WHAT WAITS WITHIN
By Mason Longenberger
The door swings open with growing curiosity. The air around it gives way, moving itself for the wild wonders welcoming the wary wanderer. Such venturer trailing off to seek the hidden treasures of Pandora’s box, the forbidden fruit of the glorious grove. This traveler of foreign lands has sought out the finest of fashions. No frivolities when food comes to question.
I was this nomad of culinary insatiability. My hand begins to shake as it tightens around the fridge’s oddly curved handle, the knuckles change to an alabaster, a fresh snow piling atop a great summit. Tendons stretch within the rattling fist, forming voluminous valleys and protruding peaks. The surface quickly becomes a topographic map, riding the altitudes of the ever-chilling skin, just recently warmed with luminou
sly labored light from the lamp nearby.
The little lamp wobbles on the desk. Somehow, the rectangular desk, seemingly flush with the floor, has room to jump up and down. The lamp’s product sprays out into the room, out from the matte cone containing that spiraling glass of illumination.
From below I hear a growl most vicious and unholy. A gurgling that festers in my stomach, reaching out to further corridors of my insatiable famine. The trembling in my tummy twisted the organs that lay just under the rippling surface. But then, silence. A calm before a storm to come. With one comes the many more. Hellish bellows blew forth, relentless and without the promise of an end. I cannot ignore this summons for sustenance.
I excuse myself from the shoddy desk and the accompanying flickering light to appease the demanding vacancy within my aching stomach. The feet themselves cannot truly be as distant as they now seem. Perhaps a trick my eyes play. A dubious jest by my starving mind. With the exhausted energy I yet have, I must seek tonic for this decrepit state in which I find my aging body. My bones feel heavy, dragging me down as I lift my hand to the refrigerator door.
I gaze upon the bounty inside. With cool air pouring out onto my warm flesh, the light brightens the room more radiantly than the lamp could ever be expected to. My failing eyesight, burdened now by the blinding force from within, strains to see even one thing within the institution-white interior, colored only by stains from clumsy take-out containers. A reddish blot there, a brown-esque puddle. They are the remnants of a craving I now feel surging through the very veins of my being; a hunger that clenches my soul with the tightening grasp of utter starvation.
These artifacts of yearned meals mock me so. They stare with such malice, feeding off my own torment. What murderous intent to be but a phantom of that which I do not merely desire, to be a specter of that which I need. I began looking at the world around me, preparing for the end to come. Fare thee well, old sport. A bite more to offer, I may yet be saved.
I droop my hollow-feeling head down, allowing the growing strain of doing anything to be eased in any way. It seems as if bricks lay on it, but also as though it were sucked dry of any contents. The room around me grew blurry. The glass shelves move in organic ways I didn’t realize possible. The light began to pulse out from the fridge, moving out in hypnotic waves. Everything turned black and all was quiet.
“We’re gonna order a pizza. You in?” My roommate’s voice pierces through the silence. I open my eyes and get my wallet.