Friday, August 5

Chapter 23

In Which We Encounter a Man Alone In the Dark,
and We Leave Him There

His eyes, though now fully dilated from lack of light, saw nothing. He had stopped stumbling about hoping to find out where he was, and now simply stood still moving his arms about him feeling through the empty spaces, yet finding nothing.

His mind raced once again as far back as he could remember trying to account for his being in this dense blackness about him, but remembered nothing. Possibly the panic of the immediate surroundings and the feeling of utter nothingness he was experiencing clouded his mind, but nothing in him could fathom how he had come here... wherever here was, or how long he had been in this pitch-like air... he could almost feel it.

Earlier he had thought of finding a wall from which he might attain, by feeling, a door, and had begun walking under this proposition. He had walked in what he assumed was a straight line, though his perceptions may have been mistaken – the majority of his life lived through sight. He first came across a puddle of something on the floor which, upon examination, turned out to be pure water. From there he walked again until he came to yet another puddle... or was it the same one? There were no distinguishing features he could find in this sightless environment, and his ears detected nothing. How, he wondered, could he find out if it was the same puddle? Then it struck him: he would leave his shoe next to the puddle, and head in the same direction as before. He began walking, and soon felt water soaking into his sock. He got onto his hands and knees, and began searching. His shoe was right next to the puddle... or was it his shoe? He hadn’t remembered the exact position he had set the shoe down in when he left it, and when he picked this one up, had not marked how it was laying. It felt like his shoe. He remembered his shoe was gray... but what color was this one? He sat down and tried on the shoe. It fit. Surely it was his shoe... but what if it was red?

What if this shoe was left by a previous traveler? While he hadn’t heard any sounds but his own footfalls, that didn’t mean there wasn’t someone else out there. What if there was someone just ahead of him who was trying the same experiment? He decided to call and see if he could get a response, but just as he inhaled for a shout, a loud machine started up, and drown out all sounds, even his loudest yelling. He decided to wait until the sound died down to try again. But what of the shoe?

He took off the shoe again and lifted it as close to his eye as he could without touching it to his cornea, but could not see anything at all. He sniffed the shoe. It smelled bad. Didn’t all shoes smell that bad? Maybe the other person was out there right now shouting under this deafening roar; standing at the next puddle with someone else’s shoe in their hand and a wet sock. He felt the shoe, but, having never compared it to anything, he was a bit lost as to what to make of this shoe. He tried tasting the shoe, yet without previous knowledge of how his shoe usually smelled or tasted... then he remembered his other shoe.

He took off that shoe as well, and began tracing the sides, tread pattern, and material to compare it in this darkness, and realized that the two were similar, if not, in fact, of the same pair. He smelled the shoes, and they smelled about the same, but, without knowing if the left and right foot actually smelled differently, could not compare it well enough to satisfy himself. As to the taste, they both tasted of rubber, leather, dirt, and oil. He spat out the taste on the floor, then stooped and drank of the water in the puddle. But were they the same color?

The sound continued to deafen him of anything. He sat back down and decided to try one more experiment: he would leave the other shoe – the right one – and trek the way he had come until he came to his shoe again. He started walking, after setting down the shoe at a ninety-degree angle to the pond, and soon came to another pond – or the same one – where, upon searching, found a shoe. It was for the right foot, and was set at a ninety-degree angle just as he had left it... but... what if someone else had done the same thing while he was gone? What if there was someone behind him trying the exact same experiment as himself at approximately the same time, and, as reference, had left the right shoe at a ninety-degree angle to the pond as well... why had he chosen the ninety-degree angle in the first place? Because it was an obvious distinction from any other angle. But what color was this shoe?


Post a Comment

<< Home