The residents of Mania

person in black coat standing in forest

WELCOME

My bloods tastes like dysfunction, and my mind spills blinding colours in a black-and-white world where the extinction of despondency is ever prevailing. A mosaic of false-hood
and deception, which I choose to be deceived by, although it’s not a choice. My barren soul once again flourishes with the rivers and oceans of life that feed into my brain, keeping me up for days upon end, and sleep becoming nothing but an unfamiliar acquaintance. Logic and emotion. Which should I choose? I can’t be mind over matter, when my mind is the matter. What the fuck is wrong with me? Nothing. I’m purely invincible, yet the smallest thing could destroy and crush my heart and my indestructible smile permanently plastered on my face. No one has crossed my path has ever rejected the irresistible urge of knowing my acquaintance, or survived the undeniable wrath that I hold with the vindictive side of the power that my mind possesses.

Imagine a place, a place of euphoria. Many people like me are familiar to this place. We love how poisonous it can be, And if I’m completely honest, sometimes a high is worth the price we pay. The price is our health, our relationships, our financial status, and more. We Adore how sickly it is. We become addicted, and Stay there for as long as possible; weeks, months, and some even managed to stay there for years. But we don’t get to choose our stay. The place does. The place is always moving, ensure enough if our lives ever get too boring, we usually will try and do everything we can to make this place arrive with haste. We can be very impatient people. We’ve been labelled, Stereotyped and branded by society. The truth is we are just sick. Sick of everyone’s bullshit, but also truly sick. We have an invisible illness, that cleans the lives of many all over the world, and if I told you who we were, you’d Call us insane, and that’s because you don’t understand. So let me take it to this place, and to the other places that we know of….

Travelling There 

To many people this place is nothing but a source of fascination to quench a few human minds and provides nourishment to their thoughts.  

What so many are unaware of is the ever present two sided characteristics that are personalised to each of these places. 

Each species that manages to call this place home is still learning, through mistakes, the dangers of the place they call home.  

Adaptations always help but by no means does  that mean there are no points of vulnerability. Out there it is each too their own. If they find love then it is by chance, their responsibility to ensure that everyone manages to survive.  

Survival is the test. Many pass yet even more fail.  

Everything acts like minions for the evil master of despondency – he is always trying to catch things unaware. Much like what happens in life. In a constant game of cat and mouse, sometimes the hunter can be the hunted and may feast upon the flowing thoughts of one’s own weaknesses. Only very few are immune to this, but to most, it is just a legend. AshWays- nothing more than a tale told to those of youthful minds and aspirations- much too naïve and gullible to have known the real meaning of life. There was always a false promise in the light that was once told to us: happiness comes without a price. Then comes the question; to be or not to be? Would one rather settle for the monotonous one life lived by millions, or would he rather sacrifice it all in the unlikely search of what may be just a rose-tinted myth?  

And so the sun bled her rays into the heavy hanging sky, and sand dunes rolled off into the endless depths of the unknown. Selfishness is the key to one’s saviour. Be kind and you’ll be killed. Be foolish and you will win. With many obstacles in his path, one must be wary of the worst: the demons. Evil entities that will devour your thoughts, behaviours and mental states, they are said to be the only source of danger that will manage to crawl their way into AshWays. A paradox it seems: the euphoric city to be plagued by such creatures, but you can either tame them or let them tame you. No one knows which is the correct fashion. But many know that as we are not sure of their intentions, they are certain with ours. A sick sense of humour blessed onto those cursed beings that will penetrate one’s journey into AshWays, a constant company that is invisible to the eye, yet everyone can see their affects. One must preside with caution: ‘Look Like The Innocent Flower But Be The serpent Under’t’- more than just a Shakespearian quote- it’s the only form of law here. Like a moth drawn to a flame, he continues his pointless journey; in search of a fib that he emphasises is a truth. Only will destiny serve justice. To believe or not to believe? That is the question that will have no answer. Is there an AshWays? And if so, how can one access it? 

