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The Empty Man
Once upon a time there was a man who led a very normal life in an average home with a very base job. Every morning he had a cup of coffee and every night he read an article from a respectable magazine in an attempt to further his education after college.
One night he dreamed he saw a blank, white wall standing in a garden and from the wall a letter appeared. It was a blood red ‘V’ that seeped out from the pores of the drywall and stained brown as it dried. He tried to wake up, but his mind wouldn’t allow his eyes to open and he was forced to watch this disgusting event.
The next morning he felt very discontent and his morning coffee tasted bland. For once in quite a while he searched his cabinets for a breakfast pastry to find they were almost bare save for a bottle of spirits and a few cans of soup.
So he went to work hungry and quite irritable. His day was boring and unproductive, his lunch was nothing but air for the price of a three course meal and his article that night seemed a little too redundant for his taste. So he went to bed dissatisfied.
That night he dreamed an ‘A’ appeared on the wall next to the brown ‘V’ and as he stood paralyzed, he saw it dry and he woke up to his whining alarm clock, more irritable than the day before.
His coffee went cold sooner, his car door was frozen from the coming winter weather and the people in the cubicles around him were louder than usual. When lunch rolled around he decided to take a walk to the local diner down the street, only to find it closed, out of business. As he trudged back to work, still hungry, he bought a hot dog from a shady vendor and wolfed it down as he entered his work place’s front door.
That evening he tried to watch the news rather than read an article but found he had a stomach ache from that afternoon’s lunch and retired earlier than usual.
That night he dreamed that an ‘N’ appeared by the ‘V’ and ‘A’ and this time he didn’t fight against the dream, he felt genuinely curious.
When he awoke the next morning he was depressed and found that none of his usual routine was as exhilarating as it once was. He skipped his morning coffee, arrived to work five minutes late and skipped his lunch once he saw the air sandwiches on the lunch cart.
He was empty. He needed real food. He was hungry and weak. By the end of the work day he was the most hateful person in the workplace and his manager asked him to take a few days off, as well as the weekend.
‘You look awful, Vic,’ the manager had said loudly as he’d left the building that night.
In his dream a ‘U’ appeared and dried quicker than the others had. He felt his pulse quicken and he looked around the garden anxiously, not really seeing the flora but looking for a breeze that would have quickened the ‘U’s drying process. All was still.
He woke the next morning at his regular time, but regretted it when he realized he was off work and nothing to do in his apartment. But because he was already awake he decided to make use of his time and do some up keeping. To his dismay his apartment was clean and well kept due to disuse and the only thing he could really do was dust his empty bookshelves.
By the end of the day he’d watched three movies on the television, eaten three cans of beef broth and drank an entire bottle of wine. He was drunk, hungry and dissatisfied with a huge headache and he decided going to bed was his best bet.
That night he dreamed that an ‘S’ bled through the wall. His pulse beat in his head and throat and his mouth dried out. As he struggled to keep his tongue from sticking to the roof of his mouth he looked about the garden for an answer. Anything to explain the message written on the wall.
All he saw was still flora and a strangely colored sky. There were no noises, no smells or creatures. He was alone in a quiet dream. Before he decided to wake up he looked to the wall again. ‘VANUS’, it spelled in crusty, brown letters. He gulped heavily and gave a small whimper.
There were sirens and strange men in uniforms in his bedroom the next morning. Some held handkerchiefs to their noses while others held their mouths in disgust. The chief was griping loudly about the absence of the Marshals and the other officers were whispering to the newcomers as they came in to see the scene.
‘I hope you have a strong, empty stomach, ‘cause you’re gonna need it,’ they hissed.
The newcomers would ask why hesitantly and the veterans would reply, ‘It’s empty, flat empty!’
‘The bed?’ the newcomers would ask.
‘No! The skin! That man in there is nothing but skin! No bones, no organs, no nothing! It’s like all his insides evaporated and left an empty skin!’
‘What was his name?’ the newcomers would ask solemnly.
‘Vic Vanus,’ the veteran would reply and shake his head in sullen disgust.