I wasn’t always alone. There was a time when this place was a village. I was one of many. I was happy. I was loved.
That time has passed. Now I’m alone, in a house with only one room, one chair, one table, and one bed. The only thing that possibly suggests a past in which there was more than one is a planter with two purple tulips, a constant reminder that once this area bustled with life. Now it’s all foreign, with monstrous ideas creeping out every night.
Worst of all is the pulsating beat.
It began when the last of them left, departed to the depths to slip into a new existence. An un-life, if you will. At night I would hear it, a throbbing beat in my head. It was not unlike a heart.
At first it only invaded my dreams. As I’d cower in my bed, pretending not to hear the shuffling outside the door or the slamming of some kind of flying bird on the wall. I pray it was a bird, though glances stolen through the peephole brought about the unsettling view of an eye staring back. It is then that I would hear the bass in my head. It’d lull me to sleep, if I was lucky.
But soon, the sound began to permeate every waking moment. The sound didn’t dissipate when the sun rose. It haunted my dreams. I heard it at all times.
I had to get out of there.
So I did. I journeyed through the forest, amazed that what was once a village had been reclaimed by nature so quickly. Perhaps I had been mistaken. Perhaps the memories of a home, friends, neighbors and a town had all been lies. Delusions made up by a lonely soul who might just be the last person alive. There were animals, yes, but as I walked I saw no sign of the creatures I imagined must haunt every night.
But the beat went on. I could still hear it. Every hour I traveled, even every minute, it seemed to be getting louder and more incessant. It was as though it were more than some strange sort of tinnitus. It was a friend, pushing me forward.
Ba-dum. You’re not crazy.
Ba-dum. There was something more here.
Ba-dum. Find me.
I kept moving forward and moving down, into the depths where I was certain lost souls roamed. I was rewarded. In one of these caves lay ruins. There was a treasure of coins, the old currency, and a child’s blowgun. Perhaps some kid’s sacred trove.
If it were real, then so was the sound. I was consumed. It had to be deeper. The sound grew more frantic, more hurried the further I dug. I needed to reach the depths, no matter what the consequences. Perhaps I would become one of the lost, endlessly searching for the source of the pulse in my mind. I didn’t care anymore. Maybe letting go like that, like the others, would unlock some sort of truth.
I don’t remember how many days I spent underground. I drank from springs. I saw the labored movement of the undead. I might have even recognized some of them. All I knew was that I was consumed by my quest. I was going to find the source of the beat.
I was in a cavern, by a pool. Curiously enough, it wasn’t even the throbbing, a constant drumming, that drew me there. It was a statue, one similar to the one that stood besides what used to be our town’s crossroads. As I moved closer to examine it, to see if it were real or merely a mirage, I saw it.
There stood a heart. It was crystal and hard to the touch. Somehow, it still moved. As I gingerly reached out to touch it, the frantic rhythm slowed to a leisurely pace.
I broke it.
I’m home again and the pulse is gone, but I don’t need it. I can keep moving forward on my own. I’m stronger now.
I will survive.