****** 

A single drop of rain dropped onto the golden sand, and I watched as it sizzled and evaporated into nothing- joining the hazy, heavy and unmoving air that swallowed the entire desert wasteland. Thirst drove my body a few steps forward before I collapsed onto my knees and felt the stinging burn of Earth’s merciless wrath. Her blanket of sand tenderly whipped the familiar sensation of pain through my veins as I silently screamed in what people call ‘agony’. My eyes were caressed by the canvas of endless sand dunes that rolled over into the horizon. The entire landscape was a monotonous combination of shades of dusty brown and orange, void of any life or hope. A few metres to my left was the remains of what used to be a dead person’s corpse, but now flies, locusts and mosquitos have inhabited the rotting bones and have made themselves at home to the repulsive aroma of decay. My body protested against me as I dragged it a few more yards with all the energy I could muster. To get to the AshWays was impossible, they said. It’s surrounded by thousands of square miles worth of desert, an impenetrable stretch of sand, death and void of all life. No one could enter the AshWays and no one could get out either. The surrounding landscape was one of extremes, too extreme for even the most avid of explorers to venture into or out of. I had merely crossed the borderline into the desert and was already struggling to keep my bag of bones alive…..  

  

Each passing second extended into what felt like one hundred years as my swollen lips and tightening throat willed my body to shut down and accept death. Four days. Four days it has been since I tried getting into AshWays and I have made no progress. Trapped in a sinister playground of misery, my eyes scanned for the slightest hint of a city ‘bursting with neon lights’, a city that was the ‘home of happiness’ and broadcasted the rare element of ‘euphoria’ across its lands and into it’s citizen’s hearts and souls. It seemed that AshWays was just a fantasy, too good to be true, but people insisted on it’s existence. I challenged their theories, questioning why they haven’t tried to reach the city themselves. They responded, ‘ Those who have tried, never make it alive.’ Now I could see why. In the past four days I must have been blessed with the sight of two-dozen bodies, skeletons and remains of dead explorers. Not the type of explorers who enjoy venturing into new lands- but it’s a fact that those bodies belonged to souls who were in search for AshWays as it was the city that apparently provided it’s people with what they couldn’t find- elation. They were explorers in search of something so simple, so rare, yet in abundance once they crossed the threshold into the ‘enchanted’ city of AshWays. They didn’t even make it past the desert. It looked as if I were to face a similar fate. I was dishonest- my reasons for attempting to travel to AshWays did not stem from my arrogance and doubt, but because I was among those who felt like I lacked emotion. AshWays; the euphoric city that is beyond reach. There is no point of its existence if no one new can access it. I don’t know how the city is home to people in the first place, but no one has made it inside the city to ask. 

The sun collapsed from the sky and swarms of locusts filled what would have been an empty night. The temperature nosedived from searing heat to the cold hugs of the night as I cuddled up onto the floor. No shelter from the locusts, no shelter from the night. No shelter from danger, no shelter from fear. The only comfort I had was the thin brown fabrics that hung on me. I called them my clothes. My eyes drooped down and my body fell under the malevolent spell of sleep…..  

****** 

One struggles to comprehend the sheer simplicity of the meaning of ‘love’. It is the people you meet on accident that make your journey worth while, even if it is just a mirage that you stubbornly refuse to ‘unsee’. One’s journey into the threshold is a lonely one. A deep and dangerous venture into the City Of Euphoria: a place ruled by a corrupt government, abandoned yet thriving under the dominance of one’s own demons. A place of extremes, inhabited by apparently a mass number of living people who flourish under the City’s ‘neon lights that burn brighter than the rings of Saturn.’ One must make his way alone: but not alone entirely. His mind will surely be acquainted by several demons, each whispering a secret dirge of hope in a language of behavioural differences. It is one’s own ‘atmosphere’ that creates the first impression, but to many, they have become slaves to the evil entities that whiz around in the playground of his mind. 

