Crossing The Desert: A short story of mental breakdown


He forgot why he came here or how it even happened. The blazing sun made the desert sand a blinding white.

Drifting wearily from loathing to vague awareness that this was no accident, he roamed onwards.

I chose this. Didn’t I?

Some part of his consciousness hijacked the bag of bones that was his body, without explanation, and steered the ship while he was unconscious. The journey was well underway now, and the motive still utterly unclear. He asked questions all the time, but the answers were either cryptic or a vague admission that this trek was aimless. Perhaps, this time, the goal was not to reach a destination, but to flee one. To escape at all costs into a zone where all was nothing. A journey of avoidance.

There’s a certain safety in isolation. A refuge from responsibility. A complete freedom from the voices of others – all but your own. His voice was starting to dull. The remaining remnants of sanity were fading, sometimes vanishing for brief moments before reappearing again, albeit just as briefly. His mind was starting to flicker like an old TV with a broken antenna. The safety of isolation is not without its defects.

His face and hands were burned and his skin had crackled like pork rind. With nobody around to see, it didn’t make a difference. He was free to fall apart. Freedom from the eyes of others. His own eyes didn’t bother him. They didn’t see things for how they really were and so he could walk right into the desert with no direction because he couldn’t see the problem with that. It was his choice, wasn’t it?

He chose not to turn back at least and decided to see this one through. How far could he go? How far could one man venture into obscurity with no sense of direction or a grain of reason? Perhaps he could justify this expedition after all: to show himself just how batshit he really was – there was always a suspicion. He was tired of hiding it anyway. It was time to truly let go and let the beast free. The beast of insanity.

With that, it was time to go for broke. He suddenly burst into violently flailing his arms around at break-neck speed in every possible angle that the laws of physics would allow. The sound of his arms hitting his own body at impossible angles resembled a group of kids furiously beating a piñata. He started to scream. Huge yelps with in-and-out gasps of air, as if his body had become a human accordion that sounded like a ravenous donkey. It was a sight to behold. A burst of raw uncontrollable energy. He didn’t stop for quite some time – couldn’t stop.

At last, the screams died down and the beating arms slowed to a halt as he fell to his knees. Amid the chaos, the sun had begun it’s daily decent towards the earth. The heat was diminishing and the desert was cooling like a hot pie on a windowsill. There was coldish sweat on his face and his heavy panting was slowing with each laboured, emotion-filled exhalation. There was a spark of humanity within him once again. His eyes dawdled at the sunset and he began to recall some words of a song he used to like. They were about the sun, and how it never really goes down: ‘it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.‘ The music suddenly kicked in like someone had just dropped the needle on a spinning vinyl.

He heard the guitar strings clearly reverberate around the desert. The soft haunting lyrics began, and he recalled sitting in his very first car, many years ago, listening to this song for the first time. ‘You have the most beautiful face‘. The words flowed out as water from a jug. His tears slowly appeared along with the first stars in the dark night sky. The emotion surged through his chest and the heat flooded deep behind his eyes as cried. He fell flat to the ground and buried his face. His howls muffled by the cool sand, his heart broken by cold reality, and his sanity taken for a ride in the desert.


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