I wake up in a jolt. A bit started, and a bit disoriented, I look around. I realize I’m on the couch – the couch in the lounge – lying on my back. I didn’t come through the standard door – I just awoke here.
It is quiet as most everyone is asleep or resting – everyone but one. Loneliness is standing on my shoulders, bearing down at me. Its face 12 inches from mine with not quite a smirk.
I roll on my left side. Loneliness – with such graceful but deliberate moves, adjusts and stands on my exposed shoulder. I close my eyes, trying to ignore Loneliness – but I feel the weight. I feel the stare. I feel the heat from its breath.
I quickly toss onto my right side. Loneliness anticipates the move, makes a quick but graceful leap while I turn and again lands on my exposed shoulder. As I face the back of the couch, I start to sweat. The heat from my breath against the back of the couch – the heat from Loneliness’s breath on top of my head – the heat from Loneliness standing on my shoulders.
I get up off the couch and walk to the bar. Loneliness stays on my shoulders as I walk over. I pour and drink some water – hoping for some relief. Uncertain if the cool water refreshes, I head back to the couch. I lay back down – all the while Loneliness gracefully maneuvers to stay balanced on my shoulders. As I lay down, Loneliness again lowers its face 12 inches above mine and stares. Stares into my soul, stares into my being – stares into my sleeplessness.
I rustle around a bit more, but sleep continues to elude me. I realize there is only one solution. Between the cushions of the couch, there is always a knife. I grasp the knife with my right hand and cut deeply into my left arm. A thick stream of blood escapes from my arm. I even see the pulsation of the blood, matching my rapidly increasing heart rate. Loneliness drops its head toward my left arm and places its mouth just over the wound. Loneliness surrounds its mouth over the wound and drinks – drinks my blood, drinks my soul, drinks my last remaining strength as I lay on the couch getting weaker and weaker.
After about 30 seconds – though it feels like an hour – Loneliness raises its head. Loneliness looks healthier. Loneliness seems vibrant. Loneliness looks alive. All the while, I lay on the couch – fully awake – fully aware – fully exhausted – exhausted without sleep – exhausted with no sign that rest is nearby. Loneliness steps off my shoulders onto the floor and picks me up – its right arm under my shoulders and left arm under my the back of my knees. Loneliness takes me through the lounge and up the stairs, past Hate, who just stares – stares as Hate always stares – and to the cell of Depression – the cell where Loneliness lives. Depression, Delusion, and Agony’s eyes are open all open -as they always are – but do nothing.
Loneliness gently lays me down on the dirty floor. The floor is cold, the floor smells of shit – smells of decay – but I lack the strength – I lack the ability – really, I lack the will to do anything but just lay there. Loneliness curls up right behind me and wraps its wings around me – spooning me – providing me no warmth – providing me no protection – only showing me a demon’s oppression.
I hear Loneliness fall asleep as its breathing becomes deep and regular – though I know I cannot move as I am the captive on Loneliness tonight.
I remain awake for a while – but eventually, I fall asleep – fall asleep under the wing and caressing touch of Loneliness on the cold floor of Depression’s cage.