Guillaume had escaped through the bedroom window. He had jumped into a patch of soft soil which his father used for throwing food waste in, and tucked himself under the wooden fence that couldn’t keep a large dog from getting out if it decided to crawl, instead of dig. He could feel the imprint of the wooden planks on his back still, as they had left two red scratch lines down his back through his coat. He reached up under his coat and shirt and gave the marks a pleasant rub while he continued to make the distance between him and his home as large as possible.
He came to a steel fence that he has squashed himself through several times in the past. Where the steel fence broke into a doorway which was chained together to keep people out, he pushed one, while pulling the other, creating a diagonal gap which he easily moved through because of his small size which even for his age of six was still small enough to have him considered a tiny boy. The cracking of already broken glass under his boots pleased him, and made him feel less angry. He had made this journey, as he always did, because he was like most young boys, unhappy at home. Although young Guillaume may have had more reason than most children to be unhappy at home. But he wasn’t thinking about that, he was thinking about his adventure that he was currently on. Wasn’t the point of adventure that you got so involved and absorbed in it that only in hindsight did you think to yourself ‘that was fun’? During the moment of the adventure you are anything but turned off, but more like an empty vessel waiting to be filled with the joy of every physical phenomena that comes your way as an experience to cherish in the present.
He pulled the hood on his coat up over his short hair and climbed up a metal ladder, reaching the fire escape door as his boots clanked against the metal grating with a pleasing set of clangs. The fire escape had been jimmied open previously, not by Guillaume, he found it this way, and he had placed a brick stopping it from closing on itself as it would have if it was not blocked. Because it had already been jimmied, if the brick wasn’t there it would close itself, slamming itself against the frame, and keep re-closing itself, creating noise. The first time he found the door it was doing exactly that. He was playing underneath the fire escape and kept hearing an annoying slam. However, that was then, and this is now. He slipped himself through the door without touching the brick or the door, except for his coat which scratched across the metal surface of the door, making a scraping noise. As he stood in the dark and dank hallway he waited for his eyes to adjust to the lack of sunlight.
He placed his hands on the wall, feeling the bobbled surface of bloated paint which has been slowly coming away from the brickwork. As he steps forward he places each of his feet carefully so he doesn’t trip over any debris. His eyes adjust to the small amount of light which is being allowed in by the fire escape, and it is enough to just about see where he is going. It is a long and empty hallway, he moves all the way down it which leads to a sharp left turn, as he takes the turn he can hear the sound of crowds getting louder, there is a door at the end of this hallway and a door on the side which is to an abandoned dump area where they used to dump all of their waste and rubbish before they moved it to an underground area which was safer and easier for the garbage men to get to. He had been in it before and there was nothing really left in there but wet cardboard and a few industrial bins, the steel type which could contain several fully grown human corpses and still have room for a few spare and soiled carpet rolls. He hadn’t went back into that room since the first time he did. The wet dripping of the cardboard, and the scratching noises which came from the dark and dank corners made him uncomfortable. That time he had made a mistake and closed the door behind him and the door handle wouldn’t turn properly. He had only got out because a wind passed through the hallway and knocked the door open by luck. Since then he was too anxious to go back inside that room. He moved over to the doorway at the end of the hallway and the light from under the door got more intense as he approached it. He changed his posture to one of a stalking cat as he pushed the door to open it slowly, just to peek out. It led to a dark stairwell that led into the main atrium of the shopping mall. From it the busyness of the crowd was echoing up and down the stairwell like the sound was trapped in a pint glass.
He closed the door on himself and sealed it shut, blocking out most of the light and leaving only the bottom light coming through. As he did he heard a slam and assumed it was him. He tutted at himself, he was annoyed that he had made such a loud noise after being so careful to act like a silent cat stalking its prey or exploring an unknown territory. The noise came again, it couldn’t have been him. He stood still with his hand still on the doorknob, he could feel the sweat wetting the handle. If he had tried to reopen the door his palm would have slid off the handle, his hands were trembling covered in sweat. He stood still like a baby who had heard a loud bang just before they begin crying. ‘Had I been found out? Am I in trouble?’ He thought to himself. ‘Shit!’ He uttered the naughty word as his father did when he dropped something. He uttered it so quietly that he assumed no one would have heard, even if they had heard the door and the other bang which wasn’t of his doing.
He turned around from the door, expecting the ghost of his dead mother from his nightmares to be trying to strangle him again, or a real police man ready to send him to prison for life for his crimes of breaking and entering on a regular basis. But there was nothing there, but a faint banging noise, like the clinking of the back of the nasal passage when you sleep on your back and your tongue gets trapped, and rhythmically clicks to say I’m still alive. Click, click, click it went, each click penetrating his consciousness to such a degree that his eyes felt like they were bleeding out what he was seeing. His eyes popping out and bleeding forth the lack of light which invaded his vision. He placed his right foot forward silently, and began stalking like the cat he needed to be in order to avoid detection from whatever this noise was coming from. ‘Please, let it just be a hungry rat, or a dripping drop of water off of a cardboard box’, he thought to himself while his lips dried and his teeth started to stick to his inner cheeks with nervous anticipation. Click, click, click it carried on, as he approached the garbage room it was clear that the clicking was coming from that room. He leaned his head forward putting his neck out like a man ready to be guillotined, just to hear more than he could with his head in its normal position. What he heard was a murmur, but was it a voice? No, but a guttural noise which could only be compressed oxygen being forced through the vocal cords of some creature.
