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Within the Narrative

By Nicholas Starkey

Christ. What is that smell? Oh, yeah.

“Oh well,” I announce, stuttering. I stand up and it hits me – my morning ritual. Or perhaps it’s my mid-day ritual. Oh well. It’s a ritual that I perform every twenty-four hours of living. I wonder when the day will come, where I won’t last the full twenty-four hours of a day – I might only live for two hours of that day. That would be a day that wouldn’t come to an end. I laugh. I’m alone. I look through my bloodshot goggles, around my living space but see nothing. I feel nothing. I lay down once more, back to my previous position. I notice what appears to be a pack of cigarettes laying on the floor next to me. I lunge for them, aching. I feel something – pain. “Bitch,” I whimper. I grab hold of the slightly damp and mouldy package. It’s the package. I could dance. It’s empty. My shoulders descend into a slumping position, my back hunched, and my arms hopelessly fall onto my crotch where they lay limp – without life.

“Hey.” It came from a voice in the corner. I glance over to the corner from which the voice came from, noticing a half-burnt cigarette on the damp floor, in amongst soggy clothes blotched in bloodstains, within reach. I, again leap forward, in agony, grabbing the cigarette. It’s damp. Why is everything wet? Looking for a light, I acknowledge all of the empty cans of lager which I die for. Every single one of them empty –my accomplishment. I check my pockets and find concealed my desire. I take it out, and slowly move the cigarette up to my mouth, placing it between my lips. It tastes of urine. I light it, inhale, exhale. What was I doing again?

“Hey,” the voice whispers again. I remember. I look for the culprit. I place the piss-soaked cigarette in between my lips and rub my eyes. At first, my blurry vision was made worse. I look down, defeated. Seconds later, my vision of the cigarette in my hand is now clear as glass. I look up. It is me. I am dressed in black-battered jeans and a blue-checked shirt, the buttons undone. I can see my chest. It is pale green and sickening. My hair is greasy as if it were made of vile. “Hey,” he slips out once more, as if not to wake a mouse.

“What’s going on?” I answer, my face showing the struggles of attention. “Who are you?”

“Hush, go back to sleep,” he slithers. He moves not an inch. I do as he asks, closing my eyes. I fall into a trance. I am in love with the darkness my eyelids provide. I wonder what the inside of my eyelids look like. Hush… I let my conscious waver and allow him to take over. I drift into a deep sleep. It’s been a long day.

Nicholas Starkey studies English at the University of Strathclyde and enjoys reading and writing poetry. He occasionally writes short stories. He was published in issue three of Quotidian Magazine and has been published in online literary magazines such as The Fiction Pool. Nicholas’s favourite writers and influences include Jack Kerouac, Alasdair Gray and James Joyce.

Halloween Flash Fiction Competition Winner

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