Raise Some Hell
All he could remember was falling.
The darkness felt enveloping, an endless hallway spiraling downwards infinitely. He knew he was falling though, despite the empty darkness, as he could feel a wind coming from beneath him, pushing his hair up. as he fell, the wind whipping at his clothes, Oliver noticed that clocks were also falling alongside him. Some were large, grandfather clocks, while others were smaller mantle or wall clocks. . They didn’t seem to tell time in any particular manner, some with hands whipping wildly around, others with no hands at all, and yet more actual cartoonish hands protruding from the sides.
Well that doesn’t make sense… He thought to himself, but as it was born the idea itself flew away with the wind, a thought bubble physically coalescing above his head, lifting up into the air as Oliver fell down. Sounds battered at his ears, cacophonous enough that it all blended together into meaninglessness. He turned his head to the side and spotted a rabbit, a speck of white among the darkness surrounding him. It seemed to ignore the concept of gravity as it hopped across Oliver’s field of vision. He watched it continue along in the darkness, seemingly impervious to any forces that were supposed to be acting on it, until it disappeared into a hole, or maybe deeper into the darkness.
He couldn’t tell.
It was then that he made sense of what he’d been hearing around himself. It wasn’t just mindless noise, it was something, a specific sound with an actual meaning.
It was laughter.
It wasn’t giggling or chuckling, it was a complete, full-body laughter, laughter that came from laughter itself, the laughter of insanity. It was the laughter that came from someone who found the entire world, the universe itself, laughable, a sound from someone so completely insane that there was no hope of helping them. It permeated the darkness, rattling through Oliver, echoing and ringing in his head. It was the laughter of someone that was completely lost as a person, a joke that no one else could or would ever understand.
Oliver heard it everywhere.
After what seemed like a limitless distance of falling, he could feel the end approaching. Somewhere in the back of his consciousness he could sense it, like sensing when someone was looking at you. He felt it quickly approaching, and naturally, he freaked out a little. He scrambled from his– until then– sitting repose, and tried to swim through the air, his medium-length black hair parting directly in the middle from the wind resistance. He kept swimming, trying to find an edge, something to hang onto to slow his descent. As he moved he realized the hallway he was falling through didn’t seem to be a hallway at all, but some kind of void larger than he could have possibly imagined.
He thought about how long he could’ve possibly been falling, and if the Earth could’ve been reasonably expected to be so deep, but the bottom came at him, threatening to swallow him up. Its existence almost posed a kind of psychological dilemma to him. He could either face the ground like a man and see what would become of him, or stay in the nice void, falling forever. But before he could decide the end drew near, the choice having been predetermined. As it got closer, he could see it through the dark. It was a simple flat black, but a different shade, if he could describe it as such. It grew closer and closer, and Oliver felt his death approach him. The last hundred feet went by in an instant, and Oliver screwed his eyes shut, willing it to be over.
The shadow took him in easily, and for a moment he couldn’t see anything, unable to even sense his own limbs.
His head hit the desk with a resounding thud and he woke up.. Groggily, he checked his surroundings. He was in his Business Calculus class…right? The auditorium looked familiar, and he vaguely remembered all the bored-to-death faces that he’d connected to his Business Calculus lectures. He yawned quietly, noticing that conversely, other people had noticed him as well. Some people to his side and in front of him were looking at him quizzically, somewhat alarmed at the noise. He privately thanked his past self for choosing to sit in the back of the classroom, away from a spot that would’ve drawn any more attention than he already had.. His past self probably retroactively made finger guns at him and smiled. He couldn’t remember falling asleep, but in his hindsight he thought that it didn’t not make sense for him to have fallen asleep during the class.
He perked his ears to listen to the professor’s voice echoing through the auditorium to see what he’d missed, but all he could catch was something about integrals and U-subs, though that seemed more and it all seemed to jumble together, the words registering as nonsense in Oliver’s ears.
Well shit, He thought to himself, It’s only fifty minutes of Calculus missed today, and… I dunno, I’ll make it up to myself somehow. He smiled, picking up his bag and gathering his supplies. It’s not like Business Calculus matters anyway. He stepped out of the auditorium into the brisk fall wind, shielding his body slightly at first before he acclimated. As soon as his mind felt clear from worry, it immediately proceeded to fill itself back up again. He thought about how he needed to take the GRE sooner rather than later, preferably during the Summer when he could have time to study. He figured he could either start studying for that, since his next hour had now opened up, or he could talk to an advisor about his double-major in Business and Finance. He needed to know what the exact requirements were to graduate, or how to graduate, how many credits he would need…
He stopped his train of thought as he realized breathing had now become a labor for him.
He took deep, gulping breaths of air and sat down on a bench, trying to anchor himself back to reality. His heart was racing, his thoughts flying past him at a hundred miles an hour. He took deeper, slower breaths, letting his heart rate steady, his thoughts collecting themselves.
He felt simultaneously angry and depressed.
He felt his temper flare up, at nothing in particular, yet everything at once. He couldn’t figure out why it was even bothering him. He didn’t care that much about college, or graduating, or whatever prospects he might have after that. He knew he’d just end up stuck in some soul-sucking contract, chained to a business until he dropped dead.
The idea of dropping dead brought back a wash of deja vu, and although he couldn’t remember the dream itself, it still gave him shivers..
It wasn’t as if it was the first time he’d fallen asleep in a class or skipped it all together, so he couldn’t fathom why he still felt shitty about the whole thing.
An image surfaced in his head, and he immediately recognized it.
He knew it was them, pushing him on this path, railroading his choices so that he followed the plan they’d set out for him.
