I was half awake when I came upon this scene. An almost inaudible hyper-fast paced clicking, like the hum of an electrical device, had awoken me from one dream into another. Before me stood a room, murky and dark, yet to my sleep-addled brain as realistic as the one behind. Somnambulant, I drew ever closer to the shadow bedroom and reached out with a tentative hand.
There was something there. No- many things. Were they lights? It seemed to me that the room in the shadow world crawled with these tiny lights, and with a baseless exuberance one can only find in the depths of sleep, I thought that my dreams had manifested into a light show in my bedroom.
But no, that wasn’t it. My hands shook, and I jerked my head away instinctively.
The last time this had happened was long ago. I was five, or perhaps even younger. I had awoken in the middle of the night to a presence just beyond the edge of my comprehension. When I looked up, I found my infant sister staring back at me, her uncharacteristically huge eyes voids within which I saw her own eyes again mirrored in mine, and mine in hers. She drew closer, and as she did I followed her movements.
The illusion shattered with a crack of familiar drywall.
Walls have always acted like mirrors to me when I’m in an altered state. The big question is, why do I always feel like I am the one following the mirrored individual’s actions? I only bumped into my sister within the drywall because I saw her leaning towards me. I thought she wanted to tell me something.
My attention was once again drawn to the quasi-electronic drone. It was coming from behind the trash can. Pulling the trashcan away, I found the culprit: a tiny moth clumsily beat damaged wings across the faux-linoleum floor. Initially, I thought that it was the sound of the wings that I had heard in the night. But the moth had been pinned down to the bottom of the trashcan; there was no way it could have flapped its wings then.Then I listened more carefully, and realized that there was some mechanism within its mouth that emitted the sound. My wife told me she couldn’t hear it.
Cupping the moth gently with both hands, I ushered the bedraggled insect outside. As I drew closer to the glass, the shadow room loomed before me once more, until I pulled away the glass and tiny insects pored in to greet their fallen comrade.
I would like to believe that those insects which I initially mistook for lights had come through window in such droves in order to save their wayward friend; it was far more likely that they were merely drawn in by the light. When I saw them swarm over the bedraggled moth, I wanted to believe that they would uplift her to the heavens on their collective back. Mothie’s wings would grow strong with their journey, and when they at last arrived at the transcontinental highway that all insects must join at terminus of their final instar, Mothilda would be strong enough to join the stream.
I must have missed it. I turned away with crawling thoughts; had I swatted down the moth with a careless blow at some point during the night? Had it crawled behind the trash can seeking shelter against future brutalisms? Or perhaps simply to die? If so, I had only disturbed its rest with more torment.
Our subjective realities are formed by the narratives we impose upon them, no matter how tenuous those narratives might seem. Sometimes, you follow the reflection you see in the glass. Sometimes, the reflection follows you. Sometimes, there is no glass, only drywall. And sometimes there’s nothing at all.
Collectively these narratives form a web. And in the end all I could do was just sit there, watching flies land on the Internet.
anonymous lurkers attacking friends.
imagine daggers buzzing.