(The next chapter will contain subject that may be triggering for some readers, such as: self-harm)
What… what do I… do now?
Sunali was leaning against the cold hallway, his legs resting on the endless pile of magazines around him. The laughing faces from their covers were smeared with his own blood. They looked deranged, like in the scary movies, where the psychotic murderer was covered in the victim’s blood. In front of Sunali, the bathroom was the only part of his “home” that didn’t look like a murderer went loose in there. His look was fixated on the bathroom tiles in front of him. On one, in particular. This one had a cleaner look than the rest, was on the same level as his eyes, above three more. It had the perfect shape, the perfect color tone, untouched by all the mess around it. He somehow, felt comfort in it. If he could just stare at it long enough, maybe he could squeeze himself somehow, mentally inside it, around it, across it -to get on the other side and return to his apartment. His real home. If he could just focus long enough on it… maybe the blood will go away. Or maybe the walls would fall down, all at once. Revealing that he was in fact, always, just in a safe room, surrounded by an excited, awaiting audience, ready to cheer for him. Yeah, they’d cheer for me… They are there right now, I bet. That thought made him a little more excited; maybe, just maybe, there was a possibility this could still happen. Maybe that’s why nobody answered at the door… Maybe they are waiting for me to find my own way out… Like this trap door, he thought. The camera was recording his moves, making that zooming sound. As for communication, Cratos was dead silent. Sunali called for him, asked for a voice, but nobody replied. He was all alone now. His rocking body relaxed a little bit and he was able to finally catch his breath. I have to find myself another exit… To go back home. His watery eyes were dead focused on that little white tile, thousands of ideas racing his mind.
Sunali pushed the magazines aside and crawled to it. He took a minute to analyze where he should press or push first, because he knew there was something about that specific, clean square. It just had to. Then he saw his filthy hands. That disgusting blood mixed with sweat and dust, was not going to touch his precious white tile. He refused to smudge it, not even a little bit. So he washed his hands and quickly wiped them on the shower curtain. He crawled back to his tile and very careful about how he was going to approach the situation, he waited, puzzled, for the next couple of minutes. When he finally decided it was time, he started to push his body weight into that small tile. Come on, just a little push… Come on! I know there has to be something special with you. The tile remained inert. You have to be the one… A trapped door, I don’t know, something… Just let me out! The tiles, the walls, they didn’t budge an inch. Goddamit! Feeling desperate, Sunali ran to the camera and began to shout at an invisible person. I piss on your rules, Cratos! You hear me? I piss on your money and on all the crazy people watching this sick show! I want out! Open that goddamn door! I’m losing my goddamn mind in here… I keep hearing her voice, then I am back in my apartment, then I am in here again and nobody answers me…
The room was silent.
Sunali begged and begged. What is this, am I fucking kidnapped now? Open the goddamn door, man! I am going to sue you, you fucking idiots! All of you. You let me starve in here, with no water, no food, no nothing… I fucking bet you even poisoned me, that’s why I’m having this fucking trips! And I’m bleeding! You’ll hear it from my lawyer, you hear me? You hear me? Why is nobody answering? Come on, somebody just say something… Anything. His anger turned into grief, almost like a circle of emotions that kept repeating itself. So he started pacing around the room. For a moment, he felt as if the walls were going to close on him, trapping him inside. He furiously pushed the mattress out of his way, flipped over the table, the chairs. God – fucking – dammit! Has the world forgotten about me? He pulled down the fake frame that served for a window. As he looked around, he understood what it all was – he was inside a box. The fucking “Money box”… It looked closer to a cheap rented container, than a high level studio set, as he would expect. As he looked around, Sunali started to chuckle to himself. Oh, my god… The chuckle turned into a laugh. A laugh so honest, you’d think he just remember the best joke he had ever heard. Soon, he was holding his belly, laughing hysterically. I – I just remembered… Hahaha, oh my god…I – I just remembered… That asshole’s name… That asshole‘s name… Hey, guys let me tell you something… He was addressing to the non responding viewers, that he did not know anymore if they really existed. You know, before I got here, before I accepted this deal, to come on the show – that my dear friend, Helen, had pushed me to do – I was supposed to meet a guy. Something with the creative director department or some crap like that. He gave me some papers to sign, you know. He was laughing so hard, he had to lean against the wall. And you know what that fucker’s name was? How didn’t I see it before? His fucking name – is Rachon… What stupid name is that? Sunali was laughing so hard, he couldn’t control his watery eyes. Rachon… It’s an anagram for “Charon”! My god, he is Charon, how the fuck did I miss that? Do you know who Charon is? He is the guy who takes the souls of the dead and crosses them over the river Styx… Can’t tell me that’s a coincidence. I am in hell, my friends. I am in hell… Sunali was slowly shifting from his hysterical mood, to a more jaded spirit. Cratos has the power… Charon is the caretaker of my soul… This place is my sinking ship… And I am –
Sunali’s didn’t startle at the woman voice he kept hearing so often. Was it even outside his own mind? Or was it the same as the lurking shadow? He stopped asking himself that. .
