Listen

You awake pleasant and refreshed…in the body of a dead man.

Done dead three days now, surely there’s some mistake!

You were just waiting to be born. Or born again. You can’t quite remember.

It’s all fuzzy.

What fresh hell is this? you think. You cannot speak.

Of course you can’t speak; you were just waiting to be born!

Yet, you feel you should. Like you’ve done this before. Many times over.

You try again but all you get is pitched screams and cries. “Ahhh”

“Hiiiya haaaa huh”

You swing your arms wildly and jump. Acting on impulse. Sudden urge.

Before you is a delicious looking bottle of cold milk. You see the beads of condensation drip down in long streams to the table. It looks refreshing and you do feel thirsty.

You grab the milk, spin around, and drink it in a dramatic fashion. Three long gulps and it’s gone!

“Ahhh” you wipe your face on your sleeve.

The bottle, empty now, vanishes from your grasp!

Where’d it go? you wonder, clenching and unclenching your fist. Testing your renewed strength.

Outside.

You think it and suddenly you’re there with no clear memory of exiting the room. A pervasive melody tugs at your brain from the edge of reason. You know it, yet not.

Others do not seem to hear and so you go on unlistening so as not to seem mad.

Nope. Not mad. Not a freshly woken soul in a dead man’s body. Nope. Totally normal. That’s you.

Compelled by mad force, you start breaking things.

A couple at first.

A berserk rage overtakes you as you smash everything in sight.

Smash, throw, heave and ho!

You see an old woman weep, the glint of memory in her eye.

The urge passes and a new one awakens. Hunger.

You ask the farmer for food, or you try.

You tap him, he turns, you gesture, and he responds in an unintelligible rattling of beeps.

You ask the baker, same result.

The fisherman, same.

Around the town you run, asking and failing to comprehend, time and time again. You don’t know what they want you to do.

You stop, parched again by the unforgiving, harsh afternoon sun.

Hallucinating, you think, it laughs at you, beating you down with severe sunshine.

You seek the stream and cold water, wishing you still had that empty milk bottle so you may take a drink.

It appears in your hand at the thought.

Parched as you are, you neglect the surprise and dip the bottle in the cool, cool stream. Perhaps this is the norm for this world into which you’ve awoken.

You drink with a spinning flourish, and again your empty disappears.

Vigor renewed briefly, you try the farmer in vain again. More rattling beeps in the same pattern.

Frustrated with this futility, you turn and walk away, stumbling over a chicken.

It begawks at you and flutters on its way.

You follow, your stomach grumbling. Maybe it has eggs?

You follow and follow, nothing. Nowhere. No eggs.

Hunger consumes you, and you begin to wonder; wonder whether you’re capable of killing. Of taking another life to prolong your own.

You stalk your prey. Carefully. You watch and follow.

You lunge!

It begawks and pecks, feathers flurry in your face. Startled, you lose your grasp and it flies free.

You lunge again, grabbing its throat. The poor chicken makes a terrible sound as you throttle the life from it. You’re overwhelmed with guilt, so sorry, poor bird.

A final frenzied begawk and you think the suffering is nearing an end.

Wrong you are as legions of winged death-clucks descend upon you, aiding their compatriot.

Raucous furor deafens you to the world outside; your blood pumps hard and you swat at the terror-flaps suffocating you in feathered wings.

Your sight limns red, then dims, then nothing.

The sweet sound of melodic harp music suffuses your senses in the blackness.

Do you want to save?

-j.e. pittman