift my arm. I do wish Deirdre were here. Then she could take me to the hospital. However, even if she were here, there is a chance that she would simply ignore me and go on with her aerobic workouts and channel surfing. Most likely she would go shopping, dressed up in her tight pants and t-shirt. At least, that is where I think she goes. She was wonderful when we were first married, but now she is a bit distant. I shouldn't let myself think about these things. I've found that it is better not to bother yourself with these kinds of concerns. They dull the mind and stifle action.
I woke up today very exhausted, and I felt something peculiar on my arms. I noticed that there seem to be some short coarse hairs growing out of the back of my arms. I must say that this is an odd development, not to mention slightly distressing. Deirdre would probably just tell me to take a razor to them, brushing the whole thing off the way she always does with this sort of thing. She called this morning and left a message on the answering machine. She seems to be doing well at her parents' house. She says she's enjoying the pool and the sun, and she asked if I would like for her to pick me up a few new shirts on her way home in a few days. How nice of her. I must say that it sounded like there were a lot of people in the background when I was speaking to her. Perhaps they were having a party. She did sound a little tipsy. She enjoys her cocktails. She didn't ask me how I was or to call back. Well, at least I'm off the hook.
I woke this morning feeling much better. This afternoon I developed a splitting headache, which is a shame, because I was considering going out for a bit to stretch my legs. Oddly the muscle cramps in my legs seem to be going away, and I feel stronger than ever in certain ways. For example, I was able to move from my chair to the bathroom, a good 20 feet away, in what must have been less than a second. Of course, I can't be exact about the time. It may have been more than that, but it seemed very quick indeed. I still don't have an appetite, but I don't feel as queasy. The main problem is this headache. It really hurts.
I woke up very angry this morning. I got to thinking about Deirdre and her refusal to have children. Why is that? I feel like it would be good for both of us. All I do is slave away all week and bring home the money, and she just spends it on clothes and useless things. She's going to school to be an accountant or some such thing, and she has a part time job at an office with a boss who is rather sharp looking for a 24 year old. It's good that she is seeking independence, really it is, and it would be OK if she sometimes contributed to the household, but she doesn't. All I hear from her is, 'Oh Thomas, you are such a waste. Why don't you get some exercise? Why don't you eat better? Why don't you get a better job?' I hate it, and it is irritating me to no end at the moment. Mostly it touches on sore areas in me. I wasted so many years. I once wanted to be a college professor, and that idea has never left me completely. But here I am, 40, no degree, and what's the use? I have so many debts, and I have Deirdre's school to think about. It's enough to make me want to go out and commit some kind of mayhem. Maybe this sickness is doing me some good. Maybe I am getting to the bottom of something. Sometimes these time outs are wonderful ways to reevaluate your life and where it is going.
I felt my appetite come back a little today, and I looked in the fridge for something to eat. There was a steak in the freezer, so I took it out and put it in a pan. My fingers hardly worked. It was like I forgot how to use them. I kept dropping the frozen block of meat. I finally got it into the pan and started frying it. The odor was so potent and my hunger so strong that I found myself unable to wait. Without even thinking, I snatched the seared meat out of the pan and gobbled it down in seconds flat. I choked it down in a way that was amazing, swallowing chunks the size of small rats, the blood and juices running down my chin onto my chest. Oh, it was delicious, and I felt much better. Though, I must say that I was a little disturbed with these new eating habits. The meal did me right. My legs and arms felt invigorated, and I found myself running about the room like a madman, flapping my arms and leaping in the air. I was quite amazed at how high I could jump and how long I could stay in the air. It must have just been my imagination, but I could swear that I almost glided, touching back on the ground gentle as a ballet dancer. I will have to remember to eat more red meat. Perhaps it was the vitamins in the uncooked steak that gave me the energy boost.
Then I got a phone call from Deirdre. She asked if I had gone to work today. I told her no, that I still wasn't feeling right just yet. She laid into me, and I could barely hold the receiver to my ear. She went on about how when she got back in two days, she'd better find me up and about and going to work. I told her that I would absolutely be fine in a day or two. I'm such a waste of flesh. I let her walk all over me like some whipped dog. I'm such a silly fucker.
