Itís the western frontier, itís the open range, land for miles, but who cares? The tumbleweed, the cactus, they are for show. The snake, the scorpion theyíre just here for looks.
Really, itís just a bunch of nothing
Its desolate, itís a wasteland, but itís not that dramatic. Itís just really boring. You live out here long enough, and everything that used to be quiet solitude, ďalone-timeĒ, just gets to be the same old joke. A joke youíve heard way too many times, but everyone you know tells you anyway. A joke that makes you sick.
Thatís how this place makes me feel. Sick. I canít stand it anymore.
Going outside begins to get depressing, staying inside isnít any better. Thereís no satellite TV out in the middle of nowhere. No, entertainment is self-made.
Yeah I know what youíre thinking, and even masturbating gets old after too long. Especially after the cramps. And the friction burns. Maybe even carpel tunnel. Iím not sure.
I go outside, look at the sad, lonely horizon, mountains, or mesas, or something in the other direction, and nothing but a made-up line that moves whenever I get too close to it. Thatís how this places feels, disappearing as soon as I get near it. A mirage, all in my head. I stay out here much longer, Iíll smash my face into the ground and it will all be in my head.
But, yes, I know itís come to you. Why stay? So let me ask you. Is there anywhere else, anything left in the world that is any better? My surroundings are comparable to road kill you pass without stopping to witness. This desert of dirt, this landscape of lament, you donít think about it. Itís not worth thinking about. I hate the boredom, the openness, the repetition of the sun rising and falling. I hate it all. But the one thing I hate more is the boredom, openness, and repetition, but having to hate it with someone else. The tired moaning, and complaining, scrapes against my nerves. It is the wailing and grinding of teeth they spoke of in the bible. So as much as I despise everything around me, Iíll live with what I have, and just beÖbored.
So I dig holes.
Yes. Holes. You know how pathetic that sounds? Pretty bad, but you stay out here long enough, and all youíve got is ground. Iíve dug so many holes Iíve lost count. A patchwork of dimples working its way outward. Itís a lot. You canít do it for long either. For a few good reasons too.
Itís more like Iím digging a million graves; I just havenít figured out which one I like best yet. So I keep digging. I donít do it everyday, Iím not obsessive, Iím just bored, tired of the same old crap. So I dig holes with a rusty shovel; Iíve got a pick too; I use it whenever I get tired of the shovel motion. Maybe I hope Iíll find something. A buried treasure of sorts, gold, maybe even the mother vein of gold, whatever they called it. But who in the world would bury something out here. Thereís not a land marker for miles, and anyways, I donít even know where I am anymore. But I have to hope for something, but even that seems useless.
So I stop digging holes.
And I start digging tunnels
Not under my house though, I donít want it to collapse or something crazy. If you can call it a house. More like something you would expect to see out in the middle of nowhere. A wood shack, a tin roof, and a porch. Its nice, room, kitchen, living room/ den thingy. Itís good enough for me. But obviously not good enough for this place. The winds are killing it, tearing it apart little by little. So little it may be torn apart long after Iím gone, so that doesnít bother me.
To hell with it all anyways.
Back to tunnels. They are dark, creepy dark, you dig them long enough and you canít see your hand in front of your face. Depending on the angle you dig it your light can only last so long, then you have to make up for it. Flashlights are the way to go. Preferably those helmet light things, so you donít have to shove your light in the wall just to see. But getting lights isnít easy, actually its impossible out here. So I stocked up before I left civilization, I packed my truck and drove out into this wasteland until the tank emptied, then I settled. But I had to pack a lot, because I can only last so long. And in the midst of building my shack of a home, I lost my lights among the boxes and was forced to use alternatives. Thus being torches.
Donít go there.
I tried it, I lit up and went into my fresh tunnel about, I donít know, 50 feet long, I canít tell underground, and woke up a few hours later with burns on my face and hands.
Classic. I choked on the smoke from my torch, fainted, dropped the torch, and landed on it.
I didnít burn to death or anything, my face snuffed it out, and there isnít much air down there anyways. So I wake up later, just laying their looking in what direction I donít know, and start crying. Why? I donít know. So weíll skip the pansy part. It was the burns.
Yeah the burns.
Woke up, and started stumbling around in the dark, walked around for I donít know how long, and then hit a wall, I had walked in the wrong damn direction. I started back the other, got who knows where, tripped over the torch and landed onÖmy hands and face. So I cry a little more, get up and keep walking till I see the opening and go home.
