It’s getting hot in here. Our eyes meet, and I see a startlingly clear reflection of the wisps of fear forming in my own. You exhale, I exhale. I don’t know what this is, but it seems we are trapped on two sides of a mirror. A moment was all it took to finally connect the dots.
The air is changing. The past is slowly seeping out through the walls. I watch as you run desperately, trying to fight the enormous wait of the inevitable. Before I know it, I am doing the same. Clutching at the walls, bloodying my nails.
Are we mad?
I lift my heavy eyelids, boulders resting on my vision. I look for you. My eyes travel the room and finally rest on your lithe form. The smoke is thickening, obscuring reality. I try to pierce through the veil in a futile attempt to communicate. You are miles away.
I am worried.
As the smoke thickens, so does the silence. Once it was a light feather, not entirely unwelcome. Now it threatens to crush us, squeeze our decaying human bodies into a pile of organic matter. Giving our life force the release it so desperately craves.
I wonder what you are thinking.
My stupor is rudely broken as a bead of sweat trickles down my soot covered face. It is a salty diamond, fresh from the sea. It traces a path, a path for the many who follow it. I can just barely breathe, yet I go on.
My fear is replaced by resignation.
I can see it drawing nearer. I can feel its heat, gaining in strength by the second. I wonder what is feeding it, people like us? For a moment an insane jealousy overcomes me. It is broken by a feeble whisper, a fragile leaf floating down from its home.
It is you. I had forgotten I was not alone.
We have managed to crawl to each other through the cloud. I look at your face, black, interspersed with lines traced out by your own diamonds. In your eyes too, I see a resignation. A silent plea to no one in particular.
Make it end.
It’s almost here. I must take this chance to appreciate its impeccable manners. It stands outside our door, letting us say our goodbyes. Little does it know our goodbyes were concluded before any of this even began . We hold each others’ sweaty hands tight enough to convey our apologies.
I am engulfed by a sea of clichés as every memory I have threatens to swallow me whole. Every song, every embrace, every harsh word tries to obstruct my vision. I clutch at the air, in a feeble humane attempt to escape.
I feel the monster slowly run its fingers over my skin.
I am on fire. My flesh is melting off my soul yet I have never felt colder. The pain is unbearable, still somehow I survive. My strength has never been a bigger weakness. As the flames slowly mould themselves into reality, I realise the pain has subsided. It takes me a moment to realise it is in fact I who has grown used to the pain. The flames are now me, I am the flames.
I slowly make my way to the next room.
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.