I woke up in cold sweat, 5 A.M. Had a bad dream. This happens to me sometimes; I dream something strange, wake up at an odd hour and then somehow force myself to take a shower … so hard to get out of bed.

In my dream, my apartment was covered in ice and rust. I walked around it, naked and cold, with an intense feeling of being hunted, running with nowhere to run, trapped. Then I woke up.

I sat up in my bed and put my bare feet to the floor. The floor is always cold in the morning, and it sent a shiver up my spine. No matter; I need to wake up. The dreams always get worse once I fall back into them.

I took my glasses of the bedside table gently and looked for a towel in the dresser.

Top drawer, towels, blue, I thought to myself as I painstakingly ruffled about for the blue towel.

God, I’m so out of sorts in the morning. Can barely act without thinking it in my head first.

My feet felt hard against the cold floor as I walked to the bathroom. The apartment felt a lot colder than usual. Probably just the dream lingering, a subtle suggestion that had taken root.

I opened the door to the bathroom and flicked the light switch. The lamp blinked on and hummed in the echo of the bare room. It felt nice and warm in here, I thought as I took off my shirt and underwear, put them on the toilet, the shirt first, then the underwear on top.

I glanced at my face in the mirror, lingered on it for a moment. I like looking into my eyes and imagining that I’m another person, looking at me. Not always, but sometimes, I actually feel as if I’m staring at a stranger. It feels a bit like dreaming.

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I kept looking at myself as I stepped into the shower. I turned the tap and felt the warm water wash over me. I could feel my body warm up like an ice cube dropped into a cup of freshly brewed tea. The drowsiness melted away. Just a normal post-nightmare morning.

After the shower, I walked into the kitchen to get something I could drink. Was never much for eating in the morning. I always preferred heavy liquids, like a health shake or some juice. I opened the fridge. I always hope to find something in there that becomes a happy surprise, but this fridge has a very uninteresting history. All that’s in there now is some orange juice, a couple of eggs, last night’s takeaway and a can of cola. I took the juice and drank right from the spout of the carton. No need for vanity, I thought.

After a few gulps of the strangely bitter beverage, I noticed the newspaper on the rug next to my door. I picked it up.

Saturday, 10, October 1992. The headline reads: “Little Marie’s Body Found in a Ditch on Route 51.” The end to some kind of manhunt, I thought. Last week they wrote about the 5-year-old girl being kidnapped, taken from outside of a gas station of all things. She was there alone, and some guy took her into his car. The gas station had surveillance tapes, so the kidnapper’s blurred face was plastered on the magazine stands three days ago. These stories come so often it makes me laugh at this point. Not aloud, just quietly to myself.

I read the newspaper to uphold the strange notion that I should know what’s topical at the time, but really, I just look for the messed-up storied for my own amusement.

I kept reading, skimming through the headlines, until this came up in front of me. “Young Man Found Dead in Body-Shaped Hole.” I kept reading:

The young man, in his early 20s, was found dead yesterday in a human-shaped hole about 7 feet into the ground. His body was found in the woods outside of Redhill. “He appears to have starved to death,” the police stated in a short press conference this morning. The man was camping with one of his friends. Apparently, the man refused to leave the hole and eventually starved to death, according to his friend who is currently being held without bail as the top suspect in this bizarre murder case.

I’m shocked that this is not front-page material. I guess the manhunt is more interesting to people.

I looked up from the paper to the carton of juice I had in front of me. I took another gulp and put it back in the fridge.

The entire room suddenly felt cold, really cold. I had mostly forgotten the dream, but I remembered the cold. I checked all the radiators and they were cold as ice. That’s not entirely unexpected, however; the landlord here is horrible at keeping things working. I’d call him, but it’s still just 5:30 A.M.

I walked back to my room to put on some clothes; I was still naked from the shower. Walking through the hallway outside my room, my feet felt like icicles, numb to the brutally cold floor. Yesterday’s clothes hung on the chair next to my desk. I put a T-shirt on, some new underwear and a pair of jeans, but I was still freezing. So I looked through my closet for something and I found a sweatshirt to throw on over my T-shirt. All bundled up, I decided to pass the time by reading at my desk.

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After about an hour, the cold got brutal. I tried to get outside, since the sun was shining and it looked like it wasn’t as bad out there. When I reached the front door, I put on my overcoat and tried to turn the knob. It had frozen shut. My hand burned from the cold when I touched it.

This didn’t make any sense. It can’t be this cold in here. It’s impossible. I banged on the door with my fist and began to scream for help. Nobody heard me; it just got colder in the apartment. Suddenly, I collapsed to the floor.

I woke up a few hours later. It was 6 P.M., and I had been asleep for 12 hours in this intense cold. There was a strange wind blowing through the apartment. It felt like a flurry of razorblades cutting at my skin. I needed to put on more clothes – anything to get rid of this unbearable freezing cold.

As I walked toward my bedroom, the wind biting at my skin, my dream seemed to have been true. Maybe soon the place will be covered in ice and rust. I didn’t see how I could possibly survive another hour. My toes and fingers felt like they where about to fall off; they burned in the frigid air, tingled and were sensitive to any touch. Even warm water at this point would feel like boiling pitch.

I arrived at my bedroom and ruffled through the closet for more clothes. I found a few more sweatshirts, pants and socks. I put on everything I could. After I couldn’t fit any more on my body, I noticed that the windows were completely black. My eyes felt like ice cubes, slowly freezing my brain.

The cold whipped, burned and strangled my body. The clothes did nothing to prevent it. I took everything from my closet and threw it onto the bed, then curled up inside of it with my bedcovers surrounding me in my nest of clothes. I felt like I would die any second, but after spending what seemed like an eternity in my womb of clothing and pillows I felt warmth coming from under the bed. It tingled like electric fire through my body. After a while my fingers and toes even began to thaw. I started to take off pieces of clothing until I only had a T-shirt and boxers on. Maybe the building is on fire, I thought. I even liked the idea.

I rolled myself up in the covers and leaned over the side to look at what was underneath. I saw a faint yellow glow coming from under the bed. The sight of it filled me with a strange, loving tingle.

I got out of the bed, dropped the covers and poked my head under the bed. The glow was emitting from an oddly shaped hole.

I crawled in deeper. I had this intensely positive feeling brewing inside of me the closer I got to the hole. I could see it clearly now. It’s shaped like … a man. The hole is shaped like me. It’s mine. What does it mean? I didn’t even care. I needed to get into it; I needed to feel its warm embrace.

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I awkwardly jiggled out of my T-shirt and boxers and wormed my way in further under the bed. I could still feel the cold wind cutting at my legs, but it didn’t matter to me now. This was the purest thing in the world.

I climbed into the hole. It fit me perfectly, and I started to slowly sink. At first the walls of the hole were metal and wood from the floors of the building, but then I felt the gentle touch of soil against my skin. The hole was holding me in its warm and beautiful embrace, and I never wanted to feel anything else. This was paradise.

Darius Poyer is a simple occasional writer who enjoys making people uncomfortable.

Fiction Issue #3

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