A paunchy balding man tosses restlessly in his hotel room. A rumpled suit is scattered across the floor. An open briefcase haphazardly stuffed with papers rests upon a chair and a nearly empty bottle of scotch stands with a shot glass on its side nestled at the bottle’s base upon a dresser.
“Sssenator! Senator Aaaddamms!”, a mocking whisper slides into his already agitated slumber. He is slick with sweat, and pale in the light of a bedside lamp. He moans in fear, while within his dreams he begins to run. Laughter rings out of the swirling darkness around him and he finds himself running through a series of sceneries that change rapidly and without warning. First along a narrow alleyway crowded with ripe garbage which squeezes down into a tight space between decrepit buildings. He thrusts himself desperately through the too-small space only to find himself stranded upon a rubble strewn muddy path. The faint course unravels before him over a seemingly limitless vista of smoking ravaged hills and an unnaturally vivid sky of seething violet and remorseless black. No where to hide, he runs faster.
A scornful laugh rings out across the hills, “Where do you think you are going, little man?”
“I won’t!” He shouts in desperate defiance as he stumbles to a halt, gasping for air. The dark mists that swirl about him thicken for a moment and the voice seems to come from all directions. ” I told HIM… I won’t! I’m done I tell you, no more!”
“Won’t what, hmmm?” The dangerously velvet voice continues when the senator makes no answer, “Oh do tell! It might make this all a bit more interesting…..No? Well then let me guess…You didn’t seem worried about the faulty sprinkler systems your cousin installed, or the money you refused to spend on local shelters and daycare after your cutbacks forced so many out of their jobs, nor did you deem it worth your while to push for those health care reforms you had promised.
So those can’t be what you refer to…Hmmm, much better for your image to name that building after the local hero, or be seen at the opening of the new stadium, yes? Far more enjoyable not to dwell on such distressingly mundane trivia when you have parties to attend and money lining your pockets, isn’t it?”
The frantic senator is stumbling through the rubble now, and all but flinging himself down the hills to escape the relentless words that nip constantly at his heels and conscience.
“You won’t clean up the waste from those factories you approved two years ago, that’s certain. A pity that so many fell ill from that too, don’t you think?” Shapes begin to take form as the mist thins, “I believe they want to talk to you about that, Senator. Of course, they may have to stand in line…there seem to be quite a few people who want some answers from you!"
A pale hollow-eyed child covered with sores steps suddenly from the mist, mute with agony and accusation clear within her steady gaze. Addams turns slowly upon the low hilltop, his heartbeat beginning to slam as he realizes that countless other shapes await him in the roiling vapors.
The voices of these tormented souls start as murmured condemnations but rise quickly to an angry tide. With a shudder the senator turns, racing down the hill only to find himself running into the heart of a swamp. The howling of his macabre pursuers gains as his progress slows and the ruthless laughter of his invisible tormentor rings loudest in his ears when he finds he cannot free himself from the thickening grip of the sludge rising around his legs.
“Looks to me like you won’t be telling my employer “No” again either, in fact… I can assure you on that point!”
Terror shines from his eyes as he struggles to face them and the heavy pounding of his heart seems to stretch his very skin. Ragged, breathless, overwhelmed his pleas turn into a gibbering wail as they slowly drag him under the black surface.
“No… You won’t be making that mistake again!” Immaculate, Jerrin stands chuckling grimly upon the deserted road and clears the mists away with a careless gesture. Always best to be sure the job was done before moving off on the usual rounds, he thinks.
A strange vortex remains where the man’s worst fears and actions had inevitably dragged him down. There, Jerrin can clearly see the empty body of the senator in his distant hotel room. His face, an alarming shade of plum, is twisted with unspeakable torment; bloody nail imprints trickle their last protest from now slack hands onto the sheets torn by his useless struggles, and the scattered broken contents of the nightstand glimmer innocently against the dark carpeting. The only sound left is Jerrin’s involuntary sigh as he replaces his shades and twirls with an uncanny surreal grace off into the ever-changing stream poured forth from countless sleeping souls.
Somewhere, a wordless scream of terror rips a young boy away from his dreams. Disoriented, heart racing he struggles to untangle himself from his twisted, and now wet, blankets. Lights flicker to life in the house, as his frantic motions knock a small violin its nightly resting-place beside his bed.
“Mommy!”, the walls ring with the urgency of his need for comfort. “Mommymommymommy!”
“Sssh! Sssh! Sssh! I’m here, my Sweetheart!” A woman rushes into the dim room; tired creases of concern line her face as she tries to gather her son into her arms.
“He’s dead! They’re all dead! Why is he laughing, Mommy, oh why?!”
At first the poor child flails against her efforts, then with a gasp he comes fully awake and collapses with exhausted relief into her comforting arms, sobbing as the night once more moves quietly on without him.