Oh, the missing voice I need in my head right now…
Am I? She whispered.
Yes… Better than nothing, I guess.
That’s not very nice, Mister.
You have found yourself in another pickle, Mister, her voice teased him.
Is that why you are here, Sunali asked gloomy. I have no more power to wrap my head around everything that is happening. And conveniently, you always come to haunt my already fucked up mind… Why won’t you just leave me alone, if you’re not helping me? Sunali scratched his showing ribs and put his head against the wall.
You look like you are left behind, Mister. Nobody comes to your aid anymore.
Sulani was looking straight into the camera. No, he answered. Nobody is coming.
That’s new to you. Nobody to help you out now. No parents or friends, no Helen, no me… You’re all alone.
You are here to torture me, aren’t you?…
Well, somebody’s got to do it, Mister Sunali.
Please, stop calling me that… If you were real, if you were alive and not just another one of my hallucinations, you’d not be this cruel.
But didn’t you always dream of becoming this big shot man? This “Mister Sunali”? I think you did. And haven’t I always been there for you? Well, here I am, once again – by you side. But yes, I am dead, Sunali. I am no longer alive. Do you remember how I ended up dead?
Oh, come on. Well, I remember, Mister. I remember me giving you all of me. Part after part. And there you were, always ready to just take, and take. Don’t hide from it anymore. You’ve seen by now, there is no escaping of these consequences. There was always somebody close, to bail you out, to help you out. And what have you done, in return, Mister? You’ve killed me…
Sunali started to rock his body again. He didn’t want to listen to this. Was this worse than having nobody to answer him back? Christine, shut up! You died in an accident! You can’t blame me, Christine!
You fucking liar! I have given you my life! For what? For a cheating bastard that couldn’t help himself! And put all his problems on everybody’s shoulders. and look at you now… Still begging for help.
He was covering his ears, but it didn’t make any difference. Sunali couldn’t hide from her voice. Just as much as he couldn’t hide anymore, from his past. He let himself fall on the floor, trying to hum his way out of listening to her anymore.
This is not happening, this is not real…
Oh, it’s happening, Mister Sunali. Nobody is answering to you anymore! Not even your Universe! You’re done, now! You’re DONE, Sunali! Can’t you see? This old empty room, with nobody to help you, the old magazines, the blood. How much time do you think it passed?
You were left here. Just you, your mind and all the time in the world. And you can’t even bear that.
I am dead, Christine. I know I am. That’s why I keep seeing you… Why I can’t tell time anymore… That Charon-man…
Are you? Christine’s voice started to chuckle.
Sunali’s eyes stumbled upon one empty bottle on the floor. Shut up, Chistine. I need you to shut up, okay? The voice wasn’t obeying. It only became louder and louder. Hahahahaha… Sunali grabbed the bottle and smashed it. He took the sharp part of the bottle and looked around the room. He knew he was all alone, inside a room that had decayed a lot since the first moment he arrived. How did he missed that? And how could he keep up with all the changes? I must be dead, I must be dead… He couldn’t take it anymore. I am sorry, Christine! I am so sorry… It was me… I am the only one to blame for you death! Please, forgive me, my love… Sunali took the sharp end of the bottle and stabbed himself. His body dropped hard on the floor, surrounded by a red pool of blood. His mind had finally found his peace. And the laughing woman was silent once again.
Helen’s phone was ringing like crazy for the last hour. Sunali’s dad was calling her again; for the third time today. She was looking at the screen, refusing to pick it up. Go away! she screamed. OC got scared of her yelling and exited the room. The live broadcast of “Money Box” was shut down a few hours ago, due to some unknown reasons. They only announced they will return with some more information, soon. The last time Helen has seen Sunali, was when he went to bed, somewhere last night. He wrapped himself with his blanket and then went to sleep. He had a boring, normal day, with his magazines task and his songs, but nothing out of the ordinary. Not paying too much attention, Helen trusted everything was okay. But when she woke up in the morning and checked the streaming, she saw him exactly as she had left him: in the same position, with his blanket. Given his bladder, it was a little unusual for him to not go to the bathroom. It was a little concerning, but not alarming to her. She only got worried when the stream died. Her phone was still ringing. Leave me alone! Immediately, the phone stopped. She was staring at it, prepared to ring again, but nothing happened. She remain frozen in her seat. The only sound was made by her teeth, biting the skin on her finger. I pushed him to do this. If something happened to him, is all my fault, she thought. Her thumb was numb from all the biting. Then, in the silent kitchen, she heard it. Sunali’s voice. “Mmmmm…What have you done/ Mmmmm is the sound of my gun/ Mmmmm honey what have you done/ Mmmmm Janie’s got a gun”…