A lone man sat on a bar stool, hunched over, face flat out against the cool of the polished, hardwood bar counter top. He pushed himself up, erecting and straightening his back. He rolled his head from side to side, and front to back. His sleep deprived eyes focused on the environment that bewildered him.
Where did everyone go to?
He scanned the room for a soul, but only found that he was the sole survivor. He stood up and backed away from the counter to gaze out into the street, where pure darkness settled around. The bar was dull and dim lit—almost as if lit by a lone match that had been struck. Albeit, there was a spark of life who occupied within the walls. The doors were barricaded—chained and bound, letting nothing in. . .and surely nothing out. The man pondered and scratched his head, he was lost in the most puzzling ordeal he found himself in.
There were but three, plus the bartender and me. Now how can it be that all that is left. . .is me? Why have they gone, where to? How did the doors entwine so with chains, locks, and such complexity that I am bound here? Surely, this is a joke? Ah, yes, they must all be in the back laughing it up—playing tricks on such a drunken fool, such shenanigans!
The man shuffled his way to the back of the bar, where the door opened to the kitchen, but there was not a soul—only the hum of the electrifying air that buzzed with an unfashionable spectacle. The sounds startled the man and caused him to jump. He retreated from the forsaken kitchen. As he retraced his steps, a repetitive thud, began to echo into the lounge.
It is nothing. I saw nothing, be it nothing, for it is nothing. Perhaps it is a mouse? Maybe the refrigerator is broken? Be it the freezer thawing? Whatever it may be, it is of no concern. It is nothing.
The man shrugged as he turned full circle and found his home from once where he had awakened. He made himself comfortable, but his mouth beckoned him—dry. He licked his lips and smacked them once, wiping them with his right hand.
He sighed and looked about, thereby deciding that if indeed a trick was in progress, he would wager a prize. “I shall take a drink then, on the house you say? Too kind you are. I shall take my pick!” The man looked around the bar once again and stood up, looking behind the bar. He reached for a glass, and a rustic, dusted over, bottle of bourbon. “Yes, this will do quite well, thank you.” He unscrewed the top and poured himself a glassful, and sat the bottle down. . .close. He raised his newfound elixir to his lips and washed his once parched hunger away.
Satisfied, the man returned the glass to the counter and brought his hand to the bottle of bourbon. “Hello, old friend, how are you today? How is the missus and of Jim, Tim, and Mary? Ah, yes such a fine family you have.” He smiled as he conversed, clearly the bottle made no clear remark but gave a bow. He rose his glass to his friend and as like before it, met the same fate. Again, he returned the glass, and looked on, across the bar at the mirror that gazed back at the man.
A long brown overcoat, ebony suit and long crimson tie, mild-mannered dressed man sat reverse opposite. He was clean shaven and moderately aged, with a few hoary hairs sprouting from the well-kept beard and hair. A few wrinkles told of a hard worker and overstressed individual. Pallid blue-gray eyes matched the color of his button-down shirt. He ran his red right hand over his face, top to bottom, letting a sigh escape. Before returning his red right hand to the bottle, he further greeted it and praised its kindness. He thanked it once more by toasting to life.
He caught an eye of the clock that crawled on the wall as if it were a spider weaving its web. The hands both stopped on six. He remarked at the coincidence that it made, noting that it was a shame that there was no second hand to mark the possibility of a third six. He let loose a chuckle and furthered his indulgence of his refreshment.
While he did so, the echo of the thud from the kitchen had subsided, only to begin a soft whisper in his ear. A pain shot through his head, eye to eye and to the top to bottom of his head. He clenched the bar in pain. It was so agonizing, he nearly dropped to the floor. However, it subsided and the whisper became clearer, like that of a moan. A light cackle, bone cracking, sight of blood gushing, and the taste of dirt overtook his senses.
What tomfoolery is this!? What manner of a trick do you play on me!?
The mirror that sat across from him now sat before him. He looked to his only friend, but only found a corpse. “My dear friend, what has happened to you? Where is your head? Where is your body? You have nearly dried up!”
The room stifled and began to warm beyond reasonable conditions as if the heat was turned to max or if perhaps inside in a dry, dusty mouth. A set pattern of thuds began to overtake within the room, leaving the man to search for a cause and deliver a rational, soluble explanation.
Perhaps the boiler is broken or the controls have become dysfunctional. It has to be another trick!
For then and there, there did mutter a low raspy voice, spoken from the other side (or was it that it seemed to come from within the room?). “It is no trick, sir. Everything is as it is. You are alone. You have been abandoned. You have betrayed your best friend. You have been captured, as time has deemed it so, your hourglass is at an end. The time for atonement has come. Your custodial precedence has come to pass. . .Relinquish from the flesh, from the taint you carry. . .”
