Day Twenty Five - I See Dead People

I saw the man’s eyes roll back into his head first - that’s how it always starts. Then it’s followed by an uncontrollable convulsing of the body. The muscles stiffen, go rigid and the body basically loses all motor function - the bladder and the bowels, the whole shebang. It all goes to shit, excuse the pun. All I could do was stand, wince and watch.

He proceeded to sway back and forth before falling harshly onto the ground. I heard his skull crack; crackling like a radio. Then I saw what killed him - the wound was wide, savage; like he’d been attacked by a rabid dog. His back was completely mutilated. I could see his insides from where I stood. Everything had been plucked from him; organs, heart, bones. It was all gone. All that was left was skin - he was nothing but a sack, a pouch from which all his humanity had been stolen and destroyed. I didn’t know who was responsible, I never did.

Then just as quickly as it began, it ended and the man stood, looking at his phone once more. Completely oblivious of the fate that was going to befall him.

I have this gift, you see. This gift shows me how strangers are going to die. It’s always random, unpredictable and I can never do anything to stop it. I’m not an evil bastard that just watches this sick shit for fun but believe me when I say - it renders me powerless to help the victim. I tried once. I’ll never forget it and I vowed to never do it again.

It was the first time I discovered that I had this gift, the first time I realised that I could see how strangers died. There was nothing extraordinary about that day, nothing that would be considered strange. I was on my way into town when I witnessed my first death. I was waiting for a bus when I saw her - it was a woman. The day was warm and she stood, idly talking away on her phone, hair swaying gently in the summer breeze.

Then she swung her body forward, as if she was about to vomit but instead, her body folded in half - like her flesh was nothing but a light, thin piece of paper. I heard her bones crack and snap, like brittle twigs under heavy boots. She let out a piercing scream - blood poured out of her mouth like water out of a broken dam. The tarmac was covered in crimson, shining and gleaming in the bright, scorching sun. I looked around frantically. The street was jam packed with people but no one seemed to notice what was going on. No one was seeing what I was seeing.

When I looked back. She was alive again, chatting away absentmindedly. As if nothing had happened.

I was sweating profusely - my skin felt clammy, hot to the touch and I genuinely thought I had lost my mind. Was it a dream? A momentary lapse in psyche? Some fucked up hallucination? All these questions went round and round in my mind. But I couldn’t get the gruesome images of her mutilated, floppy corpse out of my head. I had to do something, I had to tell her, help her. I remember this strange feeling washing over me - this overwhelming urge to save her. I had never felt like that before.

I ran to her, having no clue what I was going to say. What if she didn’t believe me? Even if she didn’t, I knew deep in my heart that I had to try.

“Excuse me, miss?” I said, wiping the sweat that had submerged my brow.

She looked up at me, her face lined with sudden worry, apprehension. She probably thought I was a lunatic.

“Y-yes?” she asked, slowly backing away. Her body was tense, ready to flee.

“I’m really sorry to bother you,” I said, smiling - trying to reassure her, somehow, that I wasn’t a creep.

She didn’t look reassured.

“I know this is probably going to sound bizarre and completely unbelievable but I need you to listen to me, please. I...I just watched you die.” I said, wincing as I spoke. How deranged I must have sounded.

“I know how this sounds, believe me. But...I saw it. Just now. I promise I’m not a lunatic. I didn’t know what else to do but I knew that I had to warn you, to stop it from happening. So...erm. Maybe just...leave? Don’t wait for a bus here, wait for a bus somewhere else. Please.” I pleaded. I realised then I had no fucking idea what I was saying. What was I thinking?

She looked up at me and then did something I honestly didn’t expect. She started laughing, hysterically. Her mouth twisted into a foul grin, a mocking smile.

“Please, miss. This isn’t funny.” I said.

She laughed until her cheeks were soaked with tears. When she finally managed to compose herself, she spoke through fits of laughter.

“This has got to be some sort of joke! Did Raymond put you up to this? Well! If he did, tell him he got me!” she said, wiping the tears from her eyes.

I opened my mouth to speak, to protest but before I could utter a single word, her face changed. It became haggard - the skin around her skull was taught, as if she was wearing a mask that someone was pulling on from behind. Her eyes widened, filled with panic and fear.

Her hands flew to her throat, clawing at it; breaking skin. The blood trickled down her white dress, staining it.

I stood, rooted to the spot - mouth agape. I didn’t know what to do. What the fuck was happening? I reached out to touch her, to try and help her but something stopped me.

She clawed at her throat Until her fingertips were red raw, until her hands were intertwined with her own flesh, muscle and tissue. She ripped the exposed nerve endings, shredded them with her coffin shaped nails. The whole time, she never once took her eyes off of mine. I couldn’t tear my gaze away either. She fell to the floor, blood pouring from her neck like a river.

I began backing away but several screams from behind brought me back to reality. This was real.

