Short Story: The Bed

25 Aug

There is nothing particularly interesting about the bed in question. It is, by all accounts, an ordinary bed. It is made of wood, and has been crafted (or rather, it has been assembled) such that there are four legs, each extending vertically upward from the ground and supporting the main body. It is a double bed and is usually left unmade when unoccupied. At this moment in time, the bed is currently occupied, and whereas the titular bed in this story is merely a setting or a prop, its occupant is of great concern.

He is a peculiar character. He does not look odd, he is clean-shaven, neat and no more (or less) than moderately attractive. He was peculiar though. There was something about him, an aura that just reeked of oddity. He didn’t speak much, yet when he did he spoke purposefully and accurately relayed each word as if speaking to someone learning his language. The way he moved was awkward, with forced steps and sharp movements. It was almost as if he had learnt to move from a textbook and had not quite understood the theory. This detail is somewhat irrelevant to the story as our subject is going to spend the majority of his time lying down. The strangest thing, however, about this man is the way in which he thinks. He does not think like you or I. At least, he doesn’t appear to. He is too logical, too cold.

As the nature of the occupant of the bed has been discussed, so too should it be revealed that the bed is, in fact, the occupant of a room, and this room is in turn the occupant of a house. The house itself is situated on a delightfully normal street in the heart of the city, stretching from the main road and sloping slightly downwards until it reaches a black, metal fence. The house has another on either side of it, these in turn are attached to other houses and facing it is an almost mirror image. They are old, terraced houses with red bricks and missing roof tiles.

The room in which the bed is situated is on the middle floor (out of three) of the house. It has two windows that overlook the street that the house is situated on and a door facing away from the street into the hallway. The walls are painted white and are in need of a re-painting. Cracks have begun to appear. It isn’t a large room but the illusion of space is given by its bareness. It contains the bed, its lone occupant and a small nightstand with a lamp placed on top.

The nightstand is hardly worthwhile describing. It is old, with a single drawer and covered in a cheap, brown varnish. The lamp is only slightly more interesting. It is turned on by pulling a chain, rather than flicking a switch.

The occupant; this strange man is currently lying in his bed, on his right side. His head is resting on an old, stained pillow and he is wearing loosely fitted pyjamas. These are also stained, although there is a very definite reason for this. The occupant has soiled himself, twice. And once again, there is a very good reason for this. The man is lazy. So lazy, in fact, that as of now he has not left this bed in two days and around fourteen hours.

He is asleep. Very shortly, he will wake up and contemplate turning on the lamp at the side of the bed. He will decide not to. The occupant hasn’t always been like this. Up until two days and around fourteen hours ago, the longest he had ever spent in bed was eight hours, except for on one occasion; when he had overslept by exactly one hour.

The day on which the man had climbed into bed for the last time until now had begun exactly like any other. It also ended like any other. It was a completely ordinary day and this was exactly the problem.

The alarm clock on the bedside table began ringing. It then stopped. It was ringing for a total of two seconds before Harold purposefully pressed down on the button with his index finger. He pulled back his blanket, raised himself to an upright position, then turned and got out of bed. He quickly made the bed and exited the room. His morning routine had begun and then proceeded with a shower lasting seven minutes; two minutes were allowed for brushing his teeth and a further 10 minutes for putting on his grey trousers, white shirt and one of an assortment of sweater-vests ranging from black, through grey to navy, which was what he wore on a Friday. It was Tuesday. He chose a grey sweater-vest for the day, picked up his tattered briefcase and then promptly left his house.

Harold Sharp worked in an old building that was exactly a nine minute walk from his house, this allowed him two minutes to pick up an apple, a banana and the morning paper from the shop which was along the route he took to work each morning. Harold typed. He was given documents, letters, articles and sometimes even shopping lists at exactly thirty minutes past eight and he spent his day carefully typing each out on the same type-writer that had been placed on the desk in his cubicle for the past eight years. In the eight years he had worked in this building he had never thought to ask why he was doing this or for whom he was typing. He simply typed, all day, with one half-hour break at lunch time when he would slowly enjoy a cup of tea and the newspaper he had picked up that morning.

Harold left the building at exactly five o’ clock in the afternoon, as always, returned home and after undressing and hanging his clothes in the wardrobe, put his pyjamas on and climbed into bed. He then turned to the clock sitting on the bedside table, picked it up, removed its battery and placed it under the bed.

Looking up at the dimly lit ceiling and slowly closing his eyes, Harold realised something and smiled. He had forgotten to turn off his bedside lamp. He quickly did so, and once more began to close his eyes. The same smile was still painted across his face.

Harold had no idea why he did this. In fact, he didn’t even ask himself why he was doing it. He just felt compelled to climb into the bed with the intention of never rising from it again.

A dream lasting days sweeps through his mind in a matter of hours, he awakens, briefly, for a short glimpse of reality before he once again returns to slumber. He dreams again, this dream is longer, darker, more surreal. There are shadows and moving images. Encounters. He begins to grow afraid of them. He wakes once more, peering into the depths of the dark room. The shutters are pulled, is it day or night? He no longer cares. A dream, the shapes are bearing down upon him, the shadows are darker. There is a… presence.

In the hours that he is awake, Harold wonders how long he has been in this bed. His fortress, his life and his tomb. It could be days, months, even years. He knows that he is hungry and that he is stained, yet this still does not deter him from his quest for permanent bliss. Although he has become fearful of his dreams, it has become more apparent to him that this may be in fact his reality. His grasp of the difference between conscious and unconscious thought has become loose. His dreams and reality are becoming indistinguishable, but only to him, and only because he is beginning to forget the sensation of being alive.

And then he forgot it altogether.

Gavin (Originally written in 2011)

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