Down in the tunnels, you have to be careful, air doesnít just push itself in there on its own, you gotta have a way to get it in there, so I start making more holes in the ceiling, like Iíve made holes in the ground, only this time I dig up. Itís weird too, you dig all the way up and soon as its thin enough, it falls on you, you gag, or choke, or blink through the dirt, half expecting to see yourself standing above the hole looking down at you, you and your rusty shovel, your burnt skin peeling itself off your cheeks. You wish you saw yourself there, standing on the outside of your tunnel, because you know if you did, you would take that rusty shovel and crush it into your own melted face. But no, the dirt falls, the cloud of brown is gone, and all thatís left is sunlight and air pouring in, and you stand there and stare up at the sky like youíve never seen it before.
Snakes get to be a problem. Snakes are cold blooded. They enjoy the fact that Iíve made easy, simple holes for them to slither in and out of to grab some sun. So I get to enjoy taking the shovel. Slamming it down on the napping snakes, itís the only past time that Iíve had in quite a while. I became a sadistic little freak almost. A depressed kid whose face occasionally peels off in strips, who runs around in the dark, chopping snakes in half, who sometimes doesnít leave the tunnels to eat or sleep for days. Then thatís when a snake bites you. I thought I was on top. Thought I was god for a while. I dug holes, I made the light, I could dig deeper, I could just not dig at all, I controlled my world for the first time in my life, and a snake bites you.
Right on my ass.
Because Iím such a loner I slept in the tunnel that night. Slept with my arms around my shovel and my newly found flashlight helmet as a pillow. Curled in a ball at the end of the tunnel, with three or four snakes laying under my body, next to me, one in your pants, all trying to keep warm.
And I wake up. And I scream. I swing the shovel.
Iíve also hit my foot. I get bit by a snake in the butt cheek. I do not pass goÖ
Collecting money seems out of question.
So Iím in a dark tunnel. The helmet surrounded by snakes, my bottom swollen, one of your toes is gone, and its too dark to tell if it is the pinky toe or the one next to it, and part of my own face stuck to the ground when I got up.
So I stand there, but by this time my eyes have gotten used to the dark, Iíve been in the tunnels for a while now, itís normal down here, the outside, now maybe itís just that the outside is too bright. And I see the snakes, slithering this way and that, just dark ropes that move along the tunnel I dug.
Screw those snakes. I take the shovel Iíve had clenched in my hands since I was bitten, pulling the dirty fingernails out of the wood. The nails have slivers under them from being dug so far in. I take that shovel and I slam it in the closest snake so hard that shovel is stuck in the ground, so hard the front half of the snake shoots away from me a few feet and keeps slithering away, slithering away with the rest of them.
I pull the shovel out of the ground and limp after them, the swollen cheek chafing against the back of my leg, rubbing against the inside of my pants, the pants that are already soaked with blood.
I scream my head off. I scream with my head tilted back and my jaw so wide the skin between my cheek and chin splits open, my lips crack down the middle. I scream limping after the damned snakes, slamming my shovel into the ground every few feet after the fleeing ropes. Those long ropes that might as well be nooses, who knows what kind of snake that was. Might have been a rattlesnake, but itíll be dead soon anyways. I know which way your going now; this is toward the dead end. My work in progress. The darkness at the end of the tunnel, my light.
Speaking of light. I need one now. Itís too dark to go down into my tunnel this far. I need a light if you want to get the rest of the snakes. I have to kill them all, no matter how many actually bit me. So I limp back towards your helmet.
My helmet, my pillow.
With my shovel, my safety blanket.
All I need now is a snake, a suspect, a soon to be victim.
I see my helmet in the dim light, its yellow crest around the next bend. And I loosen my grip on my pal, the shovel. I held it so tight your skin stuck to it. An imitation handprint made out of my own flesh grips the shovel where I let go. And I see it. That dark rope. That noose waiting for me. It slides out from under the helmet. It was waiting for me, waiting to finish me off, when I came back for your light. This time I donít scream. Not out loud, but I do scream in your head, I scream my anger, my hate at that snake, but not out loud, I want to sneak up on it. But it heard me anyway.
Its uncurls from under the helmet and starts away. All I see is that snake; all I know is that itís getting away, and all I learn is that I can throw a shovel.
I throw that shovel like a javelin, balanced in the raw flesh palm, using the skin still stuck to it as a grip, I throw it and it flies at the snake. But Iím not sure if it hit. Not sure if it made contact. I canít see anymore, everything was dark to begin with, but now itís too dark. The snakebite. It must have been poisonous. Iíve been walking around screaming, throwing shovels like Iím in the Olympics, all Iíve really done is worked the poison in better. That snake. That bastard. I donít need to see it, I know you must have hit it. Iíll find the shovel, find the rest of the snake, and tear it apart yourself.
