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October 14, 2012 / iainnd

Caffeine

This is a story I wrote a few years ago. I didn’t post it at the time because I was submitting it to a magazine that does not accept pieces that have been published elsewhere. Anyway, it didn’t get accepted, so here it is now.
It’s a little less ridiculous than my usual writing, in that it features actual human characters.
Enjoy.

There is a monster that stops me from sleeping at night. Not the same kind of monster that kept me awake as a child. This monster is real. This monster doesn’t have sharp, yellow fangs. No disgusting hideous snout. It has almost perfect teeth despite having never worn braes and one of those cute noses where it turns up at the end. This monster doesn’t breathe fire or spit acid. Its breath tastes something like strawberries, even though I swear I never saw it chewing gum. It’s out to devour my soul, but not by drilling a hole in the back of my neck. Real monsters won’t tear off your face or make bread from your bones. They won’t physically hurt you at all. The worst thing they can do to you is make you care about them.

I think of all the time I spent as a child wanting the monsters to go away, and now all I want is for this one to come back.
Fuck it. If I’m not sleeping tonight, it’s going to be on my terms. There is no possible way this could be a bad idea.

At 11:21pm the attendant at the petrol station advises me against drinking seven cans of V in less than a minute, but then he’s not a doctor, so fuck him. Earlier today the doctor advised me against energy drinks completely, but then he gets less money from me if I’m healthy, so fuck him too.

The walk home takes less than half the time it usually does. I am fast. I am The Flash. I am speed itself. If I ran home I’d arrive in time to greet myself just before I left. I am Sonic the motherfucking Hedgehog. When you’re walking by yourself late at night you have to be fast because ninjas are everywhere. Everyone knows this. This is fact. Behind every tree – ninjas. Behind every building – ninjas. Behind every phone booth – ninjas, ninjas, fucking ninjas. I jog any time I have to cross the road because if you don’t make it to the other side before the little guy turns red and the beeping stops, everything explodes and you have to start the level over again.

It’s 12:35am and I can only describe myself as aware. I know everything that is happening anywhere in the world at any given moment right down to the goddamn molecular level. I know everything that has ever been and never will be known. I am a wizard. I am an oracle. An owl hoots in a tree exactly twenty feet and three inches away. A dog pissed on that tree this afternoon at 3:28pm. Behind me a bat shrieks and flies overhead. It had been hanging from a branch for exactly one hour and seventeen minutes. I know everything without knowing anything. The only thing I don’t know is what blinking is.

At 1:20am my housemate Dan comes out of his room followed by his girlfriend Amy. They finished having sex exactly three minutes and two seconds ago. She faked her orgasm.
“Hey, buddy,” he greets me. “Not sleeping tonight?”
“Never again!” I proudly announce. He laughs and seven droplets of spit fall from his mouth, six of which land on the carpet while the seventh hits the toe of my shoe.
“You didn’t sleep last night either, did you?” Each syllable takes what feels like fifteen minutes to me because my brain is so much faster and greater than his and I am so fucking aware.
“Not a wink!” I shout. He flinches at the suddenness of my words because he wasn’t expecting me to be such a fucking powerhouse of speed and I answered his question before he even asked it because I am so fucking fast it’s not even funny.
“He does this all the time,” he tells Amy.
At this point I receive a vision from the future. Two minutes from now I’m going to jump and kick the wall right in front of Amy’s face and it’s going to be hilarious.
“Are you okay?” Amy asks. She’s an idiot because only idiots ask questions instead of knowing everything ever.
“I’m better than okay,” I inform her. “I am aware.
“You’ve gone insane, haven’t you?”
“Many, many hours ago” I answer with a shit-eating grin. “Dr Jekyll has fucked right off. Mr Hyde is running this shit.”
“This really isn’t healthy,” Amy tells Dan.
“I know,” Dan responds. “Don’t think I haven’t told him.” Then they go back and forth saying dumb things from their stupid faces because they are idiots and nowhere near as fucking aware as I am. It’s at this point that my premonition becomes true and I kick the wall and it’s exactly as hysterical as I imagined but Dan and Amy disagree but they can’t comprehend how so very god damn aware I am so fuck them.

It’s 3:02am and I am more than aware. I am everything. Nothing happens without my permission. I created this universe and it obeys my every whim. I see my guitar in the corner and I consider practising but there’s no point because simply by looking at it I have completely mastered the instrument in every imaginable way and I’m not going to play that song she likes so go fuck yourself because I don’t even know who you’re talking about and that’s a stupid name and it can’t possibly be the name of a real person who exists but I bet if she did exist she’d be a total bitch. Instead I consider playing that one song from The Lion King and I forget the title but it’s the one that’s about the love and the feeling thereof and something about tonight and then I note how funny it would be to burst into Dan’s room and serenade him and Amy with it but then I remember I can create entire universes within my mind so I create one where this happens and indeed it is hilarious so I laugh for half an hour.

I look at my watch and it’s not 5:14am because I finally realise that time is not linear but a single point and nothing is happening right now because everything is happening at once which means I’m still back at the petrol station but before it was built and I’m still six years old and girls are gross so I definitely won’t think about her and the sun is collapsing into itself and the universe is just beginning to form and she and I are still together so I’m allowed to think about her again but god fucking damn it I’m not going to and I need something to distract me and I can’t watch TV because it hasn’t been invented yet and I’m a child crying over my grazed knee and I’m saying goodbye to my grandchildren on my death bed and humans are colonising Mars and the last dinosaur is dying and I haven’t met her yet so I’m still able to sleep and an inventor is unveiling the flying car and man has just created fire and I’ve more than likely gone completely batshit insane.

I don’t know what time it is and I’m somewhere with a lot of dirt and a lot of gravity because I can’t move. It’s bright. That’s what time it is. It is bright o’clock.
“Hey there, champ,” someone greets me. They sound like a total dick so it’s probably Dan. I try to curse at him but I’ve forgotten what words are so I just make a few angry noises.
“Guess you ended up sleeping after all,” he chuckles. Slowly, my brain starts working again.
“Where.” I say. I can remember words, but not sentences.
“What?” he asks, even though I made myself fairly clear.
“What place I am at?” I’m getting closer to English. “Where is this? Fuckin’, donde estas?” Oops, bit of a backwards step there.
“In the driveway,” Dan laughs. God damn him. “Don’t you have to work today?” God fucking damn him.
“Doesn’t your face have to shut up today?” Zing.
“I’m pretty sure you’re on from 10am to 7pm.” This fucking guy, I swear to god…
“I’m pretty sure your face is on from… ten minutes ago until…fuckin’…infinity pm.” Another zinger. “F–for the shutting up,” I clarify. “Those are the hours in which you are to shut up.”
“Go to bed,” he advises me. His brain seems to be working better than mine. I take his advice.

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