The House of Water
I HURTLED THROUGH A MAZE of haunted houses, an unending city of dark-eyed monoliths that clustered close and made the road into a deep valley of paper shadows. A gigantic clap of thunder coughed behind me and something slowly cut the air in my way; it was a torpedo the size of a snow pea, dragging a wobbling, glassy icicle of vacuum behind it. As I passed it, the torpedo hit a wall and starburst into a flowering nebula of tumbling splinters.
The Big Bang, I thought. I kept running.
I wasn’t sure what I was running from: my own deteriorated mental condition, or the man with the gun.
I was deep into the desert by the time I realized I couldn’t outrun my own mind. I jounced to a stop like a fat man, stumbling in the dirt as my legs rippled from my attempts to stop myself. I fell to my knees in the sagebrush and dry-heaved, but this time, nothing came up.
I wanted to scrape the “Sacrament” out of me, I wanted to stop the madness. I scratched at my tongue with my grimy fingernails and stuck my fingers down my throat, but I couldn’t get it out.
After a long while I spat; it did not hang in the air in front of my face, but hit the ground with a soft thump. It seemed the Acolouthis was beginning to wear off. Perhaps I had survived it after all. I stood up, pushing myself straight with my hands on my knees, and looked around, shivering sweaty in the breeze.
I was alone, in a flat cool wasteland that bristled with sparse sagebrush. The night sky was a rippling black dome ten feet over my head, like a plastic tent shotgunned with a trillion holes through which I could see an unspeakable light. I couldn’t say that it was beautiful.
There was an ineffable malice to it that I could not place, as if there was something back there with that light, something on the outside watching me through those holes.
They twinkled that way because there was someone outside the sky walking back and forth trying to get a better look at me.
I didn’t want to be watched anymore. I hated being out in the open.
I got down and groveled in the dirt, thought about digging to China, then crawled into the bushes, trying to find a place to hide from that terrible sky-warden.
Claws of grass scraped at my face and naked back as I found my way through it, cutting and bruising my knees, pushing sprays of rattling thistle out of my path. I fought to understand, to feel the right way in the darkness.
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