Mariano opened his eyes and checked the clock on the bedside table; it was 8 in the morning. He hadn't slept all night.
And it had been three nights.
He peeled himself off the bed, leaving a damp stain on the mattress; his skin felt sticky with sweat. He sat with his face hanging low, massaging his temples; he had a headache. That was fine, the pain kept his presence at bay. Accompanied by the creaking of all his bones, he stood up. With unsteady steps, he made his way to the bathroom. On the way, he knocked over a glass and spilled its contents; the clear liquid spread across the floor. Mariano didn't notice. There was an empty bottle next to one of the bedposts; the label read 'Vodka.' The room reeked of alcohol. He didn't notice that either, or maybe he didn't care.
Nothing mattered to him.
On his second try, he managed to turn on the bathroom light. The light burned his eyes, and he blinked until he could keep them open. Small reddish spots floated in his field of vision like psychedelic fireflies and then disappeared. The bathroom was in disarray. Tiny plastic bottles turned the floor into a minefield; 'PRESCRIPTION ONLY' read the labels. Mariano paid them no attention; nor the shower, he hadn't showered in five days. If someone were to smell him, they'd feel nauseous. He leaned on the sink. Rust had corroded the faucets, and the tap was dripping. He bent closer to the mirror. His hair clung to his forehead, more than ever in need of a trip to the hairdresser; the blue dye had faded, and his natural black roots were showing. He looked as pale as a corpse. The wrinkles that lined his face belonged to an elderly person; he was twenty-five years old. His skin clung to his bones, and his eyes seemed lost in their sockets. If he auditioned for a zombie movie, he'd undoubtedly get a role; considering the time, 'Dawn of the Dead' would be the most fitting. He got a little closer to his own reflection; his breath fogged the mirror. He brought a hand to his face. The glass reflected five nicotine-stained fingers. Using two of them like tweezers, he opened his eyelids. Had the color faded from his irises? The week before they were blue, now they were gray. It didn't surprise him; the color of his eyes represented his life perfectly at that moment.
Nothing seemed strange anymore.
Shuddering, he took a step back; he had felt a whisper from the depths of his mind.
He covered his ears with his hands and clenched his teeth tightly. The muscles of his jaw tensed like guitar strings. He felt it again. In a fit of desperation, Mariano banged his head against the mirror.
Once, twice, three times.
The glass cracked, distorting his image. A thin stream of blood trickled from his forehead and down his face. Immediately, he felt relief; the whisper had disappeared. But it would return soon. Mariano knew there was no turning back. He had to do something.
And he would, he was determined to.
He left the bathroom without even cleaning up. He walked out of the room and headed to the kitchen; on his way, he left a trail of bloody crumbs.
Again, he had to adjust to the light; once more, reddish spots floated before his eyes and disappeared. He felt like a nocturnal animal. The thought alone sent a shiver down his spine. The sink was piled high with dirty dishes, and the garbage can overflowed with waste, while fat, greenish flies buzzed around, having a feast. He opened the refrigerator; no food in sight. His stomach growled in protest. Mariano welcomed any pain, but hunger was not enough. He noticed a pack of Quilmes beers with the caption 'THE TASTE OF GET-TOGETHERS.' He reached for it but stopped. The situation called for something stronger and faster-acting; Mariano wanted to avoid a reunion. Instead, he grabbed a bottle of vodka. Without a second thought, he brought it to his mouth and took a swig. As his Adam's apple bobbed up and down, the liquid level slowly receded until the bottle was nothing but an empty shell. Mariano burped and threw the bottle on the floor; it bounced three times before shattering. The alcohol scorched his throat, and his insides burned like a fuel-fed bonfire. He closed his eyes and waited for the side effect.
There was none.
He leaned against the wall and waited. He lowered his gaze; at his feet was a litter box. The stones were pristine, with no trace of excrement. His cat, LEÓN, was no longer in this world. The animal had been the first to sense the danger.
If only he had seen the signs...
Merci pour la lecture!
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