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The Oubliette

I can smell the musty odor which permeates these wooden walls. Even in the dark I can almost make out the dimensions that stop at my head, my feet and a mere two inches above my nose. And yet in these cramped conditions, I feel no claustrophobia, no shortness of breath. I feel nothing, and no breath ever comes.

Is it raining? I thought I heard tiny droplets of water as they strike the earth and sink slowly in the soft soil. Deep down they slide, over the pebbles and insects and pinewood until they reach their damp destination much further below, perhaps a fate no better than my own.

The wood muffles most things, except an errant rodent who misses a turn and
comes to a sudden stop. In my secure boundaries, I am alone. My only company is the tips of the nails as they jut through my colorless sky and hang like malicious wardens above me. If I stirred, even slightly, I would be a crucified man. But me, I never so much as twitch.

I used to listed for my heartbeat just to pass the time. Or will my hands to rise and touch my chest. If I could feel my chin, would whiskers be tickling their way down my neck? If I could grasp my wrist, it would be as cold and lifeless as the golden deckets encased in my palms.

Is is daytime? Night? Spring? Or perhaps the fall? I lost track so long ago. Or did I ever know? Sometimes I forget where I am and wonder if I have been asleep and will wake in a foreign place. Then I realize my foolishness...

I have not been asleep, and I cannot wake in any other place. I cannot wake.

These walls seem to stretch; they are further apart today than yesterday. Or perhaps I am getting smaller. My suit drapes my chest like a furniture cover, keeping the non-existent dust and grime off the gleaming white which cowers beneath.

A new odor has finally replaced the rotting. It is the smell of nothingness. I miss the more foul odor, that which I knew to be me. This which eats the air and the man inside is nothing, not even what I used to be.
- Mary O. Fumento, 1989

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