A tale of insomnia and madness, depression and supernatural horror. Inspired by the delightful roleplaying game Don't Rest Your Head by Evil Hat, which I highly recommend.
When you're depressed, the world tilts and everything changes. In a way, it's a lot like looking through a glass of water, everything is there but it's distorted, bent out of shape, while other things suddenly come into focus, warped shapes you normally dismissed or never noticed suddenly take on a new and frightening clarity.
When I get depressed, it's like a hole opens up, a black hole that bends the very light around it into a lens that shows only darkness. And like a black hole it wants to suck everything inside into oblivion. I don't know what it's like for other people but when I get depressed I feel that pressure, that endless drag downwards and so to stay afloat, to keep myself from sinking past the event horizon from which there is no return, I treat my life like a hot air balloon, shedding weight to rise ever higher, sacrificing my baggage to the hole so that I can stay alive.
First, you cut off the world. All those acquaintances and randoms you don't really care about. One by one you give them to the hole and silently it accepts them. Next, friends. They try to help but every offer of help is just more weight pulling you down and so you cast them down into the hole as well, but it remains ever hungry and soon you find yourself being dragged down still.
Next, family. I've never been close with my family, never bought into that bull about family being somehow magically special, worth more or being closer than the friends you choose but somehow they come last on the list anyway. Cut the sandbags and watch them fall one by one into the hole, disappearing into the inky black without so much as a sign to indicate they ever existed at all.
Sometimes though, the hole isn't a metaphor, it's real. One day when I couldn't take it any more, I walked, head hanging and eyes heavy with tears that wouldn't come, into my son's bedroom. Six years old and asleep in his bed. I'd like to say his looked like a little angel or something like that, one of those stereo-typical parental platitudes but at that moment, he was just a thing, a weight, a sandbag to cut loose so I could rise that little bit higher.
I took him up in my arms, I put him in a burlap sack and I tied it with cord and then I buried him in a hole. The hole.
When I get depressed, it's like a hole opens up.
He didn't struggle, not once. Maybe he never woke up at all but I find that impossible to believe. Maybe I was right and he was just a thing, not my son at all but just a weight, a fake, something to drag me down.
The hole swallowed him up and I rose that little bit higher. By this point I'd been awake for almost 2 whole months.
What, did I not mention that? When I get depressed, I forget things. It all started when I stopped sleeping, or maybe I stopped sleeping when it all started. Maybe it's all part of the same wheel, turning and turning. I'm not sure I'm making any sense. Sorry, I'm not sleeping very well.
There was a slight rush almost, something cold, like water, like sadness but almost exhilarating too, when I sacrificed him to the hole. I knew it was wrong but there was nothing I could do and when I went to bed, staring hopelessly at the ceiling for the vague chance that tonight might be the night I finally slept again, two month into a fugue I knew I could never escape, something different happened.
There was a noise, like an echo from a deep, deep well and when I turned, letting my head roll against the pillow and look into the darkness of the room, I saw it. I saw the hole. Not the hole in the backyard that had since been filled, not the metaphorical hole, the real hole. It was like a spinning disc of nothingness, so black it stood out from the darkness of the room as if it was a shining sun. It hummed, not audibly but almost visibly, in a low note I could feel inside my head behind my eyes. The sound of the pressure I felt constantly made manifest. I got up, dragging myself into a sitting position on the edge of the bed and peered blearily at it, unsure what to believe. Then the sound, the echo, it bubbled out of the hole like a man drowning in mucus, a thick, syrupy sound that felt alien and unnatural, that didn't belong.
"Help me Dad." It said. "Help me."
The voice was like an anchor around my neck and the extra weight pulled me down. Suddenly I fell from the bed, heavy, pulled towards the hole as if a great rope was dragging me by the neck. This time though, I didn't want to escape, I didn't want to rise. Now, I had nothing left to cast off, but I could do something. As my face pressed against the blackness of the hole and I felt a deep cold push into my mouth and nose and pores, I knew on the other side I'd have a purpose, I'd have a reason to go on living.
I sacrificed myself to the hole.
I had to save my son.