Running Part 6

Lifting my head from the window, my neck complaining with a dull ache as I move. My shoulders feel tight and I feel more tired now that before I slept. Blinking tight, clearing my bleary eyes, I take in the room around me. Kat’s in here, curled small on the sofa against the far wall. She looks lost in her dreams, making small movements and breathing heavily. A chill runs through me; she didn’t wake me when she came in.

A stillness has fallen over the world, making the room feel heavy. Inside it’s deafly silent, only the hiss of the trees, still stirring in the woods outside, give away the fact that time is still passing. A dry heat has filled the air, dust motes caught in the neon coloured light circle away from me as I move, spinning off into darkened corners. Stretching through my body’s complaints at being made to move, I pad across the carpet into the bathroom and go to pour myself a glass of water. Twisting the tap to run the water, it takes a long time before any makes it through the pipes. It’s too hot. I leave it to run a while, waiting for it to cool. Staring into the mirror in front of me, I wipe at my eyes. They’re still a little puffy. I have to peel my lips open, dry and cracking painfully, baring my teeth at the face in front of me.

Placing the glass under the tap, as the water hits it’s rim, I realise it isn’t water; it’s sand. Pure white sand. Catching the dim light from the lamp above the mirror, it shimmers, running like dry liquid. The glass begins to erode, I feel it giving way in my hand, itself turning to sand. The sink starts to back up, the sand building up inside it. Twisting the tap to shut it off, it crumbles, it’s metallic outer cracking to reveal more dust fine grains inside. I become aware, I can feel it. Everything, a thin veneer; behind it, sand. A hot dry world. The cracked tap crumbles into the sink, the sink into the counter, the counter to the floor, pouring over the tiles towards me. Stepping backwards, back through to the main room, the walls shimmer with a fine dust like frost. As I stumble back, knocking the bed, it’s leg shatters, one corner falling to the floor. The bed, rippled by the shock, becomes like liquid, it’s grains pouring over each other with a quiet hiss.

I’m up to my ankles now. The walls, doorframes, everything in the room, it’s all falling in on itself. Kat is still curled up on the small, slowly disintegrating sofa. I push my way through the rapidly filling floor, wading knee deep now. Reaching out, I place my hand on her shoulder. She turns, confused and still half asleep, her mouth and eyelashes encrusted with glassy grains. Pulling her to me to, helping her to her feet, her shoulder softens in my hand, my fingers run through her top, through her flesh. I feel bone. I go to lift her, to get her out but with every touch she succumbs further to the desert room. Her eyes fix on mine, open wide. Her lips part to talk but as she does, a piece of her cheek drops to the floor, becoming one with the shifting, piling, hot, dry floor. I push my arms below her, one last attempt to get her to safety, to get out of here. As I lift she loses shape. Frozen, I watch as her face slowly pours from her skull, sand catching in her eye sockets, pouring through her jaw bone. I’m left half buried, nothing but her perfect white bones remain. They sit, dry and light in my arms, as I force my way to the surface again. Half wading, half crawling, I go to cross the room. The ceiling is starting to rain down in thin streams now. The air is filled with choking dust. Pushing hard through burning lungs and thighs, I head for the door. Lurching forward for the final step, grasping at the handle, It’s as if it’s hardly there. I fall through the door into cool air. My eyes open wide. I’m in my room. Head still against the window. The outside, dark and still, obscured by a grey gauze of condensation that has formed around me. Inside my heart is racing. I feel hot and flushed. Kat is gone. Was she ever here? There is an indentation in the sofa, it could have been her. I go to the bathroom and turn on the tap.

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