Chainsaws and other less-distinctive machinery revved in the not-so-far-off distance. The screaming of women and children followed this. Blood-curdling screaming.
The heat was asphyxiating, too. All the right elements checked the boxes of macabre for an uncomfortable ride through hell itself.
But was it hell?
Arthur Pleasant found himself trapped in a nightmarish realm of carnage. Darkness enveloped the landscape, shrouding everything in an ominous and suffocating atmosphere. The air was thick with the stench of fear and a dizzying sense of despair as if the very essence of nightmares had materialized. Wandering the desolate streets, the remnants of a once vibrant city lay in ruins around him. Buildings stood as hollowed shells, their windows shattered and facades crumbled like tree bark being ripped from the periderm of large oak trees.
“PRIME: Number One By Definition” covered various benches and billboards with its distinct McKenna Blue hue. The sound of distant animal-like howls, as well as nearby growls, echoed through the night as a constant reminder of the terror that plagued such a forsaken place. Amidst the vertiginous chaos, grotesque creatures emerged from the shadows. Their twisted forms defied all logic, blending elements of affliction and reality. Their eyes glowed with a malevolent light, reflecting the torment they inflicted upon innocent souls.
A river of blood flowed through the streets, staining the ground with a sickening crimson hue. The corpses of both humans and creatures lay scattered, their lifeless bodies contorted in gruesome positions. The horror show was a testament to the monstrous violence that had ravaged this world.
Every step he took seemed to lead Arthur deeper into the heart of the nightmare. The very ground beneath his feet trembled with ominous energy as if the very essentiality of evil pulsated through the earth itself. Shadows danced and twisted, whispering sinister secrets that sent chills down his spine.
Hey, you okay, baby? Wake up!
In the distance, a towering red figure emerged from the gloom. Its presence exuded an aura of pure malevolence, its eyes filled with an insatiable hunger for destruction. With each step, the ground shook, and the air grew colder. It was the embodiment of all nightmares, a creature born from the deepest recesses of the mind. His mind.
Arthur stood frozen in fear. The world around him was dying, and he found himself engulfed in a vortex of sheer evil. The screams grew louder, merging into a cacophony of excruciation that threatened to drive Pleasant to the (further) brink of madness.
Wake the fuck up!
And then, just as suddenly as it all started, he awoke.
January 15th, 2024
Pleasant heard the voice call out to him. He appeared to be drenched in sweat and gasping for air as his eyes blinked back to reality. The memory of all the disturbing things he just saw in this “other realm” lingered like a terrible infection to the brain.
“Are you okay?” asked a nameless Latina female in her mid-thirties with sweet brown skin and brunette hair. She had a tattoo of “Julio, 1998-2008”, suggesting a child she had lost and memorialized the on, of all places, her busty cleavage. Not exactly the best place for a tattoo in remembrance of a dead kid, but it was the thought that counted, he mused to himself.
It all started to come back to him. He had seen her curvy figure in a local Denny’s. They talked. He waited two hours for her shift to end. She shared his hotel room bed. They fucked. It had been a long time, but he hit all of her notes and all of his own, so it was what it was.
Half-naked, she fumbled for her undergarments. Pleasant simply sat with his knees bowed and turned his head inward down into the safety of his own lower body.
He wept. Openly. Like a child. Memories of Ronald Pleasant beating him and his Mother mercilessly triggered shivers and rampant neuroticism.
“David,” he repeated, choking back the tears, trying to get a hold of himself as he continued to shake like a leaf.
Buttoning up a waitress uniform, she straightened her name tag. Dolores, it read.
Dolores?! Why… Dolores?!
“Who’s David, baby?”
He didn’t answer.
Arthur had been haunted by the reminder of the cimmerian bleakness that resided within us all, and it traumatized him beyond words.
“G-get out,” he said weakly.
She obliged his wish. Post-haste.
Something fucking bad’s gonna happen. I can feel it.
Pulling his head up, he shook off the terrible feelings that washed over him and fell back against the mattress.
Within moments, he was asleep again.