Work, that's another thing that pisses me off. That ass of boss of mine, Robert, I'd like to tear his fucking heart out. I have fantasies about that. Mind you, I would never act on them. The man has no respect for a hard worker. He certainly kisses the asses of the higher ups and those who will get him someplace. I bend over backwards in that inferno of an office, and what thanks do I get for it? All I hear about is what I am doing wrong. He hasn't given me a raise in years. Who does he think he is? Every day I go in there with fear in my yellow belly. I wait like a soldier in war for the snipers bullet. It comes, oh yes. He rips me up and down about what I did wrong, even the smallest most trivial things. It's enough to crush the soul.
My, these legs are strong. From a standing position I can leap up with little effort and touch the ceiling, but I am getting tired now. I must rest.
I took a nap at 6 p.m. and woke up at midnight. I was in a complete delirium, and I ran into the bathroom scratching at my face. It itched horribly, like I had streams of maggots crawling under the flesh. I tore at the skin with my nails. They are quite long now, and they have this awful pale green color. I slashed right through the flesh, tore it away, and under it was this strange dark, slimy skin. I starred at myself in horror. Oh my God. The only thing I could think to do was go back to bed.
I woke up and the clock read three in the morning. I tried to move but I couldn't. When I looked at my body, I noticed that it was covered in some kind of greenish gooey film, as if I were encased in a large turtle's egg. I pressed against the flexible walls of this encasement. I had become encased in some kind of cocoon. My headache was gone, but there was something strange about my thoughts. I felt hungry, but I also felt this urge to kill and maim and destroy. The more I thought these things, the more sexually excited I became. I began having desires for a female, but the pictures that entered my mind were not those of a human woman. I pictured a creature with cold hard skin and lobster clawed hands. It had a face like an insect. This excited me to no end.
I also needed to feed. I could see myself ripping an animal asunder, oh yes, and then sticking my face into its guts and then after the animal, perhaps another kind of a being, no, I couldn't go there. I couldn't, because I knew that those feelings were true.
Do you ever wonder why we live the way we do, with so many limitations self-imposed? I look at Deirdre, constantly telling me what a woman I am, criticizing every move I make, giving the eye to all the macho men out there. What does she want? Why did she marry me, that unhappy bitch? But even sad Deirdre is limited, oh yes. She is stuck in her own kind of a prison. In a way I am more limited than ever now, but my brain is working so fast. It's not preoccupied with the small things that so many of us are preoccupied with everyday. I am thinking in terms of survival and where the next meal will come from. I can sense sounds and smells and feel the dank dark air around me.
I was feeling much stronger and much more complete. I swam about in the cocoon as best I could, my muscles building up energy. I was also extremely hungry. I could see all of our possessions around me through the translucent wall of the cocoon, and I must say that none of them meant very much to me. They seemed like the toys of childhood, their meaning long forgotten.
The phone rang earlier. It must have been Deirdre. Who else would call? But I couldn't get up to answer it. Ha! I couldn't move. At first I wanted to so bad. I had to speak with my lovely wife. I wanted to make sure that I was there for her the way I always was. I could see her young again, before turning into the spiteful creature that she now was. I felt the anxiety of her running away from me for not being there when she needed me the most. Oh, but it wasn't possible. I pushed at the membrane of my prison, but it was no use. I was trapped inside until, well, until some point. Then I started to laugh. I spit out big clumps of green goo every time I chuckled. Go ahead Deirdre, call all you want. Now you can be concerned about me and where I am at four in the morning. Go ahead, my love.
Today I found that my cocoon was becoming less flexible and more brittle. It seemed very natural to use my long claws to slit it open and slide out onto the floor like some giant slimy reptile. It was the day of Deirdre's arrival. I wondered what she would think when she opened that door and turned on the lights. Then I heard the car pull up outside. Then the door slammed, and there were footsteps on the walkway. I held my breath. I heard the key clicking inside the lock, and I felt my instincts draw together into a single-minded focus like some beast in the wild. It was Deirdre. My belly began to flutter. So nice to see you again my love. I'm not sure the shirts will fit anymore.
Tim Gerstmar was born in 1972 and grew up in Massachusetts. He came to horror at an early age through movies such as "Black Sabbath" and the fiction of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. He has had a varied career, including a stint in the U.S. Navy and ten years of teaching ESL in the U.S., Korea, and Thailand. His desire to scare himself has never left.
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