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Posted by Clayton Littlewood

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The Box


It’s cold. Quiet. And I’m trapped.


There’s something on either side of me. If I stretch my hands out I can feel it. It’s like a wooden wall. If I stretch my toes there’s a wall there too. And there’s something pressing against my head. Where am I? What is this? It feels like I’m in a box. A long box.


I open my eyes. It’s so dark I can hardly tell if they are open. I try to push myself backward and forward. But I’m crammed in so tightly I can’t move. I can’t turn. I can’t roll over. All I can do is lie here. Fuck. What’s going on?


‘Help! Somebody help me!’


My voice is muffled. Even though I’m shouting, in this enclosed space it sounds like I’m whispering. How did it get in here? My hearts banging now. A thud, thud, thud through my chest, through my ears. My breathing is short, sharp. I’m gasping for air.


‘Someone. Help. Me.’


There’s a noise. A scratching. A pitter-pattering. Like tiny feet. Something brushes my leg. My arm. Whatever it is, it digs its nails into my hip. Crawls to the top of my body. Now it is on top of my body.


‘Get the fuck off!’


I’m squirming. Trying to move. But I’m so locked in, I can’t do anything. Now the nails, the feet, whatever they are, they’re moving. Over my abdomen. My chest. Toward my face. Then it squeaks. It’s a rat. It’s a fucking rat! Now it’s on my neck. My Adams apple. Oh God. I mustn’t open my mouth. I mustn’t let it get in my mouth. I feel it’s whiskers, stroking my face. I can’t believe this is happening! Now its nails are digging into my cheeks, as it climbs onto my face. I shut my eyes.


‘Please. GET OFF!’


It scratches my eyelid. Digging in a claw.




Then there’s a pop. Like bubble wrap. Fluid pours down my cheek. An excited squeak. The sound of lapping.


And then I wake up.


* * *


‘Thank God.’


I relax. My breathing slows. The pounding in my body slows. Everything slows. I’m still lying flat, but now everything’s warm. There’s no wall on either side. So I can rock. Stretch my fingers. My toes. Even though my eyes are closed, I have a sense of light. I try to open my eyes. But only one will open. I try again. The left one’s stuck. Like when you wake up and your eyes are still glued together with sleep. I look round with my one eye, taking in my surroundings.


I’m in a white room. Like a hospital room. Or an operating surgery. There’s a light directed on my face. A glass trolley to my left, on top of which is a green paper towel with a row of instruments; scalpels, knives, a drill. Fixed to a wall at the far end is a newspaper cutting. Why can’t I open my other eye? It appears to be taped shut. I glance down at my body. I’m naked. My wrists and ankles are fastened to a bed. Where am I? There’s music, coming from somewhere behind me. A song, about leaving, for somebody new. What am I doing in this place?


A door opens and I have a sense of someone watching me. Footsteps. Whoever it is, now they’re standing in front of the light so all I can see is a silhouette.




No answer.


‘What am I doing here?’


The figure moves out of the light. I see his face. Because it is a ‘he.’ It’s a man. In his 60s. With silver hair, slicked back. A thin nose, that looks broken. Small eyes. Wild and deranged. Like he’s on something. He’s grinning. A graveyard of broken teeth. And there’s something hanging out of his mouth. A sinewy thread. He’s sucking it up. Making an obscene sucking noise.


‘Who are you?’


I can smell him. His breath is hot, rancid. He carries on sucking. A disgusting, sucking noise. Now I see what’s at the end of the thread. It’s a ball. Getting nearer to his mouth. Only it’s not a ball. It’s … My eye. He’s holding my eye between his teeth! Grinning. Sweat dripping of his forehead. His hair falling over his face. While the voice in the background sings about worry. Then he bites down on my eye. And there’s that popping sound again. A splattering of liquid. An excited squeak. The sound of lapping. I try to move. Left. Right. But I can’t. I’m strapped down. I can’t move my head either. It’s in a vice. Now he’s reaching toward the trolley. All the time the music, a song I know. A woman’s voice.


I’m crazy for feeling so lonely
I’m crazy
Crazy for feeling so blue


Now I see the newspaper headline on the wall. Something about a ‘Cannibal’. The man picks up a knife. The glint of the blade, a flash in the light, getting closer. And closer.


‘Let me go! Please.’


I’m crying now. Pleading.


Then a strange thing happens. I’m not struggling anymore. I’m watching the knife go into my eye, twisting around the socket, digging in, deeper and deeper. But I’m watching it from above. Hovering near the ceiling. I can see my body, pale, shaking, uncontrollably. I can see the back of his head, leaning over me, biting off my nose, spitting it out across the room. And yet, from above, floating high above, beyond the ceiling now, I don’t feel a thing. It’s like it’s not even me down there. It’s just the shell of me. Then I remember the song. It’s Patsy Cline. She’s singing about being crazy. Crazy, for loving you. She sings the same line. Over and over.


I’m crazy for trying
And crazy for crying
And I’m crazy for loving you


Then the vision below becomes blurred. Like when you wake from a dream. Until there’s nothing left to see. Just blackness. Everywhere I look. From left. To right. And when I try to stretch out my hands, I can’t. Because I’m back. In the box.



Taken from the collection of short stories called: Six Stories by Clayton Littlewood