Matt slid into a realm of metaphors, unspoken desires, and long forgotten memories. He dreamed of beaches, summer heat and tranquil waves, swimming among the fish. Lying on the warm sand, feeling the heat of the sun as it caressed the bronzed backs of the women lounging next to him on the sand.
Then one of them started to chant a childlike song. The melody grew until the whole beach joined the in the monotonous singsong. He recognized the words, yet it improper for it to drown out the tranquility of the beach. The melody belonged to a different place and time, one far removed from the surf. The sound of it sent chills through every nerve in his body.
Go to sleep and go insane
Past and future all the same
See the world turn inside out
All you’ll do is scream and shout
Then there’s nothing you can do
The Trust is gonna come for you.
The sky darkened, and the earth grew hard beneath him. The voices lowered, and the sound of the surf became a harsh metallic hum. Everything faded. Matt concentrated on taking cleansing breaths, but the air refused to cooperate. A light broke the darkness. He stood and walked toward it. A young woman sat alone in a small square room, secured to a chair. Her eyes were wide and unfocused, emotionless. Her lips moved to the cadence of the dreadful song.
Another light revealed an old man who bore an identical countenance. His lips also enacted the silent chorus. Another light, a small boy, and yet another exposed another old man. One by one, the lights shattered the darkness blinking on in an unending line of cells stretching to infinity. Matt stepped back and ran. The hallway continued for as far as he could see. As he stumbled past each cell, a light lit, and another chanter appeared. He broke into a sprint. He had to escape the malevolent corridor. Eventually, feeling weary, he stumbled to the end. There waited a man behind a large desk. The man’s face, however, was dark in shadow. He stepped forward; the shadows slid away. He saw himself, sitting behind the desk, his lips moving in perfect cadence with the others.
Matt turned violently in his bed as he struggled to free himself from the sheets that entangled his legs. “Light,” he gasped. Bright floodlights he’d mounted on the ceiling blazed to life. The room was empty, and he was alone. The only sound was the radio beside his bed, still playing classical music.
“Any time you feel the pain, hey Jude refrain.” He sang to himself quietly concentrating on slowing his pounding heart. Once it reached a manageable rate, he got up and walked into the shower. The water was steaming hot, and he let it wash over him until it grew cold.
Still, the song reverberated in his ears. ‘Go to sleep and go insane…” He’d heard the children in the park sing it. The song was called “the screamers.” Children did that; they made up songs to cope with life’s nastiness. Ring around the Rosie, he was told, was about the plague that wiped out most of Europe in the Middle Ages. The songs were a way for youngsters to deal with horrors beyond their understanding and control. It was the last line that rang most horribly, that brought with it the faces.