   

But he still continues his lonely trek further and deeper through the desert, every step he takes, he wishes to bring him closer to the hope of finding AshWays, but fatigue is a fierce competitor and sooner or later, he drops his body’s weight into the golden sand, the sizzling laughter of his demons echo painfully in the centre of his mind, and even though he is a finger’s width away from ‘death’, his mouth curves into a painfully dry and cracked smile. Moments before he thinks his time is up, a canopy of a single shadow blocks the sun’s stabbing rays and a living being leans over… 

 

There is only one condition to reach AshWays: you must do it on your own. Yet a brotherly bond has sparked up within the desert. They put themselves in a position of great danger: both have been driven insane by their demons, both are in search for AshWays, both need to be selfish yet both care for each other. Any form of love is vulnerability. Any form of vulnerability leads to certain death. They must abandon each other for their own safety yet their innocence and naivety blindfolds them both. Its a blissful ignorance that will end in an agony of tears and two bodies will lay lonely in the desert sands, as the desert will eliminate anyone who doesn’t follow the simple rules the gates of AshWays asks for them. For how can one expect to be welcome into the city if one doesn’t make the crossing from the desert whilst following the one simple condition asked of him? 

A Letter 

 To You, 

 
I bet you thought your journey had ended two years ago, where dead bodies carpeted the haunted streets of what was known as the city of euphoria- AshWays. Let me assure you now, that there is no happy ending to this story. Or to any story. ‘Happily ever after’ , the classic fairytale ending only lasts until the character finds themselves stuck once again in the labyrinth of troubles, but no one would tell you that. We live in a world where people would rather believe a sweet lie than the bitter truth. Don’t argue with me on this. We both know it’s true. The sacrifices you made, the pain that you endured, the tears that you cried and the people that you lost… where has that gotten you? Nowhere. You’re still stuck here. Stuck in the same situation, in the same place, with the same pain. You’re dumb enough to even think that you’ll make it out alive. The calamities you will face will go away right? Wrong. They’ll only return but in a different form. The humans here are a disgusting species. Rotten with hate, division, lust and delusions ; you won’t survive. A feeble, weak soul who still clings onto the false hope of love, friendship and forgiveness- those are exactly the things that will kill you here. 

You may wonder why I’m being so hostile this time. It’s because you didn’t listen. If you remember correctly, I warned you. I warned you about the corrupt society that thrived on the other side of the desert wasteland. The city, abandoned by its own government, but governed by the nature of it’s own people. I warned you. But advise always falls onto deaf ears when the person receiving it is like you. To survive in the AshWays, you must be hateful. Abusive. Manipulative. Cunning. It’s every person for themselves here. Eventually you will die- as will all the residents. When will each of us die is uncertain, but one thing that is certain is that we will die alone. So take care of yourself and yourself only. Don’t get pulled into the common illusion that everything you feel here is good for you. It will feel that way. But remind yourself of your reality. Time is no longer an acquaintance to me. Once again I’m having to leave you. Have fun here while it lasts, cos the fun will surely outlive you. 

Hope To Talk Soon, 

Common Sense. 

Welcome 

If you are reading this, then I guess its already too late. We have been cast aside into the shadows of the city; a place where ‘euphoria’ presides over the ‘sky scraping’ buildings, but the irony is buried six feet up into the atmosphere of this treacherous place. Only this wasn’t how it always was. This city is a corpse of what it used to be, an echo into the radiant past that it once possessed. Now, all whats left are the bitter remains of a broken urbanised area, free of laws, but full of outlaws. The annual parade proved to be a mass murder; slaughtering two teenage boys who bought the elements of true happiness in its purest form; something this city and its inhabitants have been starved of. Their bodies and blood create a beautiful mosaic of tragedy in memory of the traumatic events that occurred many years ago. However, the aftermath is still relevant. Wherever you go, the soft crunch of the blackened ‘ash’ roads will alarm the people of your presence. The people here are disgusting; to the North reside inhabitants that are drowned in the obsession of lust and sex, their obscene behaviours is what labels their sector of land as the ‘root’ of fornication and prostitution. The eastern sector is home to the military camps, where the only practise of violence and defence is a gambling matter between life and death. The southern roads belong to the homeless; who are experts in trading illegal goods, which only offer a few moments of mental freedom when burned and smoked. The rest of the intoxicants mix into the atmosphere of an already sinister and unhealthy air. The West side of the city is no better. Nestled in the untamed foliage that keeps them captive; the people who reside there are no strangers to the event of a civil battle. Each sector of the city is personalised with each distinct characteristic. Be careful. Human blood has a dangerous tendency to spill at even the slightest of cuts. Your only bet of getting out of here; is by getting through it; otherwise you will find yourself imprisoned just like the rest of us. By the time you’ve read this, they would’ve already learned of your presence. If I had a choice, I would have sent you off into the desert of golden sand that surrounds us; and left you to helplessly die of disease, thirst and hunger, which would have been a much more peaceful way to die rather than face the consequences of being here. But I don’t have a choice. Make yours.  

