Sabi sat at the table, head in hands, mind pounding as he tried to do the assigned task. George asked him simply to write something non-fantastical, non-unreal and he couldn’t even do that! The word FAILURE struck him out of the blue as he growled and crumpled the last paper he’d written.
He was not at the point of tears just yet, but as he held more back, his head pounded more. Just one normal short story; one piece of fiction where the laws of physics applied, where nobody was insanely wealthy, where Joe Schmoe was featured not for winning the lottery or inheriting a kingdom, but for being interestingly uninteresting. This was why God created fiction—because the reality he created was boring!
“Aourggghhh!” he let out a guttural sound that made his kitten Muffintop look up with a WTF face. Sabi just ran his hands over his hat and closed his eyes and… leapt.
He was flying up the length of a river going opposite the way it was running. Pink salmon were jumping from the river all around him, splashing him with fresh water and whipping against his face at times with their slippery scales. On the high riverbanks were many moose—mooses? meese? dare he say meeses?—and rabbits and small brown mammals that he couldn’t figure out at the speed he was flying. A few light-colored birds braved the edge of the forceful river to take drinks with their long beaks. The banks that cradled the river in their infinite green began to slope down and even out, giving way to a more beautiful vista—a gray crystalline basin created from the rocks of the mountain with a dip that allowed the waterfall to shoot down in torrents and force the river forward.
He’d been so taken with the view that had been superimposed on the gray-blue sky accented with pink that he didn’t see that he was flying straight into the maw of a bear. He looked just in time, for the bear took a swipe, but missed him as he flew upward and into the sky. He began to unravel in strips of flesh-colored and red PG-rating ribbon when he realized he’d been struck by the bear’s massive claws.
Sabi slammed headfirst onto the table and pulled up with a cry of pain. He’d been daydreaming all day and couldn’t write any of them in story form. Any daydream—no matter how innocent—would lend itself to a fictitious tale of a lost kingdom or an alien invasion or a wealthy prodigy.
Maybe it was withdrawal. “I can see that,” he muttered in agreement with himself. Yes, withdrawal. This was the first stage of fantastic withdrawal. His daydreams, already potent and sharp, were only going to get stronger the longer he went without writing them down in story form. Sort of like being sexless and being unable to masturbate the tension away because of a terrible factory accident in which the arms were mangled in temperamental machinery. How did the monks do it? Not get their arms mangled, that is to say. Unless some monks worked in unsafe factories. “I can see that,” he nodded.
He threw himself onto the carpeted floor and rolled left and right and left again on his back, letting his voice carry. His temples throbbed harsh against his skull and his mouth was drying as his throat struggled to squeeze out the last bit of the seventeen seconds-and-counting ‘ahhhhhhhh.’ He felt as if he would go supernova as his head throbbed more and more and burned like a campfire gone wild for the world to see on late night television.
“So I’m an addict,” he admitted lowly to himself. “Hi, everyone,” he said turning to face the group that materialized a second before he was aware of it. “My name is Sabi Noon and I am addicted to the fantastic.” Hi Sabi, they all droned in unison as they roasted marshmallows in the campfire. One of the nondescript addicts pulled on Sabi’s sleeve and pointed upward. Hey look—a supernova. Sabi looked up at the far eastern sky and shuddered slightly at the cosmic lightshow that sent balls of flame in every direction in space. He narrowed his eyes a little and imagined his head exploding just like that. Oh… It was his head.
Sabi shot up and put his hands to his face, sighing in relief to know that he wasn’t dead. He wiped the crud of the daydream from his face and screamed when his nose, sizzling and charred beyond recognition, fell onto his lap.
His eyes popped open and he was staring at the ceiling, Muffintop’s ears obscuring Sabi’s vision and licking Sabi’s nose with its raspy tongue.
“Hell,” he breathed, moving the kitten and holding it in his arms like an infant. The word INSANE blasted him from the heavens, causing him to fall backward as he used his back to protect Muffintop from hitting the ground, the latter of which hissed and darted from his arms and under the small bed, otherwise known as sanctuary.
How could he expect to write non-fantastic when words were striking him like lightning from the blue? CRAZY in its zig-zag letters and sharp form; FAILURE like an all-encompassing fork lightning bolt—or was it all-encompassing fork-lightning bolts?
Sabi turned to the door and struggled to open it. As he unlocked it—when had he ever locked it?—the poster on the back of the door depicting a muscular Asian-American teen with a basketball and the title WINNER beneath him came to life and laughed. Not just regular laughter, but head-thrown-back/belly-full-of-air laughter.
I don’t even know why you have me up here, Winner, the athlete said contemptuously as it pushed him backward. I should be on Karen Ding’s wall. She wins everything you fail at… Writing, art, photography, life… HA! He put the basketball down and out of view as he began to flex his muscles. I mean really, who talks to a poster? He asked as he froze in position and became just a poster again.
Sabi waited a moment to wake up. The boy in the poster was still for a while now, his arrogance captured in his flexing. Then he suddenly sneezed and began to laugh as Sabi jumped back. No kid, I’m just messin’ with ya, I’m sure you’ll do fine. Sabi’s eye twitched and he calmly unlocked the door and went outside into the backyard where he could continue his death throes free of exploding heads and obnoxious real-esq athletes.
“Me gwaan fi die if I do dis fa longuh,” he muttered. “Dem no know how me do… Me kin win if me try…” he stared at the sky, scanning the horizon and hoping the lazy clouds wouldn’t randomly pick up arms and swoop down to kill him. They didn’t. He sighed in relief before jerking his head. “Since when did I speak Patois?”
He looked around and he was sitting on loose sand that gave way to a shore a few feet up. He began to smell the salty sea and wondered why all his hallucinations couldn’t be this way. At that very moment, he was thrust back into his world watching the unkempt weeds in the backyard grow and claim an old bicycle, a few wheelbarrows and the trunks of trees that had long since lost their sense of tame elegance and allowed creeping vines to make home on them.
“God, why can’t I write anything?” Sabi asked. Was he not a good enough Christian? “I go to church every Sunday and I pray every night,” he reminded the deity. “Not that You needed reminding, of course… Just find it in Your will to let me write something…” Then he remembered something important. I don’t do any of that. I’m Buddhist.
He put his arms over his face and sighed loudly enough that the birds sitting on the chainlink fence fluttered off.
As he lay there with his arms over his face, the late afternoon turned into evening and evening into dusky twilight. When he opened his eyes, the moon was out to the east and bathing everything facing it with its brilliance, creating long shadows in the dimness.
The weeds no longer looked so menacing and the trees looked almost surreal in their symbiosis with the vines. Sabi got to his legs with a shaken disposition—was it another hallucination?—and pinched himself, flinching as he feared an explosive chain reaction into the supernova. He made sure he was all in one piece and hadn’t been swiped by a bear. It was real… He looked down at himself and saw that the front of him facing the orb was bathed in silver. The silver-accented world created by the moon’s light was real and Sabi was a part of it.
This was it.
Sabi Noon fell to his knees before the full moon on the cool summer dusk of June and felt a phantom pen scribble on his brain the wonders of the surreal, fantastically unfantastic world.
[Author’s Note: This is my attempt at getting back into the prose that got me to where I am today, but which I had to forgo thanks to college. Connect with me on Facebook to tell me what you thought, or leave a comment here! I can use the friends! 🙂 Facebook.com/SageSaturn]