There is no way to describe nothing. Real nothing that is. Not nothing as in a void, a lack of light or sound, but true nothing. The kind of nothing that lacks even a consciousness to perceive it as nothing. True nothing is not a void because there is no space. There is no light but it is not dark. There is no sound but it is not quiet. It is nothing--and nothing else. It is highly unfortunate that there is no way to describe nothing, because that is where this story takes place.
May stared absently at the veiny crack in her faded yellow sealing. She listened to her father getting out of bed, knowing that in 10 minutes he would be in her room asking why she hadn't gotten up yet and telling her she was going to be late to school again. She closed her eyes and soon was back to sleep. She slept in the car too. Just like she had done everyday since kindergarten.
May had been dubbed a medical enigma. She was born with an extreme case of hypersomnia, but the cause couldn’t be determined. Nearly once a month she would be analyzed by a different specialist and given new MRI’s and medications. Her brain chemistry and development was normal. Her home life was normal. Scores of psychologists had found her to have no mental deficiencies. The only abnormalities were that she slept more soundly than average and never appeared to have dreams. Neither of which could explain why she slept so much. She said she simply enjoyed sleeping, the way other kids enjoyed dolls or baseball. It was her favorite pastime, and she engaged in it every chance she got.
Her dad honked the horn to wake her up. They had arrived at the elementary school. May grabbed her bag and scurried to class. The heads of twenty kids swiveled in unison at her arrival. The teacher paused in his reading of Tom Sawyer to peer over his spectacles. “Ah, there you are. The principle has been waiting for you young lady. Don’t keep him any longer.”
She did not end up keeping Principal Miers any longer. The receptionist informed her that he was in a meeting and she was to wait in his office. Which she did, attentively at first. Then as the successive minutes bombarded her with boredom, the urge to drift off became irresistible.
She awoke in the backseat of her dad's car. Her first assumption was that it was the following day. This was often how May experienced time and she quite enjoyed it. If there was something she didn’t feel like doing, she could simply fall asleep and awake when it was over. Like her very own time machine. This was different though, she realized as she came to her senses. For one, it was late in the day. Also, her dad was screaming at her. “WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN THINKING? DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW SERIOUS THIS IS? YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE THROWING YOUR FUTURE AWAY!”
May was shocked. Her dad had gotten frustrated with her before, but nothing like this. He was enraged--practically foaming at the mouth. She tried piecing together what was wrong from his ranting. Something about being expelled… what for? Her dad eventually ran out of breath. Inviting a coffin like silence to consume the space of the vehicle. May’s voice quivered timidly “d-daddy… what did I do?” Her father took a long, stern look at her from the rearview mirror. When he spoke again there was no energy left. “We’re going to the hospital.”
May found out what had happened as her dad explained it to the nurse. When principal Mires had showed up to speak to May about her tardiness, she had started giggling. When the principal told her to stop it turned to maniacal laughter. She got up and started trashing the principal's office; throwing chairs and tearing posters off the walls, all while howling with laughter and frantically repeating the numbers 9,2 and 7, in random order. The principle fled from the room fearing for his life. Apparently she was so loud the entire school including kids at recess were scared by the noise. May was speechless. She’d never so much as talked in her sleep before. Her doctor examined her for an hour and concluded it might be a reaction to the new medication she was taking. He told her father to call immediately if anything else occurred.
Her dad never needed to call however. May transferred schools and slept as soundly as ever. She remained her usual self. Napping any chance she got. The years went by quickly that way. Living four hours a day, five days a week, it was blissful. The adults around her worried about the disparity in her development. She learned to tie her shoes at nine, couldn’t ride a bike at thirteen, and believed in Santa Claws until sixteen. Her ability to read, write, and solve math problems were all below her age expectancy, and they fell further behind each year. The adults were worried, she wasn’t. When something was difficult for her, she slept until later. She found it funny how much people cared about things in the real world. To her, the real world was just a chaotic terminal where individuals shouted into a space in order to create a collective soup of sensory information that was both overcrowded with people, and contained no one at all. The world she preferred, her world, was peaceful. So peaceful that complexities such as thought, consciousness, and awareness were nonexistent. She imagined it was what it felt like to be dead, and it was a kind of heaven.
May barely graduated high-school with the help of tutors and disability exemptions. The following four years she spent trudging through a cheep community college at her dad's insistence. She received a bachelors in astronomy, and got a job at a poultry plant. It was miserable work, But it was the only job she hadn’t been fired from within a month due to her condition. For a while she thought that was a sign she was functioning better, until she noticed how often Mikey, the manager, was looking at her.
May wasn’t a stranger to male attention. She was pale, dark-haired, and borderline anorexic. She had a number of boyfriends in college, her relations with whom were even shorter lived than the jobs she’d had. The sleeping, slow intellect, and general anonymity toward life made her more of a hassle than most guys were willing to deal with.
Mikey didn’t mind, if anything he was drawn to those aspects of her. May wasn’t particularly attracted to him. He was middle aged and loud, with a manipulative cockiness that only comes from nine years in a managerial position. He waved Mays late reports on the condition they start dating, and she agreed. The waking world meant almost nothing to May. Her passion was the unconscious. Mikey meant almost nothing either, besides maintaining the income she needed to sleep in her tiny apartment for the fourteen hours a day she had to herself. The two dated for several months before May told him about her condition. Mikey offered to let her move into his apartment so she wouldn’t have to work and could sleep as much as she wanted. May was ecstatic. For the first time since she was a toddler she had no obligations to be awake. She quit her job and departed from the real world for days at a time. Her bliss was short lived however. She was addicted to sleep, always needing more. The more she slept the more unbearable the real world became. She hated having to eat, having to go to the bathroom, having to take showers. She hated the sounds, the smells; hated the light burning into her eyeballs, hated the ache in her muscles from where she’d been lying, hated feeling gravity crushing her frail body into the earth.
