When everything falls apart

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“Tell me something interesting,” she said.

“About what?” he asked.

“About me,” she giggled.

He set the phone on speaker and put it on the desk and slumped in his chair and then stared at his hands. A spider walked across his palm and then onto the other side of his hand and he turned his hands over and on both of them dozens of spiders marched around appearing like they’d hatched from the pores of his skin.

He chuckled and smiled.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“I see spiders.”

His mouth hung open mesmerized by the sight.

“Oh?” she asked.

“Mhm.”

He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a few seconds and when he opened them the spiders were gone. He sat up and checked his hands flipping them back and forth palm and backhand. He looked in his lap.

“What the fuck,” he said.

He got on the ground and laid flat on his back looked up at the bottom of his desk. Nothing.

“Where’d they go?” he asked.

“Who? The spiders?”

“Yeah, they were here and then…huh.”

He stood up and looked around the room. The white walls turned pink, then violet, then white, then pink and shimmered and vibrated, the color reverberating like something from beyond reality was trying to shake the color out of its shape and into something wholly distinct. His mouth hung open and he touched the wall and the color seeped off and onto his hand like goop leaving a smear of ivory white on the wall where his hand had been.

“No way,” he said.

He looked at the lights. They didn’t change colors. He ran his hands across the drywall feeling the grooves and edges of the texture and leaving a colorless streak in its wake. He hoped there’d be some secret and as his palms caressed the wall it sent sensations into his body causing him to cringe and shudder with it as if the grooves and ridges were a type of brail scribed and detailed in some way not meant for humans to understand and his mere act of trying incited punishment.

He backed away from the wall and went to his bookshelf searching for something– some type of explanation as to what is happening. Maybe it was a glitch. Something went awry. Now everything was coming down.

Was he prepared? When the machine collapsed was he ready to wake up on the other side? Was this how it was supposed to end? Hallucinations and disappearances? Or was he trapped in this place? Trapped in the twilight of waking and sleeping, cursed in the algorithm of the machine where no whole number dared to enter, where only fractions of reality existed. Forever kept in a looped sequence of 0.111E onward and forever. Too much to be zero too little to be one. It will never end because it never began.

They’re probably screaming on the other side for me to wake up. Shaking me and beating me but I’ll never leave this place to return.

It racked his brain too much and he couldn’t concentrate on anything.

He backed away from the bookcase and sat on the edge of the bed breathing deeply. Sweat poured out from his head and his palms became soaked and he rubbed them on his jeans then through his hair and then cradled his head in his hands.

“Fuck,” he said. “Fucking FUCK.”

The ground swirled ebbing and bobbing gently like it were water. He closed his eyes tight but patterns shot out behind his eyelids like curtains with mandala patterns took place behind his eyelids, shimmering and waving like banners. He gasped and fell back onto his bed.

“Babe,” she said. “Are you ok?”

“I don’t know,” he said gasping. “I really don’t know. Is it happening to you too?”

“No,” she sighed. “You know why?”

“Why?”

“I didn’t eat fucking mushrooms.”

My Friend Nik

My phone rang, I rolled over and answered it.

“Hello?”

“Scott? Is that you?”

It was Nik. “Yeah. What’s up?”

“It happened again.”

My brain was sluggish, it was 10AM and I sleep till noon. “What did?”

“I keep waking up at a strange time.”

Of all the things, my brain went to dawn. I read in a shitty spirituality book that man’s connection to the sun is the most important aspect of life, and your ability to judge it is based on when you wake up. If you wake up at dawn, you’re fucking kickin ass in the spirit world. Based on this heuristic, my life was a terrible sloppy mess.

I told him the heuristic.

“That’s crazy, man, really, but I keep waking up at 9:57AM and I don’t know why. I don’t know what this means.” I wanted to explain to him the concept the circadium rhythm, your biological clock, shit, the fact that sleep and waking are fucking habits and nothing more, but I was tired of this.

