Thin Edge

FICTION

Treading the limits of sanity.

Words by & illustration by Manuel Calvo


Time is only a consciousness, an awareness that slips in and out of our mind. Whenever this takes, or took, place does not really matter.

By the time I find myself in this daunting situation, day is but a faraway dream, of a once promising Avalon. I am confronted with streets, endless streets, that go straight and long, unrevealing of even a hint of destination; the incandescent illumination; the hollow presence of wind and dust dancing against the pavement; the unfathomable darkness that whispers its ghostly calling. Even the insomniac who has lurked through a thousand nights, will still find uneasiness one night, when the well-traversed path suddenly becomes unfamiliar.

I cautiously walk down the same pavement I’ve known so well for the past twenty years of my life, each step’s reverberation echoing eerily. All these years this silence was mine, but now there are urban noises, crashing against the walls of this black night, ominous and uninviting.

A novelty in the dead of the night is to walk where you are not supposed to in the day. I step out into the road, right into the middle where the tracks of the tram are laid. A ding-ding sound from the past rings in the back of my mind. I look back expecting to find the last departing tram finally turning the faraway corner and entering its course, which I’m now intruding upon. Of course the last tram must be resting at the depot. Its shadow doesn’t even bother to laugh at my silliness.

But this silence…

Again I cautiously resume my course. The pavement ahead conjures mesmerism, luring me to follow as my sight heavily drags along the asphalt, looking ahead of its own accord, body following, wandering. The asphalt undergoes a transformation, it suddenly descends into a long haul of staircase, steep and barely lit, the street lamps shrinking into tiny miniatures, their narrow circumferences of light directing my footsteps where they should (or shouldn’t) go. A moment’s hesitation, and then I descend. No matter how intimidating the night has grown to become, I am its perpetual resident, forever harbouring, taking shelter in its murky corners and dead ends. Yet the lower I follow the guided way, the louder the silence becomes, and the cold begins to creep under my skin. In the distance ahead is the black unknown that has always existed somehow, guarding what lies beyond, solemnly at the very end. It lures my emotions, a mixture of fear and curiosity that will surely outspiral into a messy heap of confusion and terror, hyperventilation and shock unless I grasp hold of the situation.

As I continue, I hear whispers of the remnants in my mind, goosebumps standing strong. Visions flash here and there on the concrete walls.

To the left is me, a daydreaming nine-year-old, observing a bird’s eye view from the height of a haunted, derelict school. My hand grazes the cold surface to the right, a flat hologram of me, thirteen, toying with blades and knives, fascinated by the innocence of the reflection that simultaneously screams of blood. Above my head is the ceiling, I remember, the ceiling of a room, void and empty except for me, eighteen, peeking out of my blanket, then covering myself again to hide from dangers, ghosts, illusions and immortals.

I should flee from this horrible trap of despicable memories, yet still I descend, emotions readily sinking into desolation. I am sane, yes I am, though if my sanity is what I now acknowledge, I must not be.

Without any foreplay, the darkness is cut clean, and it slams hard against my sentience.

Instantly my steps and breath are halted, hands quickly coming to my mouth, horrified by this overloading perception, but my existence is voiceless. All my traumas used to be everything, but are nothing now, because I stare straight, determination unwavering, face to face against this wall of darkness that reeks of temptation and forgiveness, oblivion. All that’s left is to take the grand leap of faith, plunging into the motherly sea, drowning in abandon, leaving behind heavenly attachments and relationships that have pulled my strings these twenty years. Memories come surging to the forefront of my mind, probing the depths of when I was utterly abandoned by those dearest to me, when foreign harmful conceptions of the forbidden were born within me, when the parasite in my brain dominated all logical reasoning. They all convert into a sucking force of gravitation, hypnotising me to dance beyond the hallows of the wall of darkness.

Ding-ding.

The sound of the tram rings from behind, and I am reminded of my dreams.

I find myself once again with my feet glued to the tracks of the tramway. The silence once more becomes comfortable to my ears. Unintentionally I look back, but if what I heard was just a lingering concussion, it is not there anymore. If it had ever been, that once tunnel leading into the abyss of never turning back had now vanished into the night. What I trod on was just a thin edge, and a thin edge I would tread on again in the near future.

For now, I clearly recognise that the nocturnal streets lead back home, for sure.

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Jeramy (two inns) writes stories based in Hong Kong.