“Oh my god!”

“Did you see what she did?”

“She clawed at her own neck! I saw it with my own eyes! Could you imagine doing something like that?”

“Someone call an ambulance!”

People rushed to her side - fumbling, touching, gasping.

I found myself disappearing into the crowd but before I did, something caught my eye. It was her blood. Words had materialised in the crimson puddle. What it said sent a shiver up my spine and a dagger through my heart.

‘You shouldn’t have done that, Arthur’.

The words that I read in that woman’s blood were etched in my mind; forever imprinted. They instilled this fear within me that I didn’t know existed.

You shouldn’t have done that, Arthur.

And maybe I shouldn’t have. I have never forgotten the way she looked at me that day, the way her pupils dilated as she stared into my face. The way her body constricted as she mutilated herself. I could barely sleep that night.

When it happened again, the following day - I didn’t panic. I didn’t do...anything really. I told myself that I wouldn’t intervene, that I shouldn’t intervene. I didn’t know why I was seeing the death’s of people that were complete strangers to me - couldn’t figure out why I was bestowed with such a debilitating, crushing ailment. I knew there was nothing I could do to stop them though, nothing.

After a while, it did get easier. I know that may be hard to believe but I’ve learnt that the human mind can get desensitised to almost anything. If you see something often enough, witness it repeatedly - the mind learns to deal with it.

Not that it didn’t fuck me up. It did.

I found myself turning to alcohol, I buried my problems in litres of vodka, whisky and gin. When that no longer worked, I turned to drugs - cocaine, pills and anything else that I could get my hands on. Anything that promised to help me forget about my shitty life.

Months went by in a haze, it was as if I was in a perpetual trance. Time lost all its authority - simply melted away as I lived life through the brim of a bottle; endlessly assaulting my body and mind with some kind of poison.

That wasn’t sustainable though. That kind of lifestyle never is.

I’ve never told anyone about it - was there any point? Besides, I didn’t have any friends. I couldn’t maintain any of my friendships, relationships - it was all too difficult, too problematic. None of them could ever understand my burden.

I don’t remember my parents, I think they died when I was young. So essentially I was an orphan. Sometimes on quiet nights at home, I try to grasp those long lost memories but they are forever out of my reach and I never know whether this was because I blocked them out intentionally or they just dwindled with time. That tends to happen, doesn’t it? I wish I could remember them. I long to remember what life was like before all this.

Back when I was normal. Back when life wasn’t an endless stream of blood, horror and utter fucking dismay. I detested my life but I didn’t know what to do to fix it. I yearned to know why I was seeing death on a daily basis. How could I stop it?

The answer came to me a few nights ago.

I was at home, it was late - nearly midnight. The night was mild and even though it was summer, there was a biting chill in the air. I was sober which was quite unusual for me but I wanted a clear head that night, I didn’t know why. I laid in bed and watched the light from outside move and dance on my ceiling. I couldn’t sleep.

Then I heard something.

It was a soft groan, the kind of moan you hear someone make when they’re just waking up from a deep sleep. It unnerved me. I sat up in bed and that was when I saw him.

It was a man. He was dressed in a white hospital gown. It was stained; I could see a myriad of dark, grotty smears that adorned it. He was sickly, emaciated, like he hadn’t eaten in weeks. His skin was pale, ashen - deathly. He looked like he’d been buried and then plucked from the earth. His arms dangled awkwardly at his sides; fingers splayed and rigid. His face was gaunt, I could see the hollowness in his cheeks. His mouth was open, his lips quivered slowly. He had no teeth, just a row of sore, bleeding gums.

But it was his eyes that terrified me the most.

They were pale, almost white. The milkiness of his sclera seemed to dominate the entirety of his eyeball. His eyes had no colour.

I couldn’t move. This had never happened before - I had never seen a death happen in my own fucking house. Who was this man? What was going on?

His skin began to glow, it emanated this soft, red gleam. Then he started convulsing, his whole body fucking throbbed. The light intensified and that was when I realised that he was burning - from the inside out. I could feel the heat, could smell the burning flesh; it smelled like copper. He was lit up like a jack-o’-lantern. The smouldering fire illuminated his veins, making them look like thin branches of a tree.

I think he screamed but no sound came out. I saw the smoke flowing out of his throat, it swirled and rippled in the dim light. I watched as his skin began to melt, it blistered and popped. I stared in horror as his organs liquefied and poured out from every available orifice; leaving a slimy pool of matter on my wooden floor. I averted my eyes.

“Oh...god.” I managed to stutter.

When I dared to look at him again, he was whole. He started fading; slowly disappearing. Before he did though, he looked at me, like he actually saw me.

Then he said something that sent a chill up and down my spine. It was the single and most terrifying thing I had ever heard in my life. My heart beat incessantly, almost kicking my chest open.

“I saw you die too, Arty.”

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