I am a madman.
But what else is new? I stumble through the dark, flinging my skinned hands through the air, looking for the shovel, its probably stuck in the ground sticking up. You search blindly, because of course now Iím blind, but I donít need to see to kill the snake, all I need is to feel it, doesnít matter if it bites I anymore either, Iím a dead man already. I can feel your skin heating up from the poison. I wobble a little, but I keep going, thereís nothing left but that snake now. Me and the snake.
Thatís when I feel it rub against my foot. But the other foots halfway in the air, swinging forward. Thatís when I donít care much about the snake anymore. I just thinkÖ
Yep, heroic thoughts that raced across my mind as I soared towards the ground. Not anything like ďdie tryingĒ or something sadistic like ďif itís the last thing I do snakeÖĒ nope, just huh?
Then I see my shovel, laying on the ground, the blade slightly stuck in the ground, just enough the keep its standing straight sideways, I see it stuck right where I threw it. Right were the snake was. But the snake isnít there anymore. I donít even care where the snake was. Like I donít care about your swollen backside, or face that heals slightly before getting ripped off again. I just donít give a damn about anything.
That only lasts about a half a second.
And I fall the rest of the way down, my skinless face collides with the standing shovel blade. The rest is physics. An object at motion tends to stay at motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest. The shovel, the shovel stays right there, sliding right through my face. Not exactly down the middle but a bit to the right. Itís almost completely through my head when it hits the back of my skull and stops. That means so do I.
The rest of my body though, doesnít.
My limbs twitch and jerk. I try and pick my self off the ground, but the shovel just comes up with it. Stuck more in my head than in the ground anymore. But I canít do that for long, Iím bleeding everywhere, blood picking up dirt and sliding back down the tunnel. I fall back down and the shovel crack a little bit more of my skull, just a bit more of physics. My limbs jerk around again, the remaining loose skin snagging on rocks and dirt, peeling away slowly. All the skin left on my face is ripped loose by the shovel and sucked into the wound, like blanket through the cracks of the couch. The skin gets sucked into the wounding running down my face. My swollen butt only getting bigger, stretched against the blood soaked pants wrapped tight around my pants. My hands grab and clasp air, searching for something that isnít there, and every time the skinless finger meets the skinless palm the whole arm jerks again.
And so I go into shock. But I was never a doctor so how should you know. I use my last bit of strength and roll over on my back, me and the shovel. I can dimly feel the weight of it in the back of your head, but it doesnít hurt anymore, I actually canít feel anything. I canít tell if Iím still jerking around or not.
Not that it matters.
I turn over and stare up, strangely enough at sky. A hole I dug in the ceiling of my tunnel staring back at me. The skies mocking me, letting me glimpse it one last time. But I donít need the sky, never did, I had my tunnels, my holes, my graves. I lie there on the dirt, already dry, having soaked up the blood so quick. That small hole of light, my darkness, gets smaller and smaller. The tunnel gets blacker and blacker with darkness, my light.
My darkness at the end of the tunnel.
And the snakes come back and lay under me until I get cold.
And I rot there.
It rains, and the rain that doesnít get soaked into the thirsty ground flows down the tunnel and carries me with it, while the shovel inside my head rusts.
And I stay there. At least most of me. The rest of me the scavengers get. The brave ones that go into the tunnels. Or the ones who were the hungriest.
And the rest of me rots. And so does the wood handle of my shovel, until thereís nothing left but the blade in the skull of my skeleton. I am picked clean, and some parts missing from where the bigger animals decided to carry me off.
And the snakes come back and make nests inside my rib cage, inside the split skull. They mate and make more snakes, leave and snakes come back and repeat the process.
And maybe years from now, someone will stumble upon my tunnels. Maybe theyíll think there catacombs, tunnels of some lost society, some hidden sanctuary, some satanic cult. Maybe theyíll search all the holes, digging them deeper, looking for the treasure I thought I might find, the treasure they thought I buried. Maybe theyíll go through all your tunnels until at last they come to the longest and darkest one, they reach the end and find my skeleton, pieces of it missing, with snakes sleeping inside, and a shovel blade stuck deep within my skull. Maybe theyíll think I was a martyr, or a hermit, or someone burying a treasure stabbed in the back by their partner, a pirate maybe. In the middle of nowhere. Maybe theyíll think I was a sacrifice, or just some poor soul who stumbled in at the wrong time.
But theyíll never, ever think, not in a million years. That maybe I was just bored.