The first thing he saw after opening his eyes was a lizard crawling exactly above him. They locked eyes for a couple of seconds before he diverted his gaze to the pile of clothes that lay beside him.
He was wearing nothing.
His roommate had said he was out drinking with his colleagues and that he had the room to himself for the night, the tone of his voice reeking of a drawling drunken confidence, like a sailor at dawn, proclaiming newly discovered lands for his king and queen, only to find his ship waylaid by pirates and abandoned with a salt coated sword sticking out of his stomach.
He was fully awake, the image of the sailor fresh in his mind. Chuckling a little at the poor sailor’s fate and hoping his roommate was fine, he wore his boxers and headed downstairs to get water. The building was occupied by eight men. He was the only one who hadn’t bothered to speak to anyone other than one, because that one was his roommate. He hadn’t felt like talking to them because he didn’t want anything to do with them, which was not a good statement to make. He didn’t like the looks of them.
The bright sun tore at his face like an inferno. The water can was placed in the balcony that was accessible to all. Now, it was empty. He cursed, wondering if the image of the sword struck sailor had been an omen. Shrugging slightly, he made it back to his room and rummaged around the cupboard for the wrinkled piece of A4 sized paper which contained marijuana.
The paper was nowhere to be found.
He had three missed calls from his roommate from three past three in the morning. He dialled. There was no response. Had his roommate come back in the wee hours and taken his marijuana? He would not forgive him if that was so, because it was expected that he needed to leave at least two to three buds of marijuana for the person from whom the marijuana was being taken unknowingly. He dialled him continuously for another five times and gave up. He would show him. His eyes glazed past the knife that he used to spread peanut butter across his bread. His eyes gleamed for a second.
He showered and dressed up quickly because his Uber was arriving in eleven minutes. Eight minutes later, he was zipping towards his work space. It was five minutes to nine and the morning sun adorned his skin like a crooning lover. The driver told him he would be stopping for diesel and he had nodded smilingly, the gentle breeze grazing his skin as if trying to seduce him. He closed his eyes and transported himself towards a hilltop cottage surrounded by pine trees, replete with essentials like food, clothes, a gym, sauna, swimming pool, cars, bikes and a separate room decked with at least a ton of marijuana.
He opened his eyes only because a bike-borne lad had crashed into the Uber from seemingly nowhere and was now asking the driver to settle scores via cash. His driver had obliged, maybe because he had been imagining things himself like his passenger, and had lost track of things in the present. The lad grinned at the two thousand note like a child handed a toy, thanking the driver while realizing that his leg was slowly starting to become stiff. This time the driver was alert, speeding off before the lad made a commotion.
He felt sorry for the lad and hoped two thousand was enough.
Eleven minutes later he stood outside his work space complex, feeling at home with its familiar surroundings. He had already ordered his breakfast. It had been dropped at the reception. He picked up the brown bagged cover and wished the guard a good morning, making his way to the dining area. He kept the breakfast bag on the table located towards a corner and went to the sink to wash his hands, his mind already at work, picturing the sunny side up, mashed potatoes, baked beans, sausages, salad and buttered toast. As if on cue, his stomach rumbled with fury.
On another cue, he remembered he had left some marijuana in his desk’s drawer. It had been lying there since the past week. How he would devour the breakfast after the hit. The thought nearly gave him an orgasm, reaching across from his taste buds all the way to his brain.
By now, darting towards his room at breakneck speed, he realized he needed to take control of his sudden impulses and stopped to introspect what had just transpired. One chain of thought had led to another, unconsciously, without stopping to think. Now as he thought about it, he wondered if he was overthinking about overthinking, the thoughts going around in loops till he began taking a couple of deep breaths, trying to think clearly about his next course of action.
He decided to disobey his impulses. He would stay sober. He wanted his conscious mind to stay in control at all times. He would override all irrational decisions going forwards, no matter how tempting they would be. He had important things to do. He wanted to make all his imaginations into reality, which required faith, belief and patience, not acting upon every whim, fancy and impulse that emanated from inside his self-sabotaging brain, content as it was to sit back and consume the products and services made by other people, without having a clue as to how to create and conceptualize for its own.
