He only knew that he wanted. He had wanted for such a long time he couldn’t remember what it was like to have. Briefly, he thought of all those nice words normal people used, words like “desire” and “yearning.” Years ago he passed those. Years ago when he had been normal people. The want filled him, fueled him. The want defined him.
The bus was crowded, making it easy for him to be alone. It took all his attention to block out the sounds, the smells of all those bodies. Sometimes a tentacle of odor got through his barrier, climbing into his brain and shaking it. He drew further into himself, the want beating like a pulse in his brain.
The “excuse me” was fused in time with the sudden slamming of flesh on his head. Like an explosion, that moment fired into his mind, holding it captive, held captive itself by the want. He turned and stared at her as she pushed her way out of the seat behind him. He realized she was looking at him still. What was her expression? Apologetic? Maybe that was it. After all, she said, “excuse me.”
It was hours later, that moment still frozen in his brain, he realized something. Something that might be important. The clumsy woman’s smell hadn’t made him want to puke. And the want had shifted. It was later still when this made him laugh. The sound made his eyes hurt.
The bus was crowded. He withdrew, blocking out. Glancing around, he noticed the people on the bus as though for the first time. Normal people. All around him. He tried to withdraw, but the want made him look. He wondered which bumped into him. He thought about trying to smell for her. The want grinned. When he finally made it to the apartment, he puked.
Each day, he peered a bit at the normal people. There were too many. They were everywhere. They were on the streets. In the store where he bought food and soap. They were even on his television. He liked that. He could look at them without smelling them. He looked at them without hearing them. He kept the sound off.
© 2010 Jessica Rosen
I wrote this a very long time ago and posted it as written a year or so ago. Today, I cleaned it up to make it more spare. I still think of it occasionally, envisioning the many paths the character could take. All but a precious few are horribly dark.