The hunted and the white-red room
I was walking along the perimeter of the white-burgundy room. The width of the perimeter was about 6 ft before the endless drop into the strange abyss from which the burgundy sheen emanated; the length of the perimeter was unknowable. The transparent blood streams and stark natural daylight filtering through gateways warped the angles and breadth of the room. The velvet cushions and whimsical beds closest to the wall on separate shelves elevated 3 ft higher seduced the serotonin. The spicy floral fragrances drew oe to the comfort provided. The room had no perceivable ceiling or ground, only the bedding perimeter followed by the walking perimeter with unpredictable open rectangular gateways to the outside. I knew not what the meaning of this place was. I observed the structural inconsistencies while feeling its pull on me to stop, to sleep, to lounge. Every inch was white textures to seduce the senses, from the walking perimeter floor to the endless walls stretching upward to an unknown space.
Reaching a gateway, I knew if I wanted to leave in a timely manner, I should take the oppurtunity. One could never trust one’s perceptions in such a place. Oppurtunities were blessings.
Walking into the daylight, my eyes burned from the glare. As I adjusted to the light levels, what I saw in front of me was far from what I had expected. A dark, narrow hallway greeted me; a dark hallway MADE of doors, endless closed doors.Every space that comprised the “walls” were some part of a door; it was as if they were attached at the hinges. Lights and sounds stirred within them, and yes, of course, I was curious of what was inside of each one of them. However, I knew that I had to press on to the end of the hallway.
I emerged somehow. I standing at the edge of an apartment complex that looked very similar to the one of which I was a resident. This complex was stretched to the size of a desert. The added space and confused arrangement of the buildings made it such that it could be said to resemble a labyrinth of sorts. The winds that rolled through felt alien and distraught, as if oscillating between urgency and stagnation. I saw people hiding inside apartments, huddled against eac hother in terror or splayed out in a drug-induced euphoric haze. Others ran frantically down sparsely populated streets, toting guns and infected with frenzy. What was happening? In what world was I delivered?
I spotted two figures strolling casually down a sidewalk. They were both men that fit into a that other-worldly “ageless” category. They appeared to be somwhere between 25 and 50, an optimal age range to shift between. The both wore dusty blue jeans and leather boots, and they both had the aire and build of an ex-military man. The “older man” had crew-cut dark brown hair, blue-gray steely eyes, and a broader chest that a muted blue t shirt covered. The “younger man” was a shade taller and thinner with longer, well-styled dirty blonde hair. He sported a plain white t shirt rolled up at the sleeves to hold his cigarette pack and shining silver sunglasses. He reminded me of the “man with no eyes” from Cool Hand Luke or Neil Gaiman’s Corinthian. I could smell their soullessness for miles and miles. Before I witnessed them take out a dozen people, half inside one apartment and the other half street runners, I knew they were beyond dangerous. They were near-perfect marksman.
Somehow I happen upon them. I’m immediately scared and confused. They are staring at me through glass doors of a hospital. I know their game now. They like to hunt. Their favorite prey are the strong-willed, the ones with survival instincts on ovedrive, the fight-or-flighters. They hunted those. The others that holed up in their homes waiting for their deaths were more brutally slaughtered. At least the ones hunted died quick. Maybe that was a reward for a life on the run, a life without peace or sleep, a life dependent upon adrenaline and good evasive choices… or dumb-fuckin’ luck. They got everyone in the end though, regardless of who you were or how hard you ran or fought.
So here they are, looking right at me. Corinthian is grinning ear-to-ear while Steel remains more reserved. It is Corinthian that speaks first. He tells me that I’m playing. I say that I won’t. We have a discussion in which they both point out that I really don’t have a choice in the matter. If I don’t play, I die now. I am still a bit surprised that don’t shoot me on the spot with my protesting, but I guess they see me as good game.
Corinthian tosses me a loaded revolver. “Those are all the bullets you get,” he says, “use them wisely.”
Steel begin to explain to me “the rules,” as if I listening. Though I understand that my next action may be perceived as cheating (and who knows the penalty for that?), I follow through with my plan regardless, shooting Steel right in the chest as he talks. He stops talking upon impact of the bullet. Ripples run through his chest like water. He shakes his head a bit, but is still standing in perfect health. He looks at me with a chilly smile. “It’s Game On then.” They both laugh and relocate both them and me. It has to start as a hunt. Relocation is a random process.
I am in the middle of the complex with one less bullet, no plan, no maps and no idea where my hunters are (and “in reality” how many copies of them exist simultaneously). They are all and all are them.
I look around.
and I run.
It seems to go on forever. It feels that with every step, the humanity in me is slowly beaten out.I miss my loved ones so I go to the ones I know are left, this time deciding to huddle in with them instead of run.
We are on a third story apartment somewhere toward one edge of the complex. We took the first empty one we found. The musty smell, gaudy tiffany lamps and numerous quilts made it obvious that it was previously inhabited by an older couple. We stayed there, one person on guard every night. Our movements and noise levels were often kept to a minimum so to not attract attention. The paranoia was different on the inside; it ate away at a person all the same, but with different teeth.
One day I spotted the men heading down our street. They glanced over as I was looking out the window; there was no use hiding now. They were coming. With more than 2/3 the complex dead, there were only so many places left that they had not ventured. Here they came. I felt them right outside the door.
I would have panicked if I had not lost myself then.
I was back in the white-burgundy room. There seemed to be a thick smoke, more erratic lightig and stronger fragrance. The lights and sounds were no longer a underlying lullaby; they were an unabashed assault on the body and mind. Space eluded us all. People quickly became hysterical and crippled with fear or confusion. Most clamored for the elevated perimeter, not being able to lift themselves. Some fell into the abyss, while others clung to the wall in a fetal position. I wandered as straight as I could with a heavy, spinning head. I struggled to keep my eyes open and my goal in mind. Get to a gate. But most were closed up or nearly impossible to perceive. People had given up on finding them. They were blind to real light. I walked on, unwilling to give up.
The pace was so slow, and my body ached. But I walked.
Eventually, my efforts were rewarded with a dim gate. I entered, shielding my eyes this time. The hall of doors appeared in fron of me again, but they were angry now. The doors shook violently, as if everything inside each wanted out. The discordia pulled at me for attention. The chaos was maddening and equally intriguing. But I made it to the end once again. And I walked out.
When I came to, I saw their faces right in front of me. I had opened the door wildly and ruched forward, disregarding their guns. I knocked both to the ground and nailed each one of my knees in each man’s chest. I hit both clean in the face with my fist. My ears were greeted with the sound of breaking glass. It took a second for the situation to register, but when it did, I was unstoppable. Their heads were as fragile as glass. That was the reason they preferred the gun hunt and never one-on-one physical combat. Eventually, all the people would run out of bullets, resign themselves to their death or else fumble with their shots to the men. No one ever dared get close enough to them to administer a blow… when that was all they needed to do. I laughed and salivated as I smashed each of their faces into unrecognizable blood-glass-pulp.
The hunt was over. We were alive.