Looking for feedback on this story as Clive Reznor is in the midst of finalizing it. Over the next few months we’ll be releasing excerpts from the story for your review and critique.
Thank you for checking out our story and we look forward to the release of The Immanent World Vol. 2: Cluichi this year.
THE DEATH OF OMAR SNELLINGS
We are all one unforeseen breath from death.
That last breath, the final inhalation and exhalation, has its own mind and its own unique chemistry that is unlike any other drawn before it. Whether its a short gasp, a long sigh, muffled by a groan, pierced by a shriek, that last ritual of consumption and expulsion summarizes for its master what their life was, and in a sense, how they had used it.
It has its own rules. But, as with any rule, they can be broken.
Omar Snellings drew in a deep breath just before his graceless tumble down the stairwell. His head bounced into the stained plaster of the walls, blurring his vision and muting his hearing. He feared that these bumbling moments would be his last; a fear that crept into his bowels, causing them to spill their contents just a little.
His mind rapidly scanned through his memories, trying to relive the most meaningful before the end. All that he wanted to see, all that he wanted to be, the people he would miss and — he hoped — would miss him, came rushing into his brain with as much insistence as the throbbing pain he felt with each tumble.
This shouldn’t be how it ended. Focus on how not to die.
The base of his skull struck the metal steps once, twice, and then a third time. Fortunately, that was the end. His body slid to a halt at the bottom step.
No blood. No bumps. I’m fine, he thought, as he pulled himself up from the filthy floor. He took this time to adjust his leather jacket, run his hands over his thinning head of hair, and most importantly, find his glasses. Thankfully, they had not been broken during the fall. He did his best to wipe them clean, sliding the lenses back and forth between a portion of his shirt he held between finger and thumb.
Good enough. Time was wasting.
The 22nd block of Hanover Street was halfway between abandoned city blight and gentrified urban renewal. While many of the row houses remained in a state of disrepair, every third or fourth one stood refreshed. A new coat of paint, modern interior design, and a charming red and blue sign displaying the name of their seller flapping against the refurbished front doors. They seemed to mock the other homes, proudly boasting their value and newness while the others depressingly sagged into their concrete moldings, occupied by owners, renters, and sometimes vagrants who cared little for their well-being.
Omar could relate. He often identified more with the dilapidated over the decorated. It was not as if the new homes didn’t possess character, but they were a symbol of this neighborhood — where he had spent his childhood — changing away from what was and into something that, quite frankly, didn’t belong.
Stammering out of one of the older homes, he immediately became dizzy as he entered the afternoon’s chilly air. It was late fall and winter was already whispering her chill a month early. He stopped moving and took a moment to steady himself, his breaths short at first, creating translucent white clouds as they exited his lips.
The street was unnaturally busy today. The neighborhood children were gathered on the stoops near the end of the street, some chattering outrageously while others busied themselves on their smart phones. The older kids, who knew Omar by reputation, kept an eye on him as he composed himself. And there, across the street, was one of those new houses.
What an obnoxious sight. The damn thing might have very well been mocking him now. His clothes were not new, his face was worn into lines and crevices of any man who had lived a life as rough and challenged as he had. The first few patches of gray had shown up in this last year, hurting his vanity and forcing him to shave his beard. He had seen the owners of the new house and knew they were younger, more accomplished, and better looking.
They were probably there now, the couple with their designer clothes and fashionable hairstyles, looking out the window at him as if he was part of the entertainment: a living display of urban life. Perhaps the older of them, a man in his forties, would be more respectful, but his partner, a much younger man in his early twenties with an undeniable love for hair dye and orange shoes, was certainly watching. He had caught the skinny twerp doing it before, the look on his face that of inquisitive shock.
I’m not here for your entertainment.
Omar stumbled again as he tried to find his car. Where had he parked it? The throbbing in his head was keeping him from focusing. Too many thoughts were racing through his head, back and forth from the room he had just left, to the fall, to the street, the houses, and the neighbors, but where was his car?
Another spasm in his skull forced him to double over, grabbing at the side of his head. He’d have to go to the hospital first. Something was wrong. He thought that the fall hadn’t harmed him but that was turning out not to be true.
“Mr. Omar!” he heard a young voice call out.
What did these kids want? He wasn’t working now.
“Mr. Omar!” the voice called again.
The pain was shooting on the other side of his head now.
“Mr. Omar! Mr. Omar!” now came several voices.
What in the world were they yelling at him for? He forced his hand from his temple, knowing as soon as he did the headache would intensify but he needed to know what was so damn urgent. Angrily, he lifted his chin up and stared in the direction of the voices. Before he could yell at them in response, the breath he was taking in order to do so was cut short.
The impact of the truck was sudden and violent. How Omar had not heard the horn or the screeching tires as the vehicle slid down the middle of Hanover Street, no one quite knew. Neither did Omar. The truck’s metal grill seemed to appear out of nowhere as he turned to see it, just in time before its pattern was embedded in his face.
A crowd quickly gathered around the scene of the accident. The driver of the truck was in utter shock, the amount of blood and tissue that splattered across the front of his vehicle made him sick.
“Didn’t you see him?” a voice cried out.
“Is that Omar?” another said.
“Yeah, that was Omar.”
“Someone call an ambulance!”
“What for? Someone get a shovel!”
The children, who had been content to play games at the end of the street before all of this had happened, were now consumed with using their smart phones as recording devices. Every single one of them was taking pictures, recording videos, and some even were streaming live on social media to show this tragedy to the world in real time.
“Stop that,” one of the older females of the neighborhood said as she tried to usher the younger children from the scene. “You don’t need to be seein’ this. Certainly the rest of the damn world don’t neither! Go on, get outta here!”
The adults in the neighborhood had just as little compassion as the children. Many of them were recording the event in the same way. The chatter continued in the crowd, people asking questions, throwing accusations, speculating on whether or not he heard the truck or whether the driver could have stopped. A few even vomited after the smell and sight of Omar Snellings’ remains overwhelmed them.
While many knew it was wrong on one level to be gawking at this scene; the gruesome dismemberment of a fellow neighbor, they also couldn’t help but indulge in their voyeurism. Who was to say they were wrong? They were all guilty of it, even the older woman who had told the children to leave was now was just as consumed by the scene as they had been. How many times do you get to see a mangled corpse?