Scribing The Scrolls

ink jar and quills

Today was bad.

In the abstract I don’t find my job stressful. The work environment is fun, relaxed, and supportive. Kind of mind blowing for a sales office. There’s an emphasis on success but no real pressure, and no chastisement for failure. We don’t have quotas. Once someone passes the probationary period–which can be legitimately stressful–it feels like the company and the management are legitimately invested in them. After that when someone is struggling, they get coached, or moved to a department that might work better for them.

My job isn’t stressful, in the abstract. In practice it’s enormously so. Or at least, it is when the blood pumping through my veins is 25% plasma, 20% red blood cells, 1% white cells and platelets, and 54% anxiety. When my brain decides to be anxious, work makes it much, much worse. Making sales calls is like stress in a bottle. No matter how good the last conversation was, as soon as it’s over you have to start over. From scratch. From the cold. I make hundreds of calls a day, and when it’s bad every single one is battle with the black tar warriors marching through my veins.

Today was bad.


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Time’s Dark Bargain

The time has come

Time floods away from us like blood from a wound that eternally bleeds.  It’s a particularly depressing part of growing up, when a person realizes just how finite their stay on this mound of slowly-freezing magma really is.

Every second you pass through is a smaller percentage of your life than the second that came before it. People get confused when I say that, so I usually have to break it down into years. Each year of your life is a smaller part of your life than the year that just died. I don’t usually say “just died,” but it’s appropriate, here, in this place.

Because that’s what happens. We shed seconds and minutes and years from us, and we look back and watch them rot.  We watch them rot and we can only imagine what fertile soil they might have been. What could we have done, with those now festering piles of wasted moments?

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Oblivion, The Hunter


He’s behind you.

You cannot hear his steps, because he makes no noise. You feel his breath on the back of your neck the way you feel eyes staring at you in the darkness. These sensations aren’t real. You can feel nothing because nothing is there. Until it is.

He stalks you with the relentlessness of dispassion. How can he feel passion? No heart pumps in his chest. No epinephrine bathes his neurons in a chemical bath of intensity. No blood flows through his veins. He has no heart. He has no neurons. He has no veins.

When you turn to see look at him he is never there. You can’t even catch him out of the corner of your eye, though you long to do so. You long for the terror to be tangible. To be real. If it were real, you could just be afraid. You could fight, and maybe you would die. But you would know.

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Newly Spun Horror

If all we can ever interact with is what our senses give us, what our mind construct from the caresses of the universe, then we all live in different worlds. Recently, mine has changed. It used to be a place of sunlight. A place where closed doors in back alleys contained hidden pub rooms full of joyful, boisterous laughter. I used to live in a world where some benevolent God had childproofed everything, and nothing I could touch would cut me.

Not anymore. Now, the shadows lengthen in the brightest part of day. The doors conceal horrors. Every edge is sharpened. The world around me hasn’t changed, but I have changed, and that changes everything. For the first time in my life, I’m struggling with anxiety. I’ve always been a nervous person. I’ve always had more than my fair share of fear.

This is different. This something warped and alien, something that is sometimes crippling in its immensity. I’ve seen it in others, read about it, studied it. Touched up against in with my mother, with my wife, with some of my closest friends.

But it was always distant. Jagged knives cannot cut you if they’re in the drawer. I felt their suffering with my empathy, but it was ephemeral. It flared up when I was near it—I loved them, so I felt their pain–but I always recovered. I always healed. These days, I’m not healing so well. The wounds stay open.

Maybe all the bad things in my life have piled so heavily that they’ve finally splintered my spine. Maybe I’m just older, and I’ve lost my resiliency. I know that my anxiety is is mild compared to that of many people, but it’s so new, so fresh, that my skin is thin and easily pricked. I don’t know how to handle the fact that what once was a safe, comforting world is suddenly full of sick, hungry, threatening things that wish nothing more than to crack me open and drink deeply of my fear. For someone who has always been happy go lucky, it’s like living in a horror story.

The thing is, I love horror stories. I read them, I watch them, I play them, I write them. I never wanted to live one, but that is my world, now, whether I want it or not. That gives me a choice.

Whatever awful things my brain chemistry has planned for me, I still have a choice. I can run from it, pretend it isn’t happening, or I can turn around and stare into the ravenous blackness breathing down the back of my neck and find out what it looks like. If you can’t write effectively about France without ever having been there, maybe the same is true of the darkness.

I’m stepping into that cold, lonely place. I cannot make that go away simply by wishing. But I plan on coming back. I plan on getting back to the sunlight, though it may never be so innocently bright as it once was. Maybe I can bring some of the darkness back with me. Maybe I can make of it shapes, horrible and beautiful, that my tender eyes could never have witnessed, and my jovial brain could never have conceived.

Maybe, through my suffering, I can spin a few Tales.

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