Flash Fiction Friday: The Ghosts Live in the Walls
by Nimrod Tzarking
The walls are white, immense. A void. Gauzy specs wiggle in the air, wrinkles in the eye revealing flaws in the infinite, giving way to ghosts.
The ghosts live in the electric. The electric lives in the walls. The walls are throbbing with crazed ectoplasm. How much of me lives in there?
It’s a fresh day. The walls are screaming hundreds of names; I do not know which one is mine. Janet, Doris, Evey, they moan. Juanita, Natasha, Lucille. Faces dance in the ectoplasm. There are no mirrors here, but sometimes a face reaches out. Sometimes they cluster.
One is reaching out to me today. It slinks from the wall and into my grasping hands, its surface sticky and its color inconsistent. I hold a right hand to it, and my left to the face I am wearing. I am not a blind person- I cannot feel if they’re actually the same, or if this is just what faces feel like. My reflection is muddy and distorted in its surface. It coos and licks my earlobe. I wrap my arms around it and kiss its sticky face. I do not remember any songs, so I hum a new melody. Light flickers.
Its voice is tiny but unbreakable. It whispers, these faces are not Yours. Perhaps once they were. Now, You grow around their bones.
I look at her fellows in the walls. Each face has a different character. Among them are warriors, mystics, victims and tricksters. Their features are always in motion. Noses pinch and wrinkle. Eyes wander, laze, and squint. Mouths curl, gape, undulate and smack.
Time wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for meals. They come on plastic trays, each morsel segregated in a shallow rectangle pit. I touch foods. I fill my fists with peas, sprinkle them in gravy, and smear my skin with taters. The ghosts sing oooo and aaaah. These boundaries are my play-things. Perhaps I am an artist.
The square white men get frantic when I paint. The void-white walls are stained with streaks of jelly scrawled in shapes unplanned. My arms have an intelligence of their own. Mashed carrots pool in subtle crannies, edges tugged by the weight of having-worked. No mind could guide these subtle forms. Only an artist. Only a room.
They are wordless when they fetch me, draped in ham and tossing crumbs. But I see they carry suds in buckets and wheel a bed with straps.
Leather bites into my arms. Fluorescents whiz overhead. The ghosts sing from their lightbulbs, fear not, for we are here. I smile. A voice grunts with disgust beyond my eyes, whispers a hateful word. Someone’s scrubbing the walls I left behind.
The wheels pause. More leather is crammed in my mouth. Rolling my eyes as far as they’ll go, I see a metal box with blinking lights above my head. A metal band with white muffs wraps around my skull. The machine hums. The dial twists.
A pulse runs through my head, but I feel no fear. The electric is within me now, and I am inside of it. I am in the walls.
Nimrod Tzarking is a middling dungeon master and a bad influence on children. He eats nothing but whey powder, eggs, and coffee. He teaches literacy in Kansas, which means he might not be teaching for long. His fledgling website (nimrodtzarking.wordpress.com) features angsty fan fiction and Bizarro fiction reviews. You should be his friend!
To see your name up in pixels, submit your twisted little stories to to Eric Hendrixson at FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.