Sunday, January 18th, 2009, 10:41 am
I woke this morning with the sheets balled in my clenched fists. My throat was raw, as if I’d been screaming all night. I remembered the dream I just clawed free from, a swirling grotesque of shrieking and sobbing and pointless violence that I couldn’t stop. And once I realized I was powerless, I surrendered, surrendered to the twisted sanity of the mob, and acts that I once considered ghastly crimes became my to-do list. Buildings pulled off their foundations. Cars shoved off bridges into the greasy waters below. Cowering innocents driven from their homes by cruel men governed by nothing save their hatred. I ran about and amok as Calamity fell upon the earth. Everywhere I turned the world was burning, burning, burning.
I sat at the edge of my bed for a long time, awake but still in the grips of the horror. My entire body ached and I choked back a rising wave of nausea. I pushed myself out of bed and staggered to the bathroom to splash some water on my face. I didn’t look at the reflection in the mirror, still ashamed and afraid of what I might see. I rubbed my eyes and smeared clots of rheum over my cheeks. I licked my parched lips…and tasted blood. My blood.
I went to the window and peered through the blinds. Outside was a frozen wasteland. Bitter cold, crusty snow blanketing the ground, yard-long icicles hanging from the gutters. My dream had been a pulsating crimson-and-tangerine sensory onslaught. But the real world was empty, and bleak, and it stretched out forever. No color save black, some mottled gray, and endless swaths of glacial white. And so very quiet, a silence that swallowed even the beating of my heart.
And then I heard a voice from out of the Void, either the one without or the one inside my head. The voice was quiet but the tone held just the slightest trembling edge. It said, "Are you ready for some football?"
Football. And then I remembered the day. Sunday. January 18th, 2009. AFC Championship game. Steelers vs. Ravens.
And now the voice wasn’t so quiet and it didn’t try to disguise it’s frantic rage and it screamed "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!!!????"
I just stood there, still not moving. Except for the corner of my mouth, which raised a quarter of an inch. Some would call it a smile, but I wasn’t smiling. Oh no. I took a deep, cleansing breath, held it, and slowly exhaled. "Yeah," I said aloud, "I’m ready for some football."
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