"Pale Courage" by William Overall

Caleb got to cross the street that day. His nerves weren't really his own anymore. He didn't have to listen to them. He had sweat dripping down his pits.  His hair wasn't even touched by the wind, it had a thick grease keeping it tame. 


            He smelled like his apartment, and his apartment smelled like him. 


            Dirt, cat shit, and the meals he'd had last week. He hadn't had any recently, thats why he didn't have to listen. 

            His head wasn't really his either. 

            He was still Caleb Harris, but he didn't have to listen to Caleb's' head, and he didn't have to watch the little movies it usually played.

It gave up control to Caleb.

So he crossed the street, to walk, and to breathe and see, without it watching.


Caleb smiled at his isolation.


            It wasn't a new feeling, this new confidence, this freedom, but it was rare. It only showed itself when something else inside him got desperate. 

He could and would admit it. 

He was desperate. 

He hated feeling desperate, but the desperation made him free and that freedom was worth the cancer on his every nerve. 

            He hated his nerves and he hated his head even more. The bastards only let him call the shots when they were desperate, and he loved fucking with them. 

Watching his masters beg him, even if it was only an hour out of the week, every minute ticked softer, the air went in better. Everything smelled better, even his dirty clothes hit his nostrils like a fresh flower. 


            They were at his mercy. Every sense was his now.


            Caleb made it to the other side without incident. The traffic was slow on Sunday. He headed to eleventh, but walked slow. He watched the cars pass and laughed at how fast their little heads were going, how fast their nerves were traveling, how much their masters had broke them. 

He felt pity too, most never get these moments of freedom; but worse than that, some think they've never lost it. 

            He tried to walk as slow as possible. The nerves fought harder than his head. They are the real boss. The head is wholly outnumbered. He even pities it sometimes. It is stupid and docile, it truly doesn't understand itself. It has no choice but to try and dominate Caleb, but he doesn't spend too much time feeling sorry for his oppressor.


            Caleb looked down as his old shoes walked in cadence. He stopped and took a seat right there next to the sidewalk and felt his nerves give out. 

His nose started to bleed a little and he felt himself become me again, and we felt Caleb disappear. 

            I wiped the blood from my nose. 

I squinted my eyes for a moment and looked up at the sun till I had to look back down and blink a few times, just to get my eyes right again. I hadn't seen anything in a while.

            The leaves are changing again, but from death to life. Most people prefer the opposite, admittedly he likes both. Every prisoner knows the monotony of a lock and key. Change in any kind becomes a sort of fetish to us. 


            The leaves will change from life to death again, I will become Caleb again, my nerves will kick back in and I'll have to get up and walk. I'll have to feed the goo in my brain and the army in my gut. The world will turn again and I will have to listen again.