Then there was Mikey. She learned to tell how well his day went by the way he made love to her. As the years blurred past, his days got worse. Often she’d wake up with him inside her, Sweaty hands on her throat, alcohol soaked breaths pelting her face. She’d squint her eyes shut and curse real-world time for going so slow. An idea came to her in those nights. An idea which had floated in her mind since her childhood and now it dominated every cursed moment she was lucid: What if she never had to wake up?
One Thursday morning May did something other than stay in bed. She walked to the local pharmacy, and bought sleeping pills.
Mikey awoke to his blaring phone alarm. He scratched his balls and stumbled to the fridge. Microwaved egg and cheese burrito. He hated those things. It had been on his agenda to buy something different for years, it was just that he only thought about it as he was eating them. He showered and dressed clumsily, stopping to look at May before heading to work. She lay at the far end of the bed, facing the wall in a semi-fetal position. Small strips of unnaturally pale skin peeked through the mess of hair draped over her otherwise obscured face. Mikey paused for a moment, and closed the door behind him. A familiar sense of guilt accompanied his drive to the plant. He’d been rougher than usual with her last night. Sometimes he couldn't shake the feeling he was essentially keeping a mentally retarded woman as his sex slave. He hardly even talked to her…. He didn’t like thinking about it so he shook his head and turned up the radio.
Work came and went uneventfully. It was a Friday so Mikey went to the bar with his coworkers and didn’t stumble into his apartment until half past midnight. He cursedly banged into every possible object on his way to the bed. In the darkness he groped around until he felt Mays’ soft skin which--he vaguely noted in his drunken stupor--felt colder than usual. He pressed his breathy mouth to the nape of her neck and fondled her from behind. May didn’t move. She kept her back to him, her arms by her sides. Was she mad at him for the previous night? And giving him the silent treatment. Like an eight year old he thought bemusedly. Fine. he was tired anyway. He rolled over and passed out.
When Mikey woke the clock read 4:00 pm, September 27th. He went to the gym, bought groceries, and picked up his prescription from the farmacy.it was around 8:30 when he opened the door to his apartment. He coughed. Something smelled bad, a bit like the inside of the chicken trucks. It wasn’t coming from anywhere he could discern so he resolved to leave the windows open as he made himself dinner. May was still laying in the same position. “Hey! When’s the last time you had somethin’ to eat?” He made sure to yell loud enough to wake her up. She didn’t move. Mikey sighed. “May!” he stalked over to her. “Are you dead or what?” he grabbed her by the shoulder and turned her over. Mays’ head limply rolled to face him. Her blueish purple face was caked in dried saliva. Her right eye was half open and a glassy pupil stared straight through him. Startled flies lept from her skin and circled the room. “Oh F-Fuck!” Mikey fell back, knocking over the nightstand and hitting his head on the wall. He scrambled to his phone and hastily dialed 911. A middle aged woman with a chirpy Wisconsin accent responded. “911 where is your emergency?”
“Um-I-need an ambulance” Mikey stuttered frantically “My girlfriends dead!”
“Ok calm down, I need to know your location.”
“I’m uh-on 77th Street and uh, Cherry Avenue. In an apartment. Um, number 9922” Mikey’s knuckles whitened as he clutched his phone. He stared wide eyed at Mays’ corpse from across the room.
“Cherry and what street?”
“Okay. Is your girlfriend awake?”
“No she’s not awake! She’s fucking dead did you hear me!”
“She’s not breathing?”
There was a pause. The smell that Mikey now deduced was coming from the decomposing body in his apartment was making him nauseous. Outside, thunder boomed in the distance. Dogs barked and children screamed. A few car alarms went off.
“You said apartment 9922?”
“ARE YOU DEAF! YES! 9-9-2-2!”
“HURRY THE FUCK UP!”
“Ok. Is she awake yet?”
“Wha-” Just as Mikey started getting a bizarre feeling from the 911 lady, he became completely distracted by the sight in front of him. May had sat up, and was delicately getting out of bed..
“MAY! Jesus don’t scare me like that! I thought you died! I just called the cops”
May glided toward him with unnatural silent grace. Mikey saw now between her tangled locks of hair. One cold eye. Half open and glazed in a way no living thing could be. Mikey was frozen stiff. The operator spoke once more. “You said 9,9,9,2,2,7,7,7 correct? 9,2,2,2,7,2,9,9,7,9,9,9,2,7,2,7,7,9,2,9-”
The phone slipped from Mickey's hand and clattered to the floor as May approached him. He backed against the wall, mouth silently agape. The corpse reached out a finger and poked the middle of Mikey's forehead. Her finger slid through his skull as if it were made of jello. A primal, nazely shriek emitted from Mikey's open mouth. He could acutely feel the cold, bony finger sinking into soft tissue of his brain. His previous experiences of pain were less than shadows compared to what he felt now. His body shook violently and drool leaked from his gaping mouth. He could hear the string of numbers coming from his phone on the floor. Now too fast to be human speech. He heard distant booms from the outside world; too large, and too frequent to be thunder. He heard panic, and people screaming in terror. Then there was only the voice. It didn’t speak in words, rather it bombarded every sense at once with absolute emotion. ‘YOUR UNIVERSE BELONGS TO ME’ it said ‘REJOICE, YOUR SUFFERING HAS COME TO AN END’
Then, he felt nothing--and nothing else.