After The Fire

White aluminum blinds sliced the landscape outside the window into horizontal strips of green and grey. Marlon stared blankly through the cracks, his mind far too occupied to bother perceiving the view. Alas, occupied wasn't quite the right word. Shocked, was perhaps a better way to describe his state of mind. Exhausted could also be added to the adjectives that would properly fit his state. He hadn’t slept in about fifty hours; give or take. If you could listen to his thoughts, you would probably have heard that monotonous hiss which crawled into ones head after a particularly loud concert. His eyes would likely look like the snowy screen of an un-tuned television.

It wasn’t the first time Marlon had been like this. In his past, he’d had many events that had diminished him to the husk of a person he now was. However, for the past nine years, he would often be pulled from his withdrawal by the soft nudge of Isaac; his tabby cat. Not this time though; for two reasons. Firstly, Marlon was at a hospital which certainly would not have allowed a cat. Secondly, Isaac never made it out of the smouldering hole in the ground that Marlon, only about fifty hours ago, called his home. 

Everything, the kitchen sink and all; gone. 

It was a sharp absolute finality that Marlon’s mind could just not grasp. He was a creature of habit; an indoctrinated drone of society. He got up at the same time every day; went to work at the same time every day; came home at the same time every day; ate with Isaac at the same time every day and then went to bed … at the same time, every single day. 

Until today; the first day in longer than he could remember, that he was out of his routine. He was out of more than just that. He was out a car, out a bed, out a television; computer; shower; toilet; kitchen and … out a best friend. 

Being a bachelor, Marlon’s only companion was Isaac. Isaac was quiet, but attentive. He nuzzled up to Marlon after dinner and would listen to him read his self help books out loud; they suggested readers to do so after all. 

As a drone of society, Marlon was a bureaucratic prodigy; utilitarian to a fault. Aside from hard working and punctual, anyone who knew Marlon would have very little else to say about him. He barely spoke to others beyond the necessities of his job and knew none of his colleagues personally outside of the workplace. He was a ghost; a grey man. 

Reaching up to scratch an itch, the statue that was Marlon finally showed signs of life. With the sounds of stubble grating past his nails, he realized he hadn’t shaved in a while. Small imps of compulsion skittered across his brain with dagger talons. He hadn’t shaved. It was a travesty; unforgiveable. 

The gears of his damaged mind began to spin slowly; but the controls were unmanned. Marlon moved like an automaton to the bathroom of the hospital room. He searched for a razor and found none. To the hall he went; where staff soon spotted him and trotted over for an interception. 

“Mister Pearson, are you alright?”

“I need a razor.” 

“Well, I’m sorry mister Pearson, we can’t get you a razor.” 

Marlon shook his head and peered at his slippers. “I need to shave.” He said, his voice timid, hiding in his throat like a scared child.

“The barber is here on Tuesdays mister Pearson. Just like every other week.” 

Marlon looked up to the nurse. “What do you mean every other week?” 

The nurse sighed. “Come on mister Pearson, let’s go back to your room okay?” 

“I want to go home.” 

“I’m sorry Mister Pearson, you can’t go home.” 

“Because it burnt down.” 

The nurse stopped. “Yes.” She said, with a stunned glance into Marlon’s eyes. “Yes it burnt down. Very good; can you tell me anything else?” She asked, waving over the other nurse who had been sitting in the floor’s office.

“Isaac.” 

The nurse’s eyes widened once again. “Yes. Isaac.” She smiled. Mister Pearson, what happened to Isaac?” 

“It was just yesterday. I saw him just yesterday.” 

The nurse sighed sorrowfully. “No Mister Pearson. Your son passed away nine years ago in a fire. Come on, let’s get you some rest.” 

Shuffling in his Sylvester the cat fluffy slippers, Marlon Pearson was gently escorted into his room.

The End

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