What did it say? It was unclear, and sounded like a low groan. Like a small mammal in pain, or the kind of noise Guillaume made after hours of crying, when all he could do was breath heavily and a soft, but distressing bass voice came over him sounding like a moping beast of distress and pain. He got closer to the door and leaned his face against the door, for some odd reason he felt brave enough to act in a bold way all of a sudden. He was right in thinking it was a living thing which was making these noises, it was a low groaning noise. Guillaume without thinking, and being a sensitive child uttered the words ‘are you okay?’, and then slapped his hands over his mouth to shut himself up. All of a sudden a banging came at the door, it banged and rattled which made him glad he had taken his face off of it to listen. He could hear word like sounds, but he couldn’t understand them. Someone was speaking with a voice that sounded like it had never drank water before, all of the moisture was gone, only a hoarse syllable count groan was being heard by his ears. He felt the panic of whatever was behind the door and remembered the hours he had spent banging the door himself when he had got trapped. ‘Oh my god, this thing is trapped and may have been here for weeks!’ He hadn’t came to this area for a month and what if this thing had been here the entire time, trapped, starving, and dying!
He pushed his worry of being found out aside, and steeled himself to get the door open and help whoever or whatever was behind the door. He began to push against it, whatever was on the other side stopped banging: it understood what was happening. It was being saved, and it patiently waited for that salvation to come crashing through that door. He pushed and pushed, the door only groaned under his weight and moved forward a half inch, but wouldn’t give anymore. With each half inch it gave, when he stopped pushing the door gave back its half inch of progress. Guillaume spoke out loud in a clear and confident voice: ‘I am going to shoulder barge the door, get away from it so I can get it open without hurting you!’ There was no reply, only silence and the mild noise of the crowd still seeping into the hallway from a great distance, barely audible except for the intense pressure of the moment which seems to have made Guillaume more aware of everything.
He turned around, placed his back against the wall opposite the door, prepared himself and ran into the door with his shoulder. His shoulder clashed and the metal on bone made a terrible noise, this noise made him think about the sound of chickens having their necks snapped. It had pushed the door slightly out of its frame and would probably only take one more in order to bust it open. He ignored the shoulder pain and prepared himself for another go. He took a deep breath while his hands leaned behind him against the wall, he ran and smacked the door so hard that he felt faint and dizzy. As he staggered from the impact he realised he had fell forward through the door and was on his knees looking at the floor. As he came to he pulled himself up to his knees so he was no longer facing the floor, but able to look up. What he could see filled him full of dread. Had he concussed himself? He blinked, his eyes feeling even more like they were bleeding than before. They were bloodshot at the sight of himself. He could see himself like a mirror image looking at him. Granted the him that he could see looked weaker and more tired, but it was him never the less. He looked, without being able to speak to himself, but there was no need as himself did the speaking for him, it didn’t say anything which could be understood. The voice sounded blown out, like it had screamed for an hour straight. Sounding like the stereotype of a demon which can not speak, but only mimic human voice by possessing the vocal cords and letting out only demonic growls and howls. This him made aggressive groans and moans.
Guillaume began to panic as he regained some of his consciousness, but was still dazed by the door’s impact on him. Maybe he had broken his shoulder, he didn’t know, nor could he feel much in his current state except fear, and the urge to escape and run away until he couldn’t run anymore. This him he was staring at had blood all over his hands and no fingernails, just like his dead mother did in his nightmares where she strangled him to death with wet finger tips that trickled blood down his neck as he died and woke up. ‘Is this the same thing’, he thought to himself, ‘am I going to be killed by myself now instead of my mother?’ As he had this thought he shook himself up, holding his shoulder as he raised himself. His eyes must have told the story of fear he was feeling because the other him was looking at him, and made an expression which Guillaume couldn’t understand. Was it fear? Concern? Hatred? He didn’t know, but they were fixed on each others eyes, staring at each other.
His reflection leaned forward with a desire and urgency in his eyes and limbs. He raised his arms up with his bloody nail-less fingers reached out to reach him, like a zombie or a nightmare asking for a hug. This face of his was lunging forward with a speed and violence which surprised him, he was grabbing Guillaume violently, not hitting him, but hurting him with his grip and swiftness. He resisted and was able to throw him off, and as his reflection lay on the floor looking up at him and he stood over him, his reflection looked passed him, he was looking at the door. It had been bust open but was closing itself from its own weight pushing it forward, and was now pushing itself back. They both looked at it, and as Guillaume went to turn and leave the room, the reflection leapt on him. They squirmed together like two worms having a wrestling match. Guillaume was trying to leave, while his reflection was trying to make him stay. He managed to overpower his reflection once again and got on top of him. He could either get up and risk not getting to the door by being pounced on again, and then he would trapped in here with his nightmare self, or he could prevent the pounce right now. He began punishing his own face on someone else’s body with a rain of punches, he could see swelling and purple bruises almost straight after each impact, the reflection tried grabbing but could only claw at his coat which was slippery, and even more so when the fingers that grabbed had blood all over the tips. Guillaume reeled back on purpose to give him some time to deliver a stronger punch. He leaned back and then pivoted forward punched his reflection in the jaw. With a loud cracking crunch it was clear that he had broke it and shattered the bone. As the reflection grabbed at his own face in pain, Guillaume was able to get off and kick the reflection while he was down. He made the space between them and ran out of the door. Pulling it with all his might.
The reflection seeing this pounced at the door, but actually helped it close by slamming into it. It clawed and choked at the door, making a dreadful noise of scrapping bone and wet fingertip scratches against it while making guttural suffering barks. Guillaume ran to the nearest light source and found himself on the stairwell. His coat had blood all over it so he threw it off as he climbed the stairwell. He wanted to be safe and around people, so he left at the nearest door he could open and got himself into the supermarket. The crowd of people absorbed him and he walked aimlessly trying to calm down while being part of the crowd.