A serialised novel
…I’ve got that feeling in my stomach, y’know? The one that tells you you’re starting to panic about something but…just not up front in your head right? No, just in your guts.. someone told me not to try and remember…I guess that’s what I’m doing..Down there. A door. Feet up steps. Getting closer. Shit shitshitshit…”Who is it?” I ask, like some dumb fairy tale shmuck, cursing myself straight after. ..He’s big, a bear of a man but something’s not quite right…He holds his chin down as he speaks like he’s trying to see over something in the way…I take my food and sit against the far wall…Harry sits opposite…”So, what shall we talk about?” He offers.
The wall is hard against my back and I’m busy eating. I didn’t realise how hungry I was. Then my guts go over again and I’m thinking ‘shit, I can’t even remember the last time I ate.’ No kidding. What was it? Nothing…blank…just blank. So, no, Harry, I’m not up for polite conversation right now, y’know? You gotta do a bit of the running here o.k?
So I sit and eat and watch Harry sitting and eating and watching me.
“So…you don’t look so bad to me. ” He finally says.
“How should I look Harry? You tell me.” I sound aggressive. I didn’t mean to, it’s just, well, it’s just I’m getting kinda hacked off with all this from him. There’s something he doesn’t want to tell me and I can’t put my finger on what it is.
“I just meant you look alright… I was worried about you. How you were getting along. That’s why I came over really, to see how you were doing. And to make sure you had something to eat… y’know?” I hesitated before answering. Took another mouthful, chewed and swallowed. Something was bothering my guts again. Something in the way Harry spoke. Like he was avoiding a certain word. I couldn’t figure what it might be or why.
“Thanks Harry. I mean, I’m sorry if I sounded cagey. It’s just, well, this not remembering is getting me down. And…well I thought I was locked in here right?” Harry’s eyebrows raise a little. “I tried to open the door and I couldn’t get out. Honest to god. It was locked. I didn’t see the button. I’d swear it wasn’t there. I was going a bit crazy really – wrote it all down in case someone was listening who could help me.” Eyebrows up and down again. “Yeah, crazy right? Like someone was looking over my shoulder as I wrote it all down. But you’re here now Harry and that’s good…isn’t it? I mean, you’re here to help me, am I right?”
Harry finishes his mouthful and looks down at his feet, stretched out in front of him. His head looks even smaller now that he’s sitting down. I’m wondering if he really is inflatable. “Yeah, yeah…I’m on your side…no problem.” He grimaces. “Ah, the remembering may not be such a big thing. It may come in handy…” Again the rythmn of his words feels altered. What was it? “But yeah, what do you want help with…?”
There’s a sinking feeling in my guts. I just know somehow that this whole thing is heading south to shitsville pretty rapidly. Harry’s talking smoothly but there’s something he’s not telling me. And his lack of concern over the fact that I have less memory than a digital clock right now tells me he’s in on this somehow. Whatever the hell ‘this’ is. And lastly, when Harry tells me he’s happy to help, a worried look passes over his face, like he’s crossing into dangerous territory.
And then my stomach hits double time right? Because how do I know all this stuff? I must have been in this sort of situation before right? Or is it just instinct? And if I have, I survived. But how will I get through this time if no one will tell me who I am or what is going on here! Then I have it.
I sit up straight and push the remains of the food away with my left foot. I fold my arms. “O.k Harry, you can start with just one tiny detail.” Harry looks across at me and nods.
“What’s my name Harry?”
“What’s my name Harry? It’s quite a simple question really, right? I mean, I’m not asking you anything difficult. My name Harry, what is it?” That’s why his speech sounds so odd. Whenever he should have used my name, or could of, he stopped himself. Skipped ahead. Why?
“What, you don’t know your own name?” Harry laughs, awkwardly, like I’m messing with him. But he’s a terrible actor.
“Come on Harry – if that is your real name – I’m asking you a straight question.” I’m trying to sound disinterested and bored but my pulse is starting to race as I sense Harry’s reluctance to part with the magic words. “You’re here to help me? Just tell me my friggin’ name! That’s all I want to know right now.”
Harry raises himself up and stands by the wall for a moment. I can only see the top of his face and head from this angle. Boy, he’s got a small head. He shuffles his feet a little and then bends awkwardly to collect up his food trays and put them on the table. He pulls out the brown paper bag and puts the trays inside it. He’s stalling. He walks over and I hold out my tray. When Harry reaches for it I don’t let go. Instead I look him in the eye.
“My name Harry. What is it?”
He pulls at the tray and I hold on just a little longer until it feels stupid. I let it go and he turns away. “It might be better if you don’t remember everything.” He says. I stand up and walk over to the door, checking to see if the button is still there. It is.
Harry is packing up the things and looking around the room. “It’s time I left I’m afraid. I’ll come and see you again, check everything’s o.k. tomorrow. How’s that, huh?”
“Well that’s fine Harry. I may not be here waiting for you of course but you come by if you feel like it. ” Harry stands looking at me, then does that nod again, like he’s humouring me.
“Sure…sure…whatever you like. I’ll be back to tomorrow and see you how you’re feeling then. ” He looks across at the desk. “Keep on writing – it’ll do you good. And who knows? Someone might be listening after all.” Harry seems to think this is amusing and smiles to himself as he crosses to stand in front of me at the door.
Shit. He’s big. I mean, I know he’s out of kilter with his chest and head and shit but…he’s so much bigger than me. I stand to the side and press the button. There’s a click. Harry reaches out for the door handle and pulls. The door opens. I think about trying to push past him but Harry seems to guess my thoughts and looks down at me, his little eyes twinkling. “I’d stay here if I were you. It’s safe in here.”
He goes out and pulls the door shut behind him. I count to ten, press the button and yank the door but it doesn’t budge. I press the button again and listen. No click. I try again but there’s no sound. I pull at the door but it doesn’t move at all. Outside the door I hear Harry give a little laugh. It’s amused, happy, not a menacing kinda cackle or anything.
“Like I said. It’s safer in there than out here…” He swallows my name. “Just stay inside. See you tomorrow.” I hear Harry’s footsteps fade down the stairs. Suddenly angry at myself for being such a shmuck again I bang at the door with both hands.
“Yeah! Well, you were no help at all Harry! No fuckin’ help at all! I Hope you don’t bother coming tomorrow! Shithead!”
I start over to the window to see if I can spot Harry coming out of the building but as I get nearer I slow down. Wait. Calm down. Much as I hate the thought of it, Harry was right. I’m scared to look out of the window! It’s safer in here. Safer not to know. I’ll wait. I’ll look out the window in a minute. That sinking feeling in my stomach tells me it’s not going to help me, what I see out there. I’ll write this down first. Yeah, then I’ll look. That’s what I was thinking.
I’ll look outside later…
Dear reader – do you have a suggestion for the next chapter? A suggestion for what might be found in the room? Will anyone come to the character’s aid? Perhaps a plot idea? Or maybe you just want to tell me to stop! Whatever, drop me a comment! You may find it used in the next chapter!
‘Til next time,
- The Room (rattledrum.wordpress.com)