Painting by Numbers – Jacob’s Dream

He was running through the oil thick darkness of night, skimming the surface of the Earth with his toes, careering over wasted ground and dereliction. He stumbled and then, regaining his momentum, he raced onwards, the ground sucking at his legs, trying to slow him down. A half moon appeared, and ahead of him he could see the tall spikes of a large wrought iron gate. He accelerated forward and threw his body at the frame. The ancient hinges screeched as the gate flew open. The hum was deafening now, a deep thunderous roar accompanied by an ear splitting scream like the hysterical wails of a child. He held his hands to his ears as he ran but the hum was inside his head, vibrating the plates of his skull and rattling his teeth together. Fumbling and falling again, he reached a point he thought must be the epicentre. The rubble and mess cleared and a space opened up ahead of him. As he approached, he could see a large spherical hole, its widening circumference disappearing into the darkness beyond. He stopped, and the soles of his feet touched down onto the dirt. He moved towards the edge and peered into the blackness. He inched closer and his left foot slipped over. Pulling back from the brink, his heel dislodged a protruding rock and it fell into the void. As it disappeared, the pulsating throb of the hum paused for a fraction of a second, but then resumed its relentless, demented mantra. Turning to look for another projectile, he felt something grip his left ankle. Instinctively, he pulled back but the object tightened and began dragging him towards the hole. He grasped at it and tried to pull it off, but it coiled tighter still, cutting off the flow of blood to his foot. He sat down on the edge of the precipice and fumbled around for something to dislodge it. Just under the surface of the dirt, his fingers located something hard and sharp. He prized a thin metal blade out of the ground and raising it above his head he thrust it with force into the invisible object beneath him. But as the point of the blade penetrated the thick leathery membrane of the sentient manacle, he was wrenched violently towards the waiting chasm. He snatched at the parched desiccated earth as his body was dragged over the side. First his legs, up to his waist, and then finally his whole body tumbled over.

He was falling now, backwards and head first, spinning uncontrollably into the darkness. The faint light on the surface quickly receded and within seconds it had vanished. He felt a sharp piercing pain in his spine between his shoulder blades. There was something alive, flapping wildly behind his head. The screaming had now reached a crescendo of disharmony. His body began to spasm and a searing heat raced up through his legs, into his chest and around his skull. His body twisted and contorted in agony as jet-black flames began to consume his skin and flesh. He prayed for the end to come but still his body continued to fall.

Soon, his existence was all but obliterated and nothing remained of him but a lifeless, blackened carcass tumbling forever downwards into the infinite abyss.

Painting by Numbers is available to buy in e-book format at:
Paperback is out 24th October 2012
 Image courtesy of Ricardo Bellver


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3 Responses to Painting by Numbers – Jacob’s Dream

  1. Helen Howell says:

    Wow I really liked that. It held one’s attention and carried the reader through to the end. Having read Painting by Numbers, I can see this dream as Jabcob’s obsession eating him up until he is nothing.

  2. Larry Kollar says:

    Ah, Helen was there to clear it up. I haven’t read it yet, so I didn’t have context. :) Nice illustration, although he seemed so calm. I’d have been crapping myself!

  3. John Wiswell says:

    Opens with one of the best mega-paragraphs I’ve read in a long time. It is an excellent short piece, Tom, almost maddening material.

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