Last month I began a series of teaser intros for my published works. I had planned on continuing that tradition this month, however my second published work, was a flash fiction story, and a teaser intro would consist the majority of the story. So I've opted to forgo the intro, and have decided to give you the full story here. Read on, and as always, enjoy.
No lights! No lights, no clock, no TV, middle of a heat wave and no AC. I’m really supposed to sleep in a heat wave, with only that damn fan that’s perpetually clicking? Click, click fucking click is all I hear. The entire house is fine, except my room. Apparently, I’m not allowed to watch TV with my AC on in the middle of a heat wave.
Rolling over and over, Greg finds it impossible to find a comfortable position to sleep in atop the cumulating pool of sweat. Stripping down to his boxers, Greg removes his sweat-saturated clothes only to be revolted by the feel of his moist back against the even moister mattress. That is disgusting. Where’s my shirt now? Replacing the shirt he just took off unable to find anything else until day breaks through his window. Still no lights, not even the moon! It’s probably only around one and I’m supposed to sleep with no lights and that fan. ‘Hey Greg, if you want to run the fan from my room that’s cool, but I don’t want to hook up too much to my outlet, no sense in both of us sleeping in the dark, ha!’ Yea Haha real fucking funny Joe. I pay rent like everyone else here but I get screwed.
Still tossing and turning Greg feels the perspiration seeping through his boxers and imagines himself being found the following morning, drowned in an ocean of his own sweat. That’d be just lovely, surprise Joe! The clicking of the fan seems to change tones from time to time; even the pace of the clicking seems to change every so often. That’s all I need, for the fan to die on me.
Not after long the clicking of the fan begins to echo across the long cluttered room. The narrowness of the room allowed for one path, a path littered with shoes and sneakers, garbage can and computer chair, even the hovering fan cord. Shit even if I could find a way through this mess and out the door, there’d be no other place for me to sleep. Joe, Tony and Drew’s rooms are the only ones with AC’s and there’s no room in them for me to sleep. Maybe if I slept in the living room the TV could drown out the fan. Just as the thought comes to his mind he hears laughter from down the hall. One voice was clearly Tony’s and the other Greg figures to be Tony’s girl for the night. Asshole, not only does he have AC in his room, he has a new girl in his room every night. The thought of sleeping on the living room couch vanishes from his mind after realizing the indescribably disgusting things Tony has done on that couch. With the vision of girls, come thoughts of sex, and the sneaking arousal awakens the only part of him that seemed to have been asleep. Well I usually am tired after sex. And with that Greg slides his hand down his shirt making its way to the elastic of his underwear, but before he reaches his boxers something tickles his hand. A bug? What the hell is a bug doing in my room? Without hesitation Greg squishes the small tiny insect between his fingers and drops it next to his bed where he hopes his garbage can is. That’s just nasty, I almost don’t want to do this anymore. But Greg knows he’ll never get tired otherwise, so his hand begins the decent again, until Another bug! On my arm, this is nasty. As he goes to kill this bug he feels another tickle, now on his leg. You have to be kidding me! And again before he can kill the 3rd bug, or is it the 4th he wonders, he feels another on his forehead, and his back, shoulder, now his hand. This is freaking me out.
Attempting to investigate in the dark Greg reaches to the side of his bed, against the wall and instantly feels hundreds maybe thousands of bugs crawling up his hand, then arm. Holy Shit! Jumping off his bed Greg lands, not on the floor, but on a sea of insects. Ignoring the cuts he knows are on his feet, Greg steadily walks to the door, knocking over the garbage can. The crunching and chattering of the bugs deafen the sound of the clicking fan, but that is no comfort to Greg. Tripping over a sneaker, or shoe, Greg falls and tangles his leg in the chair. Ow damn it, twisted my ankle. Those bastards are crawling all over me. Damn it, in my ears, nose, mouth. Crap, I can’t get up. Think, think ow shit they’re eating me. What the hell are these things? What am I gonna do? Quickly thinking, Greg maps out the lightless room, and positions himself next to the computer desk. Damn it, there’s nothing there, ow!
Still being attacked Greg realizes if his computer desk is on his right, to his left must be his dresser. My dresser, my dresser… yes my dresser! My lighter, gotta reach my lighter. Fighting the pain of his ankle and infinite bug wounds. Greg pulls himself up and swipes his hand across the littered dresser until he finds his lighter. Alright lets see these things. Striking the lighter Greg can’t see any bugs, it’s as if they can perfectly avoid the light. He still feels the bites, assuring him they’re still there. Still in pain, still thinking. Cologne! Yes that’ll do it! Searching the dresser a second time Greg finds the cologne faster than he did the lighter. Let’s see you avoid this you pieces of shit! Spraying the cologne through the lighter’s flame, Greg still can’t hear the clicking fan, still feels pain, but there is still no light. Nonetheless, Greg knows it’s working and with a triumphant laugh HA HA HA!!!! Greg whips his makeshift flamethrower across the room, killing bug after bug, dozens at a time. But the pain doesn’t relent, in fact it doubles even triples, intensifies, multiplying along with the crackling sound and burning smell. A vile smell that forces Greg’s stomach to turn but the pain is too much to allow him to vomit. Have to get out of here, are his only thoughts, as the pain takes over. Escaping was his only thought, not contemplation of why no one had come to his aid, only escape, an escape that is never realized.
This story holds a special place in the dark lump that non-authors call a heart (we're a twisted breed to say the least). No Lights has the distinction of being the single most rejected story I've had that was ever successfully published. Despite being rejected from anthologies and by publishers I was sure it would have been perfect for, I wasn't discouraged. I know this is a good story, and I wouldn't let rejections persuade me otherwise, and finally an upstart publisher, Post Mortem Press, accepted it, proving that I'm not crazy... well that's still up for debate. But I was happy to learn that I wasn't wrong about this story.
Another reason this story stands out for me is because the beginning of it mimics the real world writing of it, to a degree. I was in high school, when during a black out I found it too hot for me to comfortably sleep. Like the character in the story I felt a bug crawling on my shirt. Unlike Greg, I wasn't about to masturbate (I swear!), I had a flashlight tucked over my shoulder and was attempting to write a story that had been brewing in my head. The discovery of the bug left me a little uneasy, wondering if there were other bugs, and thinking every noise I heard was in fact another critter. While I didn't discover any other bugs, it was enough to spark the story I wrote that night in its entirety.
I hope you enjoyed it, and remember to always keep reading.