Our Guy, he wakes up in a basement room, much like a dungeon. He is tied to a chair with a heavy rope that is caked in dirt, as if it was made from the earth itself. Before him sits a black cat, watching, eyes reflecting a light that isn’t even there. The Cat crouches down, ears flat, about to pounce. Our Guy shuts his eyes as the Cat’s hiss turns to a curdled scream, raising to a howl.
Our Guy screams himself awake to reality. Eyes now open, he is not in the basement room. He is in a garden, on his knees, weeding through his tomato plants. He has been here for a while, judging by the basket full of weeds beside him, and the dirt stains on his knees. He’s been staring at the sky, where clouds have covered the sun. He is in his mid-fifties. A retired banker, this is all he can do with his time, except on the weekends when he plays the bass in a trio for neighborhood bars. His wife is practicing for a marathon, constantly on the move, always busy. But right now she watches him from the kitchen window, eyes glazed, the steam of hot water pouring off her red, blistering hands.
Our Guy, he realizes something now. He’s never had a tomato garden before. He looks towards the fence at the edge of his yard, which is as unfamiliar as the rest of this house. In the corner of the fence there is a young child and an old man. He is watching the Old Man play with the young child, a re-enactment of the scene from The Godfather. The point at which Brando’s character dies.
Our Guy, he screams out in pain. When he opens his eyes, he finds the Cat is gnawing his hand. His legs are stretched out in front of him, and his hands are in his lap. There is no sign of the dirty rope, or other restraints. He tries to stand, but his legs tingle as if asleep. They do not move. He shoves the Cat off of his lap, and the Cat hisses resentfully before climbing a staircase built into the front wall. At the top of this staircase there is a yellow light shining down. There are otherwise no windows or lightbulbs. A soft dripping begins, a leaky faucet with no valve to stop it.
Our Gan feels himself sliding downwards, and as he smacks his head on the seat of the chair, he screams in pain. He looks up and there is now another voice screaming beside him: it is his Wife, and her body is thrashing uncontrollably. She is slapping herself, her face red and wet with tears and sweat, small specks up and down her body, on her nightgown, throughout her toes, and these specks, they’re moving, roaming across her body.
Our Guy, he turns on the light, even though he holds no desire to do so. The lamp is small and rusty, nothing like the one on the end table at the cottage in Cape Cod. The lightbulb must only be 40 watts, for there is now only a small golden glow beside the moonlight. But it is enough, and our guy seems to think it is too much.
Over the body of his Wife crawl thousands of tiny ants, lines and lines of them, trains and production lines of workers, moving in two different directions, their bodies kissing as they pass each other. There are other patches of scrambling ants, on his wife’s stomach and upper thighs. On her face there are clusters around every orifice, the culmination of each train of ants.
Our Guy, amazingly, has not one bug on his body. He looks himself up and down, but there is not one sign of an insect or any other creature. He notices that the bed has stopped shaking, and looks to his Wife. She lays still, her face blistering red beneath the movement of hundreds of tiny ants. Our Guy screams her name.
His Wife’s head jumps up from the pillow, and her eyes are open, a look of concern. She asks if she was screaming again, for she feels hot and was having a nightmare. Our Guy shakes his head no, and looks closely at her. The ants are disappearing, for they were never there. His Wife calms him down as he rants about the ants. He walks into the bathroom and turns on the light, goes to the mirror and splashes his face. Looks into the mirror again, and behind him is the basement room. There are three chairs in the center. He turns, frantic, and the mirror is no longer there, but the staircase instead. He starts towards the stairs, but hears a voice express warning. He turns to see himself sitting in the middle chair.
Our Guy is in the chair, but he is younger, little more than a teenager out of high school, but the black hair and brown eyes are a clear indication that this is himself as a teenager, and there can be no mistake when the memories come flooding back, the memories of a childhood existence now lost, paid to the toll of time and age.
Our Guy will never wake up again.