The night sweltered, dragging perspiration from every pore of his body and he turned over. For a second he enjoyed the freshness of a new position, before discomfort crept across the nape of his neck, and his eyes were wider than before, his body prickling with wakefulness. On his back, at least, there was less effort involved, but the sheets clung to more of his sticky skin and he sighed deeply. During the day, the knowledge that all suffered and all sympathised gave a touch of understanding to life. In a city where nobody could sleep, nobody expected more than was possible. But then the night would descend, and Adam’s head would scream again, soundless in the dark, pressing it’s terrified mouth to the cloth of hellish stillness.
In all of his life, Adam could count his greatest sadnesses on one hand. His head was not overfilled by the pains of living nor by the people who surrounded him. He felt himself to be an artist of simplicity. But even nothing, it seemed, could be turned into torture as he listened to it in the dark.
The following day, management put a small fan on every desk in the office. He had never felt so grateful, never seen such deep relief as was written on each face that entered the room. Adam imagined how he would hurry to work the following day, desperate to feel his rosy cheeks cooled in the artificial breeze, and he mournfully left at 6pm as the cleaners began to sweep through the building.
That night, in his bed, as he swallowed whiskey, his throat rasped and closed around pain and despite the drowsiness the liquor insisted upon, he was kept awake by the discomfort inside his own skin. Outside the air was deathly still, but the cars and calls from the street filled the humidity. A cat howled on the opposite terrace as a police car whirred past the end of the street. And the boys who lived downstairs smashed bottles on the railings, laughing hysterically as it sprayed like diamonds.
As Adam listened he felt his ears growing more attuned. Each separate sound demanded its own attention. Glass shattered to his left, and motors growled along the streets to his right. There was a bird, somewhere, tweeting it’s presence into the dark, and a cat purring on the other side of the wall. But right before him, in front of him, was something else. Low and quiet, barely audible, and not distorted by any other pollutive noise, a sweetness pulled at his attention. He sat up in bed, his head tilted slightly, his face dreamy as he listened and listened to the buzz, barely a pulsing noise. A voice, perhaps, but one without breath. A never ending note, never faltering, ever fluctuating. Adam hardly dared breathe lest his own sounds drowned out the mesmerising tone. But it was relentless, clawing at his curiosity, dragging his feet across the worn carpet.
Leaving the tiny flat, thoughts of closing the door, of finding his keys, dissipated into the night air.
“In a minute… in a minute… I just have to listen for a minute… just a minute…”
Barefoot he descended the rough concrete stairs, his arms limp by his sides, all his energy focused on the sound. The heavy front door swung open and he stepped outside, scuffing his toes on the gravel and barely feeling the broken glass that pierced the soles of his feet as he reached the pavement and walked, ignoring the jeering laughter of the boys who spotted him immediately, half naked in the streetlight, his cotton trousers slung low on his slender waist.
The note was joined by another, sweeter and higher, clashing and melding with the first, a beautiful chord of two, unnerving and irresistible. Adam walked and walked, marking the street with specks of blood as he turned a corner. Not once did he stop to see where the sound came from; he knew like knew hunger or tiredness or sickness. He felt it like daylight and ocean spray. As the sound grew louder and yet another note joined the chorus he recognised them as voices; but still they were unbroken. Women singing without ever taking a breath or ceasing or straining their liquid throats.
The streets were dotted with a rhythm of cars and bikes, of traffic lights, but not so full that anyone took any care. Cars sped through the nighttime city, faster than the law allowed, but safe in the knowledge that whilst still awake, the city was lethargic with the darkness.
Turning again, onto a large junction, he saw silver-white skinned bodies on a grassy bank in the centre of a tightly coiled roundabout. He smiled. It was bizarre and unexpected to see them there, and yet somehow it seemed obvious, inevitable that this was always going to be the scene before him. On their island streetlight evaded their bodies, and they bathed only in moonlight as their breasts heaved on the weight of their chorus, darkened nipples pricking the air. They slithered and appeared wet, with wide watery eyes that glinted seductively, teeth pearly in the darkness, their blue lips parted to sing their eery notes. Between their glistening thighs he saw wetness spilled, but still his view was not complete.
Adam’s feet continued, never missing a beat as his soles hit the pavement in quick succession, racing with his pulse. He stepped off the curb and across the white lines marking the road, striding over the tyre-worn surface, feeling his body reach for their writhing, singing forms. They seemed to smile without glee, beckoning without fingers, drawing him in.
Headlights darted around the circle and the hot metal of the bumper hit his knees before the hood crushed his thighs and he was thrown, cracked and broken onto the bank. His body landed hard, twisted, bleeding. Bruises swelled with urgency, blossoming between the ripped fabric of his trousers, purple and yellow around broken skin. Slippery hands slid over his cuts and into his underwear, engulfing his growing erection, wetting him with salty touch. He felt the hard cold pebbles of nipples between his lips, his lifeless fingers used to fill a hungry, sea-wet cunt.
The driver had stopped, stood before his car, horrified, begging on his phone for an ambulance, for someone to come and fix Adam, to wipe clean the slate of the accident.
Three swarmed and used Adam, licked and sucked him with their cold touch, so wanted and desired in the city’s swelter. Harder still as he was exposed and used to pierce another hungry sea-creature.
No one saw as she rode him, as her sisters used their salty tongues to probe and lick his battered body. The driver only witnessed Adam arch a little, feeling the pain of broken bones course through his arousal as the paradise of these cold, wet beings covered his hot body. They used him roughly but were so temporary that their touch barely touched, let alone hurt. Still, he was a tool to quench their bleeding thirst as they thrust down onto him, one by one. Again and again he was bathed in the gush of cold, crisp, icy water.
Sirens called around him and Adam smiled. “I’m sleeping now.”