A Report BY Ethan Munn
Anders Stockholm felt like he was flying. He genuinely felt the pure excitement of soaring weightlessly in the air, high above the cloud level like the many birds he would see outside his house as a child. The man could feel his shaggy, auburn hair follow the motion of the wind, tickling the back of his neck as it wavered behind him. If he focused hard enough, he could look beneath the luminous clouds to the many rows of indistinguishable houses below, shaped and formed between the intertwining tangle of streets that made up what he perceived to be his home town. Anders created imageries of miniscule cars at the ground level he floated greatly above, the tiny vehicles shifting along the various roads like mere ants hunting for food. With just a little more emphasis he formed microscopic people socializing among the twisting streets beneath him in his mind, barely perceptible to him but all the more necessary. Everything was systematic and organized in this small, fictional world that Anders envisioned before his very eyes, and that was exactly how he liked it. The man enjoyed the time that he spent in this dreamlike state because for once he felt free. Free like the birds outside his childhood home.
Then all of a sudden Anders began descending, that feeling of freedom morphing into a much stronger sense of fear. The wind that once gently tickled his face began feeling like a flurry of needles stabbing endlessly at his vulnerable skin, making it near impossible to see what he was plummeting towards. That weightless feeling he once had the thrill of experiencing had also undergone this horrific turn of events; exchanging itself for a much heavier (and furthermore frightening) sense of body mass, making the process of falling feel much quicker and that much more dangerous to him. The man began tumbling perpetually back and forth in the air as he shot past cloud level like a burning cluster of space debris; the descent itself only becoming more and more rapid as he continued downward. He lost his complete sense of direction as his entire body flipped continuously in the air; the world around him becoming so hazy and blurred that he could barely focus on his own hands and fingers. It felt as if someone had literally stolen his eyesight and left his helpless body in the middle of a hurricane. Although Anders was inadvertently plummeting to his death, he was used to this nightmarish phenomenon after what felt like centuries of experiencing the same motions over and over like a broken record. The moment the man longed for every single day ended in this dreadful plunge down further and further to the ground and no matter how hard he tried he could never stop…
A split second later the man felt an intense pain in his back as he fell through what felt like several layers of reinforced concrete onto a barely stable bed and mattress, positioned in the corner of a very open and plain room. The ceiling appeared to be evenly padded with some type of hardened leather, similarly to the walls and flooring that enveloped him in this small, contained room. Attempting to sit upright on the unsteady bed, Anders discovered that his hands and fingers felt incredibly numb and came to the realization that he could barely make use of any of his body or limbs. The man took a few moments to regain his focus, shaping in his mind what seemed to be the cloud-stricken sky above, visible through an irreparable hole in the padded ceiling he had just hurtled through. Lifting his head felt like lifting a pile of bricks with a broken hand, the immense pain making it difficult for the man to concentrate on anything else around him. The man did the only thing he could do, lie on this torn mattress in a deformed and crippled position, waiting for the pain to end. Waiting for that freedom he had once enjoyed several moments ago.
After what felt like a century of never ending agony, Anders suddenly felt the presence of a dark and shadow object with him inside this padded room. Using his senses to the best of his ability, the man percepted the familiar noise of tearing fabric, knowing instantaneously he was in severe danger from whatever this mysterious object could behold. A dark, gloomy mist began engulfing the room in mere seconds as Anders tried to shift his body upright - to no such luck once again; the beam of light that once shone through the hole in the ceiling fading out of existence without the man even realizing. In the corner of his eye Anders could just barely establish the shape of a distorted figure in his mind, this silhouette of a man formed out of several limbs bent completely out of proportion; its body mangled in a horrific manner. What Anders had imagined to be the figure’s skin simply dropped around it like the burning embers of a fire, exposing its twisted and gruesome bones as it neared the terrified and defenseless man. Anders took a moment to glance at the legs of this ominous elephant in the room, noticing its clawed and bloodied feet, bony like the figure’s arms and all the more sickening to look at. Whatever this monster was, it clearly wasn’t human, the only element of this figure even remotely resembling human nature was a large, torn, black cloak that shielded the majority of its skeletal body.
The most noticeable feature - and what frightened Anders the most - of this figure was its bloodstained and disheveled face, possibly the most twisted part of the entire silhouette. It’s mouth gaped wide open, with further scrutinising Anders discovered this was due to a mangled jaw, and the remainder of its face looked burnt and bloodied as if it had risen out of a raging fire. As this monstrosity of a creature neared the crippled man, Anders couldn’t stop gazing at its wide, gaping eyes. Both sockets were blacker than black itself aside from a singular red dot in each pupil, gazing right back at Ander’s worried face. The room gradually grew darker as this ghoulish man neared Anders paralysed body. Placing a single bony hand on one of Ander’s numbed legs, he instantly felt the coldness of this shadowed figure pass through to him. Anders used all his might to push himself away but all he could do was lie lifelessly on this rotted mattress, waiting for it all to end. His heartbeat picked up intensely, thundering faster and faster like an orchestra of deafening bass drums inside his ears. All he wanted was freedom. All he wanted was an escape from this horrific living nightmare. Without warning, the figure took one glance at Anders and neared his face faster than humanly possible, shrieking a bloodcurdling cry of terror directly into his face, the man defenselessly watching this monster’s face as it screeched endlessly...and everything went black.
The man felt a slight twinge in his arm before finally opening his eyes, awaking inside a room that felt friendly and inviting. He gazed around him carefully as the sun streamed through a pale, clear window nearby realizing he was no longer seated on the dismal mattress from that horrific nightmare but now a comfortable and soft duvet atop a bed that felt like it belonged inside a children’s bedroom. In fact, everything around him felt like it was from a child-like world; small toys decorating the edge of the bed and a large wooden chest full to the brim of figurines and the latest superhero action figures. Anders looked down to his hands and suddenly realized he was no longer an adult, but in fact his childhood self. This was his former bedroom, the exact room he cherished for days on end whilst he was growing up. Taking a closer look toward the window, Anders could just barely see a flock of birds soaring in the air, twirling freely in the soft breeze outside. The small boy closed his eyes, imagining himself flying with the birds, floating and gliding with them high up in the sky...and suddenly Anders Stockholm felt like he was flying.