The Beast of Burden

It was there. Within him, and yet, so far out of reach he almost didn’t want to strive for it. Afraid of starting down a path that might lead to a dead end, with so many different directions that he could head for he didn’t know where to begin. The destination was still a mystery. All he knew was that he had to start. He slowly left the morbidity and confusion of his pre-programmed existence and took the first hesitant steps on a journey that would change his life.

From that moment onwards his life would not be the same. The dawning of a dream only glimpsed in the waking moments that flicker between sleep and consciousness. He woke at 6.45am like any other day. Unlike any other day he did not hit the snooze button and attempt to delay the agony of life by another five minutes. This morning he awoke with a burning desire that would no longer be quelled by the shackles of the mundane.

He had to start and he did so immediately. The morning was consumed by the job in hand and only his hunger could turn his mind and body from the task. He paused to eat briefly before returning to his work. Daylight faded into dusk and dusk melted into night before the tiredness and aching limbs overtook his body’s ability to stay awake. He slept where he sat. Not a deep sleep but a feverish and troubled sleep. Disturbed by an idea that had been given birth during the day but was now growing in his subconscious like a rising tide, it threatened to consume him.

As he slept in his chair he was gasping for breath as the horror of drowning in his own thoughts seemed real. Such substance and presence did his own imaginings have that they flowed inside and outside of him like air. Only his thoughts had a texture more like water and he was panicking madly as he drowned. As he sank deeper from consciousness his body stopped struggling and accepted that it would die. A strange quietness and calm came over his mind and through the fear he thought, ‘is this what it is like to die’? His eyes shot open. He sat bolt upright in his chair taking in a huge rasping breath. It wasn’t relief he felt at realising he was still alive. It was fear. The dream had come with the realisation that he could never be free.

He began again in earnest. He now knew the only way to dispel the fear was to work. As he worked long into the second day of his epiphany his fingers began to act independently from his mind and his mind became capable of holding two separate strands of thought. Both strands were independent from each other yet both were aligned to the common goal. In his new detached state that verged on meditation he continued to work furiously whilst at the same time his mind was able to reminisce about how he had hidden from what was within.

Pursuit of education, not excellence, but enough to make himself feel proud and his family happy. He already had decided that there was not much more value in education than just getting the basics down in order to interact with others. Pursuit of love and gratification of sexual wants all wrapped up with a healthy dislike to loneliness. Acquisition of possessions and wealth not vast, ugly quantities of either, but enough to be susceptible to the ‘wants’, (rather than the basic ‘needs’ of life), of material possessions. The only thing he had been doing for the last 29 years was filling his life and existence with emptiness. All the above were now deemed immaterial in his refocused and rewired state.

He doubled over with cramps. The pain of hunger was forcing him away again. Two days absent from his job and he had yet to phone in to offer an explanation. Only he knew he wouldn’t phone. The phone had rung but he was yet to give this thought consciousness. He slowly processed this information with the part of his mind that was not solely dedicated to the completion of his task. Whilst making his only meal of the day his more active side of his mind continued to compute and calculate his next set of moves. He had forgotten about the meal he was cooking till the hunger struck again. He returned to the kitchen to find his meal burnt. He ate whilst he worked and remembered a time when it had threatened to derail his futile existence the first time.

He was only young. The buzz in his head was real and yet it was not welcome. It frightened and tantalised him at the same time. What could be done with this vibration that was going off loudly in his head? All his senses were heightened, he felt alive with electricity. He gave way to his minds desires and exercised his mental capacity like never before. The demon inside him was soothed and for a number of years they coexisted. Not peacefully but with an understanding and acceptance. One could not survive without the other. The thrill and excitement could not be experienced without the melancholy of the withdrawals. After the euphoric state of soothing the beast the lows were dark and dangerous places to experience in one so young and impressionable.

After the two had lived together for a number of years he had slowly and quietly crept away from his companion and moved along a different path. He had to do it. The two together were unstable. He had to enter into the realms of the ordinary, in the dull light of nothingness that people move through for virtually all of their lives. He hadn’t known it then, but he was beginning to understand that he hadn’t really existed all the years he had hidden from what was within himself. And now his tormentor had returned.

Its appetite for consuming him was something to behold. Mentally he was being devoured from the inside out as his brain worked in over drive to satisfy the needs of his tormentor. Outwardly he was gaunt, distant and vacant. His eyes no longer acted as a window to his sole but as sign of the absence of one. And still he laboured on with his task.

After three days and nights the beasts belly was full. But for how long he could rest he did not know. For the beast was back in his life again and he knew that this time, it would never leave. Unless he was to make the ultimate sacrifice and give himself fully to the capturing of his dream he would never be free.   

The End

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