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Short Story

Bujumbura (short story)

“There is roughly a fifty percent chance you will die tonight, or a fifty percent chance you will wake up perfectly fine. There is nothing we can do. We wish you the best of luck.” And with those words the doctor threw me in waves of chaos, an insurmountable wall suddenly separating itself between the me of the moment and the me of those forever moments past. How dare this be the truth, this unreality, how dare it be me that such misfortune is sprung upon. I am in shock. I am angry. I am on the street. Should I have yelled at the doctor more? Demanded something. Perhaps. But I am tired. I go to my hotel, in a place where I am unknown and unloved: alone; I meet the eyes of the concierge and give a pleasant nights greeting: no need for the threat of death to break courtesy, and then I dive into my bed. Well, what will it be like. For now, I feel fine, maybe a bit feverish but certainly not on the point of death. What should I do? It seems moderately pointless to do something as benign as watch TV, but I don’t feel particularly inspired to confront the leviathan of death. It would seem to even start scaling that goliath is to just make me buckle under my true fear of mortality. No, I think I will just lie. I am strong. So the chances are 50/50 for a man, well, fuck that, I’m a strong man, and if any sickness wants to fuck with me they’re going to have to come at me with an army, guns blazing, because I have zero intention of dying tonight. Whatever the doctor said, he is going off statistics, me, I am going off myself. I am young. I am strong. And I am determined. Sickness: do your worst, I know I can best you, I am sure of it as I am sure of myself. The doctor gave me many pain killers, but I will not take them, though I can feel pain, fever, sickness rising into my body. I don’t know what any of the symptoms will be of this parasite I have, but I do know that it is better not knowing, better not overanalyzing, seeing some small facet and unconsciously making it into something that it is not. Oh, I know the power of the psyche, and I am determined to use it to my advantage. For this fight to be mind, body and soul, and for each of these defenses, indeed offenses against my sickness to be impregnable. Time is passing, or at least has the presence of passing, and I am still in control of my pain, of my sickness: I am still the master and this is easier then what I was expecting…but, then I must not become over confident, death, she is a wily opponent, and she will catch me one day no matter what. Perhaps it will even be in a week. Perhaps, surviving this sickness, I will be struck by a car tomorrow. But that is fate, this is fight, this is not a heads or tails but rather a vicious boxing match and so far I feel like the punches aren’t landing. Ahhhhhh, but she is putting in a little more vigor, I can feel my body wanting to rebel, in some ways disobeying me, and I will accept the fact that sickness will win many key battles, indeed, I will allow them too. There is only one battle I wish to win, and that is the pleasure of another sunrise, and this blitzkrieg death is showering on my outermost defenses seems to me a waste of time. She has but a few hours to finish me, and she is so far away from beating my mind, let alone my heart. Ahhh, sickness, just because you win some does not mean I pat you on the back, I don’t like the way you make me feel, the things you make me do, and I can feel a certain exhaustion building slowly into me, but still, time is passing, still I am winning, and every extra minute I win is closer to that time where the fangs of death will be pulled and I will be victorious. Just a few more hours. I’ve managed in life to live so many hours already, what is a few more? Let me find that nirvanic spot deep in my mind where I can separate myself from the pain of my body and concentrate on simply feeding the force of my fighting spirit: go, you white blood cells, chase whatever you can, eat those motherfuckers, whatever they are. Aghhh, to think of the battle being fought in me right now. Billions against billions. Losses greater than all the wars of human history happening in the blink of an eye. Ahhhh back, you devils, I am still here. Ahhh: you shall not prevail, you can take me one day, but that day is not today: I promise you, ignoble partner, dancer I care not to dance with: back down. Flee. Why waste your own spirit trying to smooth a rock as jaggedly majestic as myself. Ohhhh, this sickness is not fun though, not fun at all, and I am twisting in my bed, rotating almost constantly looking for that perfect spot where I can just be at a comfortable rest, where I can concentrate. I move up, I move down. I move left, I move right. I feel like shouting at the bed to just fucking be perfect, but fuck it, I will make perfection out of these imperfect tools. I keep rolling, and this drives me to psychosis, since I know this is energy exerted on a task that is not fighting the death feeding off my body. And indeed, I know that I am getting tired, can feel myself getting more tired, but this must be expected, no matter what happens this battle will be a close one, and I am sure that this fucking parasite is going to bring me to my knees with exhaustion, already I wish I could just curl in a ball and be sweet nothingness: but this pain, and, of course, the knowledge that at this point in time sweet nothingness is a deathly proposal. Back! Satan. Don’t try to buy my soul yet. Back, exhaustion, you will have your place in an afterlife removed far from this unpleasant night. But motherfucker, how dare you prevail. How dare it be that I am finding it harder and harder to move. How dare it be that I am not as strong as I was at the beginning of this night. Oh, I shall beat you. God, please help me beat her, I know death must come for me sometime, I know whenever it will be I will claim the same thing, but still, I beg you: not tonight. Please, please. I know my question of your reality in the good times is ephemeral, but when I come so close to the darkness I realize it must be, must be, in opposition to your lightness. If you let me live, I will do anything for you. I will find a way to prove to the world the wonders of this revelation that I am finding just now. I will be your greatest prophet. But god, where are you! I am becoming weaker. What is this, I cannot bring myself to move my body anymore. I am here perfectly still. But I am still here. But, the pain, the pain. Eating at me, inside and out. From the inside of my bones to burning rage of my skin. Oh, and I see the way out. The great black door, promising to end the torment at any time. Where did this door come from? Was it always there? Oh, death, you temptress, this game is not fair at all. You have done this dance billions of times and I’ve just the one. Does every man, before they die, believe so assuredly that they will live? That they are special? I don’t know. But this is what death is. It is nothing magnanimous, it is just the absence of fight. It is gone from me. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Where is my strength, where has all of my strength gone?

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