****** 

The sight of flickering lights of the tall buildings was what I first noticed as my luke warm eyes took in the visual attributes of my surroundings. Unmoving air surrounded me; to my skin it felt hot and sticky, carrying the dreadful perfumes of human sweat and blood, whilst possessing a metallic taste of bitter lust and sweet desires. The roads were bustling with activity as the sun saluted her final farewell and gave way to a blissfully beautiful darkness which complemented a contrast to the bright beacons of colour. A dirge of human chatter filled what would have been a silent night; screeches of laughter mixed with the voices of the inhabitants of this place. There are some here that I love. Some who are frightened of me. Some who want me dead. I didn’t ask for this. No one ever does. Being held captive; I am one of them. Only I’m not. The disturbing nature of these people is hard to ignore. Feasting on any source of satisfaction they can access; each night is full of the exploitation of bodies, being haplessly thrown into a sinister portal of casual sex. With such an extreme disregard to simple human decency, you would expect that there would be consequences for their actions. If you did expect that; you’ve forgotten where we are. We are in the AshWays- and this is how everyone thrives. They find an artificial source of temporary distractions that last moments before being tossed aside and forgotten about. If you’re weak- you won’t survive. I’m a survivor. But tomorrow I could lose that title. In a city so unpredictable, anything can happen. It’s a paradox. The city is organised in the most frenzied ways imaginable. No laws, no government and no figure of authority; the people have taken it upon themselves and chosen the lives they wish to live; consequently resulting in their impulsive behaviours. The city’s distinct illumination of neon purple, orange, pink and blue colours birthed from every building, every door, every window, and from the top of every skyscraper. My legs moved me forwards as I turned onto a narrow street, away from the main roads. My eyes had been scarred enough already. The stretch of land was relatively dark. I could make out the shape of the cluster of brick buildings that sat despondently on either side of the cobbled street, and instead of the sharp beacons that stabbed the impression of a darkened night, there was the presence of a gentle and welcoming glow that was emitted from each building- not too bright. In fact, they would turn off for a few moments before reviving, reflecting their delicacy.  

My eyes focused back onto the sinister street that directed away from the frenzied energies of AshWays’s inhabitants. The blood red glow of the flickering lights spilled out from the bottom windows of each building, and progressively dimmed with the correlation of the buildings’ height, to the point of which only darkness was present at the top third portions. This street was clearly different. The sky above was a velvety carpet of black, the only stretch of air that was not touched by exotic colours of artificial brightness. Despite the relative gloom, my pupils could catch every detail of the cluster of edifices defending each side of the street. Fallen pieces of glass presented themselves as a matting of tender pain, along with the dusty presence of sawdust which coated the floor. The occasional gust of wind would toss a handful of the debris into my face, leaving me coughing and spluttering like a child suffering from his first cold. Markings of white paint seemed as though they had lost the battle to the weathering, and were evidently eroding out of vision- indicating no one had considered to resuscitate them. Or maybe no one had noticed. I could only conclude that this individual segment of land had been abandoned and forgotten about, due to its inability to hold masses of people, as its narrow width was its most distinct feature. The poor structures of the deserted houses, shops and rejected buildings informed me that indeed, not a single soul resided in this area anymore. Their swords of splinters, broken wood and pieces of metal stuck out aggressively, poking their way out of any crack that they could find. And there were plenty. Holes infested each building like a plague of maggots, adding to their breaking beauty.  

