A Dead Man’s Tale

The day Emeka realized he was dead started like half of his mornings, at least the first few moments bore similarities. His head felt like fractured glass caving under the pressure of a rock, barely holding together. On his tongue, a taste he hadn’t yet recognized traced its way along the sides. His sheets were drenched in sweat from the sleep he had jumped up from.

The nightmares, they came more frequently nowadays. Every day, he would wake up drenched in sweat, fighting images of silent faces warped into perpetual unheard screams. The night he just survived held more vivid portrayals of his demons, they seemed to beckon to his soul and worse, he felt a belonging amongst the soundless screaming faces.

Emeka glanced at the pinpricks on the inside of his elbows. He sighed. Dele had convinced him that the shit he injected into his bloodstream every other night would drive the nightmares away, now he could feel himself teetering on the edge of addiction and his nights still haunted him. He sighed again.

He dragged himself off the mattress on the floor and trudged into the bathroom, only partially in control of his body. He had done this dance one too many times. As he got to the sink, like clockwork, his throat offered up a sacrifice of bloody phlegm to the sink. He turned on the tap and took in a mouthful of water, gurgled and spat out water every bit as red as the phlegm it followed. He sighed.

He was dying. Unfortunately.

But only unfortunate to him. He could think of no one that would have any reaction, negative or otherwise, to his demise. His own personal slice of The Great Universal Misfortune.

His hands cupped water from the flow and splashed it on his face. He barely felt it. He looked up and saw his reflection. He wanted to say that he didn’t recognize the image he saw, but he did. His decay had been painfully gradual and he had watched it every step of the way.

“You are dying.” His mouth said to his reflection. His brain agreed.

He sighed.

Again, he trudged from the bathroom into the nominal sitting room and made a beeline for his spot on the couch where a remote control and another wasted day waited for him.

The TV flickered on. His mind barely acknowledged what his eyes were being fed. His mind barely acknowledged anything these days. That would explain his lack of surprise when he realized someone sat on the other edge of the couch.

“Fam,” Emeka said in greeting to Dele.

Then he remembered that Dele had gone out the night before.

Then he realized the body wasn’t moving, not even a rise and fall of the chest.

Then he recognized the face. Its face was etched in a soundless scream. A voice at the back of Emeka’s head beckoned to him. He recognized the voice.

It was at this point during the ill-fated day that Emeka realized that he was already dead.

“Fuck.” He muttered. Less an exclamation than a statement of being.

He heard the door to the apartment as it opened. Dele was back.

And for the umpteenth time that morning, Emeka sighed.

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