Sunday, May 24, 2009

Gasmask Blues

First of all let’s get one thing straight, I’m not crazy. Cliché way to start my tale, I know, but once I think about it, it’s the only way I can start it. The visions started coming to me a few months back. Dr. Porter said it was because of all the stress and anxiety I felt when I lost my job at the plant. We were drilling underneath a ghost town when we hit a pocket of unknown chemical. The gas was thick, like you could shape it into what you will if your fingers swirled around it. Five of my men died, the rest of us barely got out of there alive. Most of us had mask on, the low brand quality kind that are company was more than happy to stock up with because of how under we were going.

“Safety is always a huge concern of our company when it comes to our workers. You guys are priority.” They told me that on my first day, hell they said it so well I lapped it up like syrup, we all did. After me being quarantine for a week and my daily chemical scrubs they shoved me back into society.

“There is nothing wrong with you Troy; we will continue your regular screenings every six months to be sure. What happened to most of your team could have been cause from allergies, bug bites or lack of oxygen. You have no chemical traces on you whatsoever.”

Ha, nothing wrong with me? I know what I saw down there, my men know what they saw down there. Well, when enough white men in white lab coats tell you the same thing over and over again it’s almost our nature to believe them. We are so quick to ditch what we know is fact if a doctor or a scientist tells you different. Those bastards can make white seem black and we would gladly agree.

“Maybe they are right Troy, I mean, we were down there pass normal hours. The dark plays tricks on you. We all know that.” They’re nervous giggles and shifty eyes told me that their minds were forcing them to understand. You could see the CAN NOT COMPUTE sign practically on their forehead. Twitching fingers and lips, like the body is gathering up all its energy just to swallow the lie, and make it reality.

Only the human mind has that skill, taking fantasy and morphing it into cold, hard, solid truth. Not me though, I’m above that. I know what I saw, what I heard and felt. The smell of rotting flesh is like soot under my nose, the outlines of their jerking bodies are etched under my eye lids. That evidence alone is way too powerful for even my mind to comprehend making it false play.

They thought I was crazy though, me leaking out information around the lunch room, telling my dead men’s families what really went down, why they didn’t want open casket funerals. I got “let go” three months after the accident. Two years salary, six month require visit to a psychologist and a pat on my ass.

“Tell me what you’re seeing Troy. Tell me about the visions you’re having.” I see the doc scribbling away in his little notepad, I’m not even talking and he’s writing like a mad man. Has anyone ever told him it’s very unnerving? Him writing in frenzy when you aren’t saying a word?

“Mask, everyone is wearing a gasmask: kids at school, teachers, farmers, business men, mothers, fathers, old, young, everyone!”

“Why do you think they are wearing these mask Troy?” He says calmly without looking up from his chicken scratch hand writing.

“Well obviously Doc something is in the air and it has been. People are doing normal activities with these things covering their faces. Children are playing dodge ball right in my front yard. High school kids shopping at the malls, guys playing golf, why just the other day I saw a drunk pissing on a bus bench right outside of the bakery.”

“Was he wearing one as well?”

“Yes, a goddamn drunk!” I practically yelled, feeling frustrated all of a sudden. “I’m not crazy, okay? I’m not. I know what I sound like, but I’m not pulling your chain here. I see these people, just like I see you sitting in that chair, right there, clear as day!” I couldn’t lower my voice if I tried; he was looking at me like I was crazy. His silence was telling me that I was.

“No one said you were crazy Troy, I’m simply trying to understand. Do you think I can understand what you’re saying Troy?” He was speaking softly, as if not to make me feel threaten. I ignored his question though; it really was a stupid question.

“Why not hear me out Troy? Hmm? I think the reason you are seeing these ‘people’ is because of what happened with the drilling accident…”

“I know that! I feel like it’s a sign, someone is trying to warn me or something. I’ve never been a religious man doc but I honestly think that God might have his hand in this. Leave it to him to give an atheist the job of telling the world of our future and have me run around here looking like a nut.” I grunt, feeling slightly better that he’s started to grasp where I’m coming from.

“Let me finish Troy. I think these gas mask people is the way your mind is coping with the death of your co workers. You were in charge down there and you panic when your co workers started behaving strangely. I’ve been told from the case that the proper safety equipment was not being used down there and that was the cause of the deaths. You’re seeing these masked people because your mind is telling you the solution to what happened down there. Now, there probably everywhere because the thought really hit home with you. It’s a common thing when a large deal of guilt, stress and grief are placed on a person. I’m going to write you a prescription for some medicine that should help you sleep better. Better sleep means your mind will be able to deal with what happened better.”

I gathered up my jacket and snatched the little pink slip from his hand. All I heard was,
“See you next week.”
Right before I slammed the door.

Something was down there with us, that gas strangled my men. I could feel myself mumbling out loud as I walked down the busy New York streets. I knew I looked like a fool but I didn’t care, they weren’t gonna convince me that I didn’t see what I did.

Just as I turned the corner I saw a 20 something year old boy walking his dog. He was bobbing his head a little to the music blaring from behind his mask and his dog was peeing on a near by tree. I stood there frowning as people on the street walked right past him without even bating an eye. Once the dog was done they continued to walk toward me. I felt my eyes become blurry as tears threaten to fall. The boy stopped right in front of me and cocked his head to the side as if confused. His dog just sniffed my feet, picking up my fear and disappointment even through the gasmask it wore.


  1. Good read...but the gas...I'm curious about it now...the properties it had...was Troy really crazy?! Or was it visions of the future Why the closed caskets? Was the gas that deadly?

  2. Nice story but i too am wondering, did the gas cause his co-workers to die and him to hallucinate, he kept saying "there was something down there with them" what did that mean, did something cause the leak?

  3. Very interesting read. It felt like something from a Bradbury novel, haha. My interest in the gas is a bit piqued as well, but I think you should keep it a secret, heh. Let us all guess!

  4. I agree, part of the juice in a horror story is that you don't really know what's going on. That was the theory behind "Cloverfield". I couldn't stop reading it. (The story, not cloverfield)

  5. How very interesting... I came to realize many things as I read. I've come to think what the gas really was.