There was a man from down the street that said that there were spirits in his water. He lived alone and didn’t work.
First, he heard them whispering. Every so often. Simple phrases usually. Sometimes just a whistle.
The whispers became more frequent. They seemed to be moving closer. He followed the sound of each one, jotted down any phrases he heard, mapped out what he believed to be its exact location.
After an hour, he identified a pattern.
The whispers were coming from the pipes in the walls.
And that night when he relaxed his neck onto his pillow and pulled his neat white sheets above his uncut toenails, he quickly drifted off into a deep, deep sleep
And dreamt dreams
that always ended with a tidal wave smacking down in close proximity.
Flood replacing the people.
Like the way it used to be, but he couldn’t remember.
He put the dreams together with the whispers and the pipes and decided that the spirits were in the water.
He tried to live with them for a while. He didn’t really go about it the right way. You can’t just go back to ignoring them. That’s what he tried to do. Lying to yourself is a spiraling slow knife that’s pointed right at your heart. He knew they were there. He knew they were in the pipes. He figured a handful could pack themselves into even the tiniest drop.
When he received his next water bill, his hand would not cut the check. He tried. Wasn’t happening.
He stopped drinking soon after. He would suck down a couple glasses a day, but he would only drink just enough to lubricate his mouth during his bland, dry meals.
He became clearly repulsed by the sight of any clear liquids. Occasionally, after exerting himself past his shrinking limits, the sight of a drop of sweat crawling down his skin would prompt him to gag uncontrollably.
As you can imagine, his appearance disintegrated. He ate less so he could drink less. He never showered. His skin looked as though it was being slowly cooked from the inside. He stopped moving everything but his eyes for quite a while near the end.
Eight weeks he went on like that. Didn’t eat. Didn’t cough. Slept. Woke up. Looked around. His eyes bounced and bounced. Everything else was still.
Eight long weeks. Eight weeks.
Seven days in a week. Fifty six days. Twenty four hours in a day. One thousand three hundred thirty four hours. Sixty minutes in an hour. Eighty thousand, six hundred and forty minutes. Sixty seconds in a minute. Four million, eight hundred thousand thirty eight, four hundred seconds.
Eight long weeks.
A number of theories emerged as to how the body remained alive so long. Trans-like state. Out of body experience. Long lineage of endless survival. Excessive thirst for life. That type of shit dominated the conversation.
One theory was never discussed. Just the ramblings of a lonely old man coming to grips with death…
But the old man was right; there were spirits in the water.
They had been living inside the mustard yellow liquid that he kept surrounding his heart. As every other liquid rapidly disappeared, the chamber of the heart swelled with haunted bile, slowly beginning to leak out in every direction.
After four weeks, he disappeared from the body. No more blood ran through his veins. His lips were like plush stone. His skin dissipated like cracked chalk.
The spirits covered his skeletal structure with a thin coat of that yolky bile that they had all been hiding inside of. They turned his bones to stone and he became a steady, cooperative subject.
They carved out a path from his lungs to his throat. They quickly organized and initiated a routine that would help minimize chest movement during the inhale/exhale process. They slowed his breath down to next to nothing, the way that hibernating animals do.
Then, they covered his eyes in everything he’d been ignoring.
And he watched them.
All the time.
When they found his body, they pulled back the sheet and took the body of a man who’s life came to an end due to the shackles of time and an unfortunate set of circumstances.
They did not see the cloud of shadows that followed them all the way home.
It found a way to the water. determined to crawl inside something else, something younger, something lively, something with a future that could be manipulated.
Gotta give it to the old man. He said there were spirits in the water. Nobody believed him. Come to think of it, the old man couldn’t even believe himself.