Oliver stewed in his hate, sitting angrily on the park bench. He balled his fists up, but quickly released them, taking one final deep breath instead. He let the air fill his lungs, waited a few heartbeats, and then released it until his breathing had evened out. He stood up, and with a move of finality, he tensed all the muscles in his body before relaxing them all, feeling the calmness wash over him.
Having realized that he probably wouldn’t get anything done, he started walking back to his apartment, somewhere far across campus. It hadn’t seemed like a bad idea to live near campus, until he’d submitted his schedule, and realized that all of his classes were on the exact opposite side of campus from where his apartment was. He’d simply assumed it was a sign from God that he was Job, destined to suffer.
His first thought was to blame his parents for his shortcomings, as per earlier, but his second was to blame his friends.
He knew it was wrong, but it felt so easy to point fingers at others.” He kept his mind occupied with the Blame Game, but deeply, truly he knew that a good bit more than “some” of it was his fault as well. He could step up to his parents, he could dump his current friends and make new ones, better ones, it was all in his hands, he just hadn’t done anything about it yet. There were plenty of respectable things he could do with his life, he just hadn’t taken the time to figure out which one of them he wanted yet.
He shook his head, trying to shuck the bad thoughts off of his mind, like a husk of corn. But like corn, the silk strings stayed attached, worming their way to make a permanent residence in his mood.
The sky darkened as clouds merged together, foreshadowing the rainstorm that would pour buckets later that afternoon, threatening to add lightning as well if the Earth didn’t settle down this instant. He heard the clocktower, or more specifically the bell in the clocktower, tolling, adding to the already ominous ambience. As he trudged on towards his apartment, and the inevitable pity nap he would give himself, he noticed something strange.
A rabbit hole.
He wasn’t normally distracted by things so random, but it was huge. Larger than he thought he’d ever seen, although he wasn’t really sure how many he’d actually seen prior to that moment. But he was definitely sure he’d seen one somewhere, somewhen and it was significantly smaller than the one that stood before him, nestled next to the trunk of a tree.
He shrugged his shoulders at first, thinking that perhaps the tree tilted away from the ground due to the influx of rain they’d seen recently, and opened up the mud around the base. No big deal, he figured, but for some reason it made itself known in his mind. It begged for investigation. He couldn’t stop looking at it, as if his eyes were locked in place, paralyzed by the sight of it.
All he could inanely think was “Our mascot is the Rolling Greens…”
He wasn’t wrong in thinking that, as the school mascot was the Rolling Greens. It was originally meant to be a reference to the rolling plains that surrounded the college, but of course with the addition of people– college-aged people– the joke was that “Rolling Greens” referred to weed. Oddly enough, this led to an increase of attendance at the school’s football games, as everyone came to cheer for something they actually cared about.
But Oliver remained fixated on the idea. He couldn’t imagine where any rabbits had came from, he’d never heard of any hanging around campus. The hole had no right to be there, but he couldn’t bring himself away from it. As if hypnotized, he walked towards it anyway, peering into the deep darkness inside the hole, trying to see something, anything inside of it.
With the way the hole looked and the endlessness it conveyed in the way that light seemed to avoid it, it nagged at something in the back of his mind. It called to him, and he answered the call, approaching the hole. He put his hand on the trunk of the tree to steady himself, looking directly down the hole. Scattered dirt fell into the hole and Oliver watched it tumble down until he couldn’t see it anymore.
Earlier he’d simply written the hole off as “bigger than normal”, but as close up as he was, he realized the hole was about as big as his head, if not larger. He stuck his face as close to the hole as he was willing, holding back due to fear of imminent wild animal attack.
“How would you like it if some giant peered through your front door?” He thought to himself, rolling his eyes and chuckling softly.
Oliver wanted to stick his hand into the hole, to see how deep it went, but the same fear of bodily harm kept him from doing it, so he shifted his hand further up the trunk of the tree instead, trying to angle himself as best as possible to see inside.
His sudden movement, along with the weight of his body against it, caused the tree to tilt further away from the hole, widening it. Roots popped out of the ground, kicking up dirt onto Oliver’s shoes and pants. His hand slipped across the bark, causing a small cut in the skin, and the shift in balance threatened to throw him, or at least part of him, into the hole. He teetered forward and back on the balls of his feet before he finally balanced himself against the tree again. He didn’t trust the tree to hold his weight anymore, changing his position so that he could sit on his heels, squatting in front of the hole.
It was at this time that his Business and Finance class usually got out, and he could hear his friends talking to each other as they made their way towards him. He could hear Victor laughing about how “Oliver’s just squatting in front of a hole” and how Victor was going to “pretend to push him in”.
Victor really, truly thought he was being quiet so he could could surprise him, but Oliver knew he couldn’t be quiet even if his life depended on it. .
He broke away from the other two and snuck up to Oliver, giving him a joking, gentle push towards the hole. Oliver barely budged, having prepared for the force He turned his head to see Victor and the rest of his friends standing together, smiling down at him.
Victor laughed genially at Oliver, “Gotcha, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, very funny, Victor.” Oliver said sarcastically, though he was smiling as well. He knew it wasn’t a push meant to do anything but scare and startle him. He rolled his eyes up at Victor, looking at the two girls, Stephanie and Rebecca. They seemed to be just as into the prank as Oliver was, both of them only vaguely amused by Victor’s idea.
But as Oliver dug his heels into the ground, for traction to stand up, the dirt connecting the tree to the ground dislodged even further than before. As the dirt continued to slide down into the hole, Oliver lost his footing. He tried to stand up from his squatting position, but his center of balance pulled him inexorably backwards.
The dirt spilled into the hole and with it, Oliver.
He cried out, throwing his hands up for anything to grab onto, but his fall was too sudden for his hands to grasp anything other than the ephemeral dirt, as even that seemed to have given up on him.