The Deal of a LifetimeSubmitted by Unabonger at 2007-06-22 14:36:20 EDT
Rating: 1.46 on 18 ratings (18 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
The first time it came to me, it was too hard to pass up. Drifting in and out of sleep, somewhere between the real world and somewhere else, it came to me like a dream. Laying on my couch that night, my whiskey-scented breath filled the apartment with a dank, putrid odor. It mingled, unattractively, with the rank of dirty laundry strewn about the living room floor. A voice, simple and soft, floated into my mind.
"Was she worth it?" The inquiry had often passed my thoughts, especially when laying drunk thinking about the simple stresses that would be fleeting, problamatic thoughts to a 'normal' person but to me, were an obstacle insurmountable. Work, bills, rent, my car being totalled. This time, however, the voice that rang in my head was not mine. Often it was my father's voice, reaching to me from the early grave alcohol and lack of control dug him. Not tonight.
No, I thought. She wasn't. Here it was, nearly two in the morning, and work loomed over my head only hours away.
"They never will be, Heath." The voice dripped into my mind like honey. "What I have to offer is."
I sat up, nearly retching as the room spun uncontrollably. "Who's there?" The words echoed off the walls of the filthy apartment and no answer was forthcoming. Silence made my head hurt and my ears ring. My hand went from massaging my temple to the remote on the wooden coffee table. The television flared to life, filling the space with eerie light. The pale blue screen hummed a high note at me and stabbed my mind like a shard of ice. Quickly, my finger flipped through channel after channel to find that same screen with the high-pitched hum on every one. I pushed the off button but the television wouldn't relent. Great. The television is broken too.
A quick flash, like a reflection on the screen, made my eyes dart back behind me. My heart started pounding and a single bead of sweat fell from my forehead down the bridge of my nose and fell to my bare chest. I'm hallucinating. I drank too much. I'm very tired. Excuses made for my eyes playing tricks on me failed to slow my heartrate. More beads were forming on my brow. The hum stopped. My eyes darted back to the television. White smoke swirled and danced in the screen. The voice again, like silk, caressed my mind.
"I offer something worth it, Heath. And the price is small." The smoke slowed it's movement with each syllable. "You could have her back. You could have anything you desire. Being wealthy beyond imagination has it's...perks." The smoke surrounded itself faster, almost in mocking laughter.
"Rich?" My voice again echoed off the walls in the silent room. "Price?"
"Ten years, Heath. You're young and full of life. You have everything ahead of you. Ten years is all I ask." The mention of me being 'full of life' seemed contradictory to my current, degraded state of being and I almost laughed at the absurdity of that statement. I crawled off the couch and towards the television, studying the smoke intently. It was almost alive with activity now. I could almost personify the voice's tone with the movements of the screen. "Ten years, Heath."
"Ten years doing what?" My eyes inched closer and closer to the television.
"Nothing at all. Ten years of your life. Within the next month you will age ten years." The voice grew sweeter and sweeter. I couldn't put my mind around this. I was still dissuading myself that this was, in fact, reality. I'll play along.
"I don't understand." The smoke seemed agitated at the hesitation in my voice.
"There's nothing more to it. You will be rich beyond your dreams and I will have ten of your years. Think about it. It's very simple, Heath. Most people work their entire lives with nothing to show for it. You'll be wealthy tomorrow. You'll never have to work. You'll have everything money can buy. More money than you could possibly gain in ten years no matter how hard you work."
I thought for a moment. The smoke seemed impatient. This has to be a dream. Somewhere in the deepest reaches of my mind I knew it wasn't. On my hands and knees, my face not a foot away from the screen, I turned the notion over and over in my head. The second I understood the deal I knew I'd accept. When I understood that, the smoke disappeared, the room went black and my alarm went off.
I awoke on the floor by the television. My feet were cold. I shouldn't have left the ceiling fan on if I didn't have a blanket, I thought. I was shivering. I looked to the blinking alarm clock and immediately shot up off the floor. I'm going to be late, I thought. I ran to the shower.
The slow beeping on the heart monitor was incessant. I was so sick of hearing that same beep. How long have I been here, I wondered. Every expensive piece of medical equipment one could imagine was there, keeping me alive. Hoses connected them to various parts of my internal organs. I couldn't speak. The large intubation tube had prevented me from uttering a single word for more than three days now. They said it was necessary.
The nurse, a cute, young thing, scribbled on a clipboard with monotany. Her green eyes seemed lifeless and bored. Her blonde locks fell to her shoulders and fair skinned arm reached over and adjusted the buttons on one of the machines. She looked to me for a quick moment, shook her head sadly, then turned about and walked towards the wall. She hung the clipboard there, flicked the light switch off, and pushed the swinging door. "Get some sleep, Mr. Starks." The door swung closed after her and her footsteps fell away from earshot as she hustled down the hall.
I was now left alone with this beeping. My eyes darted left and right. My head reeled. Through the midst of it all, a voice floated to me.
"Was it worth it, Heath?"