This Screaming Skull

I focus on her eyes. I always remembered that much – kind eyes. Blue eyes. Red hair. Of which I have neither. These are recessive genes. As I dig deeper, I learn that redheads feel pain more acutely. Is she one of them? Will higher doses of anesthetic be needed to feel the effect?

Do doctors know this and practice it? I’ll have to ask the next time I’m in the Emergency Room. They’ll think I’m weird. Weirder and weirder every time I go back. Inevitably, I go back. The aura comes, and the countdown begins.

Sometimes, it’s like a thunderclap that deafens the ears and the mind. I have no time to brace. I’m on the floor, tense, convulsing, seizing.

Sometimes, it’s the soft lights. Tiny specks that flutter in my vision. Is there a pattern, a message in their movement? The more I focus and try to understand, the more they cloud and obstruct my view, and then I seize. Is it a defence mechanism for when I get too close to deciphering their code?

Sometimes, it’s a shimmering line, a tether to some place, to someone — maybe to her? I follow it and it leads me further and further away. If I keep its pace, I can follow it until exhaustion and slumber. If I rush it and charge forward impatiently, I seize. Either way, I never get a glimpse of the end.

Sometimes, it’s the bright lights that start as tiny specs in the distance. I try to evade them, because they frighten me the most. But they rush me and overtake me. They hover above as one, like the lights of a spaceship, and then they swirl and embrace me and take me to darkness. Weightless, it feels like the void of death — non-existence. Fear overtakes. I seize again.

Sometimes, probably all of the time, there’s the nausea. I’m not sure if that’s an aura in itself, or my own nerves, my own anxiety over when and where the next seizure will come.

When I seize, I transmit. I don’t know why or how. I don’t always know the message. But I know it’s important. And it’s important that she be the receiver. But transmission means pain for both.

Do we bare the same scars? Slashed forehead and chin. Broken wrist and arm. Two or three concussions. I’ve fallen when there’s been no one to catch me. Does she have someone to hold her hand, to break her fall? I hope she’s safe and cared for. She shouldn’t suffer more pain than I’ve endured myself. I want her to hear me, but I don’t want her to hurt, not because of my uncontrollable screaming skull.

4H00. After Rust.

4:03AM. At the end of the road, over one PRIVATE PROPERTY sign and two NO TRESPASSING signs, the old derelict ship graveyard. No more land to run on at the end of the plank. Time to catch his breath.

4:06AM. There it is, the rusting ferry heap, CHIMERA. Out of commission since 1988. Walking up the barge, it was clear that someone or something was already inside.

4:07AM. This place was popular in the summer among his friends. A good hiding spot to get stoned, tell ghost stories, take cool pictures. No filters needed. But in the winter season, so close to the water, this place took on a whole other atmosphere. It was too cold. Too easy to lose your footing from forming ice on all the metal surfaces. An easy fall to your death. So who was inside?

It had to be Ghouli. It had found his favorite hangout. It wanted to ruin his one safe, his personal church. But he wasn’t going to let it. He’d kill it before it could take this ship.

4:10AM. Sonny crossed a gangway over the murky water. Under his running shoes, it was slippery from a sheen of frost. He took extra care not only to avoid falling, but to keep as quiet as possible.

4:13AM. This rusting hulk plied the bay for something like 50 years. It could hold 950 people and 138 cars. Its name obviously intrigued him. He’d been told by an older kid that it was called Chimera because the owner’s daughter was really into centaurs, but that there was already a ferry called Centaur so Chimera was the next best thing. He had accepted that at the time, but considering this now, this explanation seemed like it had been made up on the spot by an unimaginative, loaded pothead.

4:25AM. The tension of possibly running into a monster was really cramping that his style. All he wanted was a place to cool-down from his run and think, away from everything, from the prying eyes of his parents, his girlfriend, his doctors. It made him feel resentful. He wanted to punch something. He wanted to punch Ghouli. He had all this aggression and no one to take it out on. Where are you Ghouli? All he could do was pace the upper deck. Back and forth, zig zagging over the cracked bucket seats, covered with grime and mildew. Kick the railings. Throw detrius into the water.

4:40AM. Lower level. Still no sign of Ghouli. Only freshly spun spider webs.

4:44AM. Sounds coming from above, where he just was. Like scattered noises of a mouse hidden in a wall. Then crunching. Bone crunching. Slurping.

4:48AM. It was Ghouli. It was feeding on something now completely unrecognizable. Sonny spied from a distance for a moment, before brazenly stepping into the open, making himself known. It looked up from its catch, stared directly at Sonny.
“I’m here. What do you want?” said Sonny to the hideous monster.

Ghouli replied, a series of chirps and hisses. Like a bug; a beetle or a cockroach. Unbelievably, Sonny could somehow understand it. Who knew that he could speak cockroach?

Why are you afraid of me?” chirped Ghouli, “We’re one and the same. I am you and you are me. I am inside of you. In your blood.”

“Not afraid of you anymore, I’m mad at you. I’m sick of you preventing me from sleep.”

“Rust never sleeps.”

“I hate you.”

“Then you must hate yourself. I’m everything you hate, and feed upon your hate too. Just like the rust feeds on the air around us. You understand?”

He wasn’t sure he did. But he said the first thing that popped into his head.

“Entropy.”

“Now you’re getting it.”

“I’m going to kill you.” He stepped forward, threatening to charge.

“You already did. You absorbed me in utero. Face it, Sonny, you were a jerk before you were even born. If you’re not careful, you’ll kill everybody. Except for me. I could survive a catastrophic event. I could survive a goddamn nuclear winter. Then it will be just you, me and this ugly iron husk. So why don’t you put that in your pipe and smoke it?”

Ghouli returned its attention to the carcass in its clutches, licking the bones clean, seemingly done and bored with Sonny.

“Ghouli… Are you my twi–?”

Beeeeeeooohhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! A deafening mournful sound crashes through the ferry, interrupting Sonny’s question and whipping his head in the direction of a foghorn, honking so loud that it echoed from across the bay. It was also signaling the time.

5:00AM. Sonny turned back to the monster, to discover that it had scattered back into the shadows while he was distracted, leaving no trace of its presence. Vanished.

5:01AM. Sit. Process. Fail to comprehend.

5:05AM. Time to run home. One foot in front of the other. 1 – 2 – 3 – 1 -2 – 3.

En-tro-py… En-tro-py… En-tro-py…