Sometimes the city starts to piss me off and this is one of those times. Everything feels small, too small, too claustrophobic, like there's no way out and I'm going to die here in this office suffocating in a fucking suit like every other waste of genetic material clogging up the concrete beehive.
Today's one of those days and I don't know I don't know I don't know. This chair cost more than a small car and it's supposed to be good for my spine, but my spine doesn't care and I keep waiting for it to fire a lethal dose of electricity through me and I kind of wish it would.
Running my fingers over my desk, all I can think about is what it would feel like to smash it, except it's toughened glass so it would be hard as hell to smash, but I can't stop imagining pulling my hands back through the shattered edges and peeling the skin off my fingers. It plays on a loop and I'm half sick and half disappointed that it's not actually happening.
My head hurts.
My head hurts again.
My head still hurts.
Eyes closed, I can see my office, my cell in the hive, covered in blood. Not dripping from the walls like some shitty horror film, but thrown hard against every surface like art. I open my eyes and nothing's changed. Because nothing. Ever. Changes.
Byron walks in without knocking, because he always does. "Jesus fucking Christ, Archer, what the fuck happened to your face?" Anyone else would have sounded worried, but not him. He's the only person I've ever met who can get angry at someone for being hurt.
"Hit by a car."
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
"At least you're not on the fucking roof. What did they say at the hospital? Should you even be here?"
"I didn't go to hospital. I'm fine."
"No, you fucking aren't. Obviously. If you drop dead from a brain hemorrhage, I will not be impressed."
"I won't be impressed either, but I'm not planning on it."
"Fuck's sake, Archer. I don't say this very often, but go home. Don't walk out in front of any cars. Put your feet up for the weekend. Do whatever you do to relax. Come back when your face doesn't look like that anymore."
He leaves me alone and what do I do to relax? There's no answer and a fall of panic, the kind that starts in your throat and sinks into your stomach like a stone. I don't know. I don't know.
I call Jordan in and tell him I'm going home and everything can wait until Monday. I've never done that before. I've never not been contactable. He's worried, which is fair enough because I look like my face was grated off the road. Which it was. I tell him it's only superficial damage, although I'm not totally sure. He smiles, but it's awkward. He's uncomfortable and it's my fault. Usually I'd be fine with that, but today it doesn't feel right.
I call Harold Murphy's office and leave a message that I'll be unavailable until next week. I don't say why, but I give them Jordan's number for anything that isn't urgent and Byron's for anything that is. Murphy won't need me this weekend because he's throwing a party at some hotel in the country, but his people call me sometimes. I'm supposed to be going to the party, or at least I was invited for some unknown fucking reason, but I can't face it. Besides, there's still half of Friday left for someone to need me and for me not to be here and I have to make sure that it's dealt with.
I flex my fingers just to feel the scabs on my knuckles stretch and split. It calms my nerves, but not enough. Nothing's enough and it's becoming a problem. My face feels like it looks. A fucking mess. The outside matches the inside. I need to walk, burn off some energy, do some thinking or some not thinking or whatever and it doesn't matter.
My jacket's crushing my ribs and it should be cold without it, but it isn't. Or it is, but I'm not. Walking feels good. It hurts, but it feels good too. Or it feels good because it hurts. I don't know anymore. I don't know.
There are so many cars and a deep, heavy need and I wait for the swerve but it never comes and a storm in my skull and the pounding of waves and the sea.
And the sea.
And the sea.
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...