If I could, I would grimace right now.
You’d never know it, but it would be there, plastered on what’s left of my face. It was supposed to be a temporary solution, that much I do remember, but the mask has become a part of me.. Everything else comes in flashes, blurred memories of the pain, the experience. I’ve tried to pull it off, but . . . let’s just say it didn’t turn out well.
That’s all going to change though. I’ve found a place, relatively clean for what I’m wanting to do.
It’ll work this time.
I’ll be normal again.
Recirculated air, stale and all too familiar, filters in as I sprint down the street. The bag slaps against my leg, the tools clinking together. The meds angle against me, the syringe catching on my leg.
“Hey freak, fix your face!” someone yells from across the street. I duck my head down, unable to laugh, scream, cry.
The old silo had been abandoned my whole life, something whispered about, a dare on hot summer nights. Hidden amongst a bunch of rubble, discarded barbwire, the entrance was little more than a shack and a staircase. I maneuvered my way to the tucked away door and threw my weight into it. It let out a popping sound as its seal was broken. The darkness was full and heavy, an uncompromising thing that seemed to breathe.
I dug in my bag, rummaging until I found the old lantern and lit it. The oil flared up. As I stepped down on the filthy concrete, the dark withdrew, hunkered on the fringes. I took a deep breath, taking in the filtered air and pulled the door shut.
Each footstep rung out hollow as I pushed deeper. The chill seeped into my limbs. I'd done this before, set things up nice and neat, but the darkness felt hungrier, more intent on swallowing any life I set out into it. I tried to shake the feeling, but it sat there like a cold lump in the pit of my stomach.
After thirty minutes of searching, I found my staging area, still undisturbed. I set the lantern on a , trying to get the best area for the job at hand. Pulling out the syringe, I do my best to clear the bubbles, but, feeling that familiar anxiety creeping in, I shove it into my leg and push the plunger down.
The reaction is immediate, extreme. It burns through my veins, settling in the base of my skull. After a few seconds, a numbness spread through my face, prickling under the mask. The tingling vaulted to my fingers, stayed.
If I could’ve screamed, I would have.
Instead, I pull out the pliers, setting the cold metal against my jaw. I falter the tools, fingers fighting against me. I clamp the pliers down, then tug as hard as I can.
This has to work.
I will make it work.
I hear a scream, frantic, ferocious. It leaks through the darkness, coming from someplace near. It intensifies as I fight through the numbness. The air rushes in, stale and forgotten.
The pain comes sudden, an onslaught of feelings, memories. The mask itches, still holding strong despite my efforts. I drop the tools as I stumble for more meds. I dig in the bag, but can't find another syringe. Panic sets in and I dump the bag. I fall to my knees, tearing through the refuse.
The lantern flickers and I catch my reflection in a shard of glass. Leaning in, I see bits of bone peeking through the gaps in the skin. My browning teeth peak through the holes in my lips in a permanent smile. Turning back, blood coats my fingers, bits of flesh hanging from the tools.
The lantern dies. The darkness surges in, welcoming me as a friend.