He was breathing slightly heavily as he made his way back towards breakfast, happy with the fact that he had overridden the decision of the impulsive voice. It was a start. He felt he understood himself a little better.
His breakfast was nowhere to be found.
Stunned, his eyes roamed all over the dining area, like a prospective miner inches away from striking gold. His stomach rumbled with fury. There were only three people in his vicinity, all of them engrossed in their phones, while they ate. He rushed to the person nearest to him, intent to spot the thief. The man was eating from a Tupperware, the aroma of the home-cooked meal, swaying his nerves towards the edge. He almost ran to the second person in a feverish haste.
The second man glanced at him warily as he approached. He knew he had found the thief.
“What’re you eating?”, he nearly shouted at the second man.
The man looked at him as if he was mad.
“Why do you care? Its my food. I ordered it”
“Dude, chill. See”
It wasn’t his food, but it was similar. He had ordered the Englishman’s breakfast. This man had evidently ordered a similar spread, but from another restaurant. His nerves, by now completely on edge, burned, as he ran to the third person, who watched him approaching with a dollop of buttered toast in his mouth. He reached the man in less than a second.
“What’re you eating?”, he shouted.
The man looked afraid. The other two men and two cleaners, who were clearing the garbage, were looking at him intently, keen to sense what was going on. The man didn’t reply.
“What’re you eating?”, he shouted again after three seconds of silence.
He pulled the man’s hands, which were spread over the breakfast box while munching the toast. There was a brown bag that had been turned upside down. His name was written on it.
The man had finished ninety percent of his breakfast.
The man looked at him in silence. To his surprise, the man’s eyes didn’t show guilt. Rather, it showed no emotion. The man kept munching the toast as if it was his, and kept looking at him as he did so.
He didn’t like what was happening. He smiled at the man. He would show him what exactly he deserved. He didn’t feel good now. He was feeling so good a few minutes ago. The victory over his impulsive mind had been for nothing, after all. Was this a test? He looked upwards for some answers, but none came. Nothing from his mind either. What was happening here?
He had decided.
He smiled at the man again. The man grinned back.
“Let me join you in a minute. I’ll get coffee, please finish your breakfast”
“Sure”, the man was all smiles.
The cleaners seemed to sense what was going on. They whisked away the moment he made his way towards the sink, that lay a few metres behind the man. Bending down, he turned the microwave on and watched its golden hue come to life inside. He left its door open and grabbed a couple of forks from the cup that held it, and looked at it for a few moments.
The other two men scampered away. In a hurry.
He wasn’t satisfied with the forks. They were too mediocre for his liking. He needed a knife and he got it. His memory had served him well. It was kept right beside the sink in a twin holder which looked invisible if not observed properly with regards to what it contained – a granulated knife, the kind used to rip open a hard, cold cut steak.
It was time.
He ran towards the man, a red film developing over his eyes, plastered with images of eggs, sausages and mashed potatoes, imagining how the man’s entrails would look coiled up in the microwave.
He grabbed a fistful of the man’s hair from behind and bent it down with a force, the knife inches from his neck, upending the edges of the chair slightly.
“What did you eat?”, he screamed, his eyes inches from the man’s, the terror in it egging him on. The man whimpered, sweat rolling down his forehead towards the floor, as he grasped the enormity of what he had done. A foul smell caught his nostrils, as he realized the man had soiled himself in fear.
“Please”, the man begged. “Spare me”
He brought down the knife on the man’s neck like a hail of thunder, whisking off his head from his body with four strokes. Blood poured out of the freshly formed orifice like a fountain.
He threw the head inside the microwave and set the timer to five minutes.
He remembered there was a camera. There were cameras everywhere.
The last thing he had done before being hauled off in front of a crowd of onlookers had been to coat the knife with salt and leave it in the man’s stomach. He felt like a pirate.