I saw movement. At first I thought it were an illusion. But I saw it again. A few metres to the left side if the road, someone was watching me. They were cowering near a rotting door to what used to be a small hostel-,  ‘Dustpath Hostel’ to be exact, as those were the words carved into the sign that drooped over it. The person was of a slim figure and around my height. They wore a cape of black and a hood that covered their facial features. The only skin that was visible was their hands. Pale hands and brightly painted nails, neon blue and turquoise. I assumed it was a woman. Having no idea why she was alone, I decided to slowly approach her. The sounds of cracking glass and debris filled the silence between us, until one of us broke it. 

  

“Follow me”. Her voice was female. She waited for no response, and dashed into the abandoned Hostel, disappearing and becoming one with the shadows… 

The Second Letter 

To You, 

The human mind never fails to astonish me. Such a complex creation, yet sometimes it struggles to comprehend the most simple concepts. It was never the case that your sanity departed, rather you choose to overlook the red flags, or maybe red is just your favourite colour. You are someone who has been blessed with a intellect of huge depth , as you belong to the human race: those who have come so far in the discovery of psychology, psychiatry, and love to ponder about the world around them. Yet you’re still too stubborn to look through the logical lenses, and instead follow the emotional hallucinations, which will ultimately lead you to painful consequences. When will you ever learn? In a deadly game of cat and mouse, the hunter can quickly become the hunted. This is a place where many have succeeded yet even more have failed. Tread carefully. Trust no one, yet trust every word that they say. They know about this place than you do .Ignorance has never been a bliss here, and never will be, as it has always lead to the tragic death of a poor, unfortunate soul. Emotion is everywhere, don’t get tangled up in its spiderweb, or else there will be a price that you will struggle to pay…. 

She has asked for your time and body in exchange for her knowledge, a place to stay for a few nights and her vehicle, which you can clearly drive well when you’re not distracted by her physical appearance. But you and I both know appearances can be deceptive. We both know she is a user and abuser just like everyone else here. Don’t be stupid. Don’t follow your heart. Follow your mind, And follow it into the cunning forests of thoughts, that will sure enough grow in time, the longer you stay here. It starts as a seed, then germinates into a tree, and before you know it, your mind will become a forest of thoughts, ideas and solutions for every problem, calamity and sacrifice you encounter. You will be invincible. But first, you must let the city consume you. It’s a deadly cost, I know, and you’ve probably heard to try your hardest to stay away from the strange folk who live here. Yes they are users and abusers, but as I said sometimes the Hunter can become the hunted. Abuse the abuser. You have the power to. Just time your actions wisely, as sometimes being oblivious does more damage than being aware…. 

Take what I said and use it as a warning, a threat or a handbook to your survival. Or don’t even acknowledge it at all. The choice is yours – it doesn’t benefit me either way. We are strangers but you surely know who I am.  

But Go, follow her, give her what she wants, and take what she has and don’t come back. She’s stringing you along in hopes of using you and I know that you’re aware of it, but sometimes the smart thing to do is to act the fool to fool the fool. Common sense hasn’t been a good friend to you, and I’m afraid he’s not too helpful either. He doesn’t sugarcoat things, he sees the value in truth – the blunt type. I do too – but I hope to portray it in a way that will comfort you and not be as harsh, no matter how high your level of stupidity may become. 

I’m guessing he also isn’t it a good friend in the context of being there when you need him. Maybe that’s why everyone uses his name so haplessly. I hope you see me as a more permanent companion, and I’m sure you’ll figure out my identity soon. I already know yours – but before I go, I beg to ask, do you even know what you’re up against? 

Yours Truly, 

A Current Stranger. 

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