It isn’t the odour of burnt fabric that first strikes me as I stumble into consciousness- No, that distant stink is only a secondary sensation. The first thing I’m truly aware of is the fact that my guts feel like they’ve been packed into a small box and given a good kick. I make grogged motions towards standing, and then comes that horrible comprehension- Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, all giving me an idea of what death feels like.
I open a curtain and immediately regret my existence. Without so much as a note of the bugle, the daylight gallops in and puts a lance through my skull. Good morning, Glasgow; Here I am, standing fresh as the morgue among many friends and many strangers, some slumped half-ghouled on the furniture, others flat on the carpet.
I lean out the window for a quick smoke- I’m just about able to weather the Sun’s steady assault on my brainpan. The streets below run with life: Actual, real people, to-and-fro-ing on the pavement like little beetles. Not so for me- My lot is to hang over them all like a ragged ghost, trying not to vomit. I flick my cigarette into the abyss and turn back to the corpses.
The tortured souls are stirring from alcoholic doom, making odd, otherworldy sounds. One shifts and falls from the couch with a grunt, a slack golem slipping into animation. I look down at her, and her up at me. I have no idea who she is. This face may have passed mines a dozen times last night, or not.
There’s that burnt smell again- Who knows how it happened, but half the sofa is scorched. Furthermore a pair of chairs are shattered, and there’s a viscous puddle stretched across the coffee table. The carpet feels… sticky.
The hallway fares poorly- Smells like a trench, with a similar ambience of despair and rot. Mercifully, the light fixture’s been tore out the ceiling, so I don’t have to look at what might be lurking in the gloom. My foot knocks down a few open bottles of beer as I limp into the kitchen.
There’s a friend of mines sitting at the table. He shoots me a worried look, nods to the fridge and begins to shake his head. Tentative steps towards the handle. Do I open? I know this won’t be a good idea, but…
I was correct.
Shutting the fridge door hastily, I shudder down to the table. There’s a number of half-empty drinks from last night cluttered about.
“I need a drink.”
I swig the first cup my friend offers me and retch.
“Christ- The fuck is this?”
I look down at the swill I just let gloop down my throat. It has the colour and consistency of hot bitumen. Is this supposed to be a cocktail? My best guess is coke and melted tire, but I’ve only ever been a diletante when it comes to this sort of thing.
“Yikes, gimme something else. That’s fit for consumption.”
A glass of what I pray is just beer ends up in my hand.
It tastes better, a lot better. Infact-
I made it to the toilet (only just) and fell to my knees before the Goddess. My offering this morning is a shrill deluge, spat violently over some porcelain mouth. I made sure to flush a few times for good measure.
I’m not sure the shower railing is supposed to be lying on the floor like that. The curtain is draped over the edges of the bath, and seems to be- no, is blanketing something that happens to be snoring loudly. I feel a bit like Howard Carter as I pull back the veil.
No fallen Ozymandias sprawls the bath- Just another blootered stranger, dozing peacefully beside someone’s houseplant. The evil that resides somewhere in my chest cavity is telling me that it would be a great idea to turn on the shower and run for it, but I figure I’d feel bad for the plant. I slip out the door as quietly as I can and leave the couple to their business.
By now a sense of morbid curiosity is steering me down the dark expanse of the hall. I cannot turn back- Some terrible force is compelling me.
Given over to the sway of fiendish powers, my hand grips the handle of an unknown door without hesitation-
Oh God, what the hell is this- There’s this ghastly slimy stuff gunked all over the handle, and I just touched it-
For some reason, I went in anyway.
Clingfilm everywhere. The drawers, the shelves, the desk, the bed, the bedside table… All wrapped in clingfilm. Individual pens and books, too.
There’s even- I must be hallucinating- An entire cooked chicken (also wrapped) in here, just laid out on the floor like a cellophane mummy. No, it’s real- I’m able to put my hand down and touch it.
But as I do so, I hear growling from somewhere nearby. Could it be… Nah, I’m pretty sure that charred bird is very, very dead by now.
Still though… I don’t want to take any chances. I’m turning to go when something clamps my ankle and gives a vigourous tug.
I look down and worry for my bowels. There’s a hand protruding from under the bed, and it has my foot in its eager grip.
Okay. I’ve had more than enough of this for one day-
I would be lying to you, dear reader, if I told you that I didn’t scream and perhaps cry at least a little before shaking myself free. I didn’t bother looking back as I went bowling down the hallway, even when something decidedly cat-like yelped underfoot.
Tumbling out the door, I recognise the girl that fell off the couch, idling on the landing.
She glanced up from her phone.
“Some party, wasn’t it?”
We share a mutual grimace.
“Thank Christ it wasn’t my flat.”
I said goodbye and good to meet you, then hobbled down the stairs. Only two things mattered now: Breakfast and a long shower.