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.
Run back to your apartment and throw up. Sleep all day and then all night and do not leave your home for three days straight. Call your mother and tell her about the flickering, and become aware of the fact that her words have been interlaced with the mutterings of a deranged man. Ask her about it. Receive no answer and perceive her fading voice as it turns into a chanting of a crowd in the language of your night terrors. Yell at them. Ask them what they want and hang up the phone.
Keep a watch out your window and cower at the knocking on your door at all hours of the day. Feel lightheaded when you realize the homeless man has been setting camp outside your building. Eat all the food in your refrigerator and drink all the water in the city. Grind your teeth at night and be unable to sleep for more than thirty minutes. Grab a bat from your closet and run into the streets and beat the homeless man to death. Step on his deformed head until your shoes are soaked in blood and head back to the hallway in the middle of the night.
The lights are flickering. The homeless man is there, munching away at something tough and chewy, and he stares at you from across the threshold of darkness.
“What do you want?” Listen to your scream echo in the cavernous space and have it come back to you twisted into words you didn’t speak.
Watch the man stand and walk to you, chewing and gobbling and slurping. Behind you a crowd has gathered in a half-circle and they chant, and they close in around you.
“Why?” You whisper, but the chewing man has spoken. The unknown word now lingers in the air and echoes in the hallway, and the dark horizon beyond the flickering light approaches. Let your legs walk for you. Enter the spasmodic brightness and scream. Cross the hallway and enter infinity. Open your mouth and scream forever.