I stayed quiet and stared at the ceiling. My life, at the time, was in shambles and directionless. My girlfriend whom I thought I was to marry dumped me for a pretty boy british dude who protested stuff I don’t think he understands. I lived with my dad. I was failing school. I was a vegetarian working as a waiter at a very low-end steakhouse. I was lonely, and I all I really had was Nik. I would talk to him occasionally, my best friend for five years, but he was developing severe signs of schizophrenia and was in complete denial about it.

For a while I thought it was my fault. We both got into drugs together, like learning how to swim or something sentimental along those lines. It was sentimental. We took ‘trips’ together, discuss for hours what we were thinking, where we thought we sat in the universe, what it meant to be a human, where we were going after high school. He once had a plan for our entire group to move to Austin, Texas, together, to stay together. Our group of sever were all going completely directions after high school and it was pretty scary, especially for him, he was the one that linked us all together. Through him I met and befriended some of the best people, and this would’ve been impossible on my own because of my introversion. So he wanted us to go to Austin, but that plan fell apart quickly. He could only get 4 of us. I left for Corpus Christi and never linked back up with any of them.

Soon, his drug use increased and he was going down weird thought pathways that he just shouldn’t have been. He felt like aliens were coming soon and were going to save the state of the world. For a while he was convinced Paul McCartney was dead. He thought he was gay. Then bisexual. He thought he had a crush on me. He got dumped (unrelated) and became a mess. He thought about suicide daily, which despite my extreme tendency to melancholy, I couldn’t help. His case was different. He wanted to go to the afterlife; I wanted to stop existing.

In result: I couldn’t stand talking to him. I dropped him for 18 months.

I received phone calls and texts from mutual friends. They said he was way off the deep end. He stole a car. He tried to fight cops on a neighbor’s roof. He told friend’s parents that he knew them from a past life where he was a Pharaoh and they his sworn followers. He stole another car. He was institutionalized. He was living with his mom. He ran away. He came back. He moved in with his dad. He stalked his ex-girlfriend. He stalked his ex-crushes. He lived with a friend’s mom. He stole her bike. All our friends hate him. Leaving only me.

When I came back to town to visit my girlfriend, I made a point to go see him. My girl and I went to his dad’s house and picked him up. He looked the same, acted the same, made shitty jokes, talked endlessly about Harry Potter, the only major difference that I could see was his sadness. Melancholy ruled him. All he could talk about was how lonely he felt, he couldn’t connect to anyone, he thought this was all a big joke. Something like the Truman Show; we are watching his life and he is the clueless actor.

“I know you know it, Scott.”

“What?”

“What this is.”

“What ‘what’ is?”

“I know you know what I’m talking about. I don’t know why you hide it. I just want to know. I just want to be free.”

“You are free, I don’t know anything more than you do.”

“You do know. You sit outside of all this. You’re time is done. You sit away from it all. You’re just here to entertain me, to poke me.”

I laughed, “Alright man, you know more than I do and that’s really it.”

He sighed. “I think I’ve come to terms with it.”

“That I don’t know? That was pretty fast.”

“No, my schizophrenia.”

“Yeah? That’s good man, how’d you come to terms with it?”

“A dog told me.”

I took him to a bookstore and bought him some books to take his mind off shit. He promised he’d read them. My girlfriend said she was proud of me for doing this, which felt weird. I just wanted him to fix his shit, this was entirely selfish. Delay the inevitable of his schizophrenia, which is fucking irreversible. We took him home. I met with his dad and he didn’t recognize me and freaked out when he realized who I was. He said, with Nik present, that he wished Nik would follow my way. I didn’t say it, but I agreed, but he ruined that for himself. He’s stuck and will never get better because bio-mechanics is a joke and for some reason schizophrenia is deemed necessary to exist. I don’t get it. This was the last time I spoke to him period. He vanished.

I miss my best friend.

It’s strange how connected people are these days, yet it’s still so easy to slip off the grid. Change your number. Delete your facebook. You’re gone. No one knows where you are. Worse still, most don’t care enough to find out. If I could, I’d drive by his house and sit with him and talk about the Strokes and the Killers and laugh about high school and the times before he went crazy and how beautiful Emma Watson is.

But I can’t. Distance is rough.