For then the massive mirror grew monstrous veins and pulsated with life. The wall chafed and flaked onto the floor. The beating of a pulse—of a heart—of life who echoed throughout the vast room. An eye emerged from within the mirror. The mirrored image of the man grinned malevolently as it stood in the amber of the great eye. As then there was a maniacal cackle that was let loose, and the horror that betook the man’s breath as his image was dismembered from many lucid dark, razor-edged tentacles. They tore the legs off, then the arms—ripping the organs as if some wild pack of hounds tearing into a fresh kill. Then finally there went the head—the image laughed maniacally, whilst the eyes popped and gushed blood from the eye sockets, mouth, and nose. The protrusion of the tentacles through the eye sockets, where the pieces of the image’s body fell into the pupil of the eyes’ darkness.
For next the stools came to life, much like the tentacles that tore his reflection. Terrified, he fended against one that writhed its way to him, trying to encase itself around his legs. “I will not be taken! I will not let a mind trick on a drunken fool consume me! I shall prevail!” The man yelled as he stomped the tentacle off.
The great amber cat’s eye fixated, and a growl shook the room as then a tentacle fashioned itself a blade, as if a hacksaw, gnawing its way into the man’s arm. As the man screamed with pain, a familiar voice boomed from within, “You think this still a trick, a play on sobriety, dear sir? No, you feel what you do, know this as it is all. . .far. . .too real.” The man panicked and let loose cries for help, as the voice cackled with joy, “No one is coming to save you. Nothing can and nothing will.” As the man pleaded for life over death and wrestled with the monstrosities that sought to leech his life, he contemplated a plan. Even if he were to fail, he believed that if at least he tried, he would have no regrets in falling to the beast who laid siege on his life.
The man scrambled to his feet and grabbed his friend’s body, and hurled it at the tentacle that attacked him. The contents smashed and dazed the beast all but momentarily, clearly angering it further. He reached for a lighter and flicked the flint until it lit. He tossed it at the beast causing it to be set ablaze. Agonizing were the cries that were heard from within the room. The eye grew clearly angered, and more tentacles sought after the man. He grabbed a chair and hurled it at the mirror causing it chip and break—blood squirted and sprayed across the room. “What are you doing to me?! You are but a fool in your poor attempts to foil me! You delay only the inevitable!”
He continued relentlessly smashing at the mirror, as the great eye slowly became dissolved, and littered the floor. The tentacles lunged for the man, knocking him across the room. He steadily rose to his feet, his hand pressed against the wall, he could feel the warmth and the pulsation that could be felt throughout. He retracted his hand and searched for something to further his assault, finding only a fork and knife. He jabbed the utensils into the wall, as shrieks were heard, the door that had led to the kitchen manifested into the fashion of a mouth, with razor sharp teeth and enough force to crush the mightiest of steel. The tentacles flailed and sought after the man, who frantically rushed to be out of reach from the tentacles, and mouth. He grabbed a chair and tried to smash the window that had looked outside, but only bore more darkness. The window held sound, and soon an eye manifested upon the glass pane.
There is no hope, nothing I can do any longer. I have done all that I can. I have no regrets. I have nothing that will worry me any further. I have lived what I have, and will hold out for as long as I am able to before the end comes for me.
The man closed his eyes as he held off the attacks made upon him. Try as he did, he was no match for the overwhelming power that surrounded him. The tentacles enveloped him and dragged him to the kitchen door, where the beast began to tear him limb from limb. His torso delved into by the serrated blades of the tentacles that came from the darkness. Then his head rushed with the momentous pain of his eyes bursting from his skull. He laughed maniacally as the mirror image had come to pass, despite his efforts to change his future. As the darkness encompassed him, he felt the constant pain, even though his body was completely dismembered. Within the blackness, would come the reality of it all.
The man shot up straight from his bar stool, nearly toppling over. The bartender eyed him carefully and with a raised eyebrow. Searching around, he counted but three, plus he and the barkeep. He looked towards the kitchen and saw a light. A bottle sat blank next to him, and a glass. . .not half empty or full. A smile crawled across his face, and at once when he peered towards the door and saw it was clear and free. The window lit by the streetlights that waltzed in the cold early morning.
He sighed with relief and called the barkeep over. “My tab if you will be it paid in full.” The barkeep nodded and tallied up the bill, whilst the man looked to the empty bottle and small bottle of sleeping pills. “Thank you, my old friend. You’ve shown me a deal, next time I will not be a meal. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
As the barkeep returned and handed the bill, the man overpaid and wished a good night. He waved to the others and went to the door. Before exiting, he looked up above the bar to the time.
He turned and pushed the door with his red right hand, and wandered out into the desolate night, laughing to himself with renewed vigor.