The Mask of Alabaster Part Two
Chapter 2: What Is This Place
Between the ages three and seven, I experienced severe night terrors. During which, I would feel an electric pressure upon my scalp and feel as if I were floating around in effervescent gaps between time and space. As I would slip into this overstimulating and cerebral dreamworld, I felt lost; I felt as if the world around was popping away and it was all because of that strange pressure on my forehead. Sweat would pour from my cold pores and drench my blankets, leaving me in a pool of my own perspiration when I would waken.
As I laid locked in horror on that new year's night, my forehead began to pulse and emit the same feeling that I would feel when I was a pre-adolescent. As the mask in the window glared at me through the window panes, my forehead began to throb; my head had its own heartbeat, so it seemed. My bedroom began to shake and collapse inward onto to me. Darkness had never been so full of creeping and terrifying colors that swirled around in orbs, which hovered in the corners of my eyes and hid when I tried to look directly at them. Vermillion and viridian specters of phantasmal fluids seemed to be leaking out of my walls, humming in low-pitched undulations.
I began to shake spastically in fear. My body was frozen and frigid, yet began to sweat profusely. "What the hell is going on," I said out loud. I shut my eyes and, and out of cliche reflex, pinched myself to make sure that I was awake (not that this pathetic test proves anything; I doubt that being able to feel oneself pinch oneself means one is awake). I tried to avert my attention from the hanging mask and tried to listen for my inebriated creators downstairs. I heard laughter.
The laughter was not that of my stoned parents or their bohemian friends, but that of an unfamiliar and dark resonant voice that seemed to belong to neither gender (nor that of someone who is gender queer or whatever they are calling self-proclaimed hermaphrodytes these days). The horrifying laughter began to giggle upon my frozen earlobes, further ensnaring me into the petrified shell I was slowly becoming.
As a WASP (white anglo saxon protestant), my whiteness requires that I wear sunscreen in December. Despite having a naturally ghostly appearance, further accentuated with the curse of red hair, I imagine that I was becoming so white in fear that I was verging on becoming translucent.
My breath began to wane and pulse began to wax as white as my skin; anxiety began to rupture inside my throat as cortisol pumped and trickled into my carbon dioxide-filled body. I was having a panic attack.
"This is it," I thought to myself. "I am dying and that freakish face in my window is the Grim Reaper. He brought me to the River Styx and my pulsing head betwixt my overstimulated lobes are telling me that this it it."
Earlier that year, which was my senior year of high school at WASP Academy, I tried to kill myself. Obviously it was a fruitless endeavor, but I swallowed two bottles of ephedrine pills after an indoor track meet one night and was bedridden away from school for a week, and successfully convinced my oblivious parents that I had the flu. In my naivety of ego-centric self-loathing, I had decided before that attempt to end myself that I could not live while being gay. Despite my 4.3 G.P.A., scholarships to small liberal arts colleges in Massachusetts as an All-State soccer player, and loving family and friends, I hated myself for being attracted to men. But I am over that now and this is beside the point. My point is that despite having attempted to kill myself and having eagerly awaited death, I did not truly expect to die, even whilst attempting to make it happen.
Feeling as if one is going to die was a completely new, and rare, feeling. During the panic attack, I sunk into a state of anxious separation from what I never felt I would lose: life. My past, present and future were being ripped out of me while that mask floated outside of my window. I have no words for the emptiness and fear that was collapsing over me.
As I laid in that deathbed with a phantom reeling me in towards what I perceived as death, I recalled a book that my uncle had given to me years before he had died. My uncle was an eclectic and functional schizophrenic whom was subject to the darkest depths of the mind. Schizophrenia is a disorder in which an individual suffers from overstimulated temporal lobes, for various reasons, which causes delusional thinking processes. What is curious, however, is that it is not determined whether or not schizophrenics are experiencing subjective or objective events; the parts of their brains that are activated may just make them aware of phenomenon that most people are not.
The Doors named their band after the belief that our brains contain gateways to other dimensions, and we are capable of breaking on through to the other side of them (acid, as I became aware of recently, is helpful for this journey).
That being said, I began to rationalize the feeling in my head with what was happening around me and began to settle down enough to get myself up and look for that book my uncle brought me. To my surprise, I was still in my room and found the shelf on which I kept the book. I reached for the light switch and horror began to rematerialize as I discovered that it did not work. I reached for the doorknob and discovered the same effect. I attempted to retain the ounce of courage I had managed to muster by making myself believe I was becoming schizophrenic and everything was ok...despite the schizophrenia I was assumedly developing.
I found a candle and a Bic and planned to flick through the pages of this book, entitled: The Psychiatric Guide to Mental Illness. Although my uncle had given this book to me years prior, this was the first time I had ever opened it. Expecting to self-diagnose myself to find comfort in glossing through the pages, I was quickly dismembered of such bittersweet comfort when I discovered that this massive eleven-hundred page manual was in fact a bound cover; when I opened the book, there was an equally massive leather tome hidden under the guise of a boring and tedious textbook.
I ripped off the glossy fake paper that hid the book beneath, which was covered meticulously as if some apple-plucking, brown-nosed know-it-all would have done to his or her high school Biology textbook with a paper shopping bag. Beneath the paper and atop the leather bound book beneath, there read in acrylic words: The Onomasticon of Mystical Phenomenon.
"What the hell is an onomasticon and how have I never noticed this before," is what I asked myself in my stupefaction. I then tried to recall if I accidentally did LSD before trying to go to bed and to my lack of surprise, had not. When I picked up the book my head began to pound, and despite being inside, felt wind blowing in my hair. "Oh my gosh, I'm Harry Potter when he received his wand in Olivander's," I stupidly thought to myself. I chuckled in an emotional concoction of nervousness, bewilderment and self-induced idiocy.
Nearly forgetting the mask in the window, and to my unpleasant dismay, while immediately remembering it, a feeling washed over me which convinced me that this book had something to do with what I was seeing in my window. I decided promptly that "mystical phenomenon" are more fun than being schizophrenic and decided to flow with that feeling and open the book.
To be continued.