By: C.Seamus Hermoso
(1st published 2004, all rights reserved)
One seemingly innocent Sunday morning, Carlos Decascos hummed his way to James Florentin’s flat. Three blocks was a good enough exercise for Carlos. At least, three blocks away was what he remembered. He has only been at James’ once or twice, to think that they have known each other for four years now, and have been competitive classmates occasionally in some subjects. Come to think of it, Carlos didn’t know anyone who was James’ friend. In Carlos’ point of view, James wasn’t the type who had the typical set of friends. Not that he was a nerd, but that he was, in many ways, different.
While the rest of the university the two were studying in up until a month ago was out partying with who-knows-what and god-knows-where, James took his interest in human behavior a million steps ahead. He joined organizations like Order of the Black Ram, a satanic pseudo-religion, Circle of Wicca, a pagan group studying ancient and modern witchcraft, and the Elus-Cohens Architects of the Universe, a branch of the Freemasons. Having been brought up in a rural town, Carlos never imagined the capabilities of esoteric societies in real life up until he was paired with James during an Anthropology field activity and they started talking. Carlos’ eyes were opened to extreme possibilities with James’ interesting ideas on almost everything.
And now, here he was, skipping to James’ place so giddily his vitality was starting to tick himself off. As he skipped past two white-haired men that stared at him like he had the number 666 tattooed on his forehead, he decided to resume his casual walking and wondered once more why James invited him over out of the blue.
“Please come over, now. I have to tell you something.” James had said softly, as if gasping, in the most hurried and discreet manner.
If only I had something better to do, Carlos thought to himself as he pressed the doorbell to James’. However, being a fresh Political Science graduate without any concrete plan whatsoever entitled him enough hours of boredom a week, so seeing James would already be a breath of invigorating air.
Carlos has lost track of the time he has been standing outside the blue front door. Having rang the doorbell over nine times already, he was about to give up when he noticed that the door wasn’t shut tight. Nonchalantly, he gave it a mild push to reveal the messiest room he has ever seen, to think he used to live in a frat-house.
Household furnishings were upturned and strewn across the room like pieces of clothing on a teen’s. As he shakily tried to make his way about the place, he caught something at the corner of his eye, something as velvet red as an old woman’s lipstick. He walked closer to investigate; and as he was able to make out the figure slumped beside James’ bed, he began to wish he hadn’t. The eclectic outfit the body had on seemed like it was something James would wear, but other than that, Carlos would never have known. James’ face, if it was James, was not there. It was scraped off, painstakingly peeled from the skin.
Before Carlos could react or move, he heard loud thumps from behind him. It was bound to be the last thumping sounds he would hear in a long while, as everything suddenly turned black for Carlos.
A bright white fluorescent light was the first thing I saw as my eyelids parted. Instinctively, I squinted, and turned my head to the left, where I faced this blank wall.
Where am I? I racked my brains for whatever it was that I could possibly have been doing last, or anything to remember for that matter. My name, at least that would get me started. Carlos Decascos. I breathed a sigh of relief. For a brief moment there I was stricken with panic that I might not even recall that.
I turned to the other side and saw only a few things in this claustrophobic space I wouldn’t call a room: the bed I am lying down on, a white urinal, a white sink, and an empty wooden table and chair. I have never seen so much white in my life, but it’s not as if I am sure of much as of this instance. It dawned on me slowly, me entering this disordered apartment and the blur of things I saw after such. Now, when was that again? And more importantly, when is now?
I found myself struggling to move into a sitting position, and my jaw drops as I realize I am wrapped in a straightjacket. Amazing to think how I have gone from seeing straightjackets on TV, directly to wearing one. Although in due time, I learned that there were endless surprises for me to encounter in this windowless, barren area.
(…to be continued on Part 2)