Start by ignoring it. For weeks on end pretend it doesn’t exist and take the long way towards your destination. During this period, every time you see it, feel a burst of goosebumps running down your back. Let the goosebumps increase on a daily basis until the thought of encountering it gives you a headache and a bout of shivering.
Get a headache and shiver every day, and on occasions have a recurring nightmare of the looming hallway, growing ever longer towards infinity, endless lights flickering and a lingering whisper in the air. A word unknown resonates throughout and the very utterance if it calls your body towards the darkness and the void. Wake up sweating in the mornings and heave.
Under-perform at work and get yelled at by your boss. Tell him you feel ill and listen to him say he doesn’t care. Listen to him ask why, if you feel so sick, haven’t you been to the doctor? Be at a loss of words and watch him turn around and leave. Let a variation of this conversation happen every other day and when the tension in your spine finally snaps and a sensation of hot liquid pouring down your back strikes you, scream at his ugly face and storm out of your office.
Walk back to the flickering lights during the day. Stare into the hallway. Watch the cracked paint on the walls and the shadows they produce. Notice a couple walking alongside you and see them cross the half-darkness. Their stepping echoes and mixes with the buzzing and clicking of the lights. Breathe faster with every step they take and let your heart beat in a panic. Take two steps back and realize there’s a homeless man eating something sludgy with his hands, halfway across. Let your eyes grow wide. Wonder what other hidden things have not revealed themselves. Take another two steps back and when you’re far enough away and the sunlight’s blinding you, listen to the lingering word of your nightmares come screaming out of the hallway.
An alarm clock rings. Its beeping wakes you. Your eyes are sticky and your mind foggy from the nightmares you’ve endured. For an instant reality is uncertain. Mouthfuls of dirt were delicious just moments ago, but it can’t be. The rational mind is telling you it’s inedible, but a craving stalks you. The thought of pushing your hands deep into the earth and having particles of dirt force their way beneath your fingernails evokes within you an unknown desire. You sit up in your bed and close your eyes. The fantasy of a rainy day showering over an open field of grassland induces hunger. Tear the grass off the land, bury your hands into the mud, and dismember the ground. Dig your way into the world. Dig until your heart is pounding and then dig until it bursts and the blood within stops flowing.
The sun is shining through your window. You watched the sunrise after getting into the office, and now you watch the sunset. It’s spectacular, but you’ve been seeing it every evening for the past few months and now you’re bored of it. The day has been long and messy, and it seems it’ll go on for another few hours. You’ve been instructed to stay late. You need to fix a few bugs your teammates couldn’t fix. Voices have died down. Every keystroke from your keyboard echoes in the almost empty floor. At the other end, a man is sitting at his desk. He’s wearing headphones. He’s not working. He doesn’t have a life to get back to. He’s making time. He’s waiting out the traffic, unlike you, who’d gladly dive into the chaos of peak hours, content with the knowledge of being closer to home. Your cat is waiting, as well as your fridge and a beer and leftover pizza from two days ago.
Your stomach grumbles. It was bound to happen. It’s been hours since you last ate and now darkness is creeping over the sky, slowly pushing the remaining sunlight over the horizon. It’s time to eat. That bastard Dean ate your other sandwich. You offered it to him, but he’s still a bastard, and you’re still hungry, so you search your drawers for any remaining snacks you might have stashed. No luck. There is however a protuberance on the ceiling on the top drawer of your desk. Your esophagus prepares to gag as your mind is ready to commit to the idea that you’re touching an old piece of bubble gum, stuck in its place for who knows how many years. But you don’t gag. You need visual confirmation. Once you’ve learned that you did indeed touch old gum, then you’ll gag, but not before. You peer inside the drawer feeling streams of saliva building up inside your mouth, but there is no gum, there is a small red button, and you press it.