He lived on the fifteenth floor of a flat on the outskirts of town. Everything was placid, satisfactory and calm. Then there was a knock on the door and Santeuil stood there. She was a very beautiful looking person and he was amazed that such a stranger should have come to knock on his door. It had happened without warning. He had had no inkling. Half an hour later she had gone. He stared at the two empty mugs and tried to remember what they had talked about but found it really hard to focus on anything. The whole incident had been somewhat erased.
Although the incident had been surprising he soon put it behind him. In fact, he forgot all about it for three weeks. Then a fax message appeared in his front room. It was from the Santeuil woman. The message was violent and angry. She called him every name under the sun, accused him of having an ugly soul and being a perverse dreamer. She said that he had surprised her by the sadism of both his thoughts and deeds. His mouth was a sewer. He was a monster.
He sat down after reading this message and tried to gather up the pieces of his shattered self image. Try as he might he couldn’t understand what had brought about such a catastrophe. He wracked his brains for anything which might have led to such incriminations. But there was nothing he could think of. He then screwed up the message and burned it. He told no one. In fact, in his deep heart he felt ashamed, as those falsely accused of something often do. He bathed and tried to rub out the nasty thoughts which had come into him.
Two days later there arrived another fax message. It was again from Santeuil. Again she attacked him savagely, accusing him of heinous crimes. This time she vaguely threatened to bring in authorities to deal with him if he continued with his vile actions. This was truly astounding to him. He could think of nothing he had done to deserve such treatment. In fact, the more he pondered the whole situation, the more unfair and outrageous it seemed to him. He frowned and tried to reconstruct himself so that he could make out the outlines of some sort of reason, any kind, which might justify such charges. But there was nothing he could think of. He felt sick with worry. He then began to think that maybe the messages would fall into the wrong hands. He worried that friends of his, or people of influence, would pick up the damaging information. He knew that a rumour of such things would be enough to destroy his good reputation forever.
The third fax came a couple of days later. Upon receiving it he became demented and tears flooded down his cheeks. He shuddered with rage and fear as the violent charges were repeated yet again and this time the threat of action to be taken against him seemed far more tangible. He drew his curtains and refused to answer any calls. He switched off all his machines, something which he wished he had done weeks ago. Throughout his panic he continued to trawl his memory for something, anything, which would explain the terrible events. There was yet nothing.
He decided that he could not face anyone in his present state. He was full of worry and terror. He felt ashamed and his stomach began to rumble and tighten. He could hardly eat anything. He drank beer in order to keep his mind estranged from itself. The calamity seemed to be pulling him right down in to a smoking pit. He lay down on his bed and tried to sleep but his sleep was fitful and troubled by terrible dreams. The dreams became more vivid as the time passed and his state of turmoil developed into a crisis. There was no one he could turn to. Over the next few days some of his friends called but he did not answer any of the loud and frantic raps upon his door. These people didn’t return. He thought about this. He decided that his friends were merely fair weather friends after all. They had deceived him and he would never trust anyone again. There was no one he wanted to call. His family were all dead. He switched down all his electricity and pulled out the bulbs from their fittings so that he conjured a remaining and solitary darkness.
Some time later a single sheet of A 4 paper appeared under his door. It was from Santeuil. It threatened murder. She said that she had hired a hit man to come and kill him. She had warned him often enough. She had begged him to leave her. She had pleaded with him, had wept and screamed and implored him to let her be but he had persisted. His cruelty had driven her to this extreme measure and he could only blame himself for this awful situation. She listed her injuries. She had two broken fingers. She had a toe twisted out of its socket. Her retina had been detached in her left eye. Internal injuries, including crushed organs and continuous bleeding, were like floats of frogspawn. Her vagina, all her sex organs , her anus were torn and ripped. Both her knees were smashed and she had no more teeth he could knock out. Her skin was burned and bruised all over. Several ribs were cracked. The stitches were unthreading even as she wrote. He should never have used wire. She was turning green and black like a weird moss.
He read the whole sickening list with a sinking heart. A terrible hopelessness swept over him, a wide blanket of greyness which seemed to carry him up like an egg in a napkin. He collapsed by his bed, rolled underneath it and lay there in the cluttered and claustrophobic light quietly weeping to himself.
Later he dragged himself out from under the bed. He was covered in dust and coughed and spluttered. His body ached and he was ravenous. But there was no food left in the flat now. He sipped a beer and felt lightheaded. He was sick on the floor. He tried to sleep right there but the horrible stink drove him out into the hallway where he lay, breathing loudly. His lungs seemed to pack in on him. His rasping sounds snarled like a crocodile around the other places in the flat. He had never felt so alone.
When he eventually fell into a deep sleep he had terrible dreams. The nightmares were always of a brightly lit room full of meat and chains and blood. There was always the sound of some poor and damaged person panting and howling. There were always cries of terror. Something was always being hit but all he saw were purple clots of shadow. There were strange animals, frog like things with human arms, which were forever creeping about just away from the centre of the room. He could never make out distinct outlines of just what or who was in the room except for these few things. And each time he dreamed the cries seemed to be more insistent and the sense of horror and grim brutality was more distinct.
After puking up everything, including his green bile, he swooned into a final coma and again he dreamed. He saw a beautiful and naked woman laying on a gorgeous bed. She was smiling. She seemed to be knitting something but as he paid attention to this fascinating scene he saw that the threads she worked were spooling out from her own stomach. She was knitting her own intestines. There was a dark area of slow blood all over her legs falling like a velvet cloth to the floor. The skin of her belly had been folded back like the cover of a zip folder. Behind her there were bug like creatures about the size of paperbacks floating around her head. Her smile was unfinishing, as if someone had extended it at each end using a razor. Her mouth was stitched closed, yet still she said, ‘Is this exactly as you wanted me?’opening her legs to display nothing more than smoke.
With a scream he awoke from this abomination. His friends were crowding round him. He was tucked up in his bed. There were flowers in a vase and a bright golden light streamed in through his window. He felt a sudden calm. How lucky he was that although he had lost his faith in humanity , humanity had kept faith with him. He wept with relief and joy. He felt that he had been too harsh on everybody. He should have trusted these good people. He should have presented them with the lies and the falsehoods being laid at his door. They would have understood. They would have stood by him. They would have seen off the very devil . He felt foolish and embarrassed.
He raised himself up so that he could see all of them. They looked at him with concern and a genuine brotherly and sisterly love. He could see all that now. What a contrast to those terrible beings in his infested nightmare.
‘Friends, I have to confess that I have not been worthy of you. In my heart I betrayed you. I did not think enough of you. I have been mean and bitter and I feel a deep sense of shame. But I promise that from now on I will find that spirit of generosity which has characterised your behaviour towards me.’ And he wept with joy.
At that moment there was an icy colour that flickered over the scene and a huge roaming noise like the waves of the sea over a pebble beach. In confusion he frowned and placed his hand to his head, wanting to rub away the sweat and the burning sensation. His fingers touched his serrated forehead as it was sliced in two pieces and fell away, leaving the brain like a mashed potato to cough all over the wallpaper. In the watery dark he saw a pointing gun, saw a coral of smoke and a bullet more like a comma than a full-stop pause somewhere on the far side of his egg-bone.
‘Santeuil has been as good as her word,’ he mused.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Retro is a former punk who now believes that he has become just a sad old nostalgia freak. Having said that he makes a brilliant black-current sandwhich and lives in Dover where he has many friends amongst the refugee community there. He believes his years on the dole will soon be ending.