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"The Gazer"

by Peter Roy La Fleur 11 months ago in Short Story · updated 7 months ago
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A Short Story by Peter Roy La Fleur

With the last days of what mankind was supposed to be having passed, I find myself lost in a new world of false order. The people have already flocked to it like sheep to a shepherd in the presence of a wolf, clinging to the hope that their envisioned reality would somehow come back. Even those who deep down knew it was a lie, clung to it.

It was not a disease, a virus, a famine, a plague, a war, a natural disaster, nor was it even a mythical end of days scenario that brought us to our knees. What it was is something I never would have thought to be the catalyst to bring about the destruction of our society.

It was knowledge that brought about these fabled “end of days”; Knowledge of something too surreal to be the reality that it was that brought out the madness that is lurking inside every human. This madness that goes about gnawing at us daily as it tries to break free and inevitably consume us. I know this because I once embraced that madness as a friend and let it consume me.

In the weeks following the day we were all “enlightened” as to the true nature of reality, chaos reigned over the Earth. I could not believe what I was seeing as all of mankind seemed to embrace madness as I once did.

However, as this new false order rises in the wake of their madness, I find I am even more afraid of the outside world than I have ever been. Just the thought of exactly what kind of “order” may be grown from such madness is even more terrifying than the madness itself.

Amid all of the chaos, I watched as mankind eagerly and willingly gave up any and all freedoms for the false sense of security the new false order offered. The way I see it is that, had mankind maintained control of their rationality, of their logic, and of their reasoning in the face of this new evil, they may not have lost their grip on sanity. It seems however, that this arcane knowledge was just too much for them to bear.

When their delusions of reality were shattered, the fragility of the human mind truly showed its own true nature. The human mind relies so much on certain institutions to maintain its illusion of order and it seems that without them, mankind devolves into its most primal state.

My faith in most institutions had long been lost, but despite my disillusionment I had regained my grasp upon the institution of sanity. Despite being the one that before this all happened was the one considered mad, in the face of actual madness I seem to be the only one left clinging to my humanity. Still, even I can feel my mind trying to slip away from me again day by day as what even I thought to be my reality has been obliterated beyond hope.

I have long lived my life as a recluse and thus have often been regarded as merely a wight and a wretch by my peers. My whole life had been spent seeking an armistice from the war raging between myself and my mind. Because of this internal war I have led a life that left a trail of mistakes and misunderstandings in my rampant misanthropy. My outlook on life has always been far from sanguine at the best of times and a grotesque display of existential nihilism at the worst.

This kind of mindset is what plagues a person that feels broken beyond repair after being burdened by a period of great turmoil. Having burned all their bridges, given up on life, and having acted solely to spite the world around them they become a living revenant of their former selves. A morbid aberration feeling like a raging inferno on the inside, while appearing like an abnormally placid lake on the outside.

People like me live on never feeling the same as they once did, never again to be seen in the same way by others. Though many people may understand the reality of their pain, those that knew them have their perception of said person permanently altered.

Though I am now in control of my old tenebrous tendencies, the ineffable shadow lurking in my mind remains eating away at me like a pox trying to take my heart. People look at the phlegmatic look on my face as if waiting for the past to rise from me like the building fluid of an effervescent pustule.

Due to this sordid past, I have since awoken every morning covered in a cold sweat caused by the nightmares of the night before. These dreadful dreams were grown of my regrets, bereavements, and many tainted memories that scourged me like the lash of a whip.

Today had been no different, I had awoken covered in an especially slimy slick of sweat. I opened my eyes into the darkness of my room and steadied my breathing as best as I could as I sat up on the edge of my bed. I took up my flashlight from my bedside table before I made my way into the bathroom on the other side of the stark white hall outside my bedroom. All the shades in my small, one bedroom apartment had been drawn since the “enlightenment” to avoid bringing any attention to myself.

The electricity had gone out a few days before today, but even now I found that the water was still running, albeit only coldly. I washed my face in the cold water of the sink as if to cleanse myself of not just the sweat, but the self-loathing I so often feel upon waking.

I looked up into the mirror, the light of my flashlight illuminating my visage as it stood upright on the side of the sink. I saw then that my physiognomy was as dour as it usually was. The pallid pallor of my gaunt face was contrasted with the red circles surrounding my green eyes like bleeding crows feet. The black bags that hung low beneath them showed no signs of lessening in intensity despite another full night's sleep.

This all completed the look of me appearing like a vengeful ghost that was itself haunted. I ran my hands through my dark, shaggy hair that needed to be trimmed just as much as my scruffy beard needed to be shaved. As I held my hair back, I began pressing my hands down onto my skull as if applying pressure to a wound.

In that moment I became both grave and grim as I was taken by one of the bouts of melancholy I had always been prone to. I stared broodingly into the reflection of my own eyes and yet again questioned my ability to do so. Having done such reprehensible things as what I had done in the past, I am unsure how I can still look into my eyes and not see a monster staring back at me.

The reason I have always come to is that I somehow still feel like a good person. This is despite also knowing that that must be how all people in my situation feel about themselves. I feel as much a victim of circumstance as my actual victims were. I did not ask for this all to happen anymore than my victims did, nor did I ask to be made with such a Stygian mind as the one I have.

In the shower I found the cool water and the dulcet tones of the water droplets hitting the base of the tub to be somewhat soothing. As I stood with my head pressed against the walls of the shower I accepted the reality of my situation. I am running out of food and fear that soon the water may stop flowing in and I will be forced to go out into the world once again.

It is likely that it will be for the good this time, that I will never be able to hide from the world again in its new state, and I am not sure what this means for me. Though, having peeked outside my window to see the machinations of this new society at work, I doubt it will yield many pleasant surprises.

I am going to leave this piece of writing here in my desk drawer. This is done in the hopes that if I do not survive out there, that someday when and if society rebuilds itself, someone will find it and read it.

I hope that whoever may be reading this understands that I am full of remorse and that I have done my best to change for the good. I've done what I can internally, but it seems real change must come with action and the time for action is now.

I am going to go out into the world now and hope to find an avenue for a fresh start, perhaps even as a new person if that is what I must do to survive. After all, I have not been the person I once was in a very long time, and I don't think that I shall be him ever again.

Short Story

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Peter Roy La Fleur

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