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[In_Dreams: The_Den]

by Mimi Jones-Taylor

            We used to see all types in here -- men, women, rich, poor, fat, thin, young, not-so-young –- though nobody ever saw the age of 40, and nobody over 40 had ever seen in here.  Our lips were pale, cracked and sticky; our eyes no longer viewed the beauty of the world.  The place had a lingering permanent stench of feces, ammonia; body odour and polyurethane.  No matter – we were here for one reason, and we only need a few dollars to get it.

            People said I was lucky.

            I’d been coming here for months – I was a veteran.  People never left this place of their own volition.  The uniforms had to carry them out. Harsh light surrounded their outfits like halos, making our pupils retreat like wildebeests chased by golden maned lions.

            At least, things used to be that way.  Until the day he arrived.  It was one of those days when I had no money to pay for my potent potable.  The Goons were about to kick me out, when I saw him lying on the ground in front of me.  He was nothing but a mess of black hair and black leather, mumbling "fuck off motherfucker" before rolling over into a pile of drywall flakes, which he immediately tried to sniff.  As he turned his head, the unmistakable shadow of his Roman nose cast across the floor.  This was no ordinary crack-head crashout.  This was the man who wanted to fuck me like an animal five years ago.  I couldn’t believe my luck. 

            We had our share of celebrities, but none of them were ever so fucked up that they crashed for the entire night.  People took their rocks and left, or found a suitable corner for their quick fixes, before scurrying out like hunted raccoons.

            I reached into his jacket, pulled out his wallet, and gave it to the Goons, who, in turn, gave me another 20 minutes of luciferic heaven.   The details are a little foggy now, but I do remember being picked up by the lapels, and punched a few times with a weak fist.  Too fucked up to defend myself, the animal fucker managed to break my nose.  The taste of the blood mixed in the drip at the back of my throat, stirring a rage inside of me.  My beautiful nose, once the pride of my career on the runway, was in pieces inside of its skin and cartilage shell.  With whatever strength I could muster, I pushed back.  We both fell to the floor, tousling moreso than wrestling, to the amusement of the Goons. 

            Then, the fire started.   Someone’s lighter had been pulled out of someone’s leather jacket, and someone tried to light someone’s hair on fire, and the light caught on the pile of drywall instead. 

            Our eyes burning in every sense of the word, I collapsed to the floor.  I could hear the sirens approaching.  I had no idea where the rock star was, though I did hear the sharp inhalations of people trying to take that one last hit before the pain of the flames engulfed their parched skin. 

            The thud of footsteps as the uniforms grabbed my arms, dragging me into their halo of light.  Except that it was night outside.  When they put the plastic mask over my face, my eyes saw its black sky for the first time in months. I took a deep breath as my body fell into shock from the clean air. 

            “Her nose is broken,” I remember one of the paramedics saying before shoving gauze that felt like metal rods all the way to my brain.  Out of the corner of my screaming eye, I saw his torn leather jacket on the gurney beside me, a thin, pale hand sticking out from the end of the sleeve.  They were already using a defibrillator on him.  His arms would flip up with the positive charge, and flop down with its release.  They must have tried to restart him at least four times that I saw. 

            My eyes rolled back into my head just then, and I don’t remember much after that.  I do know that when I woke up three days later, someone told me that the Nine Inch Nails guy was in the room down the hall.  And that I should be grateful because he saved my life by breaking my nose, otherwise I would have been passed out when the fire started, and would have died of smoke inhalation.  Now wouldn’t that have been ironic?

*   *   *   *

            It is early morning in Santa Monica.  The wind sweeps across the pier.  Finishing his morning run, Trent Reznor rests on a bench near the old fisherman, listening as they cackle to one another in Spanish about the joys the day will bring.

            Trent takes in the scenery, breathing in the sea air.  As he exhales, a sharp pain explodes inside his head.  As he grabs his temples, a familiar smell of copper mixed with feces, ammonia, and polyurethane fills his sinus cavities.  His eyes widen as he bends his head down, hands cupped over his nose and mouth.  Trent tries to take slow breaths; the copper smell becomes stronger, dominating the other scents.  Panicking, he turns out his pockets, one at a time, until he finds his mobile phone.

            “911,” answers the operator. “Please state the nature of your emergency.”

            “I need an ambulance.  I think I’ve…”

            Trent stops.  His voice rings crystal clear.  He pulls his hand away from his face.  It is dry.  Trent takes a deep breath, and smells the sea air mixing with tinges of raw sewage and dying fish.

            “Uh, never mind.  I’m okay.”

            “Are you certain, sir?”

            “Yes,” Trent says, puzzled.  “Thank you.” 

            His headache gone, Trent continues taking slow, long breaths through his nose. 

            “I haven’t smelled anything like that since…”

            Trent closes his eyes, wiping his face with his hand.  Sensing something strange on its surface, he pulls away his hand, and looks down.  His mouth is dry, his hand is covered in tacky saliva mixed with white resin.  On instinct, Trent raises his hand to his nose to sniff, then quickly pulls it away.  He is shocked by the scent.

            Trent says in a loud voice, capturing the attention of the fishermen,

            “What the fuck is going on?”

Posted by Mimi Jones-Taylor in tales_of_terror | Permalink


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Very intense, Mimi!!!

Posted by: bex | Jul 29, 2005 12:41:44 PM

This is just getting better and better. I can't wait for the next installment.

Posted by: Kim | Jul 29, 2005 1:31:21 PM

Merci, mesdames. However, I still notice the lack of comments from our male readers. Perhaps they are intimidated, or perhaps they relate a little too well to some of the incidents, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by: Mimi | Jul 29, 2005 1:58:25 PM

Dude, I can't believe you made Trent a crackhead who breaks a girl's nose. That is just fucking BLASPHEMY.

Posted by: Dierdre | Jul 30, 2005 4:05:20 AM

I relate disturbingly well to crack smoking nose breaking leather clad demons.

Or maybe it's just the mushrooms.

Posted by: Gabriel | Jul 30, 2005 12:11:34 PM

Somehow, Gabriel, cherie, I just knew you would...*kiss kiss*

Posted by: Mimi | Jul 30